Card Game Dev – Day One

Introduction and Simple Mechanics

Hey there,

For the last one month, I had been spending my weekends trying to develop a business card game which I hope to complete and make ready for play testing by end of year. Thought it best to document the progress for review purposes and for anyone who’d be interested in doing something similar.

The idea: The idea is to create a publishing card game for 2-4 players. I figured that there are two approaches to this – either I create a game that emphasize on the functions and the day-to-day running of a publishing house or I follow the timelines of a book production within a publishing company – i.e. from acquisitions stage to publicity.

I had quite liked the second idea but soon realized that these would be very open-ended and would not in any way go on to make the game conclusive – if that makes sense. For example: lets say a player acquired a book, got the elements in the game to edit, produce, and publicize it. There is little that the player now have to do. The possible victory conditions then would be for the book to become a best-seller, win the Booker Prize, or go on to make the most money. Not the most interesting, though they are perhaps clever sub-conditions that could go on to pave for a better victory condition.

So I decided to put together another version that would explain the workings of a publishing company. You, the player, would assume the role of the CEO and go about making decisions that would either make your publishing house the most influential or with the most money. Here there are very clear victory conditions – most money or most influence.

Now that I have that settled, I have to figure out what would be the best mechanics to employ in making sure that the interactions in the game are not based on numbers alone – i.e. number of sales of a book, the money made. There has to be something that would go on to make the game a little more on the intrigue-side, where player can consciously make choices that would put them in a risk of losing the game which later on in the game would put them in an advantage.

Here is a simple mechanic that I think would be consistent throughout the game regardless of the nature of the card or the plots that these come in play. Lets say we got the following cards with two attributes – resources needed for it to be in play and the impact that it does.

1 resource card = 1 impact
2 resource card = 2 impact
3 resource card = 3 impact
4 resource card = 4 impact

The problem with this is that it is too linear. When two players start with 5 cards each and if say Player1 plays two 1 resource cards and does 2 impact on Player 2; and say Player2 plays one 2 resource card and does the same impact. What is that which would go on to differentiate the act of — either one of the two cases here: a) losing an extra card from your hand as in the case of Player1, or b) holding onto a card as in the case of Player2.

Playing a card means that they are most likely going to be the most vulnerable as compared to the cards that you are holding. Option A. This means that playing a card has a cost. Let us assign this cost a variable – X.

Playing cards also mean that you have empty slots in your hand which can be filled with other cards from the main deck at the end of each turn. New cards means new opportunities. So there has to be cost involved here as well. Otherwise players will choose to discard or play their cards at will until they get the card that most suits their needs in game. Let us assign this cost a variable – Y.

To note: What is it that guarantees they the player would get the card they want on the first draw? Cards are only drawn at the end of each turn, this means that the opposite player has already done considerable damage to Player1 or is a few steps closer to the victory condition.

To note: Does 0 resource cards mean 0 impact? There are cards in game which don’t require any resources to be in play, but yet they cause significant changes to the gameplay. We can assume then that the cost of a 0 resource card is the same as the cost of a card being played, which is X, but less than the impact a 1 resource card makes which is 1.

This means,

0 < y < x < 1

If this makes any sense, then:

1 resource card = 1 impact + x – y

Again, to consider: there are limited resources in the game. What is that which gives players the incentive to play the 2 resource card instead of two resource cards? 2 times the variable X; and so on. This then becomes:

2 resource card = 2 impact + 2x – y
3 resource card = 3 impact + 3x – y

If this is balanced, then the impact of playing two 1 resource cards should be the same as playing one 2 resource card.

2 (1 impact + x – y) = 1 ( 2 impact + 2x – y)
2 + 2x – 2y = 2 + 2x – y
2 – 2y = 2 – y

Oops. I’ve hit a road block.

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