Game Prototyping Hand-ins 0. Design from props

I just started at ITU to take my MSc in Games, and needed a portfolio to hand in my assignments. Here we are, at WordPress for now.

Don’t mind the date of 2012 for this blog post. I hijacked an old “first post”, in order to get this one in before the other prototypes, since it was the first one we did, and it didn’t actually count as an assignment, so I forgot about doing it. It was a great creative experience for me, and I wanted it here for completeness.

As an introduction to what we were going to be doing for the next 6 months, we were tasked with designing a game purely from props. We were put into groups of 6, and each group had to choose from a small selection of props. We were one of the last groups to pick, and settled on a box carrier trolley with four soda crates on it…yeah.

We quickly decided on a game with a strategic element, since the boxes could then be used as anything from enemies to blockers or weapons. After a few days of trying out different things, we had a good idea for a strategic game, not unlike a simplified Risk, but we just could not fit in the trolley. We then came up with the idea, that since we only had one trolley, it could be the center of the game, sort of like the ball in a soccer game. The game “Demon Dennis” was born, and it goes like this.

Demon Dennis

Designed by August Almgren, Chris Carvelli, Christopher Krakou, Jonas Tingmose, Naja Cecilie Marckwardt and Nicola Zaltron.

Prerequisites
– 2 teams (kingdoms; give them names if you want)
– 2+ players per team.
– Playing field is 4×4 squares. Can be expanded to be 4×6, 6×4, 6×6 etc. depending on how many players you are. There should, however, ALWAYS be an “intersection” in the middle of the playing field, so the amount of squares MUST be divisible by 2 on both axes.
– 2+ crates (anything that can stand still and be pushed around)
– 1 Demon Dennis (anything, easily distiguishable from the crates, that can stand still and be pushed around)
– (optional) Timer

Setup Rules
– The demon, Dennis, is placed on the crossing in the center of the playing field.
– The players line up on intersections of the back row. If you’re using sequenced player turns, the players should ideally be positioned mirrored along the middle row (like chess; see the setup examples), so the teams are even. You can change it up if you feel like it.
– The 2+ crates are also placed on intersections.
– (optional) Random timer, between a decided range of minutes e.g. 4-6 minutes for a 4×4 3vs3 game.

Additional Setup Rules
The following setup rules are MOSTLY needed, when doing player turns in their numbered sequence, to ensure that the teams are equal. If the players on each team are free to move in any order, there is more freedom to place obstacles in a non-mirrored/asymmetrical way. Just make sure you make it fair for everyone.

– The setup must be mirrored across the middle row, like chess, so each team has the same obstacles and positions. Important! Mirrored does NOT mean symmetrical along the middle of the field. It means, if you turn team 1’s half of the playing field 180 degrees, that’s how team 2’s playing field must be set up. Again, like chess.
– If you want to place crates or players on the middle row, these must be duplicated symmetrically along the middle column (NOT row) on the other side (see the crates on example 3).

Setup Examples
Here are some simple examples of playing fields using one to four players, but as you can see, the playing field can just be expanded to accommodate more.

Legend:
| and – = show the lines between the intersections
D = Dennis
C = Crate
1-4 = Players

2018-01-05 00_40_26-E__Dropbox_ITU Games_Game Prototyping_Prototypes_Prototype 1_Demon Dennis.txt -                                           2018-01-05 00_40_08-E__Dropbox_ITU Games_Game Prototyping_Prototypes_Prototype 1_Demon Dennis.txt -

2018-01-05 00_41_02-E__Dropbox_ITU Games_Game Prototyping_Prototypes_Prototype 1_Demon Dennis.txt -

Goal
Version 1 – Using a timer:
Keep Dennis on the opposing team’s half of the field. If Dennis is on your half of the field, when the time is up, you lose. In the case of a tie, either do sudden death (first team to move Dennis to the field of the opposing team), or simply reset the playing field.

Version 2 – To the end:
The first team to get Dennis to the back row of the opposing team, wins.

Version 3:
Combine versions 1 and 2.

Turn Rules
The teams take turns.
Starting team is decided by coin toss, or similar.

Team Turn Option 1:
For each team-turn, ALL players on the team take turns to make their moves, in no particular order.

Team Turn Option 2:
Each player has a number (1, 2, 3 etc.), sequenced per team.
For each team-turn, the players on the team take turns to make their moves, in the given sequence e.g. first player 1, then player 2 etc.).

Team Turn Option 3:
The teams alternate moving only 1 player per turn, in the given sequence, e.g. team 1 player 1, team 2 player 1, team 1 player 2, team 2 player 2 etc.).

Common Turn Rules:
Players can only stand on the corners of the squares.
Players can only move to an adjacent intersection, along the edges of the squares i.e. NOT diagonally across a square.
Players have 1 move per turn.
You cannot skip a turn!

Crate Rules
If a crate is on an adjacent intersection, you can:
– Swap places with the crate
– Push the crate, thereby moving the crate AND yourself 1 intersection forward, in the direction of the crate from your position.
– Pull the crate, thereby moving the crate AND yourself 1 intersection back, in the opposite direction of the crate from your position.

You cannot push/pull a crate in a way, where you or the crate end up outside the playing field.

If you push the crate into another player, that player has to go back to his starting position, and cannot move in the next round. If the starting position isn’t available, there are a few rules you could employ:
– the team is free to pick any spot on the back row.
– the team is free to pick a spot adjecent to the original starting spot, but still on the back row.
– opposing team picks a spot on the back row, and if no spot is available, just pick a spot on the player’s “home” side of the playing field.
– if there’s no space on the back row, and there’s a crate on the back row, the player switches places with it.
– if there’s no space on the back row, the player moves to the closest free position (towards the sides?).

ALTERNATIVE: Instead of resetting the player to his starting position, the player is “imprisoned” i.e. stunned for 1-2 rounds (while standing on the crate). In this case, the crate would be deemed out-of-play while the player is imprisoned within it.

Dennis Rules
You can interact with Dennis the same way you interact with the crates, except you cannot push Dennis into another player.

Conclusion
The game is surprisingly interesting and engaging to play. Much better than it reads. You get into some great strategic talks with your teammates. It might get boring with too many players, though, but since every player’s turn is part of a larger team strategy, we never felt like we were just waiting for turns to happen. We found ourselves constantly looking for new ways to fool our opponents into thinking we were employing an obvious strategy, while actually hoping to be able to pull off a devious one.

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