Game Design is a semester long course at the ETC focusing on the design of classical games. The class focuses on creating rulesets and mechanics, designing experiences and the importance of iterating and playtesting. More information can be found on the course website.
One of the most helpful assignments in this class thus far has been to build our own game design reference "toolbox." By reviewing games I played in the past and analyzing what I could learn from them, I've established my own helpful library of game design ideas.
Download the toolbox [PDF]
For this assignment, we were to analyze the problems with hopscotch in its current incarnation and redesign the game to address those problems.
I made a 2-player racing game that had a Musical Chairs element for scoring bonus points. I was focusing on the problems of boredom when taking turns, and the fact that in normal hopscotch, falling behind in the beginning can doom you for the rest of the game.
For this project, I designed a 2 player game that used pieces of hardware as dice. Similar to Pass the Pigs, nuts and bolts earned different point values depending on what positions they landed in on a magnetic target board. Players were trying to take over zones on the target board by accumulating the most points in that zone over time.
The game ended up being fast paced and engaging, but was much more skill-based than I'd originally intended. I was amazed at how different the final game ended up being from my first version.
This assignment required us to lead a Dungeons and Dragons style adventure game for a group of other students. I decided to create an adventure based on a modified ruleset of Nobilis that I catered to one-shot adventures with new players (new to both Nobilis and table-top roleplaying in general).
The adventure was extremely enjoyable, even to two players who were completely new to tabletop rpgs. I learned a lot about interactive storytelling and how the human mind is so much better adapted to the necessary improv and on-the-fly decision making than a computer.
This was the assignment we'd all been waiting for: Make a Game. Anything we wanted. I chose to make a card game based around the songs and stories of Bryan Scary and the Shredding Tears. In The Great Scaryville Air Tour, players pilot an air vessel and compete to pick up the most prestegious passengers while touring famous Scaryville landmarks.
The card game is light and swift, and my playtesters all have had great fun with the final version. Though the game has many random elements, it is still possible to create a strategy without having to think too hard. It is easy to pick up and quick to play, and Bryan Scary fans were delighted by the theming of the cards.
Below is the final ruleset developed for class, but I am continuing to playtest and modify the rules after the fact, so the game itself has changed since.