Board Games Design Guide

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					Board Games Design Guide
Board Games
Board games have been played for many centuries. Some, like chess and draughts, rely purely on
mental skill. Others, like shove ha’penny, rely on physical skill. Games like ludo rely entirely on luck.
Yet others rely on a combination of skill and luck – Scrabble, for example.

Whatever the game, it will need to have some or all of the following features:

▲ a board – this sets the scene for the game and                       ▲ penalty or advantage possibilities – this adds
  provides the framework in which it is played;                          to the excitement of the game and can be
                                                                         handled in different ways, so sometimes they
▲ rules – these must state clearly how the game is                       are present as a fixed feature on the board,
  played and what a player has to do to win;                             sometimes they are present as cards that are
▲ ways of generating scores or moves – these                             turned up on specific occasions;
  can be a single dice or spinner or a                                 ▲ a box – this holds the board, rule book, playing
  combination of dice or a complicated spinning                          pieces and any other elements and is also what
  wheel (some dice have symbols rather than                              potential buyers will see on display in the shops,
  numbers);                                                              so its external appearance is particularly
▲ means of representing the players – these can                          important as an exciting game in a dull-looking
  be simple counters or complicated figures;                             box is unlikely to be successful.

You can use the descriptions of the three games that follow to see how these features appear in
different sorts of board games

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Board Games Design Guide
A simple board game – snakes and ladders

Notice the following features of this simple game, which can be used to teach small children to count:

▲ the cup and dice are suitable for small fingers;                       ▲ if you land at the foot of a ladder, you go up
                                                                           the ladder to its top;
▲ the dice is simple spot numbered, though you
  can introduce two dice if you want to make the                         ▲ the first player to reach the last square is the
  playing more difficult;                                                  winner;
▲ the counters representing each player are simple;                      ▲ it can be played by up to four people;
▲ the rules are simple;                                                  ▲ the board is a simple grid that has a friendly
                                                                           appearance – the snakes don’t look
▲ the number of squares you move is given by
  the number you get when you throw the dice;
                                                                         ▲ the box is simple and attractive to the children
▲ if you throw a six (or a double six with two
                                                                           likely to be playing the game;
  dice) you get an extra turn;
                                                                         ▲ a single game probably only takes about 5–10
▲ if you land on a snake’s head, you have to
                                                                           minutes to play.
  follow it back to the bottom of its tail;

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Board Games Design Guide
A more complicated board game – Monopoly
Notice the following features that make it more complicated than snakes and ladders:

▲ the dice are smaller – making it more suitable                         ▲ the chance cards add an element of
  for older players;                                                       uncertainty and excitement;

▲ the pieces representing the players are more                           ▲ the board layout is simple, but playing involves
  imaginative and there are other physical                                 complicated activities;
  elements – Monopoly money, houses, hotels,
                                                                         ▲ someone has to act as a banker and control
  Chance and Community Chest cards and
                                                                           the money, property deeds and houses and
  cards representing deeds to properties;
▲ the rules are complicated;
                                                                         ▲ the box has a sophisticated look, which is
▲ the aim of the game – being so successful that                           attractive to the older children and adults likely
  other players become bankrupt – involves a                               to play the game;
  fair bit of skill and thought;
                                                                         ▲ a single game can take a long time to play.

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Board Games Design Guide
An adventure game – Warhammer

Notice the following features:

                          ▲ there are lots of different pieces representing different creatures – some
                            human, some animal, some mythical – and they each have a particular
                            strength, weaknesses and weaponry;

                          ▲ there is no board, but the pieces are arranged according to a set battle plan
                            given in a guide book;

                          ▲ there is a set of complicated rules – set out in a 96-page rule book!

                          ▲ there are cards summarizing the rules;

                          ▲ a player wins by destroying the opposing forces;

                          ▲ the dice are complicated, involving numbers and symbols;

                          ▲ there is another hobby linked to playing the game – collecting and painting the
                            figures and this is supported by other publications ( a painting guide and a

                          ▲ the box leaves you in no doubt about the nature of the game;

                          ▲ there is a complicated game for committed players who rapidly become
                            experts – a game involving a complicated battle with lots of pieces can take
                            several hours to set up and one or two days to play!

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                                                                                                                       lines of

lirt 8 Developing the prototypes
       for a board game
                                                                                                                        task 8

Par t 1           Designing or choosing the game
Work in a group of four.                                                                          Learning

1     Use these questions to design your own game.                                               How to work in a team and use IT
                                                                                                 to help design and make simple
      •    Does the game have a theme? (Some options:                                            items
           Arabian nights, dungeons and dragons, animals in
           danger.)                                                                              Student’s Booklet

      •    What is the board like? (Some options: grid squares                                   Pages 1-4 of Board Games
           – all used, as in snakes and ladders – grid squares –                                 Design Guide
           half used as in chess and draughts – or special route
           as in ludo.)

      •    How does a player win? (Some options: by getting to                                   180 minutes
           the end first as in snakes and ladders, by capturing
                                                                                                 Equipment and materials
           the other key pieces as in chess, by capturing all the
           other pieces as in draughts, by getting more points
                                                                                                 • access to a selection of board
           than all the other players as in Scrabble, by collecting
           more tokens than all the other players as in
                                                                                                 • workbook
           Monopoly.)                                                                            • access to a range of graphic
      •    How is the player represented on the board? (Some                                       media
           options: counters as in snakes and ladders, stand-up                                  Access to the following materials:
           illustrations on card, three-dimensional figures as in                                • thick card, thin card, cartridge
           chess.)                                                                                 paper, 3 mm polystyrene sheet,
                                                                                                   acrylic rod, acrylic sheet, acrylic
      •    How does a player know how far to move on the                                           bar, sticky-backed vinyl
           board? (Some options: by a throw of a dice, by a spin                                 Access to these hand tools:
           of a spinner, by choosing a card or by set rules                                      • circle cutter, craft knife, cutting
           according to pieces, as in draughts or chess.)                                          mat, safety ruler
                                                                                                 Access to these machine tools:
      •    How is a player held back? (Some options: by                                          • pillar drill, vacuum former, metal-
           following information on the board as in snakes and                                     turning lathe, milling machine
           ladders, by choosing a card, as in Monopoly.)                                         Access to the following computer-
                                                                                                 controlled peripherals:
2     Alternatively, choose an existing game and restyle it.                                     • laser printer, engraver, lino
                                                                                                   cutter, CNC lathe, CNC mill
Par t 2           Designing the elements
                                                                                                  Type of task
1     Present your designs for the following as annotated sketches:
      •    the rules of the game;                                                                New
      •    the board;
      •    the pieces;
      •    any information cards;
      •    any ‘go’ generators.
Use Gantt charts and flow charts to plan the best ways for the team to work.

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Board Games Design Guide
                                                                                                             lines of
       Developing the prototypes                                                                             interest
lirt 8 for a board game                                                                                     resource
                                                                                                              task 8

Par t 3           Making example parts
1    Make samples of each of your designs. If you need to make more than one of an item, then
     consider how you might IT to help you.

Use Gantt Charts and flow charts to plan the best ways for the team to work. The following
illustrations show the sorts of items that you might produce.

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