I have been assigned a brief in which I will work with a team of 3 other people to create a playable board game that will be tested by our classmates on submisson day. We will need to consider the mechanics of the original video game and how we can convert them to work as a tabletop game.
The video game we have chosen is: The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
Pandemic: The Cure
Our team were told to play one board game from a collection available in class. We chose Pandemic: The Cure. As players, you must take on the role of medical professionals and attempt to eradicate four deadly diseases infecting the world. The players must work together to prevent disease outbreaks while finding their cures.
We played this game for about 3 hours in total, beginning with a new character each time so that we could experience different abilities during our play test. We ended up using this game as a huge inspiration for our board game as we really enjoyed the method of using dice to determine moves or actions within the game. Initially we used a lot of ideas from The Cure as the basis for our rules but as the team talked, we evolved these rules to suit the Skyrim theme and eventually we came up with a set of rules that were both functional and relatively easy to understand.
Another huge inspiration for our game was the card game, Top Trumps. This is an extremely simple game in which players split a set of cards and compare stats on them. Whoever has the higher number for a chosen stat wins and takes their opponent’s card. Whoever has the most cards at the end wins.
We really liked this idea for use in our Skyrim game and we decided that a combat element based on stats would tie in nicely with the perk system found in the original Skyrim game. We selected 6 perks from Skyrim to use as comparable stats and from there we created an idea based on factions within the game that we would later use as each player’s identity in the game.
Monopoly is a board game in which players must buy and sell properties and charge rent to other players in an attempt to bankrupt them. Each tile is either a property for purchase, a chance card or a community chest card. These cards are shuffled and drawn at random and will give the player either a good or bad outcome.
My team and I discussed implementing event cards. These would be similar to Monopoly’s chance or community chest cards as a player would land on a tile on the board and would have to draw one at random. These event cards would have a successful and unsuccessful outcome. A player would need to roll a die to determine which outcome they receive.
In the end we decided not to use this idea as we did not want to over complicate the rules over an aspect that would not subtract from the game if left out.
1. First Draft This was the first Photoshop version we created but we didn’t like this as we realised that the 6 factions were not equally spaced from the Throat of the World.
2. Settlement Test We added the first idea for settlements on the board and we downloaded the Skyrim fonts for use in our game.
3. Hand Drawn This was the first draft of what the new map was going to look like. This was a visual representation of the shape and placements of key locations on the board.
4. Basic Print We created a version of the hand drawn map on Photoshop and equally spaced the starting positions/Holds. We then decided to add settlements for players to take over to gain more dice.
5. Number Idea We experimented with numbered tiles so that the players would have more difficulty crossing the map.
6. Digital Version After many days in Photoshop and after even more changes, we eventually created the final board that would be sent to print.
Our first play test was run with the following rules applied:
- We started with four playable factions in case we wouldn’t have time to create all six. The factions were: Imperials, Stormcloaks, Thieves Guild or Dark Brotherhood.
- All players would start with one Hold, and would have 2 dice.
- Players were able to capture Settlements, allowing a player to take another die per Settlement taken.
- To capture a Settlement, players would need to engage in a fight with the random encounter deck or with another player who already owns the Settlement.
- A player is able to win by landing on the Throat of the World, and rolling a 20 (minimum of 4 dice needed).
The game worked well but still had its flaws. The play time was unexpectedly short as all the territories were within a very short distance and having 2 dice made it very easy to move across the board. On top of this, the combat system was fairly weak as the Random Encounters were too easy to kill. Also, the endgame was anticlimactic as there was no sense of achievement upon winning.
We used this play test to improve our game again. The changes are listed below:
- We improved the Random Encounter stats as they were too weak and often too easy to defeat.
- We made smaller Settlements and spaced them more randomly as the existing Settlements took up too much space and were too easy to reach in a short amount of moves.
- Players now start with only one die as two dice made movement too quick and the game too short.
- We improved the combat method too as, initially we had a “best of 3 system” however this was hard to keep track of so we changed this so that whoever beats all 3 of their opponents cards first wins.
- We also added Dragon cards and Throat of the World Battles to create a more interesting finale. A player must use their entire deck to beat 5 Dragons in a fight in order to win. On top of this, if two players reach the Throat of the World simultaneously, they will have to fight each other first to see who will go up against the Dragons.
- We brought in blank tiles in an attempt to make the board more difficult to traverse. Players will not be allowed to land blank tiles and will need to travel around them.
- Alduin. We initially had an idea that we weren’t too sure on, and would require testing. The plan was that if any player rolled two or more of the same dice, Alduin would move one step closer to Skyrim. If he reaches the board before anyone wins, all players lose and Skyrim is lost.
After having play tested this version we found that a typical game lasted far longer and the game was more challenging. However we still had changes that need to be made:
- Settlements needed to be more diverse in their locations as some factions have an advantage over others in placement.
- Blank tiles are few and far between and don’t affect game play as much as we had hoped. Blank tiles need to be larger and more common.
- The endgame is now too difficult and the newly implemented Dragon cards’ stats will need to be reduced.
- Player card stats will need to be adjusted to balance the game out in the boss battle.
The third play test showed that we had minimal changes and fine tuning to do in order to create our finished game:
- Settlements have been spread out more evenly and now allow for less of an advantage for certain factions.
- More blank tiles have been added so movement is more challenging across the board.
- All cards have been adjusted in one way or another. The Dragons’ stats have been reduced to make beating them actually beatable, all faction stats have been re-adjusted to be more balanced, and now each faction has a “Dummy Card” which only the Dark Brotherhood had before.
With these adjustments, we think the game will no longer need any large scale changes, and we’re at a point where everything can be printed out and produced into a more professional style.