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Game Design Essays

Collected short essays covering various dimensions of board and video game design. 

CREATING SPATIAL RELATIONS IN CARD GAMES

For my last game design project, I grappled with the obstacle of creating a card game that also had a physical maneuvering mechanism. During the development of my game, I turned towards some of my favorite card games for inspiration. In particular, I was inspired by the game “Boss Monster” and its clever creation of spatial interactions through cards.

In the game “Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game” the game already differentiates itself from common card games in its title by using the term “building” despite the planar nature of cards. As the game’s title indicates, Boss Monster is a game that builds along the cards’ plane. The player’s goal is to create a “dungeon” out of cards in order to draw as many heroes as possible and kill them.  This is done by laying out “dungeon cards” which attract heroes from a common, random pool between the players. The player themselves play as the villain in the story, and execute any hero that dares to try and enter the dungeon they have created. While the game’s reversal of player’s role from hero to villain is interesting enough, what is more interesting is the game’s take on spatial relations within a card game.

In order to create a “dungeon”, the player progressively places a series of dungeon cards next to each other in order for the hero to “walk” through on their way to the player’s character at the end of the dungeon. This simple game mechanic is able to create branching game decisions that reflect physical board games as well as card games. In physical board games such as chess or checkers, players must make decisions spatially and form their strategies along those dimensions. In card games, often the game mechanics are more reactionary to your opponent (i.e. a player places a card down in reaction to their opponent’s card while in chess the player must think several steps ahead and plan accordingly).

In Boss Monster, the game designer was able to recreate the sense of thinking ahead several turns and reacting to your predictions in a spatial manner through the use of the dungeon card series. The player’s physical relationship is reinforced with this spatial layout through the game rule that the player must move their hero card physically through each dungeon, thus making the game take on the same attributed in a board game when a player moves a player figurine across a board.

I myself have tried incorporate such a philosophy to my own work with varying degrees of success. I am interested in delving further into the commonalities between board games and card games in my own work. After learning from games such as Boss Monster: I am eager to try my hand once more in developing a card game that plays with space by incorporating aspects of both card and board games.

 

 

Camille Baumann-Jaeger