I spend the last couple evenings prototyping cards for the Scrap World. I’d thought I’d post their progress and talk a little bit about my methodology. I think what will interest you the most, and probably shed the most light on how I’ve been developing these ideas is to show you the different iterations I have gone through.
Iteration 1: Card Charts
Scrap World uses a lot of cards that represent weapons and gear a player can use give them different effects on the battlefield. Because of this, I have had to develop a process of quickly creating and editing cards as I get feedback from play testing. My first iteration of the cards, didn’t look a lot like a card. Basically I threw everything up into charts and hashed out some of the most important questions like what really needs to go on these cards, what’s the simplest way to pack in the card’s meaning, and how many cards do I need?
What’s great about charts is that they can be incredibly flexible as I put down ideas. They are very forgiving and let me see all of the cards I am working on at once. They fall short the minute you try to play test with them. In fact, I recommend not play testing with charts. If you have made the decision to use cards move to play testing with them as fast as possible.
Iteration 2: Preconfigured Player Sheets
Iteration 2 took a step into design to produce preconfigured player sheets. The operative word here is preconfigured. The cards in Scrap World are mostly informational, so there is a significant amount of time to process what they do and build a strategy around them. By giving play testers preconfigured sheets, I save myself a fight against the headwinds trying to explain a point system and the intricacies of building a playable character. That can come later.
It’s worth noting that at this point in the process, I was focused on flushing out issues with the game mechanics and not so focused on the actual abilities I was giving to the cards. That being said, I did all I could to make the preconfigured player sheets as evenly matched as possible to eliminate as many variables as possible. This also prepared me for the next iteration which I am currently working through.
Iteration 3: Refining the card prototypes
If you look at this version and the last side by side, you will notice some improvements with the design and layout. One thing I want to be very clear about is that while I am a graphic designer by trade, I take extreme caution not to “over design” the initial cards that will be used in play testing. Early iterations are no place for color and lace. There is a time an place for that down the road.
These early prototypes have been helping me explore some layout options during game play. In iteration 2 I explored using a system of connectors that would tie all the cards together, but I found that the format takes up a lot of play space, and the cards don’t necessarily stay where they should. In iteration 3 I scrapped the idea and when with a more traditional side by side approach with the cards. The play space is already feeling much less cluttered.
With iteration 2 done, I am ready to do some heavy play testing. I initially took a stab at trying to answer the question of which cards the game really needs, and now that I have a format I am happy with I will start to take another crack at it. I ultimately want to get down to a handful of well though out cards. Part of the next step is picking that number.
In just some initial testing I am finding that many of the cards are very similar to one another. This is a product of not having some clear strategic paths for the cards to follow. I want to explore certain cards and abilities that allow for specific strategic paths where as right now most of the cards funnel the players down the same exact paths as the next guy without much variation.
I will keep you posted on the progress I am making with these, and hopefully soon I can move onto the actual graphic design and illustration of the cards. That will be fun.
If you have questions or want to get in on play testing the new game, let me know.