Friday, September 10, 2010

5 in 5: Feng Shui (analog board game)

"5 projects in 5 days" is part of my coursework at Parsons. The complete rules are here, but my own additional design constraints are (a) gotta be a game, (b) gotta be made in less than 3 hours.

Brenda Brathwaite said something along the lines of "all video game designers should make nondigital analog games too." So I decided to try it. First I just made some weird pieces of furniture out of cardboard and masking tape, and then I started playing around with them to see what was fun. I tried stacking them, I tried flinging pens at them... and then I used my pens as chopsticks, and a game design suddenly materialized in front of me...

Feng Shui is a board game for pairs of players. Each pair has a Client and a Designer, who work together to arrange furniture in a room. (For ease of reading, I refer to the Client as a "she.")

1) Setup: knock over all furniture on the board. No piece can be right-side up. Reset the timer.
2) Planning: Client draws a blueprint card. She gets 10 free seconds to silently examine the blueprint card.
3) Play: Start the timer. Now the Client must verbally dictate directions to the Designer as to how to arrange the furniture; she may not use hand gestures -- only words. The Designer uses chopsticks to right all the furniture and place it to the Client's directions. Each piece must be facing the right way and be placed in the correct square on the board.
4) Stop: When the Client calls "stop," stop the timer.
5) Calculate the score: start with the number of seconds elapsed on the timer. Then, for each incorrectly placed or oriented piece of furniture, add 30 seconds to the time. Record the score.
6) Now it's another pair's turn.

The winning pair has the lowest score after whatever number of rounds. (Suggested: 2-3 rounds.)

Some additional variants:
  • Easy mode: the Designer uses tweezers instead of chopsticks.
  • Penthouse mode: Place the bonus penguin statue in the shelf to shave off 30 seconds, but only if every other piece of furniture is correctly placed too.
  • Teleconferencing mode: The Client must turn around when play begins, and thus cannot actually see the game board when she gives directions.
  • Party mode: both players are intoxicated / in an altered state of mind.
Anticipated problems:
  • The blueprints on the cards are too poorly drawn to be understood by the Client.
  • Not enough unique blueprint variations.
  • The balance for the scoring is messed up; right now it assumes it'll take you less than 2 minutes to right everything. Maybe that's way too short or way too long; I need to playtest it to balance it properly.
    Playtest data: (none yet)