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:16 and Life Paths

April 4, 2008

Work on :16 has been going pretty well. I have done work on the mechanic, the theme, the bidding and I have rough ideas about cards. I’ve written about the theme behind :16, and my reasons for the approach I am taking. So if you are coming late to the party, read those too get up to speed.

That out of the way, now it is time to get to the guts of the game.

As you know :16 is a card game dealing with fame.

In it, you as the player, assume the role of a celebrity. Your goal is to not only keep your fame, but also acquire fame. Your fifteen minutes are up, and now with the clock ticks away the remainder of your celebrity. You are trying to keep it and stay a success.

Sounds good, no? I like this, but it left me with a very simple question:

How do I do this?

Answering this question lies at the heart of any game I design. I can have a great idea (all game designers have great ideas), but if there is no way to pull it off, mechanically, all you have is a idea. It is this question of how to do what I wanted to do with :16 that plagued me, and still continues to plague me. Playing into this question is the criteria I set down for this game. The criteria is simple and includes:

  • The game has to have no more than 120 cards.
  • It has be for 2 to 4 players.
  • It has to be in balance.
  • It has to play fast.
  • It must  be light hearted.
  • It cannot be rules heavy.

All six of these items are very important. For me, it is easier to design a game, any game for that matter, when I have the ground rules laid out in front of me. For a card game knowing the maximum number of cards the game should have, as well as the maximum number of players ensures I keep things in balance. It also helps me keep the game as unencumbered as it can be.

So thinking about how I would capture the theme of the game, I thought about the problem logically. All celebrity, from spoiled socialite, to fading a pop star, has a career. This career has a path of up and downs, and with it comes fame and infamy. It is this path, which makes people like Mike Jagger, Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Brittany Spears famous. For good or bad, their career path brought them to where they are today. It is this realization which led me to the decisions that each players would choose a life path. Not only by choosing a life path, but by assembling their life path they would gain or loose fame. I like this, in that is allows for a player to see their fame come and go, in addition it would bring a new twist to play.

With this idea, and a rough sketch of how I want to accomplish it, I need to settle on four Life Paths a player can choose from. This is harder than it sounds, because once I start brainstorming and jotting down Life Paths I cannot stop!

I did this brainstorming a few days ago, and in fifteen minutes I have something like fifty Life Paths sketched out on a yellow legal pad. This brainstorming has given me a lot of choices when picking the four Life Paths.

So what are the four?

  1. Former Reality TV Show “Contestant”
  2. Heiress
  3. Teenage Pop-star
  4. Aging Hollywood Pseudo Legend

Why these four?

To be honest, I am still going back a forth on a few of them. The problem I am having is that there are so many good ones that fit the theme of the game that I think I am leaving a good hook out of the game. Still, these four are the most common theme you see in today’s tabloid journalism and the Cult of Personality surrounding these four also help drive the conflict in the game. Sadly I am waffling, and not only do I hate waffles but waffling.

I am liking this game, and the more I work on it, the more I like it. I see a lot of fun with it.

Anyway, that is the latest. The next post I do that deals with :16 will either be more about Life Path Cards, or I will write about the mechanic driving this whole thing.

What do you want to know about first?

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