Why Pass University When You Can Play A Game About It

As we get further into BCM 300 Game Making we have sorted ourselves into groups and begun working on prototyping our own games. This seemed like a daunting task at first and as me and the three other members of my group were throwing around ideas somebody made a joke about designing a game around passing University. At first we laughed off the idea and continued brainstorming but every now and then you would hear “I know we aren’t doing it, but you could have X in a game about University.” After the 5th or 6th time this happened, combined with the fact brainstorming hadn’t gotten us anything else, we decided to just run with it seeing how far we could push the concept, and whether it could be a viable game for our major assignment.

Game of University (GoU), is (currently) shaping up to be a turned based card game where the goal is to achieve the maximum possible amount of win conditions within a set amount of turns. Currently we are talking about game length (number of turns per person) being dictated by which ‘degree’ you choose to start at the beginning of the game (difficulty level) along with the possibility of adding unique characters, with individual perks and choices available to them to spice up the game. Every turn each player will draw a card from one (or more) piles of cards that can then be played for energy/action points and have an effect, either positive or negative (potentially very positive with a drawback of some sort), that help progress the player towards one of the win conditions. For example a card drawn from the main pile may be for coffee, cost 2 energy to play and give the player 4 extra energy (only on their next turn). Since I personally believe the game will become much to complicated with a lot of different win conditions and no real way to keep track or be sure of how to achieve them I hope to implement a system where each player draws two cards on their turn. One from the standard pile (and would have things like the coffee card) and then one from a win condition specific pile which pushes you towards meeting one of the conditions for victory.

The only real way to lose the game would be if you haven’t reached a certain percentage score in the semesters/years University assessments which means that assuming every player makes it to the end of the game they all will have met the knowledge/study/P’s get degrees condition. The narrative of the game, although still a game you are trying to win at, is not necessarily just about beating everybody else, but rather strategising your own game plan to win (you don’t need to worry about what other people are doing, after you hit a certain breakpoint you achieve the win condition). I believe this lack of interaction between players can also make the game quite dry, so another suggestion I plan to make would be to allow cards that grant interactions between more than one players potentially helping both yourself and them in either the same or different areas (conditions for victory). This also has the possibility of feeding into the idea of unique characters and how different types of people at uni could help each other.

Apart from helping come up with the concept of our game and some of the mechanics, I suggested the card based system that allows actions for each turn, which everyone else then picked up and ran with. I was also given the task of coming up with some loose character concepts. After coming up with a strong list of more potential characters than we would ever need I realised that what I was doing would be useless without any kind of character specific mechanics. Essentially, why would we bother to create characters in a game where you can play as yourself. It would be a waste of our time, paper (to make the cards) and the players time in selecting them. After bringing this up with my group earlier on today we decided to file away the concept of using characters for the time being and use the initial prototype currently being made to see if it is possible to add more complexity to the game without having to create a rule book that has a similar page count as a law textbook.

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