• Andrew Jonhardt

This is probably a bad idea, so why not?

Have you ever played the card game War? It's a horribly simple game, typically played by 2 players, where both players draw cards from face down decks. That's it. There's almost no potential for strategy because no information is stored outside of piles (score and deck piles, mainly). Players simply flip over the top cards of each deck, and the highest value wins.

Why am I writing about War? Because, when I say I had a moment this weekend when I was terrified my game was turning into War, I want you to understand what I mean.

I had just formulated a means to introduce more randomness by removing individual player decks and having only 1 deck. This approach also has the advantage of making a card game simpler to set up and understand. I played a few tests of this central deck concept, and it seems a decent direction to take the game. Unfortunately, I also became convinced I was oversimplifying my game and making it too much like War.

Psychic Scrap Racers will never be as simple as War, thankfully. The ability to gather cards into a hand and select the card you wish to play will always be more complexity than War can manage. However, as I found myself considering ways to make the game simpler, I began also to consider why I was even making a physical board game in the first place.

The truth is that I'm not a big board game player. I'm not one who often enjoys being a physical piece of game engine versus playing within one. I prefer to play games alone, and I like an easy set up. I'm not above tearing my computer apart to get something working, of course, but I don't always want to go that far.

So, what am I doing making a physical game? Aside for design practice, I don't have a good answer. I don't really understand the culture of board games, and I've had little inclination to immerse myself more than necessary. I think that means it's time to make a change.

The biggest issue with Psychic Scrap Racers right now is randomness. There's not enough of it. The solutions that come to mind are:

1. Remove separate decks and have only 1 central deck.

2. Embrace the strong LCG ("Living" Card Game) influence.

I like Solution 2 the most, and the biggest catch is that no sane publisher is going to be OK with it. LCG design is expensive and, while I assume a publisher might have a better idea, I find myself wanting to move forward with it. The option then is to cut down on the expense. Basically, make a video game.

Of course, I made a chart of pluses and minuses to be sure. Video games are what inspires me, not board games. I know more about the video game industry. Digital products can be sold effectively forever, while physical supplies must always become unprofitable or run out. Publishing a video game is something I'm not afraid to do myself.

There are strong downsides, the biggest being paying for an artist and potentially a programmer, but the costs are actually kind of exciting when associated with a video game. Not so with a board game.

I've begun drawing up a list of what I would need to get done. The estimated time required is 50 weeks, which is just shy of 1 year. I'm going to go ahead and bump the estimate to 1 year.

I could be about to go off on an unhelpful tangent. Yet, I'm still working entirely for myself, with no real dependencies so long as I keep my day job. And, I will be unquestionably getting programming experience out of this. Best of all, I'm excited!

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