Dec 8, 2014

The Wongamania Design Story: Concept to Prototype (Part 2)

Here is the story of how Wongamania came to be:
Part 1: The Genesis of Wongamania

Initial blueprint of Wongamania

 When I first came up with the initial concept of Wongamania, there is so many cool stuff that I wanted to implement.

The basic concept of Wongamania works like this.

1) Players are given a basic income every turn to help them build up their resource. The currency system and the action cards draw from the same base. Meaning that by taking action, you are losing out on money, while if you try to accumulate money, you will lose out on actions that can potentially earn more money or slow down your opponents.

2) The players are suppose to make more money through investing and taking risk by navigating through an economic cycle that goes through Recession, Recovery, Growth and Stagnant phrase and investing in assets

3) The asset cards consist of stocks, properties and bonds. However, each of the asset class has a different buying price and income flow at each different phrase of Wongamania.

Alternative game board design layout of the Economic Cycle
For example, stock is more volatile than property and it will be able to make or lose much more money than property at any point of time. Property has a more stable price fluctuation and generate more stable income, thanks to the nature of rental. Meanwhile, the bond generate a stable income but cost a lot more to buy and sell at the same price, in order to reflect the lower risk/return that you will generate for bonds. At the same time, the price of bonds will not be affected by the market cycle. This created a complex matrix of different numbers at the different quadrant that totally confused my friends, whom the most complex game they ever played is UNO.

Initial version of the Economic Cycle

4) On top of the asset cards, there are action cards which can influence other players, or the environment which will have an impact on everybody. I separated them into 6 different categories.

  - Health Cards: Single target cards that will affect the health of the player like illness, accident, hospitalization, pollution and flu outbreak. These cards will result in skipped turns or expenses resulting in a loss of earning power.

  - Career Cards: Cards that will influence the income that the player receives every turn. Things like retrenchment, salary bonuses, promotion, vacation, overtime, office politics etc.

 - Law Cards: Counter cards that will negate harmful effect to you or beneficial effects for other players

- Incident Cards. Single target cards that will affect the asset value of the assets played. Things like corporate default, company fraud, tenant damages your property etc.

 - Global Cards: Cards that will affect the environment by changing the position of the economic cycle and affecting the investment value of all the asset cards, or a shotgun affect card which will result everyone making or losing money.

 - Professional Cards: Cards that can be used infinitely as long as they are in play. They are like an adviser you hire to help you, like stock broker, lawyer, economist etc. You have to pay money each time you wish to activate them. Works like a creature in most collectible card games.
Brainstorming the kind of card effects

Initial card effects of the Professional Cards keyed into excel
Each category have around 10 different effects, meaning that there are over 60 different effects and each effect has 1 or 2 cards, resulting in a card pool of 100 actionable cards in total. In order to balance off the action cards by ensuring that each player will be able to draw at least 1 asset for every 3 cards a player draw, I inserted 50 asset cards with equal split between shares, properties and bonds.

It is a total disaster.

Essentially, the players a lot more action cards than asset cards and the players spend most of the time waiting for a player to deploy an asset cards before they can activate harmful/helpful actionable cards. In most cases, harmful actionable cards, which resulted in the asset cards being force sold to pay for the debts before they can stay long in the game to help the players accumulate more money. The assets became a liability in most games tested and players are reluctant to deploy their asset cards and tries to win the game by accumulate 2 income per turn very very slowly. You need to accumulate 30 money, in order to win the game and imagine how slow the game became when players have a hand full of actionable cards with little impact on the game play.

 Essentially, I will need to increase the ratio of Assets/Action in order for the game to work. I also realize that by increasing the number of asset cards will not work, because that will actually make the game duration longer. My objective is to have a game that has a duration of 30-60min, not a 2 hours strategic game whereby players spend more time reading on the effect cards and thinking how to chain the cards into a powerful combo. I need to increase the pace, energy and excitement of the game.

I used a word labeling method to generate the cards. Only Education made it into the final game

I need to trim down a lot of those very fun action cards into something more management and simpler to read and execute. I needed to cut from 100 effect cards to around 50-60 cards.

Oh boy, that's a lot of fats to trim....

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