Legend of Hero: Board Game Design Project [PART 1]

Legend of Zelda

Legend of Hero: From Daydream to Rough Concept

If I were to say to you, “the most influential video game of my life has been the original Legend of Zelda for the NES” I wouldn’t be sharing a unique thought with you. I share this experience with so many gamers. I used to be so infatuated with this game when I was little, I would recreate the items from the game to great pixelated detail out of cardboard and crayon. Then, I would have my dad hide them around the house and yard and I would quest to find them to become the legendary hero.

I even had the board game by Milton Bradley at one point. That board game did the experience of the game justice in theme only. It was far from a brilliant or engaging game system. Recently I found a post on Zelda Informer regarding a community member who had recreated the game and shared the printable files on Board Game Geek. This sparked some serious nostalgia but also caused me to become inspired to create. This is the beginning of my own personal quest through tabletop game design.

game design inspiration
A glorious sight, the original seed planted.

Game Design Aims and Goals

So where to begin? I sat down and created a list of aims goals so I could focus on what I really wanted this game to be. Here is the high level game design aims, goals, and focuses:

  • Target Audience: Gamers of all ages. I want this to hold up well amongst friends and families alike. The challenge in this? It needs enough complexity to be challenging and engaging with each play through yet needs to be simple enough for elementary age kids to be able to grasp without frustration.
  • Playability: I want the excitement to come in through the element of exploration. There are knowns in video games and assumptions to be drawn. You know you will adventure through a space that will be unknown the first time through. You know there will be a treasure to be found, a puzzle to be solved. There will be some pressure that keeps you moving on towards some inevitable confrontation at the end of the stage. I want all of these elements to occur in some form and I want the adventure to be new and unknown to some degree each play through.
  • Player Interaction: Cooperative and engaged.  The game should run in such a way that the players need to often consult with one another to determine best course of action. Combat should be fast paced, but feel like an RPG where some semblance of a team strategy is needed. This of course will need to be vetted carefully, so the game doesn’t slow down to much. Everything shouldn’t have to be a large strategic discussion.
  • Choices, Randomness, & Luck: There should be a bit of pressure on the players to keep moving and not dawdle. The option to sit and grind through every game tile should never be possible. The randomness should not be game breaking in either a positive or negative way for the players. Luck in the item deck should lead to moments of relief and miraculous acts of heroics, but shouldn’t necessarily be relied upon for a win.
  • Overall Theme: This should thematically feel like The Legend of Zelda brought to life in tabletop format. It should have elements and feel similar to Hero Quest, but also have a taste of some of the newer games and mechanics (think Zombicide). SHOULD be a blend of new age game mechanics, with a massive replay factor, and ties to beloved games of the past.

This Is Not My First Attempt Friends

game design inspiration
Hero Quest: early tabletop concept inspiration.

Reflecting back, This is at least the third iteration of this game concept that I have attempted to create. Earlier versions of this game design were more of a dungeon crawl and were heavily Hero Quest inspired. I initially had created a randomized dungeon crawler that escalated in challenge as the heroes leveled up. It was very one dimensional. The mechanic of a randomized dungeon however, is something I am stealing from myself for this concept.

Game design is not easy. I have never made it farther than initial play testing and have even considered that one hell of an accomplishment. This latest concept is roughly two weeks old and I’ve already made more progress in creating a solid set of rules than I ever have before. I’m upping the complexity of the mechanics while finding ways to make them easy to use. I’m not doing this alone of course, I have help from good friends (which are they very same people that I run this blog with).

As I post this, I’m already relatively deep into building in some exciting mechanics into code name Legend of Hero. I’m looking at ways to have sustaining item drops to allow the heroes to stay in fighting form. Building in unique items that will give heroes that chance to become even more versatile feels like a must. Combat will include combo attacks. This will make each round of hacking and slashing exciting and not just a dice rolling grind fest. This will be a high excitement race against the clock to recover magical relics from the Dark Wizard’s henchmen! (BBG name still in dev!)

I’m hoping that this can ultimately become a core game system that will allow for added scenarios, realms, dungeons, and monsters hopefully leading to an expansion that is a showdown with the Dark Wizard him/her/it -self!

Thanks for reading, much much more to come!