Legend of Hero: Board Game Design Project [PART 2]

Legend of Hero Early Prototype
Early prototype for the current Legend of Hero game concept

This post is part of an ongoing series. I’m documenting my journey through what I’m hoping is my first successful Game Design project start to finish. I’ve tried to start several ideas in the past, this one I’m determined to see through. Part 1 can be found HERE.

Great! I have an initial idea! Where do I even start?

I’m not going to lead you on to believe that I am approaching this from a professional game design background. I am like we all start, right at the beginning. Where to begin once you have a good starting idea? Start jotting down ideas in whatever format you prefer, pen and paper or a digital document. From there then where do you go? I’ve been turned on to good resources from both BoardGameGeek.com and reddit.com.

On Reddit, I suggest r/tabletopgamedesign. Great place to see where others are going and how they are progressing. So far in my experience, it’s a community that is pretty receptive to basic questions and is pretty positive and supportive. It’s good to get your idea out there for a few reasons: you can get some quick feedback and establish your idea in a reputable community.

On Board Game Geek, I’ve been leaning on the Board Game Design section in the forums. There are a pile of great stickies that are good beginner guides as to how to outline a game design and what big picture things you need to consider.

We live in a time where home brewed games are more capable than ever to spring to life via crowdfunding. This is indeed, a golden age for the amateur game designer!

What I want this game to do

I really want this game to play like a fast paced dungeon crawler that never plays the same way twice. I’m looking for a randomly generated game board each time where the monsters aren’t just things you grind through but obstacles that push you to explore. The mechanics need to keep on the pressure so that dawdling too much can be the death of the adventuring party. Items and treasure rooms will be temptations that need to be carefully considered as grabbing them could cause more harm than good.

Although I am looking for this to play like a dungeon crawler, I want it to feel more like an exploration and adventure game. If I compare it to a video game I want it to feel like the original Legend of Zelda. The first time you play you don’t know what the next screen holds, but you keep charging on to find the dungeon. There will be two phases in this game, the wilderness exploration and the dive into the dungeon.

I have some backstory and themes I’m cooking up, but I’m trying to focus on structure and core mechanics first. Without further adieu…

Outlining Major Milestones: Building the Skeleton

Although I am not a veteran game designer, I’m drawing some parallels in this process to what I’m more familiar with in my day to day. Production process design. A game needs to follow a course of programed logic that allows it to function start to finish. An assembly line is an incredibly linear logical process that has no variance. Most of us in our jobs function in some structured collection of checkpoints that allow us to complete our day to day tasks.

To me, game design is no different. Both production process in the workplace and the flow in a game or organic processes that follow certain rules and laws. So, now that I’ve drawn that connection, how in the hell would I pull this all together? I’m starting with a structure like that is driven by phases, which have within them milestones, and the milestones are defined by my detailed logic.

As I write this, my game phases and milestones map out as follows:

  • Set Up
    • Build Wilderness/Dungeon Tile Decks
    • Players choose their heroes
    • Place Wilderness Start Tile on the table
    • Determine player initiative order
  • Wilderness Exploration
    • Players/Monsters take turns in initiative order
      • Actions
      • Reveal new tiles
    • Once Dungeon Entrance tile is revealed, all players that can enter the dungeon do so
  • Clean up Wilderness Tiles
    • Players that are still alive gather their heroes from the board
    • Clear Wilderness Tiles from table
    • Place Dungeon Start Tile on the table
  • Dungeon Exploration
    • Players/Monsters take turns in initiative order
      • Actions
      • Reveal new tiles
    • Once Boss room is revealed, kill the boss to win
  • Clean up game and celebrate success

This outline is super high level and super basic. I know roughly how I want the game to play out and I have a starting point. Often times in any design process, this is the hardest and most frustrating part. It can feel clunky and forced. Fortunately, this still felt fun to develop!

For now, I think I’m going to leave it there. Next steps will be to begin to define the outline in more detail. I will also take breaks from over all structure to develop mechanics and in game systems. If I spend too much time on one aspect, I will most likely lose my mind.

Feel free to leave me a comment on your initial impressions. Thanks for reading, the journey continues!