Mutants vs Androids is Ben, Sean, Rachel and I’s tabletop creation that we have been iterating and tweaking for several weeks in order for it to be in its quintessential form. Our original idea in Week 5 was to create a tabletop game that was based in the setting of Japan vs America, where you take either side of the countries and try to take them down. Massive inspiration from the movie, “The Last Samurai”, where the plan was for a battle that took place after the final battle scene from the film. However, in the first week of prototyping we all came to an agreeance that there may be too many potential cultural appropriated connotations attached with this style of setting and game world.
After speaking with Richard about this predicament that may arise with our title, he said it would be easier for us to make our game more fantasy/sci-fi based in order to remove any potential social/political commentary. This made our game more balanced and can further extend our audience to sci-fi fans and the niche of fantasy and dystopia. This way the game setting had really no limitations as we could make our title become anything in those large categories. After the four of us brainstormed on this, it was best if we based our board game on a dystopian, post apocalyptic earth setting where mutants and androids are fighting over Earths soil.
One of my contributions to our tabletop was the idea and design to place random item cards across the board before the opening move of the game. These item cards are three abilities your respective team can utilise. For example, androids have teleporter, where the character can teleport to anywhere on the map but only has one use. Laser strike, a linear attack throughout the whole course of the grid that is only in a straight line. Plasma Grenade, a heavy damage weapon that can only be thrown two blocks ahead. Mutants have Poison Gas, it lasts for two moves and damages enemies in a 1 block radius, lasts two moves. The rest of the card attributes are shown down further in this blog.
This is obviously massive inspiration from monopoly where you can pick up the cards when you land on the right part of the board. It is the same principle as the Item cards from that franchise and I believe the anonymity of the card placing really adds to the strategic elements of your attack.
These are randomly placed by your own team but you do not know which ones are which and where they are placed. These item cards add further damage to your opponents and propel yourself closer to winning. Shown below is the abilities each team can possess. The colour of blue is the android team and the opposing colour of pink is mutants territory.
The background research and inspirations evident in this game can be found quickly once play testing commenced. Our movement system can be compared to traditional tabletop games such as Chess, and also Civilisation VI. Where it is a back and fourth, turn to turn movement based concept. Ben, Sean and I had also spoken before in previous lessons till week 5 about some of our favourite games and the Fallout series was a game title that we all knew very well. That set the tone and setting for our idea as we based a lot of our characters attacks off of that franchise. That is highlighted down below in my item cards design brought into our game.
To further establish our game in a professional matter, I looked at the ways our inspirations (such as chess) had and the ways it kept players interested and engaged. Chess has a turn by turn playing mechanic which can allow the players to develop a analytical way of thinking and playing. For example, players who are experienced in the game of chess are able to think about their subsequent moves on the chess board while their opponent is having their turn or they themselves are taking their turn. This background investigation led me to figuring out a game loop mechanic which was put in place which was to keep the players engaged and willing to keep on competing through the four dependant movements which is; Move, Attack, Use an ability, Use an Item Card. This cycle helps scaffold the game nicely especially for younger audiences. Keeping them engaged with the game also producing a faster gameplay experience.
To tie that in with Androids vs Mutants, using this four choice turn system simplifies that playing experience while also giving players the ability to think critically about their subsequent moves in order to gain one up on there opponent, inspired from the gameplay mechanics of chess.
Along with the designs of the game rules sheet and the design of the item cards (further below in the blog), one of the other considerable contributions I made to the group was finding names for some of the individual six playable characters.
Once we as a team decided what strengths and weaknesses each character for each respective team had, I categorised each character and Google’d synonyms depending on what the character was like. For example, the character of ‘Commodious’ is a strong, brute character which has lots of strength against enemies but his movement and defence is weak. I went through synonyms for the word “Strong” and commodious was one of the listings. It sounded tough and brutal so it had to be included. We all took turns at doing this and brainstormed together on names which really fit the characters and gave a bit of charm to the game.
Ben and Sean did the first original play test of the game so it will make more sense for them to speak on those areas where they felt like there should be change, there blogs are linked down below. All four of us brought different elements to the table and that allowed us to put together a prototype that we were able to “play”, which seemed like an enormous task at the start of the semester, however, it was a good way to get us to think critically about game media and game experiences.