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Syllabus

Page history last edited by Rafael Fajardo 3 years, 11 months ago

Syllabus for Rapid Paper-Based Game Design & Protoyping


 

Objectives

  • To explore the creation of games through experimentation.
  • To protoype 10 paper-based games in 10 weeks. Players will make a new paper-based game each week. Each new game will be made in response to formal and conceptual parameters or challenges detailed below. [This objective was modified for round one and round two. Week 6 and week 7 were used to iterate, revise, refine and improve the gameplay and production values of a game produced during the first five weeks. Players expressed the desire for a completed, polished project at the end of the experiment. Enforced rapid innovation and prototyping had left them fatigued and seeking recognizable rewards. The challenges evolved in response to the Players request]
  • To document and disseminate our observations and games through this wiki. Each player will document their games by uploading their rule sets and material parameters to pages that link off of their respective Players pages. Each Player is charged with becoming a reflective player. Players should record their observations and comments on games they have played inside and outside of the lab and then share these observations verbally and online through the comments capability of the wiki. It is the responsibility of each respective Player to document the feedback they receive and include it on the page for their game(s).

 

Methods and Assessment

  1. Games are experiential in nature and can only be assessed by and through play.
  2. Players will gather in the lab for collaborative assessment twice a week.
  3. Designers are not allowed to play their own game for purposes of assessment.
  4. Participating game designers agree to be listed on the Players page.
  5. Participating game designers agree to be open to constructive comments and critiques by the other participating designers.
  6. All participants agree that constructive comments and critiques are meant to:
    1. help improve the gameplay of a designer's game,
    2. share a player's reflections of gameplay and engagement,
    3. contribute to the building of critical vocabularies for game design.
  7. Game names and rules remain the property of the their respective participating designers who are the definitive arbiter of those rules.
  8. participating game designers agree to allow us to publish their games and rules on TakeTurns wiki and will receive proper credit for their creations.
  9. Players will play reflectively
  10. Players will be assumed to be playing to win, unless they proclaim their intention to do otherwise
  11. Non-players will actively observe games as they are played
  12. Players and non-players will offer observations and constructive critiques to the designer
  13. Designers, players and non-players will record their observations in their notebooks and upload them as comments to the TakeTurns wiki
  14. Role(s) of the player:
    1. play to win
    2. play to draw
    3. play to lose
    4. play to spoil
    5. play "against the text"
    6. all these imply an ethic of competition

 

Rubrics

  • there exist two primary levels of difficulty for a designer:
  1. is it fun for me?
  2. is it fun for someone else?
  • the latter is particularly hard for a designer to achieve, even within the industry
  • there are imperfect ways to measure "goodness" in game design:
  1. willingness of someone to play through to the end
  2. willingness of someone to play again
  3. willingness of someone to introduce the game to someone else
  • there exists room to improve on these

 

Materials

  1. bound sketchbook dedicated to this class
  2. paper of various sizes
  3. game tokens of sundry shapes
  4. writing and coloring implements

 

Challenges for round 1 (2007.01-2007.03)

Formal constraints are traction — Bill Depper

  1. Formal Constraints: Create a turn-based, two-player game. The game will be complete-able in 15 minutes. The gameplay will occur within an 11" x 17" surface. Turns or moves may be signalled by either a six sided dice (D6) or a coin.
  2. Formal Constraints: Create a two-player game. The gameplay will occur on a surface made up of hexagonal tiles with a diameter between one and one-and-a-half inches. Gameplay can proceed as either turn-based or simultaneous movement. Turns of moves may be signalled by either a spinner or cards. An 8.5 x 11 inch hexagonal field is available for download (HexagonalField.pdf 627kb) and at Incompetech.com.
  3. Formal Constraints: Create a one-player game with a knowable outcome (i.e. not a toy). You shall use only one of the following sets of materials.
    1. Rubber band and tooth brush
    2. Thirteen tokens of any size/shape
    3. A bowling ball (or facsimile thereof)
  4. Conceptual Constraint: Make a game about Red.
  5. Conceptual and Formal Constraint: Make a three-player game that cannot be played as a two-player game.
  6. Revise a previous game or revisit a previous week's constraint by constructing a new game.
  7. Make a further revision of a previous game, and refine your production values paying particular attention to the material, visual and haptic qualities. It's not advisable to create a highly polished version of a game with unrefined gameplay.
  8. Make a game whose rules are expressed in a maximum of three haikus. No verbal prefatory remarks are allowed.
  9. Make a game that expresses its ideology (point-of-view, belief system, etc.) through gameplay.

 

Challenges for round 2 (2008.01-2008.03)

  1. Formal Constraints: Create a turn-based, two-player game. The game will be complete-able in 15 minutes. The gameplay will occur within an 11" x 17" surface. Turns or moves may be signalled by either a six sided dice (D6) or a coin.
  2. Formal Constraints: Create a two-player game. The gameplay will occur on a surface made up of hexagonal tiles with a diameter between one and one-and-a-half inches. Gameplay can proceed as either turn-based or simultaneous movement. Turns of moves may be signalled by either a spinner or cards. An 8.5 x 11 inch hexagonal field is available for download (HexagonalField.pdf 627kb) and at Incompetech.com.
  3. Formal Constraints: Create a one-player game with a knowable outcome. The gameplay will occur on a gridded surface. The surface will be comprised of square tiles of a maximum 0.5" x 0.5". The player's token must occupy a minimum of four tiles. The material for the token must be readily available in a corner convenience store.
  4. Formal Constraints:
    1. Create a two player game in Scratch.
    2. Use no more than four (4) sprites or characters.
    3. Make use of one or more elements from Motion.
    4. At least one character should have multiple animation frames.
    5. Use at least one variable.
    6. There is no rule 6.
    7. Something using broadcast commands.
  5. Conceptual Constraints: Make a game about Sad.
    1. Formal Constraint: paper based protoype has to be developed and tested
    2. Formal Constraint: paper-prototype has to be produced as a digital videogame in Scratch.
  6. Conceptual Constraint: Make a game that exemplifies Tolerance.
  7. Final Challenge: Dissemination. Enter your game that exemplifies Tolerance into the Better Game Contest.

 

Challenges for round 3 (2011.01–2011.03)

  1. Formal Constraints:
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of plain blank paper (either letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inch) or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      2. One sheet of gridded paper (either letter-sized (8.5 11 inch)  or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      3. Three game tokens (selected at random); 
      4. An assortment of colored magic markers. 
    2. Choose one of the tokens to represent the player character. 
      1. The player character will move "one move" in any direction per turn. 
      2. Create a goal for the non-player character.
    3. Choose the other two tokens to represent non-player characters
      1. write rules to govern the actions the non player characters
    4. Write rules that will challenge, obstruct, or hinder the player character from reaching that goal
    5. Game duration should be no longer than 5 minutes
    6. Game Play Testing
      1. Play testing is ...
      2. This game will need play testers to role play the part of the Player Character and the NPC
      3. This game will need play testers to simulate simultaneous play
  2. Formal Constraints: Create a game using only one mechanic, using a socially acceptable body part, for two players. The Designer cannot speak nor perform the rules for the players.
  3. Formal Constraints: create a three player game, that is turn-based, with the possible outcomes being: one winner - two losers, two winners - one loser, three way draw. The game should be playable on a  two-dimensional surface (i.e. a piece of paper) with either a hexagonal or triangular pattern ( Incompetech.com can generate a number of graph papers for you ). The surface can be between 11"x11" and 17"x17". The game should be completable in 15 minutes. It would be best if the rules were brief. As before, the designer may not speak nor perform the rules.
  4. Formal + Conceptual Constraints: Cooperative, collaborative play. Two to seven players. Fifteen minutes gameplay max. Constraints on each player are defined such that collaboration is a multiplier of effort. 
  5. Conceptual Constraint: Create a game about Longing. 
  6. Conceptual Constraint: The theme is autonomy. 
  7. Rework and refine one of your games from the prior challenges; or, create and bring to a high level of refinement one more game.

 

Challenges for round 5 (2013.01-2013.03)

  1. Formal Constraints:
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of plain blank paper (either letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inch) or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      2. One sheet of gridded paper (either letter-sized (8.5 11 inch)  or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      3. Three game tokens (selected at random); 
      4. An assortment of colored magic markers. 
    2. Choose one of the tokens to represent the player character. 
      1. The player character will move "one move" in any direction per turn. 
      2. Create a goal for the non-player character.
    3. Choose the other two tokens to represent non-player characters
      1. write rules to govern the actions the non player characters
    4. Write rules that will challenge, obstruct, or hinder the player character from reaching that goal
    5. Game duration should be no longer than 5 minutes
    6. Game Play Testing
      1. Play testing is ...
      2. This game will need play testers to role play the part of the Player Character and the NPC
      3. This game will need play testers to simulate simultaneous play
  2. Formal Constraints:
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of blank paper to record rules
      2. One sheet of gridded paper to use as game play surface
      3. Two figure tokens
    2. Using one, and only one, mechanic
      1. create a non-violent game that places two players in opposition
      2. each player will be represented by one of the figurative tokens
      3. the gameplay will occur on the gridded sheet
      4. movement rules will be expressed in the single mechanic
  3. Formal Constraints: create a three player game, that is turn-based, with the possible outcomes being: one winner - two losers, two winners - one loser, three way draw. The game should be playable on a two-dimensional surface (i.e. a piece of paper) with either a hexagonal or triangular pattern for the game board, and either a hexagonal or triangular perimeter. Incompetech.com can generate a number of graph papers for you. The surface can have a 14 inch maximum diameter. The game should be completable in 15 minutes. It would be best if the rules were brief. As before, the designer may not speak nor perform the rules.
  4. Conceptual Constraint: Anti-conflict.
  5. Conceptual Constraint: Ancestry
    Formal Constraint: using inexpensive material, bring your play surface into 3 Dimensions, meaningfully. (3D Tic Tac Toe is a useful example)
  6. Conceptual Constraint: make a game about water.
  7. Formal Constraint: Make a game whose rules are expressed in a maximum of three haiku poems. No verbal prefatory remarks are allowed.
  8. Combined Formal and Conceptual Constraint: Make a game that expresses its ideology (point-of-view, belief system, etc.) through gameplay.
  9. Remix, Refine, Iterate, one of your earlier games.

 

Challenges for round 7 (2014.09-2014.11)

  1. Challenge 1: Formal Constraints
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of plain blank paper (either letter-sized (8.5 x 11 inch) or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      2. One sheet of gridded paper (either letter-sized (8.5 11 inch)  or tabloid sized (11 x 17 inch)); 
      3. Three game tokens (selected at random); 
      4. An assortment of colored magic markers. 
    2. Choose one of the tokens to represent the player character. 
      1. The player character will move "one move" in any direction per turn. 
      2. Create a goal for the non-player character.
    3. Choose the other two tokens to represent non-player characters
      1. write rules to govern the actions the non player characters
    4. Write rules that will challenge, obstruct, or hinder the player character from reaching that goal
    5. Game duration should be no longer than 5 minutes
    6. Game Play Testing
      1. Play testing is ...
      2. This game will need play testers to role play the part of the Player Character and the NPC
      3. This game will need play testers to simulate simultaneous play
  2. Challenge 2: Formal Constraints:
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of blank paper to record rules
      2. One sheet of gridded paper to use as game play surface, you may choose the size of the grid units and the size of the paper
      3. Two figure (i.e. human shaped) tokens
      4. You may use abstract shapes to indicate setting or barriers
    2. Using one, and only one, mechanic
      1. create a non-violent game that places two players in opposition
      2. each player will be represented by one of the figurative tokens
      3. the gameplay will occur on the gridded sheet
      4. movement rules cannot be dictated by a dice roll
    3. Gameplay duration cannot exceed 10 minutes from start of play to finish.
  3. Challenge 3: Formal Constraints: create a three player game, that is turn-based, with the possible outcomes being: one winner - two losers, two winners - one loser, three way draw. The game should be playable on a contiguous two-dimensional surface with either a hexagonal or triangular pattern for the game board, and an asymmetric perimeter. We have play mats with hex grids in 1 inch and in 1.5 inch diameters available. Incompetech.com can generate a number of graph papers for you. The surface can have a 36 inch maximum diameter. The game should be completable in 20 minutes. It would be best if the rules were brief. As before, the designer may not speak nor perform the rules.
  4. Challenge 4: uses a conceptual constraint: "make a game about philanthropy"
  5. Challenge 5: conceptual constraint: "make a game about anger"
  6. Challenge 6: Formal constraint: a tabletop game that employs the third dimension of height. Four player. No combat. Conceptual constraint: about falling leaves.

  7. Challenge 7: conceptual constraint: make a chartreuse game

  8. Challenge 8: create a game that uses no props, tokens, spinners, boards, or violence, that compels players to interact with one another. 

  9. Challenge 9: formal constraint: make a game using only paper and the colors black and white.

 

Challenges for Round 9 (2016 09)

  1. Challenge 1: make a game for 2 players, using an 8" x 8" playing surface (paper or other), 3 geometric solids, and a color spinner or a 30 second timer. The game rules should be written or typed onto a separate piece of paper. The game should be completable in 10 minutes max.
  2. Challenge 2: make a game for 3 players, using an 8.5" x 14" playing surface (paper or other), any (non-zero) number of figurative (looking like people or animals) tokens, with no spinners nor dice, where victory is achieved by (at least) two of the players collaborating. The game rules should be written or typed onto a separate sheet of paper. The game must be completable in 10 minutes max, and learnable in 5 minutes max (a total time envelope of 15 minutes). 
  3. Challenge 3: Formal Constraints:
    1. Materials:
      1. One sheet of blank paper to record rules
      2. One gridded surface to use for gameplay, you may choose the size of the grid units and the size of the surface
      3. Two figure (i.e. human shaped) tokens
      4. You may use abstract shapes to indicate setting or barriers 
    2. Using one, and only one, mechanic
      1. create a non-violent game that places two players in opposition
      2. each player will be represented by one of the figurative tokens
      3. the gameplay will occur on the gridded surface
      4. movement rules cannot be dictated by a dice roll
    3. Gameplay duration cannot exceed 10 minutes from start of play to finish.
  4. Challenge 4: Conceptual Constraint: make a game about nervousness.
  5. Challenge 5: Revisit and Refine one of the previous games. 
  6. Challenge 6: Conceptual Constraint: make a game about rules. 
  7. Challenge 7: Conceptual Constraint: make a game that consumes itself 
  8. Challenge 8: Formal Constraint and Conceptual Constraint, at the same time: Unfolds, that is to say... the mechanic should be "unfolding", and the idea should be about unfolding. 

 

Resources

Local Game-token Shops

  1. Wizard's Chest (Broadway Blvd. at 4th Avenue, Denver)
  2. Bonnie Brae Hobby Shop (S Broadway in Englewood) (sadly, closed as of July 2016)
  3. It's Your Move (various locations around town)
  4. The toy aisle at Walgreens or other pharmacies
  5. The toy aisle at King Soopers or other super-markets and grocery stores 
  6. The toy aisle at Target may yield surprising results, and the sporting goods section is great for locating a tackle box for making your own kit
  7. Any Party City can yield figurative tokens in their collections of inexpensive party favors
  8. U.S. Toys (County Line Road, I think) can offer spinners and geometric solids, as well as collections of figurative toys 

 

Suggested Reading

an up to date list is kept online via Zotero.org

for Rapid Paper-based Game Design and Prototyping

for Rapid Physical Game Design and Prototyping


  1. Hunicke, LeBlanc, & Zubek. MDA: A Formal Approach to Game Design and Game Research.
  2. Salen + Zimmerman. Rules of Play. MIT Press.
  3. Carse. Finite and Infinite Games. Ballantine.
  4. Zimmerman. Iterative Design. Design Research: Methods and Perspectives. MIT Press.
  5. Bang. Picture This: How pictures work. SeaStar Books.
  6. Pirateer: the game of outrageous fortune
  7. How to write rules without confusing people
  8. Taking Play Seriously, from New York Times Sunday Magazine
  9. Paul Rand, Design and the Play Instinct 
  10. The Secret History of Leftist Board Games 
  11. Schell. The Art of Game Design, a book of lenses.
  12. Koster. A Theory of Fun for Game Design.
  13. Brathwaite & Schreiber. Challenges for Game Designers.
  14. Fullerton. A Game Design Workshop.

 

Suggested Links

  1. mkHexGrid
  2. Incompetech (generates a variety of grids as .PDF files)
  3. Lovelace. Rock-Paper-Scissors Variants. www.umop.com/rps.htm
  4. The Game Crafter, provides small batch (short run) printing and fabrication of board and table top games
  5. Board Game Geek, is an online community and marketplace for board- and table-top games and game designers (what itch.io aspires to be for videogames)
  6. Spreadsheets and Game Design tips on Gamasutra 
  7. Ruby Cow Games design tips for using Excel and Google Sheets 
  8. Receiver issue 17 Gaming and Playing
  9. Fluxx published by Looney Labs
  10. 1000 Blank White Cards at Wikipedia
  11. Nomic at Wikipedia
  12. Experimental Gameplay Project
  13. Ludoztli a competitive exhibition  cancelled
  14. Social Impact Game contest sponsored by TiltFactor
  15. Funded Kickstarter tabletop games to date:  https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/advanced?state=successful&category_id=34&sort=magic
  16. Funded Kickstarter card games to date:  https://www.kickstarter.com/discover/advanced?state=successful&category_id=273&sort=magic
  17. Funded Kickstarter games, allhttps://www.kickstarter.com/discover/advanced?state=successful&category_id=12&sort=magic

 

 

Suggested Games

  1. Capture the Flag in downtown Denver by Big and Sharp (recognize anyone?)
  2. Newsgaming
  3. Lanza a simultaneous movement game on a hexagonal game board
  4. Mancala
  5. Croquet
  6. Fluxx

 

Suggested Software

  1. Quartz Composer for Mac OS X, part of XCode
  2. Greenfoot (Free programming environment)
  3. Stagecast Creator (Low cost, robust, programming environment)
  4. Scratch (Free programming environment)
  5. Processing (FOSS programming environment)
  6. Inkscape (FOSS vector drawing program)
  7. GIMP (FOSS pixel editing program)
  8. Pixen (Free pixel editing program for Mac OS)

 

Comments (1)

Rafael Fajardo said

at 9:29 am on Mar 11, 2007

N.B. After five weeks we had fifty-five new games and the Players were fatigued and in need of a modified challenge. We proceeded to refine a game made during the first five weeks. As in game design, we had to adjust and refine the pace and level of challenge to help ensure consistent engagement.

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