I’ve always been interested in rule based systems, and lately I’ve been reading a lot about game design. I’ve found it far more interesting to hear the designer’s thought process behind the design of a game than to actually play the game itself. This has recently led me to listening to The Game Design Roundtable, a game design podcast hosted by Dirk Knemeyer & Jon Shafer.
On a recent episode, Dirk Knemeyer talked about one of the projects he’s been working on called War Stories. The goal of the project is to develop a tabletop strategy game that streamlines and simplifies the process of playing. Most such games require lots of charts, tables and reference materials. The design team wanted to get rid of as much of these extraneous parts as possible, and they did this by making the few pieces they did use more intelligent.
My personal favorite result of this process is the way the space of the game, the map, works. The spaces on the map vary in size proportionally with how easy that terrain is to cross. So easily crossed terrain is very large and hard to cross terrain is small. This allows you to simplify movement by setting a piece’s movement ability to a fixed number of spaces. The movement modifiers present in similar games are now simply inherent to the map. No math required!
I really like the idea and I spent some time exploring it myself. You can see some of the results below. In this example, each map piece is made up of 19 hexes and contains either 3 or 5 spaces. Each space contains either 1, 3, 5, 7 or 9 hexes. These rules allowed me to narrow the number of possible configurations. Each column is one of 9 possible permutations of number and size of spaces within these constraints. There are more possible configurations in each category. I chose ones I felt were most distinct and interesting, generally avoiding symmetry where possible to make them feel more organic.