Today’s photo over at Pobble concerned building, a theme that initially I found a bit too mundane to set off any interesting design ideas. What’s more, there are already so many different games about building, so as a theme it’s a bit overdone. 

Then my mind turned to mechanics: deck building, dice building, even card building (thanks to the recently released Mystic Vale) had been done. Were there other areas that could yield fresh results? 

What about system building? Probably the most incredible game design feat I have seen in recent years, Friedman Freese’s 504 seeks to be able to combine different modules in different ways to produce 504 distinct games. Of course, some of these are better than others, and not all can be throughly tested, but what if you had a simpler system? I realise there are many systems that use a common deck of cards to come up with many different games (starting of course with the regular deck of playing cards!), but maybe there is room for one more?

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Day 82: A card based game building system 

The idea would be to have 3 different parameters that defined a game: how do players obtain cards, how do players play cards, and what is the goal. There would be a common set of cards (with potentially some basic extra components such as a die or some generic counters allowed) with each card having different information: colour, number, type. There might be special cards like buildings or roles that would be used for specific games. 

For a given set of parameters, it would be open to anyone to design a game that fits this. So unlike 504, which generates the games semi-automatically, this system would have curated games that are inspired by an underlying logic.

For example, you might have a game where you draft cards, which are then played in a trick taking fashion, and the goal is to win the least. There could be multiple games that fit these parameters, depending on what was designed. 

Furthermore, you could have a running inventory of sorts – the cards that were currently needed to play all the games in the library, and new designers would be encouraged to design to these component constraints. There could also be new target combinations which currently don’t have any games, which could be the subject of monthly design competitions. Is this something anyone would be interested in I wonder?