Micro Game Challenge

by kaminazo

Have you ever tried to make a game? Chances are you’ve probably thought of hundreds. You may have even written some down. But what good is a game if no one ever gets to play it? If you don’t make it, how do you know it would even work?

That’s the point of a micro game challenge. You get a stack of blank cards and your brain, that’s pretty much it. The time limit is up to you, but limiting yourself can be helpful. To be a game designer, working under strict deadlines is definitely a job requirement. Make sure to have a group of critical individuals who will help you seriously test the game in stages, as well.

I did the challenge last weekend and came up with a decent card game. I gave myself 2 days and 22 cards. I made a game for 2-4 players that takes about 30min to play. Without going into too much detail about the game mechanics, I can tell you the basic idea.

Each player has a deck, a hand, a world space with zones, and a discard pile. Players take turns building a “castle” with different character cards. When the castle gets large enough, it encroaches on the enemy’s territory. That’s when the building stops and the war begins. Then players take turns tearing each other’s castles down until there is only 1 left standing.

In 2 days I designed two identical decks of 22 cards. The third day was spent play-testing, talking about the game’s successes and failures, and making changes. The final game was okay, but it required more variation.

Since then I have expanded it to 4 decks of 36 cards, each deck with its own uniquely balanced theme based on four principles: aggression, contemplation, manipulation, and synergy. I also play-tested a 3-player game. It’s playing well, but there’s still more R&D to do and countless hours of play-testing and revision.

So far, the cards are only text. The next step is making the text consistent and economizing space with keywords and symbols. Then designing the card’s layout and illustrating the characters will come last.

Working through this process has been invaluable to my growth as a game designer. I’m not sure if I will ever publish the game, or see it played by other people. But, I recommend this micro game challenge to everyone who fancies themselves a game designer.