Game Mechanics and Originality
I mentioned in a recent entry that I fell into a funk after playing Sentinels of the Multiverse. The thing that I found frustrating was the fact that Greater Than Games had done what I wanted to do with Age of Heroes, but had done it better. I fell out of the funk, however, when I reflected on my intentions with the game and with the mechanics.
For example, I have been working on a “4-sided equipping” scheme for one of my game projects. The idea stemmed from an idea that I had for a CCG a few years ago. At the time, my thought was that each character should have 4 traits defining which equipment cards that character could use. It looked something like this:
Left side – Weapons (Melee, Ranged, and Magical)
Right side – Armor (Light, Heavy, and Magical)
Top side – Skill (Artisan, Sage, and Leader)
Bottom side – Powers (Combat, Devine, Arcane)
Playtesting showed that this mechanic was WAY too complicated for a CCG; in fact, it could have possibly been the foundation for an RPG system. Anyway, the biggest problem was the complexity of the combinations. By having 3 sub-categories for each category, I created 81 possible combinations of characters with no repeats. That, coupled with the other ideas that I had for splitting all of the equipment cards into two card “halves” made for ridiculously complicated game states.
Nonetheless, I knew that the fundamental principle could be made to work, even if my application was off. The idea was that cards would be arranged around the character cards in such a way that they each showed something that the character could equip, so what if I took away the sub-categories? The arrangement that I have been working on looks like this:
Left side – weapons
Right Side – Armor
Top side – Spells
Bottom side – Magic Items
So imagine my surprise when watched Tom Vasel’s review of Super Dungeon Explore. Check it out.
See the similarity? Once again, I found myself in a funk; how could I release a game with this mechanic without looking like a complete rip-off?
As it is, I realized two things. First, I realized that the overall structure of Super Dungeon Explore is nothing like my game; it is simply this mechanic that is similar. Second, after looking back through my notes, I remembered that my idea wasn’t completely original either; a similar mechanic was used in Seaborn Games’ “Hunting Party.” In Hunting Party, it was only the title of the cards that were arranged on all 4 sides, but this arrangement was what created the whole idea.
Here’s a demo:
So I guess the lesson here is that there are really no new ideas; there are simply new ways to implement them. I just need to get my product out there and see what the customers think.