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The first time I worked on Slide Blast was when I was designing game projects that were called "games for beginners". These projects were created specifically for people who didn't have experience with board games. To create them, I started by looking at classic games and worked on adapting some of the mechanisms. I really wanted to do a tile-laying game, but I realized that unfortunately a lot of these games were already on the market.
I sought the help of fellow designer Samgoo Seo who was very interested in the project. He came up with a simple game design of tile placement with hexagonal tiles on which he had traced some roads. The game at this stage was too simple, so we didn't have any big expectations — but we liked the game play, so we started the project with this concept in mind.
The first prototype of the tile placement game
We went around board game stores and the BGG website to look out for similar games and took care to point out what issues those types of games had. Our prototype version was too easy to play, and it was hard for us to make it stand out. We tried to add more elements with many tests done over several weeks. There were several tiles which had to be changed and we made lots of scoring adjustments.
The next step was to find the right theme for the game to improve the player's immersions and fun. Among several concepts, we chose two themes: one was roller coasters, the other was waterpark slides. We were more inclined to choose the roller coaster theme at first — I'm a big fan of Rollercoaster Tycoon! — but we finally decided the waterparks were better as there are not a lot of games with that theme!
Scenes in the game similar to what I pictured in my head; the waterpark looked more lively and fun
At this stage, we were feeling confident with the game's development. Alas, we hit a wall that we had not thought of during our first playtests: "What happens if two players collide?" We realized that player collisions were going to be a considerable problem, and we did not find a solution to fix the issue right away. The game then fell down in my priority list and development stopped for a while.
During another playtest, as we were confronted with the issue once again, a friend of mine came up with an idea: "What if one player goes underwater to avoid the collision?" This made me think that players could possibly jump from one tile to another as a way to avoid the problem. The right solution came alive with the "lifeguard" tile that can be used by players to jump from one place to another in the waterpark. Not only did it make the game more balanced, but the theme was improved as well! I couldn't wait to show this game to publishers!
When I showed the game to Kevin Kim of Mandoo Games, he liked it very much and we were ready to get the game developed towards the final product!
The prototype submitted to Mandoo Games
During development, Kevin asked us to add more elements to the game to make it unique. However, we liked our easy set of rules and didn't want to make the game too complex. At this point, we added the big attraction tiles, which are the equivalent of connecting three tiles at the same time. These tiles gave playtesters the impression that they had something more powerful in hand. The artwork could also benefit from bigger tiles to make spectacular attractions! Kevin also suggested we add a tunnel tile similar to the lifeguard tile as this element added uniqueness to the design of the game.
Mandoo then contracted Christophe Swal, a French illustrator, to do the artwork for a great result in the end!
The first Slide Blast sketch by Christophe Swal
As we were getting near the end of the development, playtesters giving us feedback encouraged us to add a strategic element to the game. We carefully thought of a way to satisfy both families and gamers, and we added the bonus token rule: Each time a player helps another player extend their slide, the original player can take a bonus token that is added to their final score!
That's the story that led us to SPIEL in 2016 with more than one hundred copies sold on the second day — and we are just getting started with the game now being available in North America with FoxMind! I would like to thank my co-designer Samgoo, Kevin Kim of Mandoo Games, and Longshore for their support on this project.
Hope you enjoy the game!
One of the characters in Slide Blast; he looks a bit like me!