Sidekicking (design blog)

Asger & Daniel are two boardgame designers from Copenhagen. Neither of them are superheroes, yet both of them are sidekicks... On this blog they catalogue their designer diaries. There will be overall process oriented diaries, and there will be nitty gritty game design component fetischist focussed diaries. If any of this sounds interesting to you, subscribe. As of October 2017 the following games are either released, or to be released very soon: A Tale of Pirates, Panic Mansion, Iron Curtain, Gold Fever, Flamme Rouge, Frogriders, 13 Days, 13 Minutes and Ramasjang Rally. And then there are all the 2018 and 2019 titles we are forgetting or cannot disclose... :P
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Bloom Town - Scoring (designer diary #4)

Asger Harding Granerud
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Board Game Designer
Early Flamme Rouge prototype
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Bloom Town has a layered scoring system with quite some depths for a simple game like this. You score a building immediately when you place it. And again when rescoring is triggered. And maybe also at the end, depending on what you saved for this final scoring.

The depth is not always apparent upon your first play and as I type this I am thinking that it is kind of ironic. Ironic because it was never apparent to me that the game was better off with all these layers until late in development. And ironic because I thought fixing the scoring would be the easy part of creating this game, not the hardest.

So where did it start getting hard, you may ask?
Well, it did as we asked ourselves the deceivingly simple question: At what point during the game would you score points for your achievements?

From gallery of megalomane

The people of Bloom Town want to live with a variety of oppurtunities closeby.

First answer: At the end
Initially it made sense to have the scoring solely at the end as you didn’t have to calculate scoring until the game was over. Experienced players could help younger or more casual gamers, and everyone would have a good time. Then it dawned on us that without any guidance of good/bad play during the game nobody was having fun...

From gallery of megalomane

The shops of Bloom Town serve specific clients.

Second answer: Immediately
It made sense to have the scoring happen every time you place a building. Strong plays are rewarded with lots of points and the dopamine level rises. Then it dawned on us that we had removed the possibility to “complete” certain patterns around houses and shops that want specific neighbours. It is a key feature that a lot of playtesters had fun working pursuing…

From gallery of megalomane

The parks of Bloom Town are most attractive when at a certain size to accommodate leisure activities.

Third answer: Both
It made sense to have scoring happen immediately and at the end to reward players for strong plays at all times. However, we did not want the final scoring to just be an automatic and rather boring rescore of everything, so we saw an opportunity to add some player agency. Now you will score based on only one of the two tiles you have left, so it is up to you assess when the end game is approaching, and whether it is worth it to build that sixth subway, or you should rather save it for scoring but limiting your options going forward.
At this point, we finally had a scoring system that was solid and working but we found it to be quite symmetric without too many highs. One player would score 3 points, then another 2 points, then a third 4 points etc. We needed a change of pace.

From gallery of megalomane

The subway of Bloom Town serves the people best when stations align properly. Go figure.

Fourth answer: Immediately, rescoring during play and at the end
Rescoring was the third layer that created a more organic scoring we were looking for. I think the idea of shuffling some sort of scoring tiles into the market stacks first came from our developer Kirsten, and then we ran with it. In Bloom Town all building types may rescore when their scoring tile number two appears on the market. It is a simple system that makes every game different. It changes the values of the tiles depending on what has rescored, and it is an extra layer you have to consider to play well.

From gallery of megalomane

The office space in Bloom Town tends to group into a large financial district on main roads. You may even see a certain bike race pass by.
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