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Subject: WIP - KODAMA - [Idea Phase ] rss

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Jeremy Peet
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Greetings!

This game is in the very early idea stages of development. It is likely that much of the structure (and quite possibly the theme) will change.

The primary focus of this project will be:

- Strong illustration. I intend to do a series of pen and ink drawings that will be used for the illustrations.

- Simple Rules and visible design elements.

- quiet, contemplative game flow.


KODAMA "Tree Spirit"

An enchantress has cast a spell upon the land to confuse and trap the tree spirits for her dark purposes. With skill and magic you must break the spell and find your home before you are lost forever.

Kodama is a single player card game where the player must strategically place and move cards to create a single matching set of cards. The player must use energy resources from the cards in order to manipulate the cards in play.

PHASE: Idea
CATAGORY: Puzzle, Tile Laying
MECHANICS: Resource management, Pattern Building
COMPONENTS: Cards, plastic gems
PLAY TIME: 15-30 minutes
AGES: 10+






 



Link to 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest Thread: http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1002891/2013-solitaire-print...

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Nate K
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Pretty! Looking forward to it, Jeremy.
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Lizzie
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Oooh oooh ooooh! So pretty, and sounds so interesting I am looking forward to seeing this take shape
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Thanks for the interest!

The idea behind the illustrations is that they will be drawn in such a way as to look connected regardless of position. This is an example of the same six cards in different positions:

 


The drawings are very rough right now, when finished they will be inked in and color filled either by pencil or digitally (I prefer pencil but it is more time consuming).



After some initial testing I have come up with some ideas, these are the initial elements of the game:

- Three set of twelve cards representing three particular forests. These will each have a predominant color and tree design element.

- A set of 12 cards that are "Dark" forests, places already controlled by the enchantress.

- A set of 6 "wild" cards that will count for any type or may have an added special effect (such as an energy bonus).

- Nine crystal gems or stones for marking energy (this might be replaced with a counting track on the Kodama boards)

- Three Kodama boards, each with slightly unique abilities, and each relating to one of the forests. Only one of these will be selected per game and will change the way the player interacts with the cards.




Goal:

Too have all twelve cards from your Kodamas forest in play before energy is lost, the cards run out, or the dark forest cards take over (majority = 7).

Setup:

Setup involves choosing a Kodama, placing the energy gems on the Kodama card, shuffling the deck and placing twelve random cards from the deck on the table (three rows and four columns).

During a players turn:

A player must choose to perform a single action per turn:

1) Draw a card from the deck and place it in the tableaux by sliding a chosen register of cards and placing the new card in the empty space. The card that is left is removed from game play. The 12 card setup always remains constant.

OR

2) Use a special ability (spell) described on the Kodama board. This may include swapping cards, removing rows, Drawing extra cards, taking a card from the discard pile, rearranging the tableaux, etc.. All special abilities (spells) require the use of energy. This area needs some major work.

I am really focussed on the basic structure and will most certainly have to play with numbers of cards, especially the "dark" cards and 'wild" cards. The illustrations may be time intensive but I am usually fairly good at working in series. I'm not sure if I am going to make a different illustration for every card or keep them a bit more generic.

That's all for now!







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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Can't wait to see the finished illustrations! Looks good so far.
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Vandel Arden
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
I cant imagine the game yet but it sounds cool.
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Today I took a very long walk in the woods. I figured the best way to think about tree spirits was to go and hang out with some trees. In order to get some much needed visual info for my drawings I took a lot of photos for reference. Just to see what the possibilities are for images aside from drawing I decided to do a little photoshop, here's an example:





What do you guys think, should I pursue drawn over and manipulated photos, or should I focus on drawing?

As far as the game structure I have decided to do a little backtracking to simplify the structure. I will focus on pattern building in my next test session.
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Nate K
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Wow. That's... really gorgeous. I mean, I like the drawings, too, but it's kind of difficult to compare unfinished, uncolored sketches with a beautiful full-color image like that.
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
I really like this idea - I'm not sure if I completely understand how the game is going to work yet but its a sweet idea! Subscribed

With the images it depends what feel you are going for - I feel that manipulated photos would be a current/furturistic forest whereas traditional drawn images - especially if they're done in watery ink would be a more historical and old feeling.

When I think of Kodama I think of the creepy little spirits from Princess Mononoke and since Kodama are from Japanese folklore - a traditional stylized ink image would fit better for me
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Lizzie
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
I love the photo, but I have to say hand drawn and inked would be my choice, more in keeping with the feel of the game.
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Thanks for the input!

I will do a mock-up hand drawn/inked image for better comparison. One advantage to the hand drawn style is that is is far easier to have the cards match regardless of position, the photo images will not do this well. I'm not sure if positional matching will ultimately be that important but I think it is a cool design element.

The structure of the game is what I am most worried about. With the deadline approaching and the possibility of having to produce 54 separate drawings I am going to be forced to design and draw at the same time. My original intent was to keep it simple and that is what I am sticking to. I will post more of the game structure soon as it becomes more clear.

A quick poll:

Poll
This game is going to be graphic intense with 54 cards total, which card size would you prefer?
Mini European 44mm x 68mm (1 11/16" x 2 5/8")
Standard 63.5mm x 88mm (2 1/2 x 3 1/2")
      18 answers
Poll created by Germflinger


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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
So its been a few days since I have posted here, how the time flies!

Two things that have been finalized:

1.) 2 1/2" x 3 1/2" standard card size will be used.

2.) Hand drawn ink illustrations will be done instead of enhanced photographs.



I have been struggling with the puzzle-like mechanics, many of the test games I played seemed too hard to complete. I made a new set of test cards with clip art of actual trees to get a better feel for the graphics.

I have been considering the use of creatures/personalities for some of the cards.

A variation I have been playing with is to have each kodama (there are 3) have a single special ability. In a addition to this instead of having spells there is a "familiar" deck of 5 to 7 cards that are shuffled at random at the beginning of the game. The familiars all have special abilities (extra draw, replace a card, draw from the discard, etc.). Because the familiars represent creatures that help the kodama along the way they are discarded when used. So per game there would be a different sequence of familiars to use.

Another thing I have been thinking about is to add creatures to the deck such as a dragon, goblin, or monk. I have nothing solid on this yet.

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Manuel Ingeland
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Do you have the skills to draw trees in a way they look like on the photo? I mean the shadow effects...
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
magneheeli wrote:
Do you have the skills to draw trees in a way they look like on the photo? I mean the shadow effects...

Where I do love how the photo manipulation turned out I had in my mind to work in ink and possibly pencil. The two will have two distinct styles. What I am most concerned about is getting the right image as part of the design because the cards have to match up from any position. I know this sounds abstract without actually seeing it but the photo images will not work the way a drawing will.

I do have some skill in pen and pencil, and yes I do know shadow (though I have not mastered it). Here is an example of a pencil illustration I did for a custom Small World token (no digital manipulation):




And an example of ink/line drawing. The ink technique used in this drawing will most likely be what I do for this game, including pencil or digital fill:





I have a few more images on my website (in case your interested): www.jpeetdesigns.com

I have wanted to get more done on this but I have been so busy with other responsibilities the last couple of weeks. I hope to get to this design in full force mid week. I will post what illustrations come of it later in the week...and oh yeah, some game structure work as well...

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John "Omega" Williams
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Reminiscent of Errol Otus.
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Omega2064 wrote:
Reminiscent of Errol Otus.

Wow, really? I guess I can see that...I did spend a lot of time as a youngster looking through the old D&D books...certainly fond memories.
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
So it has been a while...here's a little update!

I have done a lot of play testing with my prototype cards. I have been focusing on layout, card drawing, and numbers/types of cards. There have also been a lot of dead ends but I am determined to make this work. What I have realized is that simplicity is actually complicated simply because every element counts. Here are some new developments:

1.) I have decided to add numbers on the cards in the upper left corner. This will help with positioning (up and down as well as correct positioning of the kodama tree image) and allow for number matching as part of the game mechanic. Here's the catch: the numbers will be in Japanese! I hope I don't butcher them too bad graphically.

2.) There may possibly be an added symbol in the lower right corner to help determine what set the card is from. This I am still testing.

3.) The numbers of cards has changed, they are as follows:

- 3 sets of 9 kodama tree cards
- 1 set of 9 enchantress tree cards
- 1 set of lair cards (each has a special game effect) 1-3 have positive effects, 4=6 have neutral effects, 7-9 have negative effects
- The remaining nine cards include 3 kodama cards, 3 familiar cards, and 3 event cards

4.) After some initial sketching and study of Japanese art (I picked up a few books from the library) I know the direction I will take for the illustrations. I will treat each kodama tree illustration as a panel (9 images/cards). each panel will overlap with another panel to make a complete image of 45 cards including the enchantress cards. Picture a complete image that if printed on one page you could roll into a cylinder and the ends would meet and match. Sounds weird but I think it will be cool.

An example of a concept card, The finished image will be more puzzle like but this works well for testing:




The tree image was taken from picture of a bonsai tree taken from the internet and photo manipulated. I do not own the image or intend to use it as a finished product.

More to come soon...


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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
UPDATE

So a bit more testing and I have come to realize that according to my last update the game was too big. The biggest struggle I was having was that I was trying to fit the game into a standard 54 card structure...too many cards and too many variables for what I want to accomplish with this game. So here is the composition of the game:

1 set of 9 numbered kodama tree cards (they make a complete picture)

1 set of 9 numbered enchantress tree cards (they make the same picture only black/evil/dead looking - webbed, as from a spider)

1 set of 7 familiar/encounter cards (each has its own ability to effect game play) Toad, Carp, Dragon, Crane, Goblin, Monk, Deamon

1 card showing the kodama tree (the second side will show numbers)

1 card showing familiar/encounter abilities

9 magic counters (cube/stones/gems, etc.)


The rough basic structure is going to somewhat follow an earlier example:

GOAL:

To complete the image of the kodama tree before the game ends.


SETUP:

Shuffle Enchantress cards and put them in a stack on the left (face down).

Place the kodama tree info card and familiar/encounter info card in front of you.

Shuffle the familiar/encounter cards and place them face up (just right of the kodama tree and familiar info cards).

Shuffle the kodama cards (up/down orientation should be shuffled too) and place them in a pattern of three rows and three columns.

Place 9 magic counters to the right of the kodama cards.


GAMEPLAY:

Basic structure happens in this order:

1.) Player takes actions (3)

2.) Enchantress card is drawn and effects applied

3.) Upkeep


ACTIONS:

The player must take three actions per turn, they can be performed in any order and in any number (up to three). The actions are as follows:

1.) rotate a card

2.) move a row or column of cards over in an up/down or left/right fashion by one space and replace the blank space with the card that is sticking out (the 3x3 structure must always stay intact)

3.) swap two adjacent cards

4.) Use a familiar/encounter card

5.) Remove an enchantress card

6.) Place a magic counter on a kodama card that is in the right position


ENCHANTRESS CARDS:

After the player has taken three actions a single enchantress card is drawn and placed on top of corresponding kodama cards. If the kodama card has a counter on it an enchantress card cannot be placed there and is instead placed above the set of nine kodama cards. Once a magic counter is placed on a kodama card it cannot be used for any other purpose. A kodama card that has an enchantress card on it cannot be moved or rotated.


UPKEEP:

1.) Make sure that all magic counters that have been used have been removed from the game.

2.) Make sure any familiar/encounter cards used this turn have been removed from the game.

3.) Make sure the 3x3 kodama card structure is intact


GAME END:

The game will end immediately if one or more of the following conditions are met by the end of the turn:

1.) The enchantress cards are all placed

2.) The familiar/encounter cards are all used/placed

3.) The magic counters have all been used



SCORING:

There will be a scoring system for this game and is as follows:

1.) Minimum to win the game is to complete the kodama image (all 9 kodama cards are in the right place). This scores 1 point per card (9 points total)

2.) For every unused familiar/encounter card the player receives 2 points (except Goblin and Deamon)

3.) For every remaining enchantress card the player receives 3 points


FAMILIAR/ENCOUNTER CARDS:

A quick description of the familiar/encounter cards:

Toad: May swap any three cards (no rotation) - 1 magic

Carp: May arrange all of the cards in the bottom row (7-9) - 1 magic

Dragon: Rearrange the top three cards of the enchantress deck - 1 magic
or Skip the enchantress draw/place phase - 2 magic

Crane: Remove any two active enchantress cards and place them above the kodama cards - 1 magic or gain 1 magic point

Goblin: Remove 1 magic from a kodama card to discard the goblin

Monk: Take an extra action this turn, you may place #5 position by swapping cards if it is not already in place. - no cost

Deamon: Pay 2 magic or place the deamon on #5 position, if it is placed on the #5 position it cannot be moved or flipped until 2 magic is payed



Whooeee! It's all still in the rough but it is starting to take shape. I have already roughed in the drawing for the kodama cards and will probably ink it today.


That's all for now, thanks for reading this long post!











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Manuel Ingeland
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
WOW!!!

Just had a look at this thread again. Great work!!!!
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Idea Phase ]
Thanks!

I will be posting some more finished drawings soon, it will be some work though. A lot of photoshop prepping, filling, and cropping.

I may post another poll for a vote on creatures/familiars as well...

Deadline is coming up!
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Initial Playtesting Phase ]
It has been a few days since I have given an update on my progress. Regrettably I have not been able to make this game work on a level of quality that I want. I've hit a wall with it and am not sure how to proceed. The play testing that I have done has left me feeling like I need to take a different direction. I hate to admit it but after a couple plays it just seems boring and mechanical. It is doubtful that this game will be completed in time for the contest but I will finish it!

To be specific I have found that the grid of nine cards and how they are manipulated to complete the image of the kodama tree a bit lackluster. Moving and drawing cards and using resources to effect how the cards are placed just seems mechanical. I have struggled with making the game have tension. The placement of enchantress cards seems more like a time keeper than a threat that the player must work against.

Perhaps I should make a list of all the elements of the game and see what each part is responsible for. The AI needs some work...I am tempted to completely start from scratch. The question is, what do I keep and what do I scrap?

So for now I am going to go back and read this awesome post:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1003951/what-i-learned-from-...

Hopefully I will be able to pick it up with fresh eyes and turn it into something that works.

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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Initial Playtesting Phase ]
I'm glad you aren't going to rush this just to get something in for a contest. It seems like such a good idea to me and I'd like to see you give it the attention it deserves.

Best of luck and still looking forward to seeing what you produce.
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Jeremy Peet
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Initial Playtesting Phase ]
LiberD wrote:
I'm glad you aren't going to rush this just to get something in for a contest. It seems like such a good idea to me and I'd like to see you give it the attention it deserves.

Best of luck and still looking forward to seeing what you produce.

Thank you so much for the supportive words. I believe that the idea has potential to be a really nice game. I am currently "deprograming" the AI and am looking at what I really like about the original concept.

One thing that has come to mind today is: How does a walk in the woods begin?

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Nate K
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Initial Playtesting Phase ]
Germflinger wrote:

One thing that has come to mind today is: How does a walk in the woods begin?


With a single step.

Also some whistling, in many instances.
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Chad Mestdagh
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Re: WIP - 2013 Solitaire PnP Contest - KODAMA [ Initial Playtesting Phase ]
Don't forget the wind. The haunting foreboding wind that changes everything.
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