Posted by on Nov 16, 2012 in , | 0 comments

Final Board Design, designed in photoshop, printed on foamcore with gloss finish. Planet and board art designed by myself.

DESIGN STATEMENT

Space Traders is a multiplayer board game designed for competitive gameplay and entertainment purposes. The

focus is on finance building by leveraging the age old Wallstreet formula of ‘buying low, and selling high’. The

player is presented with interesting choices as well as being at the mercy of chance.

CONCEPT

Congratulations, you convinced the space Mafia to give you a 100K loan. This is enough to buy your ship and have

5K left over to start your venture. Don’t worry, you are confident you can pay back the loan before the Mafia rips

your legs off and eats them.

Each player plays as a Space Trader vying for economic control of the Galaxy. Players are represented by a space

ship on the game board and must visit planetary market districts to attempt to buy products at reasonable prices

and trade them for higher values and neighboring Planets. Space is a perilous place so the player always has a

chance of encountering good or ill fortune during space travel.

RULES OF PLAY

? Each player must select a ship and is presented with 5000 Space bucks.

? Each player begins on the planet closest to him, their Home Planet.

? Roll the highest number on the die to determine who goes first.

? The first player begins with a Travel Phase in order to move around the board, from Planet to Planet.

? Travel Phase – This entails moving the piece from your Home Planet to an adjacent destination Planet (see

the travel lines on the board) and choosing a Travel Card, which will provide a consequence of travel.

? Follow the instructions on the Travel Card.

Example: You encounter Space Bandits on route. Pay 1000 OR Attack by rolling.

Roll >= 10, collect 1000. Roll < 10 pay 4000.

Example: You are visited by a stranger from the future who gives you a hot tip: Choose 3 economy cards

select one and place the other two back in the deck.

Example: A pirate zips past you with space cops in pursuit. They offload 3 Reds as theY pass. You collect

them.

? On arrival at a Planet Destination the Player must choose a planetary Economy Card. They can choose to

exploit the economy by either buying or selling goods or do nothing and complete their turn. The player

also has the option to Invest in the planet while there. If they pay the price on the planet card they can

claim only one of its perks, of two.

? The player to the right of the first player can now take their turn following the same steps.

? The game ends when a player is the first to reach a 100,000 Space Bucks. Alternatively the last man

standing wins.

AUDIENCE AND CONTEXT

The board game is best suited for 1-4 players and is intended for all ages who are able to preform rudimentary

mathematics skills (although a pocket calculator is recommended). The context in which the game universe takes

place is off a whimsical nature. I hope to eventually be able to produce quirky artwork of monster like aliens for

the cards and board game design. While this was not possible for the final design I did feel I captured the essence

of the universe in the text associated with Travel Cards. Future enhancements beyond art would include backstory

on all the planets and their races as well as additional ‘plots’ for travel cards.

Final Board and Some playtime with coworkers at the office.

DESIGN DIRECTION AND ITERATION

I knew from the beginning that I wanted to design the game as accessible as possible to the core audience. I was

mostly concerned about a game based on economy being too cumbersome in terms of calculations. Take for

instance this statement: Player one purchases 56 Frooglas from Planet X for 533 a piece and sells them on Planet Y

for 590 a piece. This would make calculations and ‘from the gut’ player decisions a difficult. Thanks to some deep

thought, iteration, and feedback from classmates I was able to come up with a much simlified solutions.

Initially I wanted to have many products with a wider variation in pricing. I settled on 4 products which I

represented with common poker chips and refer to as R(red), B(blue), BLK (black) and G (green). Using chips

allowed for there to be a tangible representation of wealth and simplified the management of ones own inventory.

Initial playthroughs revealed that player decisions always had an obvious answer and were not interesting. For

instance, a player would always buy the cheapest item for as much cash as they had and sell for max profit at the

first opportunity (which was always present). In order to resolve this I did a few things. I added limited quantities

to planets inventory so even if there was a product at a good price the player could only buy the max quantity

available. I also limited each economy card to only carry 3 of the 4 products. This made it possible for the player

to have chips to sell but not have the market to sell them. They could wait till next turn in the hopes that the next

planet had what they carried or they could choose to make a buy purchase for something else available in the

current market. Lastly I tweaked the numbers so the going market prices were not always at the extremes. This

reduced the chance of getting a super big payoff every turn and created more interesting decisions for the player

as a result.

Some potential Additions/Rules to experiment with on future iterations:

? Trading with other players in an auction house manor.

? Planets have greater diversity of perks.

? Ships have unique properties like cargo space, weapons, science facilities which offer players perks.

MOTIVATION

The reason I choose this project over ones that classmates seemed to like better (a homemade multiplayer pinball

machine) was because this one had been cooking in my mind much longer and I had a clearer vision of where I

wanted to go with it. I think the audience will find the experience familiar to one of the most beloved board games

of all time, Monopoly, in terms of building finances and chance encounters. It is my hope that outer space the

setting and gameplay will draw in an a wide audience. After all who doesn’t want to be Han Solo.

SIGNIFICANCE

The significance of this for me is trying to boil the game down to a core fun mechanic. In the digital world we

live in it is easy to think of ways to incorporate complex point systems and calculations. My original concept for

the economy would have probably been feasible for a digital version where calculations are performed instantly

and the player receives immediate feedback. I feel that if I can find the fun in the gameplay I will have gained a

valuable experience in future game design projects.

ADDITIONAL ART

Wireframe version of initial board

concept

Concept art for card art. Images on cards were appropriated from the web.

Sketches of Travel card and board art.

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