Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Shuffle Dungeon - A Hybrid Board/Card Game

For the Freestyle assignment for Jesse Schell's Game Design course at the ETC, we had full freedom to make whatever game our hearts desired and one month to make it happen.  We were free to form groups or fly solo, I opted to work alone on this project.  I designed a hybrid board/card game called Shuffle Dungeon which uses decks of cards to randomly generate a game board for a dungeon crawling experience for 2 to 4 players.  The idea is to have a Dungeons and Dragons like experience that does not require a dungeon master.

I came up with the board generation mechanic very early and liked it enough to build the rest of the game around it, but had some trouble along the way with some of the other mechanics.  I needed to design a system for resolving combat and other encounters that ran very quickly and I threw out a lot of early versions until I got to the system that ended up in the final game: roll a d6, add any temporary or permanent modifiers, then consult the chart on the card.  As Shuffle Dungeon is a card game, I borrowed one of the design themes of Magic the Gathering where the rules of the game itself are simple, but rules that may emerge during play for specific cards are printed on the cards themselves.  This constraint forced me to make those rules as clear, simple, and most importantly, brief as possible so that they would fit on the cards at a legible size.

Since players take turns people sitting idle can get bored, so I wanted turns to go as fast as possible to keep people engaged.  I never quite achieved a level of player interaction that I was happy with, conflict between players is more indirect and subtle than anything.  I worried that open PvP did not suit the combat system well at all and shied away from permitting players to attack each other.  I think that with some further iteration I could come up with something better on that front.  However, I'm fairly happy with the end result.  I could see myself coming back to Shuffle Dungeon some day to polish it even further or perhaps develop an expansion set for it.  Its card game roots make it very modular, adding a deck building element to it could add another fun dimension of play to it.

Final Rules
Final Cards
Playtesting Writeup
Marketing Sheet

Shuffle Dungeon was built using Magic Set Editor

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