Original Idea: A board game that allows players to experience the life of a bee; exploring their environment, foraging for pollen and nectar and serving the hive.
Why: I couldn’t get this theme out of my head and I can imagine it looking simplistic and beautiful.
Inspiration for this game comes first of all from the board game Photosynthesis (Blue Orange EU, 2017). I love this game. The artwork, the economy of actions, the mechanics, low-barrier to entry (its super easy to learn) and everything else that makes this a fun game to play. What I think is the core of this game and the reason why I enjoy it so much is that it has a really strong theme that works well with the game mechanics.
With this in mind I decided that I wanted to create a similar gaming experience. One that allowed players to step into the experience of someone or something else. That’s when my brain latched onto bees. Buzz…
One of the more interesting bee facts that Google has given me is that there are many more species of bees than the humble honeybee. In Australia the honey bee is actually an introduced species. Instead Australian native bees come in a surprising variety of sizes, colours and temperaments. Did you know there is such a thing as a blue bee? It’s adorable.
Theme chosen, I then started the puzzle of turning my idea into something a little more usable. Looking for inspiration I turned to Catan (formerly Settlers of Catan). The hexagonal tiles immediately reminding me of honeycomb. In Catan players set up the hexagon playing tiles into the playing board at random meaning that no game is ever alike. I like this random element as it keeps the game enjoyable even after playing it multiple times.
I also like the relative simplicity of actions a player can take. Like Photosynthesis, there are only ever a small number of actions available to a player but they often have dire consequences.
A quick internet search introduced me to the board game March of the Ants, a game devoted to the microscopic battleground of the ant kingdom. However, I’m not interested in creating a war game. Although I want my players to compete against each other, I don’t want to introduce warfare into a game inspired by an insect species which primarily spends its time searching for flowers.
My next steps:
- Research other game mechanics that could be copied or modified for my game. I’m not fully convinced that either Photosynthesis or Catan do exactly what I want my game to do so further research is needed.
- Draft rules and develop a printable prototype
- Test prototype
- Test again and again and again and so on.
- Design art for the game
- Keep on testing.
I do imagine that my original concept will go through many changes in the development of this game. That’s ok. This is my jumping off point.
Zagal, Rick and Hsi (2006) noted three main pitfalls that board games that are made for collaborative play must avoid:
“Pitfall 1: To avoid the game degenerating into one player making the decisions for the team, collaborative games have to provide a sufficient rationale for collaboration.
Pitfall 2: For a game to be engaging, players need to care about the outcome and that outcome should have a satisfying result.
Pitfall 3: For a collaborative game to be enjoyable multiple times, the experience needs to be different each time and the presented challenge needs to evolve.”
These are concepts I will need to consider while designing my game as avoiding these pitfalls will help me create a game that is engaging to play more than once.
Game Name: Drone
Theme: Australian Bees
Audience: People who enjoy strategy games similar to Photosynthesis or Settlers of Catan or people who just really like bees. There’s no judgement.
Hach, H, Photosynthesis, Blue Orange (EU), California, 2017, Board Game
Eisner. T, Swisher. R, March of the Ants, Weird City Games, 2015, Board Game
Teuber, K, Catan, Kosmos, Germany, 1995, Board Game
Zagal, J. P., Rick, J. and Hsi, I. (2006) ‘Collaborative games: Lessons learned from board games’, Simulation & Gaming, 37(1), pp. 24–40. doi: 10.1177/1046878105282279.