Monday, 18 November 2013

Titanomachia: The Board Game

The specifications for Titanomachia, such as they are, call for a table top war-game of two or more players with a half-hour playtime between two players, and a phenomenally complex system of measurement in inches and degrees to organize everything on the table. Except terrain, which is conveniently made to be a series of 6"x6" tiles. It occurred to me that first building a board game of the sort usually played on a board of discrete areas (squares or hexes or whatever) would vastly simplify things where a working proof of concept is required. Such a 'digital' game (discrete squares as opposed to the 'analog' world of rulers and protractors) makes it easier to write clear and unambiguous rules because the game elements are much, much more granular.

Having an actual board and whatnot has additional advantages, in particular managing player expectations for how their games will reflect the beautiful colour photographs decorating the boxed game, and for lowering the entry-barrier from people that play table-top war-games to people that play board-games, which is a much broader category. In addition, it draws attention to the importance of what's happening on the board as the primary focus of attention, rather than what is being done with cards, record sheets, and other paraphernalia. Settlers of Catan, for example, is a board-game despite being a clunky, board-oriented version of the card-game Bohnanza. The board adds something in terms of spectacle and interest for beginners of Settlers of Catan, while Bohnanza leverages the real game in both which is bargaining with opponents. It also means, I suspect, that Settlers of Catan can be sold for a higher profit, despite the costs of manufacturing all of the additional components, because people expect to pay disproportionately more for games with more elements - selling a pack of cards at the retail mark-up of a boxed game, despite the pack of cards providing essentially the same experience in a stream-lined format, doesn't work because of a perception of value from the people that will be buying that boxed-game. Well, hypothetically. It's hard to determine the actual facts of the case because I'm so far from the actual businesses behind each product, the actual sales numbers, and so on.

But I can go to a science fiction convention (Go Halcon!) and see that most of the game room is given over to people playing board games and role-playing games, and the Warhammer suite of games being the only war-games being played, and giving up tables due to lack of interest (although in part that might be due to having to pay for the tournament and then for entry to the convention, which would be several units in either game, even at Canadian retail prices).

And frankly I need all the motivation I can get, because having gotten involved in online discussions of Warhammer 40,000 again, I need something to remind me that I don't hate the people that are my ostensible market for such a game.

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