Moons and Trackers (17th August 2020) - The Cardboard Designer

Moons and Trackers (17th August 2020)

Board Game Design - Project Factory

Wherein I discuss the board game score tracker and turn tracker for Factory Floor, play-test some more, and take turns around the moon.


We were finally able to get a good group of friends over for the weekend and bash out a few board games. The 14 hour epic that was Western Empires, also know by wifey as “the game with boobs on the front.” We also played a disgustingly large number of games of Nova Luna. I’m sure that had nothing to do with the fact that our 3 year old cat is called Luna 🙂

Board Games - Luna Knows How Pretty She Is

We also got a really good chance to play-test Factory Floor a dozen or so more times. It was a great opportunity to smooth out some of the wrinkles.

We were also able to mess with the rules in weird and wonderful ways to see if we could change/improve the experience at all. This is a great way to iterate on the design. It actually left me with a few rule changes I am extremely happy with.

Score Boards

We did finally manage to nail down the score board and turn tracker. This is an exercise I seldom do on my own. Board game trackers and scoreboards are so important and need to meet very specific constraints to work well.

  • They need to be immediately useful and informative
  • Can be trickier to get to fit well thematically more than other elements
  • It should be easily forgotten about until needed

For the scoreboard, we decided that it makes most sense to go from 0-100 in lines of 20. The reason for this?

  • Final scores for the game are ranging from 120 – 180.
  • Having a board up to 180 will take up a lot of of space.
  • The 120+ numbers are only utilized at the very end of the game.

Conversely, the player starts the first few rounds with very little scores – usually 8-10. This is one of the rewarding parts of Factory Floor – seeing your total production improve so much over the course of the week.

It was important to achieve a scale therefore where players can see this change. As the beginning jumping ahead 10 points, then 20-30, then 50 and upwards. Having a scoreboard from 0-100 helps players feel this even more!

Board Game Design - The score tracker and turn order tracker

The image shows you the basic layout of the scoreboard now. It is obviously still very plain. Still, having this on the board as it is likely to be in the finished game, helps to indicate how the whole game feels. It gives you an idea of the total presence and real-estate of the game.

Turn Tracker

The second item in the above image, shows the turn tracker.

Me and turn trackers have a bit of history – not all of it good. I used to think they made games clunky. That I should try and create games that avoided their use unless absolutely essential. This view was changed by games like Patchwork and Powergrid. These games taught me that at the low end they were useful, and at the high end could even be part of the mechanics!

Through continued play-testing, I found that my game needed to have 10 action rounds and 5 scoring rounds.

This allowed me to really invest thematically into the turn tracker as I could use the idea of the “working week.” Because the game is all about workers and production, this fits in really well.

So the way the game plays now is…

  • Turn 1 is the first AM shift
  • Second turn is the first PM shift
  • Turn 3 is the first Production Phase – scoring round.
  • This ends the first round which is collectively known as “Monday” 🙂
  • The tracker continues in this way Tuesday through to Friday
  • After the Friday round, the game ends.

As you can see, it creates a very clean way of tracking the turns/rounds. It also slots very nicely into the theme of the game and improves the player experience of feeling like a factory manager.

I would love to say this way my plan all along. That the whole five-day working week was what I was working towards all along. It was not. There is more than a little luck sprinkled into game design some times!

In my next dev diary, I am planning to pull everything together and show you how the game plays. I am even hoping to do a video at that point so people can really start to see how it plays out.

Thanks for taking the time to read this. Stay safe out there!

–Tom

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