The evolution of mind — Funny, when you’re designing a game (or anything really) and you get stuck, your mind happens to spawn new ideas from the road block. There have been several times where I’ve found myself at a fork in the road, having to pick one direction and sticking it out to the end. The benefit; explore an opportunity to it’s fullest, pouring in all brain power to bring it to fruition. The catch; seeing it fall short of some due to unforeseen complications. Results; more work, more time, more refined way of identifying success.
Roadblocks breed evolution
Case in point, I’ve been working on Axia on and off for some time now. I’d had a couple ideas that really worked for mechanics but the player engagement was poor, therefore the experience was weak. When I change the Axia game board from the Double Diamond to the circular (orbit style) format, I felt that was the breakthrough I’ve been waiting for, the one thing that was needed better this game’s experience. I liked where this new evolution was going and how the movement on the board helped players to strategically choose who moves when and where. Now, I’ve let the game sit for such a long time and never really got back to it because I felt that it should have more for some reason. Something else was missing and I wasn’t comfortable with where it was. By no means was it bad, but it wasn’t exciting either.
That little something extra
Tonight I was flipping through some old notes for a trading card game I was designing called Spin Driver. Reading through my hand drawn drafts and notes, all the ideas I had and the plans for the game somehow fired up the creative engine in my head. I put Spin Driver back on the shelf to pick up another design idea and read through that. Then another, and yet another. After about 5 or 6 game drafts I came across my King of the Hill (KotH) game. This game was meant to be a classic style game where two players use 4 discs to circle around a board and make it to the center, the winner being the first to have all 4 of their discs on the hill.
I was upstairs packing some stuff and found my old Axia board laying on the bookshelf under a bunch of other docs and folders. I thought to myself “Hey self! This circular board idea would work for KotH” seeing as I was trying to design something with concentric movements. The board design lends itself to a myriad of specific gaming mechanics. Why reinvent the wheel. I took the board and added a few more spaces to it, keeping most of the original movement rules and mechanisms that were created for Axia. I broke out some backgammon pieces and stacked them on the board. Thus began the evolution.
Using the basic roll-n-move mechanic, I had a functioning game designed in under 2 hours. I played 2 full games and after 5 test rounds of weeding out the functions, to my delight, it worked. The ideas I had for Axia, the foundation for movement and capture mechanic, confirmed to be ideal for KotH. Now, what do I do with the Axia game you ask? KotH may very well be the final evolution of Axia. The destination I could not picture, and somehow in another skin was able to materialize. There are few other little ideas I have now that I’m at this new level of design, but for the most part it’s a working game. I couldn’t be more excited.
The board’s mechanics are specific to the KotH and weren’t really conducive to the original Axia concept (seeing as the mechanics were built for the double-diamond board) as the game was created with that in mind. In a weird way I had to build another game to prove that the original Axia concept didn’t fit… or at least, I couldn’t get it to fit. I think I know now where I got stuck with the double diamond, so with this orbit style board, the Axia name may live on.