I Accidentally Designed a Solo Game

Last week I had a new game idea. That’s not uncommon, I usually come up with a few game ideas every week, but this was one of those ideas that sticks with you and you can’t help but start to design it, even before you write anything down.

The initial idea was a simple concept, a roll and write with no dice. And I don’t mean just using cards instead. The idea was that on each player’s turn they would just choose some of the available actions and every player would get to perform those actions. My thought was that having other people select what was best for their plan isn’t too different from the randomness of dice.

I decided on a civilization building theme for the game and players would work on filling a 10 by 10 grid with different buildings and roads.

While working on the first version I decided that it would be good to have a solo variant. Having a player just decide what to do and drawing a map didn’t seem like it would be any fun. So I needed some randomization element. Dice were tempting, but adding dice would be against the main concept of the game.

I decided to have a random set up of the board to make it a challenge. I just needed a way for a player to get a random 10 digit number without using dice. Then they would use that number to fill the board and have to play around the starting enemies and resources.

I decided to use the date and time as the random number. If you use two digits for each; month, day, year, hour, and minute gives you a 10 digit number. They would use this to determine the placement with one square filled in each column and then one filled in each row. So 20 of the 100 squares would be filled with target resources and enemies that would cause problems.

This is the version I first tested. Two things came out of it. The first is that the random setup was great and I decided to use it for the solo and multiplayer games. The second was that letting the player freely choose their actions was boring. There wasn’t any struggle. So I needed a way to randomize the player’s actions to give them a challenge. I already had a 10 digit “random” number, so I just assigned number ranges to each action and those determined the actions a player had and the order they used them in.

That was it. The game really came together. I gave up on any multiplayer game. It was now solo only. Originally I didn’t care what date and time format people used. But I realized standardizing the formatting let me get more accurate statistics of what a board setup could be and how likely certain actions would be. Over the last version I’ve refined how enemies work and now it seems to be working well.

I hope to get the rules written up soon and I’ll add a link here as well as share it on Twitter @BlueCubeBGs.

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