Swordcrafters Designer Diary part 2 – Ideation and Iteration – Live on Kickstarter now!
In the Designer Diary Part 1, I gave an overview of the final Swordcrafters game design. In the next 4 posts, I chart out the path we took to get to the final game including insights into ideation, mechanics, manufacturing, and marketing.
The Beginning: A Game called Dungeon Greed
Swordcrafters started out as a game called Dungeon Greed created by my good friend Chris Neuman. He prototyped and playtested a grid of cards exploring a dungeon. There was dice rolling and push your luck and the game had promise. Chris created at least 8-9 versions of the prototype and played it often. However, this game was eventually tucked away with a forgotten passion after a rough Protospiel experience. It happens. You need to have the gumption to get a design published in this industry. We chatted about the game from time to time.
Changing the Name and the Game
One day, Chris and I took a crack at revitalizing the game and adding a resource mechanic, reducing setup time, and tweaking the press your luck decisions. As you explore the dungeon, you now had the challenge to collect resources and purchase a sword. You could upgrade your sword via splendor style purchases. There would be multiple tiers of swords available to each player. You would start with a common and dull blade and end with a badass blade. Each blade would include a different set of abilities or dice to be used to fight monsters in the dungeon. We made the dungeon ever expanding so players did not have to suffer through multiple setups, and refocused the push your luck mechanics into the sword and how the sword is used. This is where the name Swordcrafters originated.
When I type it out, that game also sounds compelling to me. But it was a twist on a different vision. I wasn’t particularly passionate about playtesting and didn’t pursue it. Gumption! We had about 2-3 iterations built into it designing the mechanics, playtesting on Tabletop Simulator, creating the placeholder artwork, and prototyping through The Gamecrafter. This was a classic mistake of too much asset creation and not enough playtesting.
Arriving at the final vision for Swordcrafters
And that brings me to the current and final design of Swordcrafters. We were sitting in our booth at Gen Con 2017 during the closing minutes after a very successful show. Chris and I started reminiscing about Dungeon Greed and Swordcrafters, happily exhausted from the weekend. Then it clicked. What if we were actually building a sword … and holding it as we play. OMG that’s it! And Swordcrafters was reborn. The cutting mechanics came together so quickly once the new vision was alive. I was able to hack together a rough prototype within two weeks of returning to Minneapolis, and have only improved it since.
I often find that creativity comes in surges, and this was one very special surge of it. Stay tuned for the next designer diary to see how I was able to sharpen the game design and bring to life the vision of crafting a sword.