“How are thematic and mathematical elements used in game design?”
Does “The Ring of Flames” pique your interest? Does it sound like a board game? Because that is exactly what it is and is a result of Gwen, Caitlin and I brainstorming and creating a game that involved probability and tectonic plates (We had a lot of fun throughout this, especially with the paper cutter.)
Taking what we learned about tectonic theory and probability we created a board game that could be played with 2-4 players. The goal of the game is not to get to the end first but to get the most points by the time everyone reaches the end the trail of volcanic islands.
But we didn’t start with that game, first we had a test class were we made drafts of ideas we had. My group for this was Caitlin and Mackenzie, our idea was Slug Island (chosen by Caitlin) here is a photo of our ideas.
As you can see they needed work, and we realized they were confusing because we rushed through the process. It became really messy and we didn’t have a clear idea.
The creation of the actual game was challenging since Gwen and I had never worked together (we had different groups for this game) and we each had many different ideas (Caitlin wasn’t involved yet, I’m not excluding her). We had to really compromise with each other and went through discussions around whether to use dice, cards, figures, rocks, etc. Luckily, we were able to find common ground between all of our ideas, starting with the idea that snake eyes on a dice meant getting points. This then lead to creating point cards for the game and bringing in an element of chance with the dice because you could end up with zero dice, one or two for gaming points.
Finally after picking through many ideas we ended up with these notes
Then finally Caitlin showed up at the end of our note taking (took her long enough) and we started finessing the rules. Thankfully, Caitlin was able to use her artistic skills and create great visual elements for our board game and our rules page (see below). Then we started creating the physical game, our theme was to have the characters (beautiful rocks with smiley faces) advance along a trail of volcanoes, but along the way they encounter natural disasters. In a way it is like a story, in that characters are trying to reach the end but use points as lives to boost their survival. For the mathematical part of our game we had the players advance using cards and then rolling dice. There was a lot of probability when rolling the dice because you could either pick between rolling for something with a higher risk but more reward or choose lower reward but a better chance at getting the points. That also includes chance because who knows what the dice are going to roll. Here are some examples of that cards (sorry they are upside down they where being finicky when I made the slideshow)
Evaluating: Demonstrate an understanding and appreciation of evidence
In the particular one I think we could have expanded on since we didn’t have a lot mathematical evidence in our board game. I think we could have added some more probability or made it easier for the players to risk there rolls. For example on each of our volcanoes it indicated how many dice you could have but most of them where 1 so I think we could have made that better since most of our point cards needed two for the larger point sums. For the tectonic plate evidence I think my group did ok with that since on most of our advance cards we had a reason for why they would have to move forward or backwards. An examples are SLAB PULL you miss a turn since you got pulled under neath because of gravity. I agree with us being between emerging/developing and accomplished.
Questioning and predicting: Demonstrate a sustained intellectual curiosity about a scientific topic or problem of personal interest
I think my group did well on this since we spent a while writing our rules, set up and what its going to look like we were able to speed threw creating it. We knew how many cards we needed to cut (we cut like 1000+ though but we only need 60ish) and we assigned roles to each person. We got our game done quite quickly and played threw it a couple times. Since our group pitched in equally we all where into it so we all enjoyed creating it together and I think that helped pique our interest about this project. I think we where accomplished.
Understanding and solving: Develop, demonstrate, and apply mathematical understanding through play, inquiry, and problem solving
Again since we spent overtime planning we knew where our math and tectonic plate learning landed in our game. When creating the cards Gwen and Caitlin made sure there was a variety of different probability outcomes ( I was colouring the volcanoes on the game) some where hard and some where easy. One of the cards was roll two dice (very hard to do I know), well another was roll a double.
Coming back to the driving question of this project, “How are thematic and mathematical elements used in game design?”, in games the thematic element is like the framework of the game as it give it a backstory. As a simple example in Candy Land you’re trying to reach the end to see the king in his candy palace. The theme in the game Catan is people settling into a knew land for the first time and have to look for resources. Without a theme a board game would be very boring and it gives purpose to the mathematical elements. Strategy, Probability, risk, and chance are 4 main ways that mathematical elements are infused in games. For example in the Game of Life there is probability right from the start, you can either chose career or collage. Career gives 7 college offer more salary and career options but it takes longer and puts you in debt, well career is a shorter path to start getting out of the entry area but limited options in career and salary. Also there is a part in the game called risky road where you can either chose to play it safe or go onto a risky road but you may lose money but also gain.
In conclusion I think I like simple card games the best since they are easy to bring and pack up. Also you can do a lot with them and it includes probability and chance as well. I think if I ever made another board game it would be much easier since I know how to add fun elements and make sure there is risk and probability involved.