Jun 13, 2017

Designing Components for Nevera Wars


One of the most significant elements of my game Nevera Wars was how to track damage. Unlike some games, damage done to creatures is permanent, and can go as high as 50, so there needs to be a good functional way of keeping track of the count, especially as there can be up to six creatures in play at one time. Some games resolve this by having counters or tokens, but this always seemed cumbersome and inelegant in my opinion- a vital element of game components is that they feel right.


My goals for this component were that it be easy to use, not cumbersome, cheap to produce, and aesthetically pleasing. This is a description of some of the design stages I went through.


Dice

Functionally, dice are an idea placeholder for many game components and mechanics while development is still underway. Very early in development I was using two D10 for each creature, one to represent the tens place and one to represent the ones place. For a long time my plan was to include twelve of these D10 as part of the game components for the final boxed game.


However after many play-testing nights with other game designers, the feedback was clear that the dice were too susceptible to being knocked (or rolling if the table were to be bumped). It was also uncomfortable to watch my fellow designers turn them over and over in their fingers looking for the right number. It was time to leave the dice behind, despite them serving me well during prototyping.


Dials

My next stage was to try using a dual dial, you can find the  template for free here on The Game Crafter. I was immediately excited at the mechanical and solid look of the component and quickly made six of them just with my home printer and some paper fasteners (or split pins as we call them in England).


What also attracted me was the opportunity of having illustration on the dials and how I could make them fit into the theme of the game visually. The art is already a strong element of Nevera Wars so a new surface to illustrate was a big positive.

Long term though, there would be problems with manufacturing. I did not know if the manufacturer would assemble them (at probably a high cost) or if the consumer would assemble them (which would not be ideal either). The feedback from play testers when using them was also not positive, and so I began searching for a new option.


Two Cards

One feature I wanted to include on the component was the ability for both players to easily see the damage count. There is a lot of information on the board already in Nevera Wars and so making the information easy to visually digest was very important to me as a designer. Eventually, while on the bus on the way home from the gym, a few neurons fired in a certain direction and I was inspired to design a card with a very specific layout.


This card would have all the numbers twice (one set upside-down for the opposing player to read) and another card with two holes that would sit on top and could be moved around easily to show different numbers. In this way, the damage for each creature could be tracked with a component that would fit into a deck box, plus the cover card with two holes could also be an opportunity for illustration. Also I felt very clever for coming up with the design, which is not a big factor in the success of a component, but should also not be dismissed; motivation and morale is an important part of any project and should be cherished.



Final Design

The final design for the damage cards is shown here, they printed very dark for this prototype but they function just as I envisioned. There was some difficulty in finding a manufacturer who would easily produce them with the holes already cut for the final game, but fortunately I was able to secure a company.


It is important to remember that components are often a matter of taste and preference; there is no way to design a game component that will please everyone. The most important lesson is to listen to feedback openly, be prepared to try different approaches, and to not be afraid of trying ideas that you are not in love with or have a good chance of having to abandon. With that in mind, I will be soon writing a short series on my lessons learned in how to make the most out of play testing.



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