The little game that never was, and doodling at work

Contests are interesting motivators. They force you to commit to an idea in a way that an ambiguous or even non-existent deadline never can. That being said, they can also be incredibly frustrating if you feel that the idea you have is no longer workable. Two days ago I attempted to complete a game in 24 hours as part of an informal competition on Board Game Geek. Obviously 8 hours of sleeping and 8 hours of working mean that there are only a few hours left in a day to create the physical manifestations of the game. The game, unofficially labeled as “Jargon” in my files, did not reach completion. Here, then, is the little game that never was.

I think this picture requires some explanation. Where I work, there are occasional gaps where machines are booting up or running diagnostics. It is during these gaps that I slowly fill a piece of paper with doodles and notes. I usually fold the paper into quarters, and I use orientation to link related ideas. The paper is constantly refolded so that I can unfold it one step and have a slightly larger area. You can see that quadrants 1, 2, and 3 are all related, but that quadrant 4 is just a measured perspective of the Justice logo. Not much of an explanation for that one.

Anyway, the game is heavily inspired by Rivals of Catan, a game I played for the first time last weekend with Alex Coulombe. The resource tracking system was beautifully done, and it really felt like a good basis for a rapidly developed game. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to create a game with too many elements, and I liked the idea of using square cards. Early in quadrant 1 I settled on the idea of representing businesses with the cards, and although my initial designs had a revolving design similar to Rivals, I drifted away from that idea. My resources became things like Employees, Innovation, Recognition, and of course, Capital. I really don’t think it’s necessary to go too far into the workings of the game, since it didn’t ever reach completion. I did mock up the four initial business types, although the weird names may have been overkill.

This card would have represented a “Design Firm.” I chose to use the name Innovacorp because I was considering having the entire game written in nonsensical business jargon (hence the name). The four columns of the left represent the different resources that the company could pull from. Green is capital, yellow is innovation, red is recognition, and blue is employees. The Design Firm archetype was supposed to use innovation as it’s main resource. I really had no concrete ideas for it beyond that.

The idea of moving resources from business to business was intended to be a major part of the game. With that in mind, Financial companies were just giant money pits that could absorb and administer money throughout your enterprise. The next type, Commercial, had a similar motivation, except with employees. There were supposed to be some special effects involving promotion and hiring, which would help you increase your workforce for a lower cost.

Finally, the last type was Consulting. I had watched the recent Don Cheadle show, “House of Lies,” which, while pretty negative about the business, made me want to include it as a type. Consulting Firms augment and improve all other business, but I would have made it difficult for them to function on their own.

Anyway, the game floundered and died towards the end of the 24 hour block. I just couldn’t pull it all together, and I wasn’t that thrilled with the idea after working on it for so long. There was more work done, but it was almost entirely text documents, and like I’ve said, they make terrible posts.

Finally, I’m going to end this post with what will hopefully become a new thing for me: work doodle posting. As you can probably tell, the two sheets that I am showing for this post were not scanned, but simply tacked to a wall and photographed. I have no excuse for this except that I didn’t want to go get the scanner and plug it in when I could just as easily take a horrible copy-shot with my phone without getting out of bed. I’ll try and scan them from now on. The second sheet from work is mostly industrial design stuff (possible motorized paddle-board?) and some strange math stuff. I’ll probably try and do a routine weekly posting of all the doodle on Saturdays, but I can’t make any promises.


One Comment on “The little game that never was, and doodling at work”

  1. “I have no excuse for this except that I didn’t want to go get the scanner and plug it in when I could just as easily take a horrible copy-shot with my phone without getting out of bed.”

    Well, at least you explained yourself.

    Cool game idea though… hopefully it still inspires future ideas in a similar thread.

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