Less is much, much more

For a couple of weeks I’ve been going back and forth with the following options:

  • Release my game including only co-op mode
  • Increasing features: adding new things to bring more features that help deal with Traitor mechanism, which would postpone release.

The question I kept asking:

  • Would this level of quality satisfy me? Would the game be good enough for release?

In the core of my game is the idea of having one secret traitor in the party. You don’t know who it is, the same way as in Werewolf party game.

Playtesting revealed issues:

  • There should be more options for the “traitor” (aka the “infected”) player in the game.
  • There was something I didn’t quite like in how the game ended – but something I quite couldn’t pinpoint.

And also, the game box is way too large.

I spent week or two going back and forth stuff, and solo testing my game.

And today it hit me.

I was randomly browsing Game Crafter pages where I found out there’s 108 card tuckboxes available. This might sound strange, but… somehow I immediately thought:

  • My game doesn’t need more components: it needs less component.
  • My game doesn’t need more complexity/features: it needs less features if any.

It’s bit difficult to describe, but by deciding to reduce number of cards to 108 (instead of using current 150ish cards) made a huge difference. I immediately knew what changes I needed. I wrote 7-8 tasks for myself: one deck is getting smaller, another deck is getting additional use, there’s no need to add one additional deck which I was planning… and certain resource system might be simplified. And of course tweaks here and there and playtesting.

The game core still remains untouched: the basic mechanisms, the basic goals are still there, but by reducing features, reducing cards I now see that this game will be great.

I think the solo and co-op system already work, and with that in mind I can happily do the few changes that will change things a bit. After this, there’s more options for the traitor player, the rules remain very simple, there’s more options for all players.

To recap: from “let’s add new deck, new features, new complexity” (that leads to a hard-to-balance mess), I’m “removing features, moving meaning of one deck to another, removing number of cards” I aim to receive:

  • More decision making instead of luck
  • Better options for the secret traitor player
  • Cheaper & more convenient game tuckbox (which leads to smaller shipping costs, which actually might make game more accessible for non US-folks)

I wonder at which point had I forgotten that when there’s a bug in code, you usually end up having less, not more in code? Same seems to work for physical card game design as well.

My decision to do this will mean I will be needing more testing, which again delays the game (I think instead of August… it’s maybe couple of months more. Might need to use valve time too). I think then I’ll have a game I’ll be really proud of, a game that will work great.

Game for werewolf party game fans – that’s what I was aiming for in the beginning.

But anyways.

Less is much, much more.

Juuso Hietalahti