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Matt Leacock
11 months ago

Project Update: πŸ“— Design Diary 6 – Replayability

Matt here for the sixth and final episode of the Design Diaries. In the previous episodes we explored the design goals, antagonists, resources, players and powers, and how the game is won and lost.Β 

Since we've hit our 8,000 backer goal (Yay!), we're here today to share a bit more about the challenge card deck and how it makes the game even more replayable.


Say you survived your first game, but can you do it again while keeping temperatures lower, while avoiding certain solutions, or while creating an even more resilient society?

For a long time, we didn’t give the question of replayability much brainspace, as we were busy developing the core game. We just imagined players could make the game harder by starting with a higher temperature, or resolving more crisis cards each round.
Early versions used a variable thermometer to increase difficulty

While this effectively made the game more difficult to win, it was also a very limited system. So Alex suggested we take inspiration from The Crew’s mission deck and think about how we can present players a scalable set of new challenges and narratives over time.

We immediately liked the idea, and developed a deck of about 40 challenges and advantages, which players can combine to make the game easier or harder, either for individual players or for the whole team.Β 

Group Challenges, Advantages, and Modifiers

The challenges span from starting values modifiers (eg: one player starts with less resilience, more emissions of a certain type, or more communities in crisis) to additional victory conditions (eg: in order to win, we have to also keep global warming below 1.5ΒΊC, or have 100% clean energy generation, or have no communities in crisis) and rule modifiers (eg: if one of my stacks has more than 4 cards, I must discard the excess cards).

Sample team challenges

The advantages can also modify starting values, rules or win conditions, in order to give players an easier journey.

Sample team advantages

Rule modifier cards allow players to explore counterfactual scenarios. For example, who is responsible for the emissions β€œembedded” in all the products we buy in the Global North, but are manufactured in the Global South? What if we used a framework that doesn’t just take into account the emissions produced within the borders of a country (aka territorial emissions) but also those that are imported (aka consumption emissions)? How does that shift the game balance?
A sample team modifier

Individual Challenges and Advantages

In addition to the challenges, advantages, and modifiers that affect the whole team, we added the ability to adjust the game by handing out challenges and advantages for individual world powers. You can use these on their own (for example to make the game harder or easier for a specific player or each of the players) or you can combine them with the cards that affect the whole team.

The result is a rich landscape of options for adjusting the game. You can make the game different, harder, or easier – or even harder in some ways but more difficult in others. And you can do this for each player or for the team.

Sample challenges and advantages for individual players

Wrapping Up

As our design diaries come to a close, we’d like to leave you with this quote from Parable of the Sower:

β€œThere’s no single answer that will solve all of our future problems.
There’s no magic bullet.
Instead there are thousands of answers – at least. 
You can be one of them if you choose to be.”
– Octavia E. Butler




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