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1 Game Design? on Mon Feb 01, 2010 8:29 pm

O.K. the jist is that we're hoping to narrow card attributes to about 12 or so things (i.e. like food chain rank, or habitat). It would be great to get your thoughts on what these attributes might be. Overall, we're hoping for card details rich enough to:

1. Make the cards extremely versatile for a game designers to come up with lots of different ways to play.

2. Make the cards worthy science literate content holders in their own right.

Basically, right now, the website has been designed to pull from the Flickr account, the image, the name of the organism, the latin name of the organism, the artist (and artist website), with a blog post set up to allow the "science editors" to enter card content.

Right now, the content layout is straight up html type formatting (imagine the card space being the text box for the post's text), but down the road, when it looks like these attributes have been fine tuned, we're aiming to set up the editing so that the "science editors" can just enter data for each of the attributes (kind of like a very specific way of adding tags).

- - -

Anyway, some interesting ideas already thrown out there that can be expanded upon here (or start another topic!)

Make game mechanics similar to Pokemon game (elements = habitat, evolution nuances, battle scenarios)

Make game mechanics similar to Magic (resource requirements to move game ahead).

Make game mechanics "interchangable" with Pokemon cards (yes, we can have the Hammerhead Shark versus Pikachu!)

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2 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 01, 2010 9:10 pm

Food chain rank would be a great one, especially since the concept of a food web is something that tends to covered in elementary school. Maybe this could be shown with a number and a colour (number for how high up, and colour for herbivore, carnivore, etc type distinction)

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3 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 01, 2010 10:52 pm

First let me say that I really love the idea of a Pokemon-style game featuring real animals. I'm a game designer with an upcoming card game, and love the idea of collaborating with others on something that could be fun and really educate kids. I feel like the idea has great potential. Here are my thoughts on your initial game design ideas.

Before getting into the specifics of the game, I think we ought to define our goals a little more clearly. Having many ways to play often sounds like a good idea, but it does not lend itself to a strong marketing message and creates more work for the designers. It's very time-consuming to get a deep and varied game like Pokemon or Magic: The Gathering to play right. The reason is that with so many different cards that alter the rules, it becomes hard to keep the game competitive for everyone. And for a game targeted at children, this is especially important. For these reasons I think it's better to settle on just one game and get it right.

Another thing you ought to decide is whether you're trying to make an "add-on" to Pokemon (so that you can do the "hammerhead vs. pikachu" thing) or making an original game. If you're planning to make the game compatible with Pokemon, then you'd have to be careful not to infringe on their copyrights. Game mechanics are not copyrightable (or patentable) but game companies are notoriously defensive of their intellectual property and would not be pleased to see an independent selling add-ons to their game without their permission. Games Workshop recently threatened legal action against websites that provided free, fan-produced supplemental material for their games.

If you plan on making the game different from Pokemon, then you're essentially trying to compete with a very well-established marketing machine. Why would I as a customer choose Phylomon over Pokemon? The idea of real animals is cool-sounding to adults, but it might be a hard sell to the kids whose friends are all playing that other game.

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4 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 01, 2010 11:03 pm

Great advice. One of the comments that was floating around the web was to see if there could be a "three different age group strategy", similar to what Hasbro has. i.e. a defined set of rules for younger kids (like Pokemon), then for slightly older kids (like Yu-Gi-Oh), and finally one where even older folks can participate (like Magic).

The idea here, is to first focus on the something for younger kids, which means that certain attributes may make more sense (since these would be concepts that children are encountering at school).

Although, the website is currently more focused on presenting card content in one specific way, this is, after all, a version 1.0. There could be other iterations of the website (powered by Wordpress, meaning that it is especially good for future modifications), where different types of content could be displayed for certain age groups, gameplays, etc.

Of course, it'll also be curious if there is a way to present material that would inadvertently be conducive to many great ways of playing the game (different ways that may highlight different types of concepts).

One of those, wait and see things. Really, my role is to feed off the collective wisdom of the community to see what results.

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5 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:03 am

I'm just wondering...is there already a defined list of organisms that will be featured in this game? Or is it pretty much what people are suggesting at this point? Of course, there could always be additional "booster packs" of other organisms down the line...


I really like Pikachu's idea of using the food chain rank. To fully utilize that idea, you'll need X number of lower level organism in Y number of cards in the basic card set for the game to work, presumably? Which kind of goes back to the first question I asked.

I also like Pikachu's idea because it may feature organisms such as plants, fungi, algae, etc. which younger children aren't as familiar with. (I work with plants, so I'm totally biased! =D but it's astonishing that even high school level students are very unfamiliar with anything other than vertebrates...)

(I apologize if my post is not quite coherent...I've been staring at a sea of DNA sequences all day....)

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http://truth-quark.de/blog/?p=86

I haven't walked through it yet, but it looks like the object is to construct a food web basically.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass it on. Hopefully, he'll turn up on this forum soon.

He also has a few notes on his flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalismus/4309489803/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalismus/4311383852/

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7 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:18 pm

O.K. Here's my general idea that I'm going to start working on. Let me know what you think.

Two players. Each players with a deck of cards. The goal of the game is twofold.

1. Use the cards on the your deck to create an ecosystem.
2. Use up your deck

The idea here is a little like mahjong - you can score quickly by finishing, or you can take a little more effort to finish slowly and create a more robust (fuller ecosystem). The danger is that if you go for a quality hand (ecosystem), you run the risk of your opponent finishing before you. With this system, there needs to be scoring (like poker or mahjong, certain hands are worth more).

Ecosystem creation relies heavily on food chain and habitat attributes. (therefore habitat cards will be required, sort of like energy or basic land cards)

You can also make life harder for your opponent with scenario type cards (i.e. infection! flood! climate change!). Some of these scenario cards would specifically involve invasive species (sets up an opportunity for battle type scenarios - or how will it screw up the ecosystem scenarios).

Anyway, like most other TCG systems, this allows folks to build decks. As well, for educational purposes, there can be a focus on sets specific to your city or local.

Ooh. this is fun. Would be great to hear what others think. Thanks to naturalismus (the links above) for showing his setup.

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8 Re: Game Design? on Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:14 am

Pikachu wrote:O.K. Here's my general idea that I'm going to start working on. Let me know what you think.

Two players. Each players with a deck of cards. The goal of the game is twofold.

1. Use the cards on the your deck to create an ecosystem.
2. Use up your deck

The idea here is a little like mahjong - you can score quickly by finishing, or you can take a little more effort to finish slowly and create a more robust (fuller ecosystem). The danger is that if you go for a quality hand (ecosystem), you run the risk of your opponent finishing before you. With this system, there needs to be scoring (like poker or mahjong, certain hands are worth more).

Ecosystem creation relies heavily on food chain and habitat attributes. (therefore habitat cards will be required, sort of like energy or basic land cards)

You can also make life harder for your opponent with scenario type cards (i.e. infection! flood! climate change!). Some of these scenario cards would specifically involve invasive species (sets up an opportunity for battle type scenarios - or how will it screw up the ecosystem scenarios).

Anyway, like most other TCG systems, this allows folks to build decks. As well, for educational purposes, there can be a focus on sets specific to your city or local.

Ooh. this is fun. Would be great to hear what others think. Thanks to naturalismus (the links above) for showing his setup.

The above game set-up sounds very similar to how Yu-Gi-Oh is set up, which I think is great for children as they are already very familiar with this type of game play.

So, would the food chain come into play in similar way to how monsters are summoned in YuGiOh? ie. lower level organisms are "sacrificed" (or consumed, in the ecosystem) to support a high level organism?

Something like...you need to sacrifice 5 grasshoppers to bring about a peregrine falcon into the ecosystem? lol!

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9 Some feedback from a reader on Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:01 pm

>My name is Quentin Long, and I'm one of the many people who only learned
of the Phylomon project because of PZ Myers. I have some ideas regarding
the game part of the project...

The Pokemon game/anime thingie maintains its popularity, in part, by a
steady stream of new material -- new Pokemon critters, new arenas, new
this-that-and-the-other. Indeed, this is true of pretty much every Collectible
Card Game on the market (Magic: The Gathering, etc). It would seem to make
sense for Phylomon to follow suit, by releasing new stuff on a regular schedule.
Fortunately, the biosphere's natural organization accomodates that sort
of thing fairly well. To begin with, you release the Basic Phylomon System,
which covers a playable subset of the biosphere; after that, release a
series of 'expansion sets' at regular intervals. "Now available: Temperate
Rainforest!" "Horrifying Parasites -- just in time for Hallowe'en!" And so on,
and so forth.

It would be appropriate for the Phylomon Project to sell physical
card-sets *as well as* providing downloadable card-images. Believe it or not, this
download-AND-sell paradigm works pretty well for science fiction publisher
Baen Books [ http://www.baen.com ], which allows people to download entire
books from Baen's current catalog under the Baen Free Library program. If
people just want to download the cards and print 'em out on their home
computer, great; Phylomon can provide *Official* Phylomon Cards (hopefully of a
higher degree of quality than most random people are likely to be able to
achieve with the equipment in their homes) for those who wish to spend a bit of
cash. And whatever profits are thereby generated, I'm sure the Phylomon
Project can figure out what to do with that cash, right?

Fundamental premise underlying the whole thing: The Basic Phylomon
System should be an accurate reflection of biological reality as far as it goes
-- with the understanding that *real* biological reality (if you'll pardon
the expression...) goes *farther*.
Second fundamental premise: The initial release is simple. Those
complications which make biology so messy, can always be introduced in later
expansion sets.

The cards: I am not entirely sure what sort of data should be included
on a Phylomon card, so I'm just going to throw out a bunch of possibly-useful
ideas for you to look at. I am definitely *not* proposing that *all* of
these ideas must be included!
Size -- Body length, in centimeters, of a mature critter. It may be
appropriate to also provide a "game stat" version of this figure, perhaps the
base-10 logarithm of body length? For any figure X in the range (.3 > X => 3),
Size is 0; for anything in the range (30 > X => 300), Size is 2; and so on
and so forth.
Mass -- Mass, in grams, of a mature critter. As with Size, it may be
appropriate if the "game stat" version of Mass is the logarithm of this number.
A 100-kilogram critter, being 105 grams, would thus have a Mass of 5; etc
etc.
Habitat -- What biome/niche the critter lives in. It would be nice to
also include specific details (what temperature range the critter best thrives
in, what humidity range it likes best, etc); whenever the game gets around
to actually using Habitat, you can start off by just using "Biome X", and
reserve the more-detailed information for later expanson sets.
Dietary -- What the critter likes to eat. At its simplest, the "Dietary"
data is limited to carnivore/hervibore/omnivore; in addition, there should
also be more-detailed data on the critter's specific dieetary needs.
Predation -- What likes to eat the critter. It may be redundant to have
*both* "Dietary" *and* "Predation"?
Offense -- What sort of natural weapons the critter has; claws, fangs,
venom, antlers, whatever.
Defense -- What advantages the critter has which keep it alive; speed,
armor, whatever.
Reproduction -- How long the critter's gestation period is, how many
offspring per litter, preferred time of year for reproduction (i.e., mating
season [if any]).
Mobility -- The critter's modes of motion, i.e., flight, running,
swimming, etc (a critter can obviously have more than one mode of motion). Also
the top speed (in KPH) of each mode of motion the critter has. It'd be nice to
include data on maneuverability, but I am unsure how to represent that;
perhaps the radius of the turning circle the critter can achieve whilst moving
at top speed?
Numbers -- When you encounter the critter in the wild, how many of it
will you need to deal with? Solitary (one single critter), Group (anything up
to 8-10?), Pack (small group, up to maybe 25 or so), Swarm (big group, 1000
or so), Plague (*B*I*G* group, 8 digits and up?).
Activity cycle: Nocturnal, diurnal, crepuscular. This data could be
considered a facet "Habitat"; if so, there would be no need for "Activity cycle"
to be a separate game-staat unto itself.
Hunger: How much the critter needs to eat, per day. This could be folded
into "Predation", rather than being a separate game-stat unto itself.
Eating habits: This would cover whether the critter is a 'standard'
carnivore, or a filter-feeder, or what.

In its simplest form, Phylomon can be a Top Trumps-like game. Each
player puts down a Phylomon card; stats off of the cards are compared; whoever's
card was the most strongest, that player collects all the cards which were
played. This works well for 2-player Phylomon Trumps, but multi-player
Phylomon Trumps may require some thought to avoid ties, or at least to determine a
unique winner, among (N > 2) cards.

The next step up for Phylomon is something in the neighborhood of Magic:
The Gathering. Added element: "Biomes", the Phylomon equivalent to the
various 'colors' of 'lands' which are used in M:TG. Each Phylomon card should
include data on which biome that critter lives in; if a player doesn't have
some particular Biome X in their hand, they can't play any critters which live
in Biome X. For critters which can live in more than one biome, the card
displays each available biome with a visual cue (different colors? grey 'em
out?) that indicates how well-adapted the critter is to each of its alowable
biomes. Simple M:TG-style Phylomon only pays attention to a critter's *most*
suitable biome(s); rules to handle differing levels of biome-suitability can
be introduced in a later expansion set.

Expansion set possibilities: Additional types of biome. M:TG-style
Phylomon starts with a small (but playable) selection of biomes; maybe Grassland,
Tropical Rainforest, Riparian, Savannah, and Mountain. A biome-based
expansion set would include a few cards for Biome X, plus a decent array of
Phylomon cards for critters which can thrive in Biome X.
Predation. The Phylomon cards should include data on what sort of prey
each critter noshes on; if a player wants to play a critter which feeds on X,
he must play the X-critter *before* he plays the critter which feeds on it.
Food web. Now we bring plants into it -- each biome can support a
particular range of plants, which are fed on by the appropriate critters.

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10 Food Chain game on Wed Feb 03, 2010 3:17 pm

http://behindthebins.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/food-chain-cards.jpg

I remember playing this in High School. I would guess it would be wise to distance this project from this product so as not to infringe on any copyright and game designs.

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11 Re: Game Design? on Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:29 pm

I also think an effective game play mechanic would be utilization of a food chain.
A proposed mechanic:
1) Each turn of game play, player1 is given 20 "sun points."
2) Player1 is given the option of placing a green plant card (colours on the card to distinguish tiers would be quite effective in my opinion. It would allow more complex mechanics to be easily understood). These green plant cards are basically for food; I think in pokemon a similar mechanic was used with energy?
3) Player1 can now place an animal card. These cards can be distinguished by:
a)Herbivore
b)Carnivore
c)Apex Predator
Where the placement of a herbivore needs X number of plant cards, a carnivore needs X number of carnivores, and an apex predator needs X number of carnivores and/or herbivores.
4) Now, how does one win the game? I think it would be interesting to introduce the concept of biomes! There are two (or more) competing biomes in an area and they must compete for survival. Each card has a strength and defense attribute (specific names to be determined), and to win the game the player must destroy their opponents biome. Ie. kill everything.

This is a simple model, but I think that it can be expanded upon quite easily whilst still being easily understood by children.

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12 Re: Game Design? on Thu Feb 04, 2010 5:05 am

I got poked by one of the artists more than a month ago to do rules set, so there's a treatment in a separate thread.

As amusing as the idea of Pikachu vs Hammerhead Shark would be and making it compatible with Pokemon, Hasbro's lawyers are notoriously Not Nice. Avoid infringement if at all possible.

This also means avoiding the tapping mechanic used in many collectible card games. Wizards of the Coast (a holding of Hasbro) hold a patent on the mechanic.
Patent info here

The MIGHT play nice since Phylomon's educational. But they just might horribly crush it and send the legion of lawyers.


As to bringing in people with solid game design knowledge, I'd recommend submitting Phylomon to BoardGameGeek. Games are often posted on there while they're still in the design stage in order to find people willing to test it. The information on how to submit is available here

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13 Re: Game Design? on Thu Feb 04, 2010 10:23 am

davehwng wrote:http://truth-quark.de/blog/?p=86

I haven't walked through it yet, but it looks like the object is to construct a food web basically.

Anyway, just thought I'd pass it on. Hopefully, he'll turn up on this forum soon.

He also has a few notes on his flickr page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalismus/4309489803/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/naturalismus/4311383852/
Wow, it's already here.
Anyway I think there are a some basic ideas that should be in the game.
1. You can only play cards that can live in your ecosystem.
2. A stable ecosystem needs to contain a plant, a herbivore and a mushroom (a producer, a consumer and a decomposer)

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14 Re: Game Design? on Fri Feb 05, 2010 1:26 am

To keep versatility, the best way to go is to keep things simple, numbers where possible, single word descriptors elsewhere. Then rules attached to numbers and descriptors could be kept elsewhere, tied to specific game types.

Here's some of my suggestions after thinking on my own and trying to incorporate other suggestions I've seen:

Card types:
Species - the backbone of Phylomon. Anything goes for species. Naturalismus has some great ideas for an interaction web.
Biomes - an environmental control for what's in play. Could be anything from a petri dish (limits size to microbes) to a rainforest.
Events - This is how I imagine natural (and anthropogenic) boons and busts fitting into most advanced games. A hurricane could ground all fliers, desertification could change the biome, a mouse could hollow out a nest, someone could drop the petri dish.

Different game types may use one or more of the card types, but will mostly focus on species.

I think habitat could form an elemental system. I'm not sure how best to break it down, but my suggestion for the basic habitat types:

Forest (brown)
Water (blue) (maybe broken into fresh or saltwater for accuracy)
Brush (green) (maybe combined with forest into "vegetation")
Sand (yellow)
Civilization (gray) (or make human presence event-related)
Snow (white) (also maybe more of an event)

Combinations or ordering of these basic habitats would make more descriptive cards. As an example, an ocean floor biome card might be considered water/sand, whereas a desert oasis biome would be sand/water (and maybe forest or brush). Species would have preferred habitats using a similar system. Events could easily be tied in as well, the hurricane might be tied to water and sand, a brush fire doesn't happen in the desert or underwater.

That's it for now. I'll keep thinking.

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15 evolution on Fri Feb 05, 2010 5:08 am

I thoroughly agree with Quentin Long's idea of the game. Drawing basic yet specific characteristics of the Phylomon early on is a smart choice.

I would suggest that we have an "evolution" idea as well. Seeing as though this concept has been used (very effectively) by Pokemon and Yugi-Oh, it would be smart to keep in line with that focus. My idea is that there is a basic Phylomon, possibly pre-historic or an animal that we know has evolved into a variety of things, and then as their "level" increases, or they reach a certain point, then their Phylomon "evolves" into the next animal. Sticking to a scientific basis, this animal would evolutionarily be the next generation up. The flaw I can see with this, however, is that the users would automatically deem the most basic Phylomon to be less advanced than the higher generation - e.g. bony fishes are more advanced than non-bony fishes, which is false considering there are non-bony fishes that have survived and thrived in their environment. A way around this would be to use the evolutionary idea as the development of the Phylomon itself - an example of this would be larvae -> fish. Similar to the Caterpie -> Metapod -> Butterfree, the basic Phylomon would be often frustrating, simple pawns of the game until they evolve. This leads to goal-setting and therefore competition.

I also think that metabolism should be a characteristic of the Phylomon, possibly relating to their nutrition. Just a thought.

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16 Re: Game Design? on Sun Feb 07, 2010 2:51 am

A way around this would be to use the evolutionary idea as the development of the Phylomon itself - an example of this would be larvae -> fish. Similar to the Caterpie -> Metapod -> Butterfree, the basic Phylomon would be often frustrating, simple pawns of the game until they evolve. This leads to goal-setting and therefore competition.

This could work quite well if we incorporate the abovementioned system where you have to sacrifice lower-level"foodchain" creatures to play higher level creatures. Since fish eggs and insect larvae can be food OR "evolve", they would be useful in multiple ways. There were a lot of cards in other games that were only useful for one purpose (making other things happen) but otherwise useless, like land in magic or energy in pokemon, but if those were not static, it could make for a more dynamic game.

It would also add an additional element of realism to the game, as you WOULD have say, 5 grub cards for every beetle that actually develops in real life anyway, or 10 antelope to feed one lion. There could also be a "mutation" card feature (maybe too advanced?) that could make your basic forms more resistant to your opponent's more advanced forms to give them an edge in survival, assuming the mechanics could involve features that could damage the other player.



Oh and based on previous experience with BoardGameGeek, the above suggestion to submit ideas to them is a very good one. It's a great community. Smile

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17 Re: Game Design? on Sun Feb 07, 2010 7:01 pm

Side jaunt, but is someone is reasonably competent with code, once we get to the point that there's a rules set, creating a plugin for Lackey might be a good idea.

http://www.lackeyccg.com/

It's an online (free) player that lets you play card games online with up to 10 players. Someone just needs to write the plugin script for it and then it can be used to playtest the game and work out any bugs with cards.

So even you folks that don't have a regular game group could give it a go online.

(Yes, I have used Lackey to playtest games before release)

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18 Re: Game Design? on Sun Feb 07, 2010 11:58 pm

fenrislorsrai wrote:Side jaunt, but is someone is reasonably competent with code, once we get to the point that there's a rules set, creating a plugin for Lackey might be a good idea.

http://www.lackeyccg.com/

It's an online (free) player that lets you play card games online with up to 10 players. Someone just needs to write the plugin script for it and then it can be used to playtest the game and work out any bugs with cards.

So even you folks that don't have a regular game group could give it a go online.

(Yes, I have used Lackey to playtest games before release)

Wow, that is pretty awesome. I have no idea why I haven't noticed that site before. It'll be a great tool for what we want to accomplish though.

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19 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 08, 2010 3:19 am

It's been suggested that the Phylomon game needs some sort of overarching, unifying theme. Dunno if that's necessary, but I agree that such a theme would prolly be a Good Thing, so here's my first shot at providing one:
In the future, when humanity has expanded to other star systems, we've discovered a world which is devoid of life -- but somehow, it has all the necessary preconditions to support life. A consortium of biologists sees this "Earth II" as a wonderful opportunity to do ecological science; create an ecosphere on Earth II, and compare & contrast it to Terra's ecosphere. Accordingly, the consortium of biologists is putting together, not just a *terra*forming project, but a *bio*forming project: They intend to seed this 'blank' world with Terran life, ending up with a ecologically valid biosphere. All currently-living species are of course available; it being the future, all extinct species are also available, thanks to advances in reconstructing the genomes of extinct species.
The bioforming project is a a honkin' *big* undertaking, and there are many different questions which must be answered in order for the project to proceed. Thus, different versions of the Phylomon game can be presented as different aspects of the bioforming project.
"Phylomon Trumps", which pits two individual species against each other: Preliminary evaluation of species, to determine which ones are the best candidates for being seeded on Earth II.
The build-an-ecosystem game: 'Nuff Said, right?
M:TG-ish Phylomon, in which each player creates their own 'ecosystem', and each player is trying to overrun the other players' setups: Candidate ecosystems are being tested for resilience -- the idea being, the ecosystems
had been separated by (geological?) barriers which only just recently went away, and now critters/plants/etc from each ecosystem can migrate into new (to them, at least) territory. See also: "Rabbits to Australia".

Pokemon-style evolution: I am inclined to think this is not a good idea for Phylomon. As has been noted, real evolutionary relationships aren't
necessarily all that useful in game terms.

I like Abradford's notion of "event" cards to go with "species" card and "biome" cards. Hmmm... Weather/climate events: Drought, flood, cyclone, ice age. Geological events: Volcano, earthquake, landslide. Tsunami/tidal wave. Etc.
Event cards have different durations. For instance,a Cyclone Event should really only affect things for one turn; an Ice Age Event, contrariwise, is a "gift that keeps on giving", so that its effects last until the game is over. In addition to single-turn Events and permanent Events, there could aso be Events which last until the player(s) perform some specific action.

Idea for "biome" cards: What if these things aren't cards, but, instead, large hexagonal pieces of sturdy cardboard or whatever? That way, there's plenty of room to plop down however-many Species cards and such on a Biome. See also: Settlers of Catan, and Cosmic Encounter.

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20 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:29 am

Suggestion for the freely-downloadable card-images: These beasties should be relatively low-resolution jobs, maybe 150 DPI at best. As to the file format, perhaps 256-color (8-bit) GIF? The idea here is, the free-for-the-downloading stuff is plenty good enough if you just want the card-images; if you want really good card-images, well, the Phylomon project will be happy to sell you high-resolution (i.e., 1000-DPI?) images printed on sturdy cardstock...

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21 Re: Game Design? on Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:39 pm

@Cubist: I really like your theme idea but I think the pokemon-style evolution is just metamorphosis.

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22 once more, with feeling! on Mon Feb 08, 2010 7:01 pm

If the game will have combat, we'll need to come up with a basic combat system, a stat system, how does one lose/gain hitpoints? Here are some good examples of basic card layouts: bit.ly bAO5Pq .

I think there should be an element of resource competition in Phylomon. There are a limited amount of resources for any given animal, and if you can't eat/mate/etc., the creature dies. At the same time, there's the threat of predation, natural disasters, evolutionary mechanisms at play. It seems like the last two should be random - a chance hit of a 20 sided die. I feel like allowing a player access to a card like "Ice Age," would be a bit overpowering. Having environmental changes be random would add a chaotic element to the game, which could be fun in that it would force people to change their style of gameplay. Phylomon becomes not just a "My creature's bigger than yours," type of game, but a game where strategy and quick-thinking are just as important as building the best deck.

Though the point of phylomon is to teach others as much as possible about an animal, I feel that characteristics shouldn't be mentioned unless they are inherent to gameplay. Having multiple characteristics or stats to keep track of can be overwhelming, so we'd want to narrow them down to the most important - probably 3-4, tops. If there is going to be an online component, we could easily link the creature to its wikipedia page if they wish to learn more about the animal.

So far, I think the idea of biomes is a great idea, but I'm afraid it could be inherently limiting. If people build decks based on different biomes, how will they be able to play against each other? If someone is focusing on the Antarctic region, or an "Ice" deck, a person with a "Savannah" based deck should not be able to play against it, since creatures of those biomes would not normally interact with each other. Magic gets around this by just letting different colored decks interact freely, but I'm not sure that would fit our purposes. However - if we went with Cubist's idea of the overall story, biomes would not be a huge issue, since we'd just be testing animals out in a controlled setting?

I like the idea of having to build an ecosystem. In this instance, a part of it could be cooperative play. Each of the players have to build the groundwork of the ecosystem - plants, decomposers, etc. Only until they've built a feasible ecosystem does the "battle of the fittest" begin.

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23 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 5:02 am

I've been away for a bit, but coming back and reading all of these posts, I'm wondering if the above rules were implemented,

i) would it become too complicated for some younger players?

ii) how long would it take to actually set up a suitable biome as outlined (eg. building up high level lifeforms from lower lifeforms, suitable habitats, etc.) before actually interactive gameplay between players begin?

I remember Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh/other trading card games as being rather easy to start and finish, and that was part of the appeal of the game. You don't want this to turn into something like Axis and Allies (as fun as it is) where it takes hours to set up/play.

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24 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 6:47 am

Vivienne wrote:
I remember Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh/other trading card games as being rather easy to start and finish, and that was part of the appeal of the game. You don't want this to turn into something like Axis and Allies (as fun as it is) where it takes hours to set up/play.

That's what I was thinking... recently I just started playing this free online card game called Elements: http://www.elementsthegame.com/ and it has simple and fast-paced gameplay. Something like that would be a real selling point to kids and adults alike.

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25 Re: Game Design? on Tue Feb 09, 2010 3:31 pm

Vivienne wrote:I've been away for a bit, but coming back and reading all of these posts, I'm wondering if the above rules were implemented,

i) would it become too complicated for some younger players?

ii) how long would it take to actually set up a suitable biome as outlined (eg. building up high level lifeforms from lower lifeforms, suitable habitats, etc.) before actually interactive gameplay between players begin?

I remember Pokemon/Yu-Gi-Oh/other trading card games as being rather easy to start and finish, and that was part of the appeal of the game. You don't want this to turn into something like Axis and Allies (as fun as it is) where it takes hours to set up/play.

That's a good point. We could just have each player have "land" cards like they do in Magic. That way, your deck has to be suited to the kinds of land you want to play (permafrost, savannah, etc.). We could just waive the fact that some of these animals would never interact in the wild and do a cool kind of "Animal vs Animal" Discovery channel type thing.

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