Recent Comments

Icon inspirations for Cabin Wars!, my GameChef 2013 entry

Wahoo! I lived up to a personal goal and crafted an RPG for GameChef, an annual competition where designers are given a theme & ingredients and are charged with crafting a game out of it. Not unlike the Iron Chef, and hence the name. This year’s offerings took the form of graphic icons, which bothered me a little at first. I’m a words guy, so working with proscribed images felt more limiting.

I got over it though, and made Cabin Wars! A game that is about campers vying for a Camp Cup by winning points, while also being about trying to keep your head above water in a sea of demerits stemming from your vicious prank war. Peering through the entries today, I have to say that while there are a few themes (the bug-in-apple icon seems to have pushed a lot of designers in a certain direction) the field of entries submitted is pretty wide. The icons don’t seem to have been limiting at all.

I put this bit at the end of my game, but as I probably won’t leave it in the game text forever I thought I should post it here, too. So then, for the curious, and a peek behind the curtain, here’s how I used this year’s GameChef ingredients and theme to inspire Cabin Wars!

Theme: An up-and-down arrow with a bespectacled person standing in front of it. I used this as the basis for the idea of points and demerits in tug-of-war with each other. The stylized person is Authority, the force on high that watches as the players rise and fall via points and demerits. In this case, the staff that are watching the campers and judging the games leading up to the Camp Cup.

Ingredient: A big head with a snowflake inside it. To me, this looked more like a big head with a gear inside it. That implied to me plans, plots, schemes within schemes all being hatched out of the mind of this egg-headed person. So, something about making plans… this one didn’t come into focus as planning a prank until I had a good idea from the next ingredient.

Ingredient: A belted tunic covered in a smattering of diamond shapes. This icon fascinated me. I knew I didn’t want to use the bug-apple icon, and this one seemed like it could determine a lot about my game, once I knew what it would be. Then I had it: merit badges! I’d considered something about summer camp once I settled on “points & demerits” from the theme, but this clinched it. Merit badges would be An Important Thing in my game.

Ingredient: A paper lantern in the corner softly illuminates a person’s silhouette. This just played more into the idea of summer camp stuff. Sneaking around at night when you should be in bed in your cabin is a time-honored tradition, and since I already wanted my game to be about the interplay of winning prestige (via points) and breaking rules (earning demerits), a sneaking element was a perfect fit. Since most of the sneaking I did in my summer camp days involved messing with other cabins and pranks, I figured it should be the same in this game. And I liked too how it suggested that trying to pull a prank, which is perhaps the most obviously fun action to take in the game, is a risky action that must be attempted with stealth.

And there you have it! You can see the ingredient I chose to leave out here, it seemed very out of keeping with the form my design was taking. Also, a game is only supposed to use 2-3 of the 4 ingredients anyhow. For now, all that’s left with Cabin Wars! is to leave it be while other GameChef participants comb through it and pass on their reactions.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

« Amateur archaeology on a budget | Main | Free associating GM prep work via player input »

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>