This is the post that I've waited for myself :D ... as promised I'm going to talk about turning a computer game into a board game.
I've played a lot of computer games through the years and from time to time I encounter experiences that I want to carry into other "worlds/medias"... and my favorite media besides computers must be board games ;)
I'm currently working on 2 projects of that caliber so I'll try to go through as many aspects of the process as possible.
I hope you'll find some inspiration for your work - if you're sitting with the same challenge as me :)
I assume you've already found a computer game that you want to turn into a board game.
So now it's time to figure out, what exactly do you want to convert?
- Is it the theme/concept? (a specific setting, like Starcraft or Anno 1701?)
- Is it the mechanics? (something like a shooter or RTS?)
- Is it the feel/situations/puzzles? (ex. Portal, Hitman or Zuma)
- Is it the history? (ex. Uncharted or Knight of the Old Republic)
After sorting out WHAT you're aiming for... it's time to ask yourself a few questions. These questions should follow your project to the very end :)
- Why is this game or mechanic or history so fantastic that it needs to be duplicated in a board game?
- Does it work in a board game layout?
- Does it work now that people are sitting next to each other?
- Can you simplify it now where there's no GUI? (I'm going to talk more about this later on and probably in other posts as well)
- Can it stay true to the source?
I know the laws too... of course you're not allowed to copy a concept and run with it. But what I'm talking about - is making a game that can be presented for the owners of the computer game franchise.
If you're going to aim for anything in that regard - you should aim for the stars :)
Now it's time to get your hands dirty... and dirty they'll get! This is a lot of work...
Both computer games I'm working on - I've played waaaaay over 100 hours each. Mostly because I like (read: love) them... and because I want to understand what makes them tic.
You'll have to push the AI as far as possible, try to "cheat" the computer (I don't mean using codes), try to see how the game mechanics can be sabotaged.
Then there's all the visiting forums and read threads about the game. What do people like/dislike and why? How are problems dealt with?
After all this "soft" research it's time to for the hardcore data collection. Start the game... and write down every stat/data on units, flow, maps, campaigns, weapons, magic, amount of dialog etc.. etc..
You might be lucky to find many of these things on the internet during your first research - so remember to save it for later use (ex. you can find data on all of Warcraft's units on the internet)
The data collection is of course connected to WHAT you want to create - so make sure not to drown yourself in data ;)
Excel is your friend.. when it comes to arranging all the data you need spreadsheets.
As you might realise during the data collection process it's almost impossible to "just" transfer the data used for a computer onto a board game. In most cases you have to simplify it.
Ex. You may have weapon damage ranging from 5 to 50 or greater... which means that now you have to turn it into die results. So 5 may become 1 on a 12-sided die and 50 is 1-10 on the same die.
This is just an example. But you'll undoubtedly have to do a lot of data conversion if you're going to make it possible to actually play the game without a master degree in math.
Another example could be unit health. If you have 4 space ships with 100, 200, 300 and 800 health - you want to simplify the data. Go for the lowest possible number that still keeps the units differentiated by the same amount. Here you can divide by 100 and end up with 1, 2, 3 and 8.
Data impact and adjustments
So now you have an idea of how to process the data you've collected and how to make it accessible in a game.
But you need to know how it's actually going to impact the game.
If you look at the first example with the weapons - This means that you would have to use a 12-sided die.
So, is that what you want? Or would it make the game more appealing if you adjusted this?
Eg. First weapon level being 1 on a 6-sided die - where last weapon would be 2 dice with a hit on 5 on a 6-sided die. It doesn't have to be the exact same ratio as in the computer game as long as you keep an eye on the impact it has on the game.
Just like gamers are interacting through joystick, keyboard and guitars when it comes to computer games your gamers will be interacting with your board game through cards, dice, tokens etc.
It's important that you find the right measure of interaction according to the experience you want the players to have.
Eg. creating a character with skills could be done through deck building.
It's about giving the players the same level of control and depth of interaction - Even though the board game can't present any "behind the screen calculations".
It's all up to you! How do you feel when playing computer games - what do you want to convert into a board game?
Until next time - Happy gaming - on both fronts! :)