How did you come up with the design for Planet 313

posted Mar 6, 2015, 12:07 PM by John Force

People are asking me, “How did you come up with the design for Planet 313?”  As I look back I think it came from a survey I made years ago for my family and friends.  I asked them to tell me three things they liked about each of their favorite board, card, or dice games.  From their feedback I created a list of about 20 features they enjoyed most, and then refined it to the top five game mechanics or features.   

1.       Interesting Cards - not just the typical clubs, spades, hearts and diamonds.  Cards that make the players interact, take that, and protections from your evil opponent were considered gems of their favorite games.

2.       Different feature of the board itself- getting away from the monopoly style of moving pieces around the edge of a printed board.  Either the board itself was different or it was portrayed as a map with many different directions to choose.

3.       Special dice, not just a 1d6 with pips.  Dice that would engage features of the game or dice that would provide dual meanings depending on where you were in the game and dice that even represented the monsters themselves.

4.       Choices – Breaking away from rolling the dice and moving your pawn down the one same path, the desire for choices on direction and actions scored very high.

5.       Investment of thought – Their favorite games required them to think and choose their own actions.  From building their empire or earning their super-charged game feature to even change their direction if things were not working.

After considering the results of my survey I began to look at all the board games that had those features on the boards.  There were not very many.  Then I remembered a marble game from my childhood that used gravity to drop marbles through a series of rings to travel to the center.  There were not many games which used that approach so I started considering to use a mechanic that gave a similar movement.

That gave me the general concept of starting on the outside and rotating rings to navigate to the center.  I then started making prototypes of the board out of paper and a magic marker to find out what physical challenges there would be to navigation, and begin creating my own obstacles and bonus points.  From there, it has been a great journey in itself to develop the theme, the battle sequences, the events, and the action cards that provide the many challenges and excitement throughout the game.  After many hours putting it together, playtesting, redesigning, and retesting across many types of players, I have a game I love to play, even though I should be burnt out on it by now. 

My next learning curve is navigating the Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing of Planet 313.  It will be very rewarding and exciting to get Planet 313 made and into the hands of people who love to play it.

Here is a picture of the first prototype!

First Prototype Planet 313