The game originally started from my experience this semester. Being my first semester away from home, and also just really struggling with my own problems mentally, it was a very challenging semester for me. It was hard to get the work I needed to do, and it was hard to find the motivation and energy to do what I needed to do. I
I was then inspired by the idea of affordances that showed up in the book World of Game. I wanted to have a mechanic that you knew intuitively was supposed to be about moving forwards, but the mechanics of the game made it so that you didn’t want to. I decided to go with a dice roll. In most board games, you use a dice roll to decide how far forward you go, and you’re constantly waiting for your next turn to roll the die. I wanted my game to mess with that perception and make it so that you constantly dread having to roll the die.
The final game ended up being played on a calendar. You could play it on a screen and just keep track of the days, or just play it on a normal calendar. The month does not matter but playing on months with fewer days is easier than playing on ones with more. There are also 4 “stats” that you have on your character. You have happiness, motivation, stress, and energy. You start off with 5 happiness, 5 motivation, 0 stress, 5 energy. Each stat can range from 10 to -10. You can take actions that will allow your happiness, motivation, energy to exceed 10 (the number will remain at 10), but you cannot take actions that will allow them to go lower than -10. The opposite is true for stress (can go below -10 but not above 10).
Every turn your roll a six-sided die and you move forward a number of days equal to the roll, and you get an event depending on your roll. The event is divided into these ranks:
- rank 0 (roll of 1)
- rank 0 is a special rank where it is meant to simulate a break. It has no options but just gives you an overall boost to the rest of your stats.
- rank 1 (roll of 2 or 3)
- rank 2 (roll of 4 or 5)
- rank 3 (roll of 6)
You then have three options for each of these events. Options 1 and 2 have a motivation requirement, meaning that you cannot do that action unless you have high enough motivation. Option 1 is the best option, which has a heavy energy cost but has positive effects on the rest of your stats. Option 2 is a gamble that has a smaller motivation requirement, where you have a certain percent chance (based on the rank) of success. If you succeed, you get a slightly negative consequence to your actions. Failure, however, has a more substantial negative effect. The third option is almost completely negative, but it is the only option that gives you extra energy other than rolling a 1. Unlike the other two, the third option does not have a motivation requirement, so if your motivation is too low you will have to choose this one.
There is a mechanic I call “fake motivation” that’s also implemented. Basically, you can sacrifice 1 energy or 2 happiness to get one point of fake motivation. This point of fake motivation does not change your current motivation numbers, but you can use it to use an action that you normally wouldn’t be able to do because your motivation was too low. For example, if you had 6 motivation but wanted to use an action that requires 7, you could use 1 energy to let you use the action. However, if you were to lose motivation because of the option you took, you would subtract the number from 6, not 7.
You win the game if you were able to finish the month, and you lose if you are unable to use any actions without one of your stats going below -10 (or above 10 for stress). The game is very hard to win, and even if you do win you often end up with many values in the negatives. The game is designed so that you value motivation and energy over your happiness and stress levels.
The game succeeded in what it was trying to do. Most players struggled to finish the map, often losing before the final stages. Even those who ended, often ended with many negative values. The best result I saw was the following:
Scenario link: https://northeastern-my.sharepoint.com/:w:/g/personal/elsayed_s_northeastern_edu/EZZIohBIl0dJoyXRiSypb1EBs4tyD6bSSw6IjJ56sot-3w?e=CkD5QR