Team / Alexandra Lau, Brenner Pacelli, Fergui Pascual, Lucas Branco, & Corey Dean
Role / Game Designer
Become the greatest Alchemist by making the perfect combination in this card game.
Description / Elixir is a card game that lets you explore alchemical combinations to create the perfect Philosopher’s Stone. You must search out or trade for the best materials for your own personal recipe. The better materials you can get, the better your Philosopher’s Stone will be.
Each player tries to create the best combination in one of two ways: by chancing that they will find the card they are looking for or by trying to convince another player to give them the right card. Players must use their memories to see what the other players are doing. Are they looking for red cards? Are they not picking up green? This helps a player leverage trades from others as well as seeing where they are in comparison to others.
This game is designed to be played in a group setting with a small group of players. When designing a game for a group of people certain design choices must be made. It needs to be a balance between fun, quick understanding and general play-ability. Elixir combines all these things in one convenient package. The game is easy to learn, fun to play and makes people want to play again and again.
Development / Any project has to start with an idea and for our group the idea did not come to us initially. We actually started off trying to generate multiple concepts and go with the one that had the most support. Luckily it only took us two tries and that our group backed the idea rather quickly. Once we had the idea, rules, concepts, themes, you name it, they started to generate a whole lot easier.
We tried to keep the game simple and playable very quickly so we knew we wanted simple mechanics but enough that the game was entertaining and on some level competitive. We all agreed quickly that we’d have cards on the table but we didn’t know how to incorporate other mechanics to make the game what it is. We talked about multiple recipes, a point value per card, trying to make different combinations, but all these ideas didn’t really flow too well for one reason or another. Perhaps it was because this was a group effort and we all shared input, or maybe we just all had a similar understanding of what we enjoy out of games, but in any case, it took us a while to hammer out the exact rules (which we then modified further later!).
After that we split the roles into documentation (rules, in game documents, this write-up, etc.) and art (materials, card layouts, etc.). This worked out pretty good, though there were some hiccups. Some materials weren’t designed initially so we had to go back and do those again, but in general, everyone enjoyed their jobs. The art team got to design cool materials that were both imaginary and real and got to flex their design muscles into making them look as cool as they could. I mean, in all honesty, how do you draw a gas or something that doesn’t actually exist? These were some of the problems facing the art team and they came threw it amazingly.
As we were producing everything we tried a few play tests. This is another area we hit a snag. The game was there but it was roughshod. There were clear rule choices that didn’t work to the flow or advantage of the game that in theory we didn’t see a problem in, or glossed over because it seemed too small to concern overly with. For instance, we initially had it that no one started with any material cards in hand. This made the game super slow and more of a grind at the beginning. We had to change this quickly as well as a few other things that popped up while playing. Lesson learned: nothing is too small when it comes to game design.
Everything was done. The rules were ironed out, the game flowed, the art was done, now all we had to do was print. What a bloody nightmare! Printing has never seemed to be the biggest issue to have ever been faced, but in this case, good lord. There was aligning issues, the paper choice was not the best, we didn’t colour things in the right format (always go CMYK! Always!), just nothing seemed to go right at this point. At the very end! Second lesson learned: Printing is its own job. Plan fully for it and never assume everything will work.
Final Notes / In the future, beyond simple modifications such as printing on proper paper in the right format or the like, it would be nice to expand on the game. Add new materials, add more recipes, make some cards hurt your recipe and other benefit you more. Maybe modify a mechanic or two to further speed up the flow or make people more motivated to undercut each other.
The themes in this game are very interesting and it would be nice to try to create new games in the same vein. Maybe an RPG where you play an alchemist and have to go harvest the materials, or a text-based adventure where you have to modify other people’s recipes and sabotage each other. It’s an interesting theme that can be worked into a lot of different games.