Asset Brainstorm #4 — Floating Islands

As a matter of practice, it’s important to me that I keep demonstrating different ways to engage with games. Making games is a practice, and when you can look at game assets and consider ways to apply them, you’ll begin to see how much of game design is stuff you can do. Therefore, on this blog I’m making it a project to regularly grab some game assets I couldn’t make myself, that are made for game designers to work with, and see what ideas they inspire.

This month the asset I want to look at is Moon Tribe’s 2d floating island asset pack.

Some ideas.

Ooo, I have ideas.

Floating islands are disconnected, that means that I don’t need to make things like coastlines line up. Getting surfaces to line up is one of those combinatorics problems that make a card game a real struggle when dealing with maps that randomise. But if you say, make a map out of randomised assets, you have to make that stuff connect to one another.

Not so if they float.

First impression is that you could use these art assets to just make a bunch of disconnected islands to set up a gameboard. Lots of different options there, that’s typical spatial stuff. This asset pack presents you with a lot of pieces – including damaged and repaired versions of some assets, so you could have buildings that ‘take damage’ or maybe take time to be built.

Here’s the idea I’m liking for now, though: Use the islands to construct an ‘archipelago’ for each player, of a number of related islands. At first, my idea was that each island should have six little islands on it, arranged like die pips, so that the signifier number of each card was expressed by the islands.

But look, there are little drifting rocks there on some of these art assets: While I may be representing six, five, and three here, on these cards, the smaller drifting rocks ambiguate that, and I don’t like leaving players with the feeling that they’re ‘meant to get it’ in my game interface.

Still, we can do something with it anyway: Whether I integrate it into the art in the same way, my idea is now in the direction of dice pips. I’m thinking what I’ll do with this is a Machi-Koro style dice-roller engine game.

If you’re not familiar, this kind of game works by a player (or each player) rolling a d6, then that dice result determines what happens on your little tableau. In Machi Koro, they’re little buildings, that are meant to represent reacting to events of the day – that’s what the dice are. Machi Koro is extremely turn-based: A player rolls the dice, gets the effect from their buildings, and then other players react based on if they even have the chance to do so.

I’m thinking something like that; you have six slots, which give you access to six buildings, or maybe six combinations of buildings. Your sixes are very dense and can do a lot of stuff, but maybe they can’t specialise. Or maybe sixes can’t produce a lot of an effect. Gotta make sure that the numbers are interesting after all. Or maybe just plain out, sixes are rare – there may only be six of them in the deck.

You start the game with six cards, each of which is an island, and you can stick buildings on your islands (either integrated into the card to start with, or randomised from playset to playset, or drafted by players to create their own engine). You get one card that triggers on a 6, one card that triggers on a 5, a 4, a 3 and so on. That means you can change or bias your engine with the cadrs you’re drafting.

There’s also room for ‘drifting’ islands you move into place – things you claim from a common pool:

There’s a potential here though, because we have these clean/damaged versions of cards – the angel statues, the mage towers, and the summoning stones can all shift from ‘damaged’ to ‘repaired versions. That’s interesting, because that gives potential for a mechanism where a card starts damaged, and players can spend resources to ‘repair’ them and activate the ruin.

This asset pack also includes a blimp, the best of all assets. If I make this game, the blimp needs to be something important and probably categorically different to the islands – something that can move between island cards and ‘do things’ between them.

Stay tuned on this one, I think I have something here.