Asset Brainstorm #9 — Moba Lanes

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 time I don’t have art assets to look at. Reiner Knizier has said that when you work on games, you start with an aesthetic, a mechanic, or a device – and in this case I’ve been thinking about a device for some time. I’m not sure where I saw it, but I’ve been thinking about MOBA games for a long time. A long time ago, a friend of mine and I were toying with the idea of a management game about running an eSports team, and that meant spending time thinking about… well, MOBAs.

Anyway, here’s a diagram.

This diagram is designed to scale up. This version presents three potential players, as numbered 1-2-3. There’s a central location that everyone can contact, with the C. That example shows what three players look like, but it can handle more – like, check out here, an example with four.

What this means for most play experiences is that each player has two lanes that reach other players, and a third lane that reaches a common combat space.

What holds these play setups intact is this fundamental module, where each rectangle represents a card and the circle represents a player. The cards are fungible, because they are there to create the structure of your ‘board’. Your card and your enemy’s cards represent a lane, a shared space. You put things in that, they put things in that, and the two of you get to have a common space where there’s a competition.

I can think of a couple of ideas here. It’s mostly mechanical, mind you, with flavour currently flexible.

Here’s what I think of as ‘idea one:’

You and each player are deploying forces down these lanes at one another. You have two enemies, one on either side, and a common central goal for everyone. On your turn, you pull resources from a bag, and choose where to send them – a face-down coin in each lane that you flip up to reveal once everyone’s done that. The player who has the higher score in their lane wins that lane, and either does some damage to that player, or takes some common resource. Maybe there is a deck of cards in that central space that you get to draw out of. The central lane could be a way to represent a jungle, where heading that way gets you resources for being better at the game in general, or it could be a thing that lets you attack another player – throwing extra damage at players if you win the center. But on the other hand, winning the centre might be harder!

Continuing on the idea of a MOBA game, each player can have a ‘stack’ of circular tiles at their center that represent a health resource. You have your bag for coins, and a deck of cards that represent things like your champions, and special items.

No art assets yet, no theme. It could be things like top-down spaceships, but I really do think fantasy adventurers or cyberpunk gang stuff would be the best place to start.