Okay, okay, I need to do another one of these posts, the ones where I talk about the monthly prototype for February, that was Smooch Month, okay, that means it’s a standard template at this point, complaining about how hard it is to make smoochy games. Oh wait, what do you mean this time I got inspired and had a cool idea and wanted to build on that? Well, snap, what did I make?
Inspired by My Next Life As A Villainess, All Roads Lead To Doom, I devised something that was really nagging at me as a problem. See, smoochy games don’t feel to me like they benefit from being competitive (mostly). I was stuck on the question of, hey, how do I make a romantic narrative game that focuses on a relationship and choices that lead to that, that doesn’t pit players at odds with one another? How then, do I make a cooperative game about smooching?
I did it!
The game in question is currently just saved as ‘bakarina,’ a reference to the main character of that anime. The idea of this game is that you’re playing the main character of an otome game – a group of players piloting one character. Each player represents a mood of the character, so you’re all working together to try and find a partner that matches your style or appeal as it is, and also trying to avoid getting involved in a ‘bad ending’ of the game (by winding up with a bad date, or some kind of deadly end).
The game’s primary play experience is drafting. Players are drafting cards that become resources you can spend to solve problems, but the problems are the cards you didn’t draft. After a round of drafting, everyone works together to offer cards to solve those problems, and people can see what resources you have so they might see the things you choose not to address, while you’re trying to guide the group towards a good match.
I consider this game in pre-prototype. I think that with a little bit of time dedicated to it in a day where I don’t have to do tons of other work, I could belt out the resources necessary to get a prototype of this game delivered from Gamecrafter. It’s definitely doable. And what’s more is that all that I need to do from here can actually be automated. I need to create card faces, art standins, and iconography, but the rules system is complete and the card template too!
The bulk of what goes into the game is a deck of cards that look like this:
If you really want the rules, don’t worry, I’ll post them at the end, so you can see rules in that state.
What about the accounting of the steps of the making of the game idea?
I did a Mastodon thread tracking my thoughts on this game over time, if you want to read it step-by-step. I tried to demonstrate thought processes at each stage of things, and tried to do more direct, clear explicit statement of choices and why I made them.
There’s more, too! I took notes in a physical notebook, which I shared on my instagram (1, 2, 3, 4). Think of my instagram as a diary space, where I try to take a maximum of one image a day, so that makes it a great place for me to put notebook pages I can share. This is where the game started out, first examining the needs and possible mechanics that could address those needs.
Now, you wanna read the rules?
Okay, here you go:
A Cooperative Game of Otome Conflicts
The protagonist of an otome game is trying to navigate complex situations to work out who she loves, who she’s dating, and who she’ll wind up with, made more complicated by her personality being played by multiple different players who can’t communicate with one another!
The players are each playing different aspects of the personality of an otome game protagonist. Each round, players draft cards to gather resources, in anticipation of dealing with dramatic moments in the story ahead of them. Then, players have to spend the cards they drafted to try and romantically match with partners they want, or to avoid accumulating Death Flags. Players win when they get to a relationship 6 with a single partner, and then check to see if that character is a good match, to see if they wind up in a tragic or heroic end.
- 5 dice
- 8 tokens
- 5 Value tokens representing how much you like the boy
- 3 Death Flag tokens
- 90 cards
- 16 each of 5 suits
- 10 Death Flag cards
- 6 Jumbo cards
- 1 Hot Boys card
- 5 Player info cards
- Give each player a player card
- Set the smoochable card where everyone can see it
- Set each of the dice next to the smoochable boys, set to 1
- Each player looks at a single Value token and puts it face-down on the player board. Players cannot tell one another what they know about that token.
- Then, shuffle up the deck of cards and and set it where players can easily access it, and a discard pile can be easily seen. Each player draws 3 cards.
- Play happens simultaneously.
The game takes place in two phases; the draft, then the problems.
- Each player, on their turn, picks one of the cards in their hand, and turns it face down, keeping it. This is a Resource.
- Then, of the remaining cards, that player puts a card face-up in the Problems pile.
- Then, pass the last card to the next player.
- Draw two cards from the deck.
Once you’ve drafted a number of cards equal to twice the number of players, it’s time to sort out the problems.
- Sort the problem deck and find the highest value problem cards. Pick a number of cards equal to the number of players, plus one. Set the rest of the cards into the discard pile, face-up.
- Then, players need to determine which of the Problems cards they want to deal with or not. Players can’t tell why they may want to ignore a Problem, but they can be clear about which ones they want to contribute to.
- Players spend the resources they have available;
- Problems either offer a potential reward or a compulsory reward. Problems with compulsory rewards (symbol) give you their reward if you don’t spend resources to prevent them.
- The players then get to have the rewards for any cards they resolved
- A heart lets you increment the appropriate dice on the play board
- A peek lets one player look at a face-down token on the board
- A swap lets one player swap a face-down token with another token on the board
- A death flag adds a death flag token to your board. Then, if the players have three death flags, they lose
- The players then put their cards in the discard, and each draw three cards, starting a new round of drafting.
- If at any point the deck is empty and players can’t draw from it, shuffle the discarded cards and make that a new deck
When at least one of the dice hits 6, at the end of turn, the game ends; players can pick one of the dice at 6, and then players choose which of the 6-ranked boys they marry. Players agree on a character, then flip the token to see if the character is a Great Match, a fine match, a bad match or another death flag.