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Crash Team Racing Board Game | 2020

CTR.jpg

About

Genre: Dice- and card-based racing board game
Software: Tabletop Simulator

Project Type: Team Project, Remotely
Development Time: 4 weeks with three iterations for paper and digital prototypes.
Team M
embers:  Rana Jahani, Afraz Zackria, Daviti Tsintsadze, Jai Dodechani

My Role: System Designer, Level Designer

My Responsibilities: ​

  • Contributed to designing game mechanics and the power-up system

    • Set up the rules to provide specific player experience such as competition, surprise, and agency

    • Balanced the risk-reward effects of power-ups to make player choices meaningful

  • Designed the maps and level layouts

  • Designed visual arts and the look of the game

  • Analyzed players feedback after each playtest

Game Concept

This board game is inspired by the popular Crash Team Racing (CTR) video game with elements of strategy and competition. The essential experience of the game is competing with other characters and becoming the first player to reach the final destination to win the game. Characters can acquire different weapons, power-up cards and use them against each other, or boost themselves to accelerate their progress. Each character also has its unique abilities (super power) that can be used by the player at any point in the game.

 

The game is played on two different maps with boosts, traps, and secret crates on them. Each turn players roll the dice to move that many spaces on the board. As there is no linear direction provided players are free to move in any direction provided on an empty hex. 

Some of the game dynamics emerging from the rules are movement strategy, tactical weapon (power) use, body blocking, sabotaging, teaming up and in some cases, even king making.

Prototyping Strategies

       Project Risks       

  • Risk of unbalanced risk-reward system

  • Risk of power-ups and characters' superpowers be unbalanced, some too weak and some too strong

  • Risk of the map being non-functional movement wise, or too easy and uncanny

  • Risk of the mechanics to be too "dry" and not a good base for creating various dynamics and strategies

         Intentions         

  • Create a racing track made of tiles so that multiple players can competitively play

  • Place power-up crates, obstacles, and boosts on the map

  • Balance rules of play so that the game is not easy for the player ahead and challenging to catch up for the player behind

  • Makes the choices meaningful to the player with the risk-reward system

    Design Patterns    

​Design patterns related to the player experience and features of the game:

Project Plan

  1. Come up with a basic design for the map, powerups, and characters in collaboration with the team

  2. Figure out the greatest risks in our design.

  3. Build prototypes that mitigate those risks.

  4. Test the prototypes by playtesting the game (in 3 phases)

  5. Come up with a more detailed design based on what we have learned after each playtest

  6. Return to step 2 for each iteration

Features

Player Experience

1

       Competition       

To raise the feeling of competition in the racing game, we designed the race map as a space where players can move freely and pass each other, and encounter dilemmas and bottlenecks on the track. This way they have to make sound judgments in the pressure of competition. The design of the map as a space, as opposed to a single row of tiles or a line, is crucial to incorporate decision making into the competition.

2

   Decision Making   

Employing some mental skills help players to build up the experience of decision making. Players can use their memory to remember the rules, observe other players’ movements and actions to react properly, manage their pawn, powerups, and superpowers, and strategically use them to win the race. Players can can choose the shortest path with less power-ups or they can choose a longer path with more boost.

3

         Discovery        

The trade-off choice mentioned above reinforces the motivation and pleasure of discovery in players. Players can choose the longer path in the first lap to find out how it affects their movement while observing the effects of the shorter path on other players’ movement. This way they can discover new strategies of play and they can decide which path to choose for the final lap and even discover more about the map as the “magic circle” of the game.

4

         Surprise         

By introducing the mechanics of chance, randomness and secret, players experience the feeling of being surprised. The randomness of rolling a dice brings so much excitement for players’ movements while they wait for a face value to land on a specific tile, or when they are near the finish line and the randomness of the dice becomes breathtaking! Moreover, getting random cards of power-ups adds to this excitement by being secret; other players wonder what kind of cards their opponents acquired.

Playtesting and Iterations

  • Overall, we iterated on designing the game 3 times.

  • After each phase of prototyping the game, we playtested the game to observe players behavior during gameplay such as the paths they take, how they use power-ups, if they understand the rules of the game, and if there are issues with the risk-reward system. We also collected the feedback we received from the players.

  • Then, we analyzed the result of the playtests in the team and reiterated the prototype based on the players feedback and our design intentions for player experience.

One of the issues that we observed during the first playtest, was about the size of the map and the placement of the objects and power-ups on the map:

  • Some parts of the map created too narrow bottlenecks and caused too much blocking and delay in rhythm, so we widened the areas

  • Some power ups on the map were close to the shortest path and gave possibility to go too ahead by 1-2 lucky rolls, so we moved them to more far corners of the map.

Map - first prototype

 

Map - second iteration

in the second iteration we changed the placement of the objects and also changed the arrangements of the tiles

 

Map - third iteration

We also created a new map to test out certain dynamics such as how players respond to multiple routes to the finish line. This map was created with the intention of balancing certain aspects of the game such as the leading player creating bottlenecks and abusing power-ups/Wumpa fruits.

Crash Team Racing First Map..jpg
CTR Map - Second Prototype.jpg
3.jpg

If you are interested in knowing more about the game rules and mechanics, prototyping process, and risks we assessed during the development, please check out the Game Design Documentation file.

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