Design a game by upgrading/modifying the classic "Stratego" | Lewis Pulsipher | Skillshare

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Design a game by upgrading/modifying the classic "Stratego"

teacher avatar Lewis Pulsipher, Game designer, Teacher, Author

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

3 Lessons (25m)
    • 1. What is Stratego?

    • 2. Stratego - the good and the bad

    • 3. My Stratego Upgrades

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About This Class

When you're learning game design, you start with smaller increments and work your way up, just as a baby learns to crawl, then toddle with help, then walk, then run.  Modifying an existing game is a typical means of practice.  In this case we're modifying a game more than a hundred years old, L'Attaque (Stratego).  We start with what it is, then what might be modified to make it a hobby rather than mass-market game.  You'll make modifications and test it.  And I'll show you what I've done.

Meet Your Teacher

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Lewis Pulsipher

Game designer, Teacher, Author


Dr. Lewis Pulsipher (Wikipedia: "Lewis Pulsipher"; "Britannia (board game)"; "Archomental" ) is the designer of half a dozen commercially published boardgames. His game "Britannia" is described in an Armchair General review "as one of the great titles in the world of games." Britannia was also one of the 100 games highlighted in the book "Hobby Games: the 100 Best". He has over 17,000 classroom hours of teaching experience including teaching video game design and production, and over 20 years of part-time graduate teaching experience.

His book "Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish" (McFarland) focuses on practical advice for beginning game designers, about how you actually create and complete game designs. He also contributed to the books "Tabletop... See full profile

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1. What is Stratego?: Okay, Dr Lu here and we're gonna talk about strategic go because one of your assignments in this class is to work with strategic. Go now. ST Ego is a game that many people of my generation baby boomers played when they were little and not sure it's quite as popular now, but it's still pretty popular. It's also interesting in so faras. It's an example of copycatting or cloning. It's actually a slightly modified version of a much older game talk. I may not be pronouncing that right. It's French. That game was patented in France in 1909 patented by a woman, which is very rare then and is rare now to have female game designers. It was published in the United Kingdom by HP Gibson's in 1909 and they devised various other versions, such as Aviation, which is just a real Where did He Go? Is a land battle Dover Patrol, which was a sea battle and try tactics, which was land, sea air, and these are now out of print. But they were in print as late as the late 19 seventies, when I lived in England well after World War Two, a Dutchman added four pieces per side in one column to the board to attack and called it ST Ego. Of course, nowadays you'd make a game smaller. But that was not necessarily true. Just after World War Two, he sold or licensed it to Jumbo, a Dutch company who then licensed it to an American company. That was later, but by Hasbro. Ah, but the license has recently changed hands twice in the United States. For some reason, Jumbo decided not to continue with Hasbro. This was all perfectly legal. The patent had expired, and it may never have been patented in Holland anyway. Patents are apply only in the nation where the item is patented. But now we have the trademark in the branding, which prevents other people from publishing ST Ego like games and calling them street ego. They conduce Tritico like games all they want, but they can't call them strategic. Oh, there have been lots of derivatives of ST Ego, some made by Jumbo, but Hasbro by HP Gibson's Those are actually derivatives of law talk. And in fact, one of my first published games with Swords and wizardry, published by Gibbs, is Gibson's around 1980 and it is derived from ST Ego. But I did something unusual. I ban in the strict hierarchy of strength where you have 12345678 in each, higher one beats all the lower ones, and I used a rock paper scissors approach. I've also made three prototypes since then that are vaguely strategic like, let's say they're feel more like Chest and Tettey go. We also have blocked games, which are popular amongst war gamers, especially from Colombia games. And they could be seen as a development of ST Ego because use blocks that show a blank side to the enemy so they don't know exactly the identity of a piece. Well, we're gonna make a derivative. Here's your task. I want you to make a hobby game deriving from strategic go hobby games are games that are played by people who frequently play games whose hobby is playing games, and that's quite different for a mass market game like ST Ego. So we want the game to require more thought and perhaps be more complicated, or at least it's allowable to make it more complex. So what I want you to do is make a list of what's bad quote unquote or undesirable and good in strategic. Oh, then in another of these lectures, I'll give you my list, then using your list modified from mine. If you like, you'll devise either modifications for ST Ego or a new game on similar principles, and then you'll play test this new one. It's very important to play test it, and late in the course of the course, I'll describe one of my derivatives that will be published in 2014 so you can see where this could go. The reason we're using an existing game is that it's much easier to modify an existing game and come up with something good than to make one up from scratch. And it can be much easier to test if you happen to have a set, because you could just modify the setting, having instead of having to make one up from scratch. So make the lists 2. Stratego - the good and the bad: Okay, Dr Lu, here. And this time our objective is to talk about some of the good and bad points of ST Ego so that you can choose your own objectives and modify strategic go to make it into a hobby game. Most of the good points is to treat ego, are in relation to it being a mass market game, not a hobby game. So what could be good for a mass market game can, in fact, be bad for a hobby game. First of all, there's a strict hierarchy of strength with very few variations that makes it easy to learn to play the game as well as the fact that you only move one piece at a time that makes it easy to learn. It makes you think about what you're going to do. It reduces the number of decisions and number of choices that you have to cope with, and I have seen with my newer versions my modified versions of strategic Go that people who like the mass market version get overwhelmed by the number of decisions. A number of choices when you change the game. The constricted board in strategic go limits the number of possible moves, especially early in the game. There's very few moves you can actually make, and the slow movement also reduces the choices. Yes, you have the Scouts. But the scouts are generally inconsequential compared to the other pieces, because of that hierarchy there at the bottom of the hierarchy. Unless these things help make it a mass market game, people who play mass market games I don't want to have to think too much. Generally, they don't want to have to have too many decisions, too many choices. They want things to be relatively simple. Now. The contrast ing side of this is that hobby gamers, I want more than mass market games provide. So what may be a virtue for a mass market game is quite the opposite for a hobby game. So the problem from a hobby game point of view is at ST Ego severely limits your number of choices. That piece to board ratio, for example, the number of squares on the board is 80 to 92. In other words, the board is almost entirely filled at the start of the game, and the nearly strict hierarchy oversimplifies everything. The square board also distorts, diagnose, hexes air, much less distortion it. And there are four more pieces on the board that are necessary to come to a conclusion. You don't need to play ST Ego with 40 pieces, and I believe there is now in Europe, a version that uses many fewer pieces now, as far as war goes, the essence of wars, violence. But in a tabletop game, we tend to forget the violence. We've just moving pieces around. So then the essence of war becomes maneuver. Warfare is about geospatial location and maneuver. And Sir Winston Churchill said battles are won by slaughter and maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in maneuver, the lessee demands and slaughter. So to me, a good war game emphasizes maneuver and not slaughter well. In ST Tree Go, we have a game where there's no room to maneuver and the pieces overy slow, boring. The very weak scouts. Everything is kind of stuck in the mud, even the flag. It can't move. Why is that? Maybe it makes sense, but again, it's stuck in the mud and in general, as a model of reality. It's a hopeless game. What, no cavalry or artillery in a land battle. But we have minefields. Minefields played no real part in warfare until the last century or century and 1/2 certainly not in open battles. Then we have no fortifications. It's very, very abstract. The strict hierarchy is also very abstract, but at least in ancient and medieval battles, you came close to a unit versus unit combat. It would fight the unit in front of it, and one would prevail or the other in the long run if they fought long enough in modern battles. It's about firepower, but ST Ego is kind of in between. I can accept the one on one nature of what's going on, especially when the identities air hitting. However, on the other hand, the strict hierarchy of strength makes quality too important. You have one unit in strategic go that beats everybody, except it's opposite number, and it's vulnerable, vulnerable to being attacked by a spy. But if it attacks the spy, it wins, and if it runs into a bomb, it dies. But of course, that's what your scouts and other units air for to make sure you don't run into a bomb. Also, there's no degradation of unit strength or of morale. As the game goes on, Units don't get tired, and having units get tired is not difficult to model, but it makes a game or complicated, so I can forgive a game for not showing it. Unfortunately, the overall effect of the strict hierarchy in strategic go is that it reduces tactics, too. Pick off some strong enemy units and then trade everybody else down to the point where I have my analog to those strong units and there's air gone and then I can clean up. No, I haven't mentioned it. But the symmetric nature of the game, where each side has exactly the same pieces, also contributes to that effect of the strict hierarchy. On the other hand, we have extreme fog of war in strategic Oh, and especially the memorization component where ah pieces revealed and it succeeds in a battle. And then it's turned back around, and you've got to try to memorize where it went. That is very old fashioned. People don't want to be memorizing things. They don't want to keep track of anything nowadays. So in my games, once a piece is revealed, it stays revealed for the rest of the game, and players can use their brains to think about things more important than trying to memorise exactly where a piece went. Now we could say more about it, but that's sufficient. The question is, what are you going to try to do? What are you going to change? What do you think needs to be fixed or at least needs to be fixed to make the game a hobby game instead of a mass market game? I want you to think about it, list what you're going to do and then do it. Figure out the rules that you're going to use the changes in the game, even a new game, and then play test the resulting game. And in the next video about ST Ego, I'll describe a series of games that I have designed that derived from ST Ego. When you make your game, you have to play tested even if you play test solo, and I recognize it's not so easy. Two solo play test the game where hidden identity is a great part of the game, but you can do it. I can do it and I'm a senior citizen, so you're certainly can do it. It just requires flexibility of mind. But it's best if you get other people to play. Of course, I always say solo play, test something first and get rid of the worst problems before you have other people play. The bottom line is play. Testing is sovereign. If you don't have the game played, you won't know whether your changes work the way you think they should and whether they make sense and whether they're an improvement over strategic go. 3. My Stratego Upgrades: Hi, Dr Pulse for here. And we're concluding our little Siri's about modifying started. Go to make it a hobby game. Or in this case, I'll call it Upgrading Street Ego because I went beyond modifying street ego to making new games that use some of the methods of strategic. Oh, so what did I want? I want the less strict hierarchy one way or another. My original solution was a rock paper scissors kind of thing where there was essentially three groups of units and there were rock, paper, scissors, relationships between the groups. And I wanted greater variance in the units and what they could do. I wanted more maneuver. These changes increased complexity, but that's to be expected in the hobby game versus a mass market game on. My first attempt really did not stray as far from ST Ego is perhaps I would have liked. But it was published by HP Gibson's in 1980 in the United Kingdom in HP. Gibson's was the publisher of Le Tac, from which 30 go drives and three other derivative games before World War Two that were still in print in 1980 so clearly they were pretty successful games for them, and I didn't want to deviate too far from there. Formula I did actually introduce a die to resolve a few of the spill's, but that was a relatively minor part of the game. I still used a square grid, although it was 10 by 10. Rather than, um, I guess that's the same size of ST Ego, isn't it? And I still use slow moving pieces. I only reduce the number of pieces for 40 to 36. So as I say, it was quite a conservative effort. The game was called Swords and Wizardry. It was published with a rule change by the HP Gibson's people that screwed it up a fair bit , and so we'll never know what impact it might have had. Ah, certainly I wouldn't call it a great game, although I was written too some years ago by Frenchmen who said it was his favorite board game and he want to know if he could try to computerize it, and I don't know whether he ever got very far with that. But it just shows that even games that are pretty much average have their fans. That's what it looked like the artwork probably did not help, especially that garish board, which was not my idea. I mean the locations of the castles in the forests and so on. Yeah, that was me. But the colors? No, that was not be notice. There are no numbers on the pieces. You referred to a table to see what happened, and that was in aid of that rock paper scissors method. And if you're not familiar with rock, paper, scissors, a beats, B, B, B and C and C beats a so you have a circular thing. That's what the rock paper scissors methods are. On my second attempt, I started in the eighties, and then I didn't touch it for about 20 years. For about 20 years, I was not part of the game industry. I just played Dungeons and Dragons that revived it in 2003 and I've rised it a lot in the past five years. It's a space battle game now. It's still uses a square grid, although I've tried it with hex cred, and it works great. But almost all the testing has been with a square grid, but it is 13 by nine square grid, so it's quite a bit larger than a street ego board. The old version from 30 years ago used 30 some pieces in a larger board, but when I started to write, revive it. More recently, I kept cutting it down, and now the initial version is 19 pieces per side, and the game can be played in 15 or 20 minutes by most people. And I have even seen a game recently that was about five minutes to somebody made a mistake . They're two pieces, which are fighters, heavy and light fighters. Do you think of X and Y wing fighters from Star Wars that can move at the same time? And it can combine their strength against one square that makes the game considerably less hierarchical. In fact, too heavy fighters can take out a dreadnought, which is the next two strongest piece, and it's the strongest piece in a 19 piece version. The Doom Star is too strong for two heavy fighters. There are black holes in the board center, and they have a lot to do with the fluidity of the game. When you move adjacent to a black hole, then you can change your direction, moving around the black hole. On the other hand, half of the piece is still only move one square at a time unless they are assisted by a black hole. The result is it's much, much more fluid than ST Ego. There are also lots of pieces with special powers that are not part of the introductory game, and that could make it more interesting for people who want to play the game a lot. And that's presently under consideration by a publisher. There is the board. Those spirals are the black holes. Well, then, a few years ago, I started a World War two Naval Air Naval Game that derived from the space battle game, and it has working titles that have already been used by other games. Um, it uses Texas a 13 by 13 board. All the units can move at least two, but only in a straight line, so there's still a constraint on what they can do. The air units can move further. Moreover, they can renew their movement if they pass through an island or an aircraft carrier, and further they can move to a time and it can combine their attacks. So two bombers can sink the strongest ship in the game, which is battleship, and once again we have an introductory game that's just 19 pieces per side. We also have asymmetric scenarios. Remember, Street ego is symmetric. The space belly game is symmetric. But while the standard Naval Air Game is symmetric there, asymmetric scenarios that are more historical. Because, of course, in real history you don't have sides that are identical. Not very often, the game is much, much less hierarchical in strategic. Oh, for example, we have submarines that when they attack and sink anything, they're allowed to attack. But they can't attack PT boats or destroyers, for example. But if they get attacked and they can't be attacked by cruisers or battleships, if they get attacked, they're very weak. And there PT boats and so forth. The result is a very fluid game that flew. Titi is aided by the victory condition, which is not to find one immovable peace and kill it or even one movable piece. Like in a space battle game. It's to get one of your four transport ships to the other side of the board, as was often the rial need in the Guadalcanal Solomon's campaigns. This, as it turns out, give us the side with the material disadvantage. A much better chance to win the game by getting a superior's superiority somewhere. And getting one of those transports through this game is likely to be published by Worthington Publishing in 2014 or 15. There's a board. Reds are the island locations. There are two sets. Just is there are two sets of set up lines because the game could be played in either direction. And it makes quite a difference, because if you look at a hex board moving in one direction, side to side in this orientation, you can only go forward in two directions, moving in the other orientation up and down. You can go forward in three directions. It makes the considerable difference, and there are some pieces that are being used in the prototype. Now, once you find somebody wants to publish a game, you may well decide you might want to work on another game that derives from that one. And so recently past couple months I've devised another fantasy game entirely different from swords and wizardry, Um, an ancient land battle game, which I'm not sure is gonna work out the World War Two Armored Division game, which is really a block game, not a strategical like game, and involves moving quite a few pieces and ranged fire and lots of other things. So I'm moving further and further away from strategic. And of course, there are more possibilities, which I have thought about but not made a prototype for not not play tested. All the ones that I've shown you here I have played tested. All this derives originally from what was a pretty weak game as a hobby, game street ego. And you can say, Well, this is an innovative, but in fact, almost nothing is innovative. Things may be new to a particular person, but you find that the great idea you had it was used 20 years ago. That's the normal course of events, so I don't worry about innovation. I worry about given somebody an interesting game that's different, even if it's not quote unquote innovative. Now, in your solutions, you may have gone entirely different directions. That's the norm. What's important to you is how well does your version play test. You won't know how good you've done, how well you've done until you've played tested it