Game Design Project: The Survivor, part 1

I’ve been working on an rpg off and on for a couple of months.  Well, several for a lot longer than that but this one in particular for about 3 months.  It’s a solo game called The Survivor.  In it you are the lone survivor of a crashed survey mission on an uncharted, unexplored planet.  You must cross the unknown to the beacon placed on the planet several years ago.  You will encounter many hardships.  Your will will be tested.  Will you survive to be rescued or will you die, alone on a strange world?

Yeah, I know it sounds like Robinson Crusoe On Mars.  Basically it is.  I like that movie and it inspired the game.  As did Jason Morningstar’s The Plant.  Very cool little game that is.

Paul Mantee as Commander Christopher Draper in Robinson Crusoe On Mars

And inspired by GamerChris and Daniel Solis, I’ve decided to post it as it is being refined.  Granted I’ve gotten a fair amount done on the game so far.  But I’m going to go back and look at how it got to this point and as it grows toward completion.

If I follow Chris’ example I need some design goals.  The biggest here is that I wanted to design a solo game.  I think this is an underappreciated market and want to do something to remedy that.  I know that I do not get to play a lot of games because I don’t have anyone around most of the time with whom to play.  Those in my family who like to play games are not experienced enough with strategy games yet.  So a solo game that can deliver fun and challenge is a gem in my eyes.  I looked around some and found a few.  I’m very excited about The Lord of The Rings: The Living Card Game because it is supposed to play well solo.  I believe Chris has posted about this.  Smokejumpers is another game that is purely solo.  And it is really hard. But there are not a lot of solo games out there.  So I decided to make one.

That was goal one.  Goal two – what kind of game?  For whatever reason this one answered itself.  The theme for the game came first once I decided that I wanted a solo game.  What kind of setting is suggested by the word ‘solo’?  Robinson Crusoe immediately came to mind.  And that was quickly followed by the ‘on Mars’ part.  Now how could I do this?  RPG was the first answer to that.  So as of now, it’s an rpg.  That isn’t to say that it will stay an rpg.  But it is being developed as one.  If it evolves that’s fine.

So goals one and two are covered.  Goal three was the game must use a standard deck of cards.  I like using things that everybody has around the house.  Coins, dice, pen & paper, playing cards – everyone has these.  Cards are cool because that have a lot of information on them.  There is color – red or black.  There are four suits.  There are 13 denominations.  There is a front and a back.   There are even numbers and odd numbers.   There are face cards and numbered cards.  And there may even be jokers.  Counting up that’s 25 potentials not counting the jokers.  That’s a lot to work with.

So those were my three goals.  I’ll get into what happened next in a little while.  Come back for that please.








6 responses to “Game Design Project: The Survivor, part 1”

  1. Jodi Black Avatar

    That sounds interesting. It sort of puts me in mind of a Choose Your Own Adventure book… But you draw from a deck of cards to figure which path you’ll take. Looking forward to reading more about this!

    1. tomgurg Avatar

      Hi Jodi,
      It is good to hear from you. Yes, it will be a sort of Choose Your Own Adventure thing. The cards will tell you what is happening around you and you decide your next move. I should be able to start initial playtesting this weekend if I have time.
      Thanks for visiting and come back often.
      See you at MACE.

  2. Keith Avatar

    I like the idea of using a standard deck of cards to drive events and results. As you mention there is a tremendous amount of mechanism potential. I recommend taking a look at Sid Sackson’s Card Baseball as a mechanism idea source.

    1. tomgurg Avatar

      Thanks for the comment Keith. I’ll check out that game.

      1. Keith Avatar

        I have multiple copies if we can just end up end the same place as you.

        1. Keith Avatar

          That should be if I can end up in the same place as you.

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