Game Design Adventure #1 By Yidi Zhu
Table of content
- Part I
- Things that make Hopscotch a good game
- Problems with the game
- 50 ideas
- Part II
- Idea 1 - The strategic kid
- Idea 2 - No waiting!
- Idea 3 - Random madness
- Part III
- Rule Set
- 1st Playtest
- Summary of Feedbacks
- 1st Analysis and 2nd rule set
- And so here is the new rule set:
- 2nd Playtest
- 2nd Analysis
I played hopscotch when I was super young and I’ve forgot all the rules. I’m using the rules given by Parents Magazine as reference (https://www.parents.com/fun/activities/hopscotch/).
Things that make Hopscotch a good game:
- The rules are easy to understand. So kids can play it.
- It involves physical and mental activity.
- Can be played by a range of players (ideally 2-6 players).
- Players can get better at this game by practicing. The random elements are very limited (some I can think of are the type of markers, wind level, evenness of the surface, etc). But this may also be a bad thing: the most skillful kid can always dominate the game.
Problems with the game:
- Limited randomness: The limited number of random elements can be both good and bad. There is currently no way for players to catch up, if they are less skilled. It could be better if more random elements are added, which makes the game enjoyable for both skilled and not skilled players
- Limited strategy: Almost no strategic decisions need to be made in this game. More choices involve strategic thinking will make the game more interesting
- Potentially boring waiting: When one player is playing his turn, other players need to wait until he finishes. It could be boring, especially in the early stage where failure is not so critical
- No fantasy: It’s played in the real world with no fantasy in it, which limits the types of aesthetics in this game
- Limited connections among players. The interactions between players are more spontaneous than designed.
- Play the game on Shaolin quincuncial piles (see image). Each pile is a tile.
- ^ On top of that, put the piles in a lake. Whoever fails falls into water.
- Use AR Kit, players can only see the lines and squares through their phone (this actually reminds me of a level in Mario Odyssey, where you can only see paths while wearing shades)
- Play the game on the roof of a moving truck, wow how exciting is that
- Play this game in zero gravity space, instead of hopping, player is only required to touch the next tile with one hand, by any means
- Use a floating platform for tile 10, and let tile 10 always be moving (like a moving platform in Super Mario)
- Use a pebble bow to shoot markers instead of throwing
- Make an electronic hopscotch carpet that can detect player movement and monitor game progress. Play sounds and visual effects
- Play the game on a computer, roll dices to decide whether each movement is successful
- Use computer vision to decide whether a marker is one the line, out of the square, etc
- Play this game in a swimming pool, use water polo balls as markers, instead of hopping, players are required to move to the next tile with one swing of arms
- Instead of throwing markers, throw cats
- Player the game on the roofs of 10 trucks at the same speed, each truck is considered one tile. Player is no longer required to move by hopping, they can run if they want
- Play this game on a small wooden boat, make sure the boat doesn’t sink!
- Play the game on ice
- Tile 10 is used to hold pieces of a complete story. When any player reaches tile 10, a single piece is given out. All players need to gather their pieces to figure out the story
- On each tile, there are a number of different events, roll a die to decide which event to trigger. Each event may have different buffs and debuffs, like giving player the ability to skip one tile when hopping
- Add a character to each tile, who greets the player as they passes by. Each character has unique personality
- Add events to tile 5 and tile 8, use them to tell stories and change rules to adjust interest curve
- Each tile has its own storyline, player need to reach further to get more story
- Player need to say one single word when he arrives at a new tile. Their words add together to form a sentence and a story. They need to say a word that continues the sentence and makes sense for the story
- Pair up! Two players are paired up and need to play the game together, each with only one foot on the ground
- At tile 6 player can choose from hopping to tile 7/8 or straight to tile 10. If they choose the latter and succeed, they can advance one tile without going back to tile 1
- Player can give up one round, and get two more chances for the next round (3 chances in total). Each player can do this no more than twice for the whole game
- At the pairs, instead of hopping with both feet, hop with one feet through them. (i.e. treat them as ordinary tiles). This way, player needs to change their direction of hopping
- Player need to close eyes before hopping
- Use mechanical frogs to substitute real people, and play this game on tabletop
- After each round, all players gather and play rock paper scissors, whoever wins gets two chances in the next round
- After each round, roll a die, whoever gets the largest number gets two chances in the next round
- Player need to correct complete a set of DDR at tile 10 before returning
- Player need to play this game upside down (stand with hands), and hop with hands
- Player need to play this game and a hula hoop at the same time, and the hula hoop should never fall
- Draw the tiles on a treadmill and play while it’s running
- Add barriers (around 10cm tall) between squares
- Throw random balls to the squares, and require players not to touch balls during the game
- Put a cup of water on player’s head, if water spills out of the cup, the player fails that round
- A player cannot stay on one tile for more than 2 seconds
- A player cannot spend more than 15 seconds for each round
- Draw two sets of tiles, each player play on one set, and whoever finishes the game first wins. This makes hopscotch no longer a turn-based game
- Add margins for tiles. The margins get larger as the number gets larger. i.e. the margins of tile 9 are much larger than the margins of tile 1
- Add elements from monopoly: when a player arrives at a tile, he can choose to buy the land. Throughout the game, player can spend a certain amount of money to drag other players back
- When player fails at the first hop for the first time, he gets another chance
- Manufacture well-designed hopscotch carpets and play on it
- Draw lines with colored chalks
- Decorate each square with decals
- Fire a party popper everytime a player finishes a round
- Players are required to wear Christmas sweaters to play this game
- Players are required to wear LED shoes to play
- Assign a “sound guy”, who plays a sound effect when a player arrives at a tile. Each tile has its own unique sound effect
- Play the game in a dark room with limited lighting, so only rods (in human eyes) are triggered and player can only see black-white
- Play the game while listening to loud electronic music
- Play the game while listening to peaceful country music
- Play the game while listening to epic symphony
- Use slippery object as the marker
Idea 1 - The strategic kid
Add three new rules to the original game:
- Player can give up the current round, and get two more chances for the next round (3 chances in total). Each player can do this no more than twice for the whole game. A chance is consumed in three ways:
- Fail to throw the marker into a square
- Fail to complete a circle
- Successfully complete a circle
- In one round:
- If a player has one chance, he has 15 seconds to finish the round;
- If a player has three chances, he has 30 seconds to finish the round;
- If a player has more than three chance, he has 40 seconds to finish the round.
- If a player fails during his second or latter chance, he cannot move during the next round
Idea 2 - No waiting!
This is no longer a “Free For All” style game. Players are split into two teams and compete with each other.
To achieve this, instead of drawing one set of tiles, draw two identical sets of them. Each team plays on their own set, whichever team get all members finish the game first wins.
In this way, hopscotch is no longer a turn based game. The risk is set to a minimal level, all players have infinite chances to fail and try again, they just need to find a way to do it as fast as possible. This idea also transforms hopscotch into a “team building” game.
Idea 3 - Random madness
Trigger events in two circumstances:
- Event A: A player successfully completes a circle and can advance
- Event B: A player fails in any means (hop out of squares or throw out of squares, etc)
Note: For one player, only one event can be triggered in one round. If no event triggered, the game proceed as normal.
For event A, player roll two dices, multiply the numbers.
- If the number is larger than the number on the tile he was standing on at the start of his turn, he can advance.
- If the number equals the number on the tile, he need to successfully finish another circle before advancing to the next tile
- If the number is smaller than the number on the tile, he stays where he was
For event B, player roll one dice,
- If the number is larger than the number on the tile he was standing on at the start of his turn, he can try again
- If the number equals the number on the tile, he need to go back by one tile and get a chance to try again
1 - Rule Set
Initial design goals:
- Encourage strategic thinking
- Reward risk-taking decisions
- Add random elements for more dynamics and uncertainty. So the more skillful player will no longer always dominate the game
I decided to take idea 3, and give the player some choices. The rule set is:
- Find an open space, draw a hopscotch map on the ground.
- Throw a marker at tile 1. If the marker falls on lines or out of tile 1, it’s considered a failure, and player can choose to trigger event B.
- Skip the tile which the marker is sitting on. Hop from 2 to 10. On normal tiles, hop with one foot. On pairs (tile 4/5 and 7/8), hop with both feet, one foot on each tile. Throughout the process, no foot shall touch lines or drop out of tiles, otherwise it’s considered a failure, and player can choose to trigger event B
- At tile 10, hop to turn around, hop back to tile 2. If the player doesn’t fail during the process, it’s considered a successful circle, and player can choose event A.
- If the player can advance after the event or choose not to trigger event, he should go back to the origin, and wait for next turn.
- When the next turn comes, go back to step 2, but change “tile 1” to whichever tile is the next.
For event A, player roll a 12-faced dice, add the numbers.
- If the number is larger than the number on the tile he was standing on at the start of his turn, he can advance one extra tile
- If the number equals or is smaller than the tile he was on, he goes back by one tile
For event B, player roll a 6-faced dice,
- If the number is larger than the number on the tile he was standing on at the start of his turn, he get a chance to throw/hop again
- If the number equals or is smaller than the number on the tile, he stays where he was
2 - 1st Playtest
Lotus and Yidi played it. The rule sets above is not clear enough and missing many details. So they spent a long time trying to figure out the exact rules to follow.
The 12-faced dice successfully accelerated early game. But they soon found out that the 6-faced dice is almost meaningless. During late game, as their tiles are far away, they struggled to throw the marker into their tile, and the game has no mechanics for this situation.
Due to the existence of randomness, the player thought she was not encouraged to get more skillful, rather, she pointed out the game is like gambling - it encourages the player to rely on randomness.
I also observed that both dices are meaningless during late games. Their existence failed to encourage strategic thinking, because the strategy is just too shallow. Adults can easily calculate their mathematical expectations and make decisions based on that. Although it may not be the same case for kids, I think it’s better to remove this choice
The player also said the addition of dices broke the low-tech feature of this game. Kids love playing this game because it’s simple and requires few items.
2.1 - Summary of Feedbacks
- Rolling dice is frustrating
- Not fair for good players. Not giving them reward. Not encouraging “winning by skill”.
- Event B is not so meaningful is the latter half of the game
- Using 6 faced dice for event B may not be a good idea
- Better not use additional items
- Rules are becoming complicated
- Don’t use the dice
- Better introduce deeper strategy without randomness
- Small reward for small risk
- Maybe consider using more of player’s brain
- Consider giving player the choice to give up their dice roll and force another player to roll a dice in their turn
3 - 1st Analysis and 2nd rule set
So the 1st design failed, and I realized the design goals set before maybe not be good for this game.
I want to keep hopscotch what hopscotch is good at and reinforce them. At the same time, try to solve the problem of boring waiting. Still, I want to add risky tasks that are optional for players, and reward them when they succeed in those tasks. I changed the design goals to the following:
- No extra items
- No randomness
- Encourage positive interactions and competitions
- Encourage mental and physical development
- Encourage players to embrace risks
3.1 - And so here is the new rule set:
Basic rules (level 1 rules):
- Find an open space, draw a hopscotch map on the ground (same one as before).
- Players take turns to play the game, in each turn, a player:
- Standing at the origin, throw a marker at tile 1. If the marker falls on lines or out of tile 1, it’s considered a failure. Player always need to throw them marker standing at the origin with no hands touching the ground, but they are allowed to bend.
- Skip the tile which the marker is sitting on. Hop from 2 to 10. On normal tiles, hop with one foot. On pairs (tile 4/5 and 7/8), hop with both feet, one foot on each tile. Throughout the process, no foot shall touch lines or drop out of tiles, otherwise it’s considered a failure.
- At tile 10, hop to turn around, hop back to tile 2, and pick up the marker, and hop out.
- During the process of b&c, everytime the player lands with a foot, player need to shout out “left” or “right” based on the foot that’s not touching the ground. For example, if they hop to tile 2 landing with left foot, they should shout “right”. When they land with both feet, they don’t need to shout anything. Shouting out the wrong word or not shouting anything is considered a failure.
- If the player doesn’t fail during the process, it’s considered a successful circle.
- Whenever failure or success occurs, player’s current turn is over, and they need to wait for the next turn. When the next turn comes, go back to step 2, but change “tile 1” to whichever tile is the next.
- Whoever throws their marker into tile first 10 wins.
On top of the basic rules, there are advanced challenges:
Level 2: (Level 1 rules still apply) Choose a foot, land with the foot exactly the same number of times as the number on the tile he was on. For example, if player A is on tile 4 at the beginning of his turn, A can choose left foot, and land with left foot for 4 times throughout the circle. If A successfully complete a circle, he doesn’t need to throw the marker, instead, the marker will be sitting on his next tile at the beginning of the next turn. Note: Land with the same foot twice at tile 10 is considered as using that foot twice
Level 3: (level 1 & 2 rules still apply) Player can choose to not turn around at tile 10. Hop backwards back. If succeeds, player can advance one more tile.
4 - 2nd Playtest
Xuejun and Yifei played the game.
There is still some confusions on the rules. When Xuejun’s marker is on tile 5, she didn’t know how to land at tile 4 and whether she need to shout out a word. So add this to the rule: only when landing with two feet, player doesn’t need to shot out, and when landing with both feet, it doesn’t count for level 2 rule (i.e. level 2 counts only when landing with one foot).
They found out that the early game is still too slow. And they said there are too many rules to follow so they can’t hold everything in their brain (which is partially what I want to do). But it’s worth noting that they were not familiar with the base game before playing my version. So they also said if they are familiar with the base game, my version should be easier.
They agree that this game successfully challenged their brain and body at the same time, and it managed to keep the purity of the original hopscotch.
5 - 2nd Analysis
The improved version successfully achieved the design goals.
The good things are:
- Simplicity is kept: No extra items; No randomness; No super complicated rules
- Positive interactions and competitions are encourages:
- Audience always keeps their eyes on the current player’s feet and is always listening, so they are always engaged
- Whoever performs better, they made it through practice and risk-taking. Everything is still fair in this game
- Mental and physical development
- Mental development: level 1 rules force the player to think before taking every step; Level 2 rules encourage them to think before starting a round
- Physical development: it’s harder to hop and pick up the marker when going backward.
- Encourage players to embrace risks
- They are willing to take risks for faster progress
The bad things are:
- Early game is still slow, even with the addition of level 3 rules. I’m considering changing the rules a little bit: if a player successfully completes a round, he can continue and go an extra round. But this rule can make the waiting time longer, I’m not sure whether the audience will still be engaged when they wait too long.
- Could be too hard for kids. But as the rules are layered, they can choose to use only level 1 rules.
6 - Discussion
I consider the improved version a success in general and the reasons are stated above. It also solves most of the problems as stated before, as analyzed below:
- Limited randomness: it still exists, but I no longer consider it as a problem. No randomness encourages players to win by practicing. Also, introducing randomness may require extra items, which makes the game less convenient to play.
- Limited strategy: it’s solved by level 2 & 3 rules. Player can choose to take the risks, but they get reward for doing so. The game is still fair and healthy.
- Potentially boring waiting: it’s solved by the “shouting” mechanics. Audience has more to look at and they need to monitor current player’s performance in real time. So it’s less boring.
- No fantasy: the problems is still there. But I don’t think it would hurt the game so much - it’s still enjoyable and interesting to play.
- Limited connections: similar with problem 3. This is solved by the “shouting” mechanics. Players can get a deeper connection by real-time interactions.
In conclusion, I struggled through the 1st playtest and designed an improved version that solves most problems while keeping the original simplicity & dynamics of Hopscotch. The improved version still has a lot to be desired, but it achieves its design goals in general.