Your Worst Design

Post by: Grant Rodiek

I intended to write a more substantial and useful post about play testing and iteration, but I’ve been so busy doing just that with Field Marshals┬áthat I haven’t had time. Perhaps for Friday?

Instead, I thought it’d be fun to share one of my worst design ideas. Hopefully, others join in and we can all have a good laugh, followed by a private, deeply shaming cry.

What is the worst game you’ve ever designed? What is your worst idea? Here’s mine.

For some bizarre reason, I decided to build a prototype based on driving home during rush hour. Right there, I should have said “wait, this is a terrible idea.” Who wants to play a game about commuting? Nobody, that’s who.

The goal of the game was to accomplish errands given to you and get home first. The game featured traffic, bad weather, wrecks, and other things to get in your way and hinder you. The primary mechanic, which is something I’d like to explore again at some point, was that people would pre-plan their turns, somewhat like Robo┬áRally. The idea was that you would need to anticipate the moves of your opponents, who may block you, either deliberately or accidentally.

In reality, everything was dictated by the player who pulled in front first. I was behind a friend who tends to be an incredibly cautious person. The result, was that for 3 rounds I didn’t move AT ALL. Meanwhile, my third friend was zipping around the board completing all of his errands. After the third round of zero movement I stood up, threw my cards down, and shouted “MOVE YOUR <EXPLETIVE> CAR!”

Everyone grew quiet.

My friend then broke out laughing. After a minute, he calmly stated “I think your game is too accurate. It perfectly brings out all of the joy of driving in traffic.”

I immediately threw the prototype in the trash and went elsewhere with my thoughts.

What’s your worst design?

17 thoughts on “Your Worst Design

  1. Oh my. Your car game sounds all too familiar to me. I had a burning desire to create a game out of a road-trip for YEARS. It went through many iterations, but was always about as boring and dry as you could imagine. It sounded very similar to what you just described. Every iteration of that game was my worst game.

    • It really says something about the game designers ability to draw inspiration from anything that so many of us have considered traffic games. I too have worked out the mechanics of such a game and immediately banished them to the darkest regions of my memory under guilt of being the worst theme physically possible for a game.

      It also hints at how gamers game Everything.

  2. My worst game idea was actually before I got serious about board game design. It was called Email Monsters. Players would collect and build monsters and have battles through email. It was quite bad and the game engine was running through Excel (WTF? Probably the worst idea ever). Ughhh!

  3. That would probably be a barrel racing game. You had to push barrels up a randomly generated hill and then keep them from going too fast or crashing into trees down the other side. Sisyphusian doesn’t even come close to describing it. o_O

  4. I spent a good 3 months working on an adventure game until someone kindly told me that it reminded them of Talisman, only slower and less focused.

    *etch-a-sketch erase*

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>