Challenges for Game Designers: Level 1 Overview / What is a Game?

Ian Schreiber’s ( summer game design course (*cough* free *cough*)  just started this past Monday. For each lesson (which he refers to as a level) he will make a post on his blog and assign homeplay (homework) to be completed before the next lesson. For the first lesson he went over as to what exactly is a game, and what it takes to make a basic game. Though none of the assignments stated to create a game, he did provide a small exercise half way through the lesson entitled “15 Minute Board Game Challenge”.

The basic premise of the exercise was to design a board game in which you are either “running towards something or running away from something” in 15 minutes. I chose to create my game in the “running towards” category, though I’m sure it could be easily changed to be a “running away from” game, and this is what I came up with.

Title: Ice Mountain

Goal: Be the first to climb to the top of the icy mountain.

Player representation: Mountain climbers

Number of players: 2 to 4

Game bits: Board, 6-sided die, mountain climber tokens


Ice Mountain

Rules: All players start by being positioned on the starting square (S). All players will roll a 6-sided die once to determine turn order, with the highest roll being first, second highest second, and so on. After order is determine, players take turns rolling a 6-sided die and moving that many squares forward. The game is over when one player lands exactly on the final square (F).

Game mechanics

  • Get out of my way! (Getting knocked down by other players): If a player’s turn ends by landing on the same square as another opposing player(s) , have the player whose turn just ended  roll again and move the opposing player(s) that many squares back.
  • You went too far! (Falling off the top of the mountain): As stated in the rules, a player must land exactly on the final square (F) in order to win. If a player rolls the die and goes past the final square (F), have the player go back the number of squares he went over, using the final square (F) as the starting position.
  • Avalanche! (Being in the wrong place at the wrong time): When ever there are three consecutive rolls of the die with the same result (e.g. player one rolls 5, then player two rolls 5, then player three rolls 5) an avalanche occurs. If the number that is rolled consecutively is 1, 2, or 3 the avalanche will happen on the left side of the mountain, if the number is 4,5, or 6 the avalanche will happen on the right side of the mountain. If a player is on the side of the mountain were the avalanche occurred, that player must move SOUTH exactly one square. If there is no square south of the player’s location, the player is moved to the starting square (S).

That’s it! It felt pretty good sitting down and designing a game withouth having to think about how it was going to be programmed :) . Looking forward to level 2 on Thursday!

This post was written by Edgar Miranda.

I co-founded Miranda Bros. in order to follow my dream of creating games for a living. I enjoy playing Rock Band, listening to music, and reading business and entrepreneurial books. I also love reading awesome articles on the news aggregator site Hacker News.

More Posts by Edgar   Visit Edgar's Website

Liked this? Share it!

Subscribe to RSS feed Tweet this! StumbleUpon Reddit Digg This! Bookmark on Delicious Share on Facebook


Join the Conversation

  1. Victor F says:

    cool, now just make it an rpg… add in some special items to protect from pushing and avelanches… put some random encounters on each square so you fight trolls… awesome.

    man i’ll have to check out the course thing, that sounds pretty cool.

  2. [...] decided to finally continue with the Challenge for Game Designer course that I started way back in July of 2009. I just finished up reading the second blog post by Ian (the person running the course), in which [...]

Leave a Reply