phobia is a two-player asymmetrical tabletop strategy game where one player plays as the human survivors, and the other plays as the phobias.
This game began with a mechanic: one player having the ability to build walls while the other has the ability to destroy these walls. The first player plays a team called the Survivors; the other plays the Phobias. As the Survivors, the player has a limited number of pawns, but as the Phobias, the player has an unlimited number of pawns. This gives the game it's Tafl-like system where one player has more pawns, giving him/her what feels like an advantage.
Making sure the game was both fun and balanced was a major part of the development. It took a lot of playtesting and refining to get the game to an enjoyable state for both players.
One of the biggest challenges of this project was getting the theme and the mechanics to blend together. At first, the theme didn't really seem to fit, but after several attempts, I found the best possible mesh of the mechanics with the theme.
Overall, I had gotten a lot of good feedback on my game from my testers. I found out that it wasn’t really all that fun. There was a lot of random and then more random thrown on top of that random, and it was beginning to get overly complicated and unbearable. However, it appeared that most of the units were balanced, and that was great. For the most part, my rules were very clear and difficult to mis-understand. However, most of the feedback I got told me that there was a lot of stuff that still needed to be fixed with my game, and I was glad to have that feedback.
What I Changed Based On Playtesting Well, I started out by changing the entire game. I changed the player goals along with the desired player experience. I kept a few things from the initial iteration, but mostly, I just started over. I decided to keep the cards, though, since I thought they were a little more interesting than the standard rolling of dice for randomness. I changed a lot about the cards, however, and was able to get rid of the randomness thrown at randomness problem I had encountered originally. I kept the most basic units, but also changed a couple of them. The biggest change was, of course, the game change, but I think the most significant was the reduction of the randomizers, making the game far simpler and more fun.
What Went Right At the beginning of this project, I was a little worried. I’m not typically a huge fan of wargames, and so I thought making this game would be awful. At first, it almost was, but then I changed the game and really started to get into the project. I enjoyed the experience of developing this game, and I think that is a huge success right there.
Towards the end, I felt a lot of pressure from other classes, but I found that I actually had much more time than I thought I did and I was able to finish the game not only on time, but a few days early.
What Went Wrong Once I changed the entirety of the game, I found it difficult to get back on track and get some playtesting in. I was unable to get the materials to any of my playtesters in time, so I was left to do my own batches of playtesting, which can be biased since I already know how to play my own game. At the same time, GAT250 was trying to demand all of my attention when I wanted to just stop paying attention to it and focus solely on GAT211, and I feel as though this dampened my spirits a bit and caused a great deal of stress towards the end of the projects.
What I Learned Throughout this entire process, I learned that when your heart isn’t in a project, it is extremely difficult to motivate yourself to work on it, even if there’s some outside incentive. This allowed me to find that, if you can, you should change the project if it’s just not something you really want to do. Of course, that won’t always be possible, and you’ll have to bear through it, but that lesson comes from essay writing. I also learned what I am capable of in a very short amount of time since I changed my project idea at the last minute. It was tough, but I was able to get through the project and I personally feel as though this game was a success.