Reforest! Design Diary: 12 January 2023

This week has been all about learning to see the forest for the trees!

The real challenge has been simplifying some of the more complex rules in the game – especially the ones around bulldozers and construction. Bulldozers have been in the game since the beginning, when it very much felt like they were the Big Bad Threat coming in to mess up the players’ beautiful forest. After the playtest in December, we talked about the game needing to reflect ‘nature’s victory’ a lot more. It also needs to tell the all-important story of humanity working¬†with¬†nature, being part of it rather than opposed to it.

So I’ve been experimenting with a couple of changes. The first thing – which might be surprising after last week’s diary – is I’ve been playing with removing the event cards completely. I’ve replaced that system with dice, which determine how the human world interacts with the forest. Depending on the dice roll, you might have to place a new house or bulldozer, add pollution, plant trees, or add soil to the board. The more houses there are on the board, the more dice you have to roll. This feels a lot more simple and elegant than the event cards I was working with before – the connection between the houses appearing and things happening feels much clearer.

I’ve mostly been playing the game by myself this week, tweaking systems, and I’m looking forward to going to Wakehurst on Monday to test it with the team there. Once that’s done – and if it works – we’ll be starting to look at public playtesting. I can’t wait!

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