Jorge Zhang

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Changes to Essays

July 26, 2018

Essay cards have always been a little bit iffy since the mechanic was forced to accommodate the theme. While students do have to write essays in order to apply to college, in its previous form it just was not working well. There are three main issues, which I am currently in the process of solving.

  1. Adds randomness
  2. Can’t be planned for
  3. Negative essays do nothing

Ok. So, just a quick summary of the way Essays currently work. After the start of Senior year, players can take the action “Write Essay”. This action costs 2 English Stat to take, but then allows you to draw an Essay card. At the end of the game, players can choose up to 2 Essay cards and get their RP value.

So, the first problem is the fact that this is completely random. You can’t stack the essay deck, and have limited options for interacting with them. In fact, only the “Steal Essay” event card really allowed you to affect the essays that each person had, and this card was riddled with problems too. The largest issue was the fact that this card could result in a stolen victory because of the fact that it could feasibly be up to a 20 RP swing. Overall, the randomness introduced to the game didn’t do much.

steal essay

The second issue is that due to the nature of the essays appearing only during Senior Year, it became impossible to plan for them. In a recent playtest, I tested out adding special abilities to every card. For example, one essay gave you a 5 RP bonus for leading the club card, “personal fan club”. Unfortunately, because the game was already so close to ending, it wasn’t relevant since there was limited chance to attempt to complete the task

Finally, a essay card that is worth -10 RP does nothing for the person who draws it. While this is pretty funny, from a game perspective it isn’t great since players can just choose not to submit it, making it equivalent to an essay card worth 0 RP. In a previous iteration of the game, you had to submit essays no matter what, but this was also very problematic because it penalized players for paying a cost.

Ok. So, how to address these issues? What is being tested out right now is having every player begin the game with 2 essays. These essays would be like secret goals. If a player completed the secret goal, they would get a resume point bonus at the end of the game. However, if they failed to complete the goal then they could be punished. This way, the game still has an essay component, which is pretty important to me in terms of having a theme. At the same time, it won’t feel as tacked on as a random deck that players draw from at the end of the game.

Let me know what you think, and if you are interested please subscribe by putting in your email address into the widget to your right. Thanks!

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