I’ve heard game designers joke about making the “terrible” first prototypes of new ideas and I’m starting to realize what they were talking about. I spent a few hours this past week trying to realize this idea about a board game featuring traditional American patchwork quilting and so far it’s not looking pretty. I imagine this is the stage where most game designs are abandoned.
At the end of my last entry about this idea I mentioned that there was one major design decision to make early on. The pitch is a puzzle game that showcases real historical quilting patterns and shares the rich world of traditional patchwork quilts with its players. So far I can think of two major ways one could pull this off. First, a game about pulling together a single blocks (most patchwork quilts are made of an arrangement of these smaller blocks).
This would be a a game of piecing various shapes together in a way that emulates the way a quilter sews together many small pieces of fabric into a single “block.” This would be a matter of piecing various shapes emulating the way a quilter sews together many small pieces of fabric into a single “block.” A second option would see players arranging complete blocks in larger patterns creating something that looks more like a finished quilt.
Between the two approaches, I’m leaning towards this second option. The first would limit the game to using patterns that employ similar shapes, and since I want the game to be an homage to the art, being able to represent as many designs as possible will be best. Even so, I’m still don’t have any clever ideas about how one might actually play.
In this first prototype the individual pieces have at least three (maybe four) elements from which I could formulate the games puzzle, 1) the color, 2) the pattern, 3) the “type” of pattern–since they can all be grouped into ‘four-,’ ‘five-,’ or ‘six-block’ designs, and finally 4) the stitching, represented here by the black dotted lines.
With these blocks the game could have players arranging patterns, always being sure to keep the stitches (those black dots) continuous, coordinating the colors, and attempting to match the different types of blocks together–all of which would, in theory, be worth points.
I suppose these designs are “fine,” but they are a far cry away from the tactile, engaging, and beautiful components of my imagination. If I’m honest, being forced to break away from the “ideal” (and also vague) notion I have in my head and try to get some real pieces on the table has sapped some of the project’s allure. It is, I own, tempting to put the idea to rest. Probably the best thing is just to set it aside for a while, muster my enthusiasm again, and try take another few steps forward.