Suits & Daggers: A Corporate Bluffing Game
A tongue-in-cheek, corporate-themed board game about climbing the ladder. Created after a board game stint during the pandemic lockdown.
After tracking the board game community for several months following a board game stint my husband and I went through during the pandemic, I decided to come up with our own board game, combining some of our favorite gameplay mechanisms: card drafting, bluffing and secret identities. On a roadtrip, we brainstormed a wide-ranging list of game themes, including one that centers around "office politics". Given our own careers and knowledge that the majority (near 60%) of adults in America hold corporate jobs, I went with this theme since its high likelihood of familiarity would lend itself to quippy inside jokes throughout the game.
The first step to designing the game was writing the rules and using dummy cards (handwritten flash cards) to iterate the gameplay through in-person and online playtests with coworkers and friends. I went through six iterations before I started drawing game art.
DESIGN & AESTHETICS
Before embarking on full custom illustration, I put together a vision board to hone the game's look and feel. I referenced other existing board games, tracking the style of recently successful Kickstarter games such as Caper: Europe and Cultivate. Referencing these, I decided on a mid-century minimalist look for the game.
Once I felt confident about the gameplay (specifically, after a trend of positive reviews from back-to-back playtests), I began to design the game components that I was certain would be part of the final game and put them into mockups to envision what the final game would look like.
With all the game art completed and the continuation of positive online playtests, I moved onto produce a small number of prototypes which I then began taking out to bars and engaging with strangers to try out the game.
Since my goal for release was to self-publish through a Kickstarter launch, I began engaging other successful Kickstarter creators who provided me with data that I used to produce a guiding formula for how many followers I would need to attract to increase the likelihood of a successful campaign. This formula was based on the assumption that 10% of email subscribers would convert at an average of $25 per backing. Given my funding goal of $10,000, I calculated I would need at least 4,000 followers to launch with confidence of success.
At one point during design, I also needed to change the name of my game, so I used this pivot as an opportunity to engage a larger audience and launched a contest to rename the game. This grew my email list to about 330, however I was not confident of the quality of these leads and their long-term engagement.
I then setup a landing page for the game where people could submit their email in exchange for free print-and-play files of the game, or to access an online playtest environment.
I also sent out the prototype to several established board game reviewers who kindly tried the game and wrote up their thoughts on respective blogs and social media channels.
In person, I continued bringing the game to local bars to play with strangers, and left the game with a QR code at some establishments to continue driving playtests and playtesters to my landing page.
"Suits & Daggers" will be launching on Kickstarter. Follow along on the Kickstarter pre-launch page.
The length of the design process is always variable, depending on the needs of the customer. In most cases, I strive to iterate off of real user feedback, setting up moderated or unmoderated tasks to test partial prototypes for usability and comprehension.
At the prototyping stage, I'm working closely with devs to ensure that expected behavior isn't only shown through the design, but annotated and documented for their reference as they bring the design to life.