Day 76 - Lens 32: The Lens of Goals
To ensure the goals of your game are appropriate and well balanced, ask yourself these questions:
What is the ultimate goal of my game?
Thematically 'to rule the wasteland' in game terms that's judged by controlling the most territory, having the most bases, and maintaining the most alliances. To break down the meaning of that I guess, to balance the tactical and social demands of the game to maximize your score.
Is that goal clear to the players?
The goal 'to rule the wasteland' is explicit to the players. They are told what things generate victory points at the beginning of the game. They are told in the game description that they can't win by tactics or politics alone. I think it takes most of a game for all that to sink in though and most players feel a little confused as to how their moment to moment actions are affecting the outcome during their first game.
If there are a series of goals, do the players understand that?
I think that the moment to moment goals are clearer and more transparent in play. The micro level tactical gameplay is very visual and the stakes and results are pretty clear. Those goals lead to reasonable play patterns even if you don't understand the larger game well, that allows new players to not be left behind during their first game, though they are unlikely to win against experienced players.
Are the different goals related to each other in a meaningful way?
Yes, all of the small tactical and social goals contribute to the goal of winning in the end. That part of the game structure is very tight, there is nothing extra going on in the game that is not part of that machinery.
Are my goals concrete, achievable and rewarding?
I think so. The player has a clear goal and reward for every action they take and they all also contribute to the larger goals of the game.
Do I have a good balance of short and long term goals?
Yes, the players always have a goal for their turn, for the next few turns and a strategy or goal for the rest of the game... or they should, the hooks are there for them to form those goals although they are not instructed to form goals explicitly.
Do players have a chance to decide their own goals?
Their goal for the endgame is defined by the rules, but then that is subverted and they are given a choice in the scoring phase. After the tutorial rounds players form their own turn to turn goals. That makes the game very dynamic and replayable, as well as hopefully making play feel free to the players.