Results From Game Design Challenge: Get On Board

By Danny Cowan [03.27.18]

Board games and tabletop games made an easy transition to the digital realm. Even the Fairchild Channel F, an early cartridge-based console from 1976, had a straightforward version of Backgammon in its library. A few memorable video games have offered delightfully twisted takes on old favorites, however. 1998’s No One Can Stop Mr Domino is a unique action-puzzler starring a living domino, while the oddball Xbox Live Indie Games release Bloody Checkers somehow manages to turn checkers/draughts into a dungeon crawler.

For Game Career Guide's latest Game Design Challenge, our readers designed radically altered video game adaptations of existing board games and tabletop games. Here are our top picks!

Best Entries

Cole Hopkins, Chess Tower (see page 2)

Erich Cooper, Game Designer at Sumo Digital, Tile-Matching Carcassonne (see page 3)

William Lacalamita, Game Design Student at Event Horizon School Of Digital Art, BeatX4 (see page 4)

Jase Goodson, Student at University of Montevallo, Mystery Dinner Party Murder (see page 5)

Gustavo Moreira Silva, Game Designer, Patzer (see page 6)

Zane Wilson, Student at University of Montevallo, Mille Bornes: Hypersonic (see page 7)

Cole Hopkins, Chess Tower

Chess Tower is a multiplayer strategy/puzzle game that has absolutely nothing to do with chess. Instead of playing a classic board game of tactics and wits, they will stack their chess pieces into highly unstable towers before trying to knock each other's creations to the ground. Chess Tower combines elements of building games, physics puzzlers, and sheer chaos to create an accessible yet repayable gaming experience.

Chess Tower is turn based, with gameplay alternating between construction and destruction phases. In the beginning of players are given a few chess pieces with which to start their tower. Each player gets the same set of randomly chosen set of pieces to build with, and must construct a tower that reaches the game's predefined minimum height line. After this initial phase, the player with the highest tower gets the first turn. They get to throw one very small, very light chess piece at their opponent's tower in an attempt to knock it down. This piece is selected at random as well, and is used by both players just like the construction pieces. Chess Tower features full physics simulation, so a well built tower will resist the impact easily while a poorly built one may fall down.

A tower is only considered knocked down if it falls below the minimum height line, making it possible to recover from glancing blows with skilled buildings. If the receiving player's tower is still standing, they get their own piece to throw, after which the game re-enters the construction phase. At the beginning of each turn, the minimum height line is raised and the thrown piece's mass increases slightly. As the constructions grow higher and more elaborate, keeping them standing becomes much more difficult. Victory comes to the player that keeps their tower standing while destroying that of their opponents.

The basic gameplay of Chess Tower is pretty simple, but it can be infinitely extended with a multitude of customization options. These range from modifying gravity to tweaking height rules to introducing modifiers like explosive pieces. Rulesets for custom game types can be shared as well, making it easy to find new ways to play. If players don't like the default black and white look of their pieces, they can customize them with decals and alternate color schemes as well.

Chess Tower is designed to be a party game, with a basis in a simple but extensible construction-destruction gameplay loop. It includes support for both local and online multiplayer, along with a sandbox singleplayer component allowing players to build to their heart's content.

Erich Cooper, Game Designer at Sumo Digital, Tile-Matching Carcassonne


Carcassonne is a tile matching game where the object of the player is to manipulate tiles on a grid to create blocks of two or more tiles that match. Once matched, tiles will be scored and replaced by new tiles. The larger the block of matched tiles the more points the player will score.


The game will have levels that the player can player through. Each level will have a score requirement for the player to meet. Tiles are matched on a grid that stays full. Every time a match is made, and tiles are cleared, new tiles are added. The game has gravity and allows tiles to move down into empty space created by matches. This opens the possibility of combos and cascades. Once cleared new tiles are added. The player won't know what tile types will spawn next.

Manipulating tiles

Players rotate tiles of two or more cells, by clicking or dragging over the cells. This action is known as swapping or rotating two cells. This could be expanded with bigger grids that allow rotating of tiles three or four cells.

Matching Mechanic

A match is a group of tiles that satisfy the game's matching rules. In this case players score points by matching elements on adjacent tiles. For example, matching multiple road elements together would score those tiles.

Combo: Makes multiple matches simultaneously

Cascades: Makes multiple matches simultaneously due to gravity or spawned random tiles.

Tile Examples

Road Tiles

A road is matched and scored when two or more road tiles are connected when both ends of the road are join up (see below.) Players can get bonus points for connection roads to a crossroad tile, a city section tile, monastery tile or the road loops onto itself. There can be any number of road sections between both ends, with more sections equalling more points.

(Road Match)

City Tiles

A city is matched two or more city tiles connect. Players get bonus points when a city is surrounded there are no gaps in the walls or the city. As with roads there can be any number of tiles in a city, with more tiles equalling more points.

(City Match)

Mix Matching

Certain tiles provide the player with both a road and city piece on the same tile. These allow players to link road and city tiles together to create bigger blocks to score more points.

(Combo match)

Looks like you're highlighting the top right tile as the combo match, when it's the bottom right one which is the combo piece.

William Lacalamita, Game Design Student at Event Horizon School Of Digital Art, BeatX4


Players will fight on top of an elevated platform, but unlike your usual fighter the winner is not decided in a best-of-three rounds system, the winner will be the one able to "match 4" bodies fallen off the platform just like in the board game Connect Four.

A good example of this is the gruesome "stage fatality" of the pit, in Mortal Kombat, so imagine that, just less brutal... Like instead of realistic bodies, we have Gang Beast-like 3d models.


But how does it play out? If you think how much a match in a standard fighting game can last it's pretty easy to assume just one match can be rather lengthy, or at least it would be if the fighting was just like a standard fighter, but that's not the case.

The fighting is in the "one-hit K.O." style, examples can vary to things like Nidhogg, Divekick or the flash game Get-on-Top.

A quick kill and we are already in the next round.

So here we are, you landed that one hit on your opponent, what now?

Now for the Coup-De-Grace.

After landing your hit there's a chance for the final blow, but you must act quick! This blow allows you to redirect the body of your opponent in 5 directions: directly down, to the near-right and far-right, to the near-left and far-left.

The landing spots are fixed in a grid to ease the stacking.

But how big is the grid? I have the option to make my opponents go in 5 places based on where I'm standing when I land the hit, but the grid at the bottom of the pit has 7 columns much like most connect 4 grids are.

Manage to line up 4 of your opponent's fallen body in any direction and you win.

Core Mechanics:

One Hit & Coup-de-grace: Land one hit and you have won the round, your opponent is going to fall straight down, unless you use your coup de grace, a final blow that better decides where your opponent fall.

On a ps4 controller, as an example, tapping square will send him to your left proximity, tapping circle to your right proximity and holding the buttons charges the hit to send him further away. Or you could be pitiless and press X to smack him down immediately.

Concede: You can "give up" twice during the match to interfere with your opponent set-up or create a set-up of your own.

Match 4 of them: In order to win you have to match 4 of the bodies of your OPPONENT, not yours.


The example of Mortal Kombat is gruesome, but this game is intended to be played by the same people who would have fun with the original connect 4: kids.

This means less blood, more colors. Simple fun given by the antagonism between players in local -couch gaming- trying to topple one another.

Jase Goodson, Student at University of Montevallo, Mystery Dinner Party Murder

Mystery Dinner Party Murder is a video game version of the board game, Clue. Mystery Dinner Party Murder is an online, multiplayer game in which a party of 7 in which each player will don the first-person viewpoint a classic Clue character. Once each player has been assigned a character (each with their own unique traits), one player will randomly be selected as the killer. The players would move from room to room, trying to find clues that would identify the murderer.

The clues would consist of pieces of hair, fingerprints, torn fabric, footprints, etc. Every few minutes, the game will stop and allow players to choose the culprit from a list of the other players. Once everyone makes an accusation, the person with the most votes is eliminated. If that player is the killer, the game ends with everyone else as winners. However, if the person voted out was innocent, the rest of the players must continue the game.

While the rest of the players are searching for clues, the killer isn't simply twiddling their thumbs. Their goal is to kill all the other players without being discovered. The killer has access to an assortment of weapons, a map, and the ability to interact with the environment (turning off lights, causing fake screams or gunshots, and laying fake clues) Once a player is killed, they view the rest of the game from the viewpoint of the remaining players, but cannot communicate through in-game chat to alert their allies.

Once there are only three players remaining, and the final meeting is called, they convene around the table and vote one person out. If the killer is one of the remaining two, they are revealed and chase the other player around until that player is killed.

Gustavo Moreira Silva, Game Designer, Patzer

Patzer is a MOBA variant of Chess, more like PvP Battle Arena.

The battlefield is similar to the classical MOBA map (3 paths from base to base with some shortcuts around).

Each team consists one player controlling all the units except pawns.

The pawns are minions-NPC, and ,as MOBAs, will try to reach the opponent's king travelling by paths from base to base.

When a unit is not being controlled, it keeps the position attacking the enemy unit that passes by.

Even the King is a controllable unit and can move around the scenario - pawns will always use the predefined paths to reach him in some way.

But Kings can only move on allie's squares. When pawns and other units walk on the battlefield, squares with the team color (black or white) will be set on the battlefield.

The objective is to surround the opponent's King by your square colors and block the King, or just kill him.

Units details

Rook (low health, melee DPS):

Skill 1) Bear Trap - Place a trap on the ground and the first enemy that walks over get STUNNED for seconds;

Skill 2) Explosive Trap - Place a trap on the ground and when an enemy walks over the trap explodes dealing damage around;

Skill 3) Hide n Seek - Get in stealth mode;

Skill 4) Shortcut? - Place two special squares in the battlefield, when some ally walk over one square, the ally is teleported to the other square;


Bishop (low health, range SUPPORT):

1) God Bless You - Heal an ally a little bit;

2) Lord is your shepherd - An enemy becomes in a sheep for while, what can not use any skill;

3) Spirits away - Each ally that dies around a bishop, recover bishops health a a little;

4) Not yet - Resurrect an ally.


Knight (high health, melee TANK):

1) My horse! - Summon a horse that improves the movement speed, after a attack the horse disappears again;

2) Jump, jump - Jump STUNNING the enemies around the landing targeted area;

3) C'mon baby - Enemy pawns around are forced to attack the Knight for a while;

4) No time to spend - Increase the attack and attack speed for while;


Queen (normal health, range SUPPORT):

1) Right there! - Queen can teleport to any ally square on the map;

2) U-lala - An enemy pawn became an ally pawn;

3) Silence, mortals! - Targeted enemy unit can not use skills for a while;

4) God Bless Me! and You - If an ally Knight, Bishop or Rook dies, Queen can use a pawn to create a new one. Can just create one of each per match;


King (normal health, melee SUPPORT):

1) The duty calls you - Spawn an ally pawn;

2) For the Kingdom! - All allies around improve their attack for a while;

3) One eye-king!- All the enemies around the king get BLIND for seconds;

4) The duty calls me - The King is teleported to the throne, the initial position - this skill can just be used once.

Zane Wilson, Student at University of Montevallo, Mille Bornes: Hypersonic

Mille Bornes: Hypersonic is an arcade like racer with tremendous amounts of speed and destruction. This would be like if Redline and Burnout had a baby, then F-ZERO and Wipeout had a baby and then, well you know the rest. In the year 4771 Earth has become a peaceful place of warless nations, clean environments, interplanetary colonization and boundless free energy.

Everything is tranquil... and boring as hell. Life everywhere has become stale and vapid. All manner of sports and leisure have fallen out of interest with people as it is seen as fostering "unhealthy" competition. Even music is no longer a haven for imagination and creativity, except for one. At this time in Rouen, a wealthy French musician by the name of Petrichor ponders this problem and knows that she must not be the only one who feels this way. Thinking of a way to create something exciting besides, music she thinks about her love of racing and remembers the monorails around the worlds that can travel at Mach 5.

She quickly goes to an independent contractor to create racing vehicles that can travel up to Mach 10. Word quickly gets around that Petrichor is going to be hosting an enormous interplanetary race. The few freethinkers that are left prepare for the race and while some will drive competition sponsored vehicles, others create their own death defying speedsters. The race also attracts the attention of practically every person in the solar system. People do not know what to make of it and everyone is watching. The race will go from Earth to Mars then to Ganymede and finally end on Titan.

While this game is centered on break-neck speed, the art style would be akin to art deco, with a soundtrack composed of a combination of jazz, hip-hop, electronic and rock'n roll. Players will choose a racer and enter some grand prix and get to racing. The vehicles will have an arcade feel and be able to boost. Boosting would be mixture of F-ZERO and Burnout where players could either build up boost by ramming other racers, drafting etc. or they could try to collect it from pick-ups. These however, would be quite difficult to find and retrieve. No weapons will be available to drivers. They must use their vehicles as weapons if they want to attack. Depending on where you ram an opponent causes different effects. Certain areas that would be affected are the tires, gas tank, engine, and the vehicle's speed itself. Ramming other vehicles in a certain way could either increase or decrease their speed so it would be a risk to attack other racers.

There would also be light RPG elements such as aesthetic customization and small tweaks to your cars performance. Throughout races players earn points like earning boost albeit at a slower rate. If a player can rack up 1000 points in one race they receive a special coup-fourre that is permanent and drastically alters the playing field.

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