Gardener of Thoughts Card Game System
A game inspired by the novel Gardener of Thoughts
The Gardener of Thoughts Card Game System (GOT CGS) is a card game system meant to be used for competitive / combat games. Loosely speaking, the purpose of a game is to inflict as much damage as possible to the rival.
A single deck of cards is used.
Playing consists of turns during which the players may perform various actions.
The main mechanics are: turns, shuffled cards, card drawing, cost / limited resources, traits which provide special abilities.
GOT CGS is so general that game designers can use it exactly as it is, in any other game with similar mechanics. But the hard work is just beginning for the designers. GOT CGS is only a frame. The deck of cards will either make or break a game.
The Gardener of Thoughts Card Game System (GOT CGS) is released under a Common Sense License.
The name "Gardener of Thoughts" and the Gardener of Thoughts Card Game (GOT CG), namely the artwork and the text of the cards, are free only for personal use; they may not be freely used for commercial purposes.
You may freely use the expressions "Gardener of Thoughts Card Game System" and "GOT CGS" to show that your (commercial) game is based on GOT CGS.
Here are the rules in PDF format.
Here are the rules in HTML format.
Here are the rules in OpenOffice format.
This design is simple. An alternate extremely complex design is available here.
The cards will be freely available for download, but they have not yet been created, and this will take some time to complete. I am creating them using Mosaic.
Some of the lore is derived from these quotes.
The artwork must be digitally rendered with a resolution of 2'800 * 2'000 and 48 bits color depth, and submitted as PNG or (lossless) TIFF files.
The aspect ratio (longer side / shorter side) must be 1.4.
The artwork for the cards is meant to be printed on cardboard. The cards have a size of 125 * 88 millimeters (B7 ISO 216). The artwork may also be printed on posters.
The artwork for the cards may be either in landscape (which is preferred) or in portrait mode.
Photographs must not be used either as backgrounds or textures.
The artwork must be colorful and sharp (without blurred areas), unless the presented scene specifically requires fuzziness or monochromatism.
The colors must be vivid, bright and have to create a high local contrast. The colors must not be shinny, so as to no create a sensation of leather or plastic clothes.
Body curves must be round, not pointy, especially for heads (chin, ears).
The artwork must be simple enough so that the players can understand what it represents. All represented elements must be intelligible and logically consistent, although not necessarily possible in reality (magic elements are clearly not real).
The artwork may depict humans and plants. Animals must be used only if specifically necessary, that is, to either symbolize something or to represent the gist of the artwork.
All intelligent extraterrestrials must be humanoids, with little or no physiological difference from humans.
The artwork must not depict monsters or animals dangerous to humans. If danger, vileness, extreme anger or fear have to be depicted, you have to use landscapes, human faces and ghosts, colors and shadows capable of inspiring the required emotions.
All depicted subjects must be put in a context. For example, a hand weapon should be in a person's hand and the person could be engaged in a fight.
The artwork must have no frame.
The name of the artists must not be present in the artwork. They will be shown in the "Identifier" area of the cards.
The artwork may be included in the artist's portfolio as digital pictures published on the Internet, at a maximum resolution of 500 * 700 pixels; it may also be included as prints (at full resolution).
The card text (the "Directive" text first, then the "Lore" text) from the sample artwork is the most important factor to consider when deciding what the artwork should convey to the players.
Use the sample artwork only to understand what I want to convey to the players; they must not be copied. The general idea may be used.
The importance of the categories of the sample artwork is as follows: style, texture (= local color contrast), colors (= sets, transitions, vividness).
The style must convey feelings of a story, of roleplaying in a story, and not be too realistic (neither like paintings).
The game is mainly a story about the physical and metaphysical conflict between two parties, one (named USSA - Unionized Socialist States Alliance) which is driven by the flock instinct and which wants to control everything, and one (named Spacelings) which is driven by individualism.
The most important metaphysical aspect of the USSA is to stay alive at all costs, as followers of their leaders, whereas the one of the Spacelings is the way an individual lives and the unique marks he / she lives in the Universe.
Ships belonging to the USSA must be named USS [ship name] (meaning "Unionized States Ship").
Here are the illustrators whose work I liked while I was researching for artwork for GOT CG.
I evolved with GOT CGS, that is, my understanding of games did, even though I've been trying to create a game since I was about 12 years old.
"What is the most important thing in a game?" is a question that every game designer must ask himself, the question that I didn't know for many years.
How many of you would say "the fun"? Most. But that's like putting the effect before the cause, because the next question is "what makes a game fun?"
Each game design has advantages and disadvantages, but the game designer must find the optimum balance of all the important features of a game.
Coordination or logic?
There are two main psychological profiles of players: physical coordination and logic.
Board and card games can only use logic and a theme, and have therefore a limited pool of potential players.
However, computer games, like sports, can and do make use of physical coordination, which is far more spread among players, since it's simpler, requires less mental effort and acts as a relief for the mental effort that is exerted by the players in their life.
The absolutely most important feature of a game is the interaction among the players. Simply put, there is no game without human interaction (you need at least one person to interact with the game). People are social beings and they like to communicate and participate to common actions. That's what people perceive as being fun.
There are many delicate details which can make or break a game, but the rules of a game must result as a consequence of this crucial feature.
A game designer must first decide how the players will interact. The more dynamic this interaction is, the more fun the players will have.
For instance, if the players were to merely recreate a story, there would be basically no interaction. That would be boring because virtually nothing would make things new and surprising.
The second most important feature of a game is the variety of its mechanics.
There are 3 types of possible card (and board) game systems: combat, cost / resource management, and story telling.
The mechanics of a game mainly depend of what type of game it is. Of course, games in general combine several types in different proportions, but one of them is predominant.
A game's mechanics determine the quality of the interaction among the players. They don't have to be many, but those which are must allow the players to interact strongly.
Game mechanisms have to be varied in order to avoid the repetition of actions, which in turn would lead to boredom.
For example, while cost / resource management is a mechanics, it's only one mechanics, so having multiple cost / resource management (that is, without other mechanics) would make actions repetitive and quickly lead to boring games.
The players want to feel attached to the game, to its components.
A player may feel especially attached to a card either because of its design (= graphics and lore) or because its game value fits his / her playing style.
A player may also feel especially attached to a character because he / she wants to be like the character.
Player evolution and costs
While playing a game, a player needs to feel that he / she is evolving, that he / she isn't stuck on the same level of experience as he / she was when the game started.
Integrating evolution in board and card games leads to very complex designs. But a game can't be too complex because the players would then have to do too many calculations which would turn the fun into exhaustion. However, eliminating from complexity leads to games which are too simple.
In general, games try to substitute evolution with a system of costs management, where various types of costs have to be paid for various actions. This works but it may limit a game to accounting and may also lead to too many calculations.
In the case of an evolution system, when a player's skills evolve during a game it means that they are interdependent, which in turn means that if the player can't achieve a certain basic skill, he / she may become unable to evolve and loses the game.
This linearity also means that the players may end up playing the same flow again and again.
Competition and teams
Another important feature is the interaction either in the form of competition or team play (when people like to cooperate in order to achieve a goal).
Simplicity of rules
Another important feature is the simplicity of rules. Read this carefully, it's not the simplicity of the interaction, but that of the rules which determine the interaction.
In fact, simple rules should determine a complex interaction, that is, prepare the stage for potential complex interaction. The rules should be as generic as possible and allow players to interact naturally (including outside the boundaries of the game).
Even if sometimes the game rules may seem a bit artificial, if the important features are part of the game, the players will have a lot of fun.
Fundamentally changed GOT CGS to a simpler design.
First public release of the GOT CGS on 26.04.2008.