Many of the fundamental principles of game design readily apply to user experience design - a theory I set out to prove by creating Dwarf Dice, a game of crafting and combat that fundamentally changes the player's typical interaction with dice. Though the rules evolved radically during the testing process, the core mechanic remained unchanged - use dice to craft weapons and armor, then proceed to whollop the opposing dwarf warrior until he runs back to the tavern in disgrace.
So Many Combinations...
The first design decision was to focus on physically crafting weapons and armor with colored dice on a 3x3 grid. The idea to create a program that would generate every arrangement of dice on a 3x3 grid was tossed in favor of some low-tech grid paper.
The Proving Grounds
Dwarf Dice went through six rounds of initial testing with a variety of different rules, including iterations as a lego-like die-stacking game and a card-based resource management endeavor.
The Battlefield, v1.0
The game submitted for the initial assignment, encouraged players to craft as many of the various Offensive and Defensive recipes as possible on the central forge.
Years after the initial design, I returned to Dwarf Dice with the aim of entering Cards Against Humanity’s Tabletop Deathmatch competition. First order of business: Refine the rules, and create some clear documentation so that the game can be distributed.
After many more playtesting sessions and design iterations, the final game introduced powerful dwarf personas, equipment cards, and a more tactical combat system. Interested parties can check out the rulebook, or download a print-n-play version!
February 2012 – May 2014
Carnegie Mellon University
Prof. Jesse Schell