Bad Pets: A Good Plan


Deadline 1: Wyvern’s Liar 20th April – 100 words + 1 image

Deadline 2: Playtest Slot at UKGE

It is a good thing to have a deadline, it focuses the mind and the intentions.  For deadline 1 I need a game that I know people find fun, exciting, re-playable and most importantly sellable.  If it does all of these things and does them well writing a 100-word pitch will be a piece of cake.  Getting a “decent sketch” and generally good looking prototype for the photo will also be “Highly Desirable”.

From that point onwards I only want to be making small changes, little tweaks as I don’t want it to change too much between submission and (fingers crossed) presentation for Deadline 2.

GDA – Game Design Adjustments

This is a list of GDAs to bring the game up to what I have in my head.  Most of these have been part of the “original plan”, some have come as a result of playtester comments and feedback.  But right here, right now I’m writing them down and planning them.    With each Adjustment, though it is important to know at least 2 things:

  1. Why am I adding it?design-plan
  2. What is the intention?

Now, if these 2 questions cannot be answered and quantified then said “Adjustment” doesn’t go in the mix.  Answers such as “Just because.” Or “Its cool” do not count as answers.

My Adjustment List:

  1. Bonus Scoring
    1. General Tiles
    2. Player Die
      1. Start of Game
      2. End of Game
    3. Clock/Picture/Window Tiles
    4. Four Player Game
    5. 3 Player Game
      1. 2 Vs. 1
      2. The Kid
    6. Boredom Busters and Beds
      1. Treats
      2. Toys
    7. Pets
      1. Guarding
      2. Attacking
      3. Movement
      4. Asymmetry (?)
      5. Penalties
    8. Bonus Scoring.

I have two ideas here and within those two ideas, I have a further two.  The bonus scoring will add modifiers if a set of, or certain furniture is damaged.

  1. scoring-tilesGeneral Tiles – now this came about because of my love for Tera Mystica, and if you’re familiar with the turn scoring in that game you may notice some similarities. If you’re not then it works that 5 random tiles are drawn and laid on the board to indicate how that turn will score.  Bad Pets will just use 2 (although one of these is actually a turn reduction to create a faster-paced game).
  2. Dice – These will have to be custom dice eventually really (I’ll create a little look-up table for early playtests) but these will give a more specific modifier, there’ll be one cat die, and one dog die and these will determine what will score for that specific animal

The What and the Why for these additions are very heavily linked.  Increase the strategy level.

In playtests, some very regular feedback was that strategy seemed a little light, and it was difficult to really set a goal and plan.

Graphic Time:strategy-chance-and-fun

Let’s start with a heat map.  I put together a pretty decent post-game questionnaire that every player happily filled in, which allowed me to build this.  What this tells me is that the majority of playtesters felt the game had a medium level of strategy but it leant more heavily on chance.  Now, there will always be a sizable level of chance in Bad Pets; it’s a tile placement game so just like Carcassonne, Isle of Skye etc. chance plays a pretty integral part of the game.  Now, if I can increase the level of strategy, give players something more to think about, something else to aim for my hope is that my Strategy score goes up and I can hit that sweet spot of High Chance and High Strategy – this, in turn, will hopefully make the game more replayable and more worthy of coming to the table.

My other choice I have here, and I feel more inclined to let the player decide which is best suited for the game they want. experience-strategy-and-chance

Are the bonus tiles/dice decided at the beginning of the game?

Deciding at the beginning of the game gives players something to really fight over: great – however, this is a Mechanical decision. However; deciding at the end of the game potentially gives players an added bit of drama and tension (especially in close scoring games), this then would be a Thematic decision.

Story Time:

Now I’ve come home from work or a day out, on more than one occasion to discover my dogs (I’m not a cat person, and my dogs are really not cat dogs) have chewed a remote control, a console control pad, a book, shredded a magazine, smashed a mug, pulled the carpet up (and then proceeded to eat the underlay) and have also taken chunks out of the sofa.

Note: on these occasions, I have not scolded, reprimanded or told my dogs off – the destruction they cause is really my fault; not enough exercise, too many treats, too long left alone, not enough interesting toys left out for them and so on.   

The point here is that when there is a lot of destruction it’s not always the biggest, most expensive item that causes the most upset – in the above example, the most upsetting thing was a particularly beautiful picture of my partner and me at a wedding.  So for me, at least the thematic decision seems right, but we’ll have to see how it playtests.

2-4 I’m not going to list every change and the ‘whats’ and the ‘whys’ as it will just make for dull reading, just rest assured that change will come.

5 & 6 Boredom Busters, Beds & Petsplayer-vs-player

The biggest, most consistent feedback I received was regarding the pet pawns, and truth be told, I was fairly sure this would be the case going into the playtest.

What exists at the moment is a really good idea, that hasn’t been executed fully.

The primary function of the Pets is to Guard a tile; preventing an opponent from changing it. This simple mechanical aspect of “worker placement” adds a very slight bump to the strategic value of the game.

The secondary function of the Pets is to fight/chase the opponent pet away, thus preventing the Guard and now allowing access to a previous inaccessible tile.


Getting the Pets right is pivotal to the success of this design:

thumbs-upThere really is no down-side to the pets, unless they don’t work well, which at the moment they don’t.

Boredom Busters and Beds

Just 2 ideas of how the Pet actions can become more dynamic.

Boredom Busters will become a weapon for players, forcing an opponent to miss a turn, and or disabling their Pet’s Guard – and thematically this works too.  Which is nice.

Beds will be an additional title, or game component: which is literally the pet’s bed that players will put down on one edge of the board, and now whenever a Pet is chased it will return to its bed.

Additionally, I could make the pets more asymmetric, or give them Hit Points, but; not only do I not want to open that can of worms, I’m certain it would up the complexity with very little gain.

So, there’s lots to do, lots of Alpha testing and hopefully, I can be in a position to get this to Charlie Level testing soon.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this more in-depth look at playtesting and a glimpse at the playtesting analyse that I’ve done.  You’ll find a copy of the questionnaire I used to get this data too if you want to have a look and adapt it to your needs, please feel free.


Thanks for reading folks


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