I just had a great brainstorming session this past Friday.
With good beer and food, the ideas started flowing. But what really made a difference was having all the tools readily available to make the most of this discussion.
In the last playtest, players had expressed that they felt the combat was lackluster. While being assured that you are guaranteed to hit your target was great for strategizing, combat didn’t really have the excitement that the players wanted. Furthermore, if a player was stuck in a dead end or blocked by a tough opponent, there wasn’t much they could do but accept their fate.
So I researched what many other rogue-like and dungeon crawler games do and what strong points they had. I also looked heavily at what players were asking for. It wasn’t just that they wanted some chance to avoid their grim fate in combat, they wanted to do more like block, dodge and counter. This would make combat a bit more dynamic where a player may reconsidering attacking an opponent if they were down to their last bit of health. Players would also have to plan ahead if their attacks did not go according to plan.
The two most popular mediums I have seen for resolving combat are dice and cards. So I jotted down all my ideas and brought blank cards, blank dice, a notebook and a sharpie to the local beer hall and invited all my play testers out for drinks and food for a merry night of brain storming. Each idea was quickly tested to see how each one felt. If it didn’t make the cut, we simply set the dice or cards aside and moved on to the next one.
By the end of the night, we settled on 3 ideas that we felt would resolve quickly, add all the features that players would want while keeping strategy and luck balanced with one another so that the outcomes would feel fair to all players.
So the takeaways for having a great brainstorming session are:
Come with research and a clean agenda.
Come with the tools and materials to quickly make ideas on the spot.
Create a very welcoming and fun environment that encourages ideas.
Reiterate and test early to learn new things about your ideas.