WHAT INSPIRATION LED TO THE IDEA FOR DENDRITES? WHY A BOARDGAME?
Erica: I joined the board/card game group because I enjoy the social aspect of those types of games. It was nice to focus purely on game design without getting bogged down in lines of code. Plus there's just something really cool about using tangible pieces.
We had all sorts of materials at our disposal and we played with almost all of them; dice, pawns, tiles, even Play-Doh! Dendrites was a prototype that emerged from the idea of creating a play space on the table using cards from players' hands. We weren't sure at first whether the space would be a dungeon, or a city, or something more abstract.
There was something that felt elegant about the branching nature of the pink tiles, almost like a fractal. We wanted to encourage players to make more of those, rather than just a big pink blob in the center, so we designated the branches as special scoring nodes. Eventually we worked in the Game Jam theme of "Support" in two ways: the cooperative gameplay of players supporting each other, as well as the membrane of outer tiles supporting the inner pink tiles.
Kate: We aimed to create a game that was quick to play, easy to understand and pick up, and cooperative with an adjustable number of required players. We brainstormed, prototyped, and play-tested A LOT of various ideas before we found what mechanics we stuck with.
HOW DID THE DESIGN PROCESS IN CREATING BOARD GAME, RELATE TO THE DESIGN PROCESS WHEN PROTOTYPING AN ACTUAL FEATURE IN A GAME?
Kate: Prototyping, iteration, and scoping are incredibly important in both cases. If a board game or video game mechanic prototype isn’t working out, it’s good to recognize when to iterate and push it forward versus when to throw it out and try something new. In other words, “fail fast!” Either way, you learn from prototypes that don’t work out and it will only help you improve. As for scoping, don’t bite off more than you can chew! Whether or not you’re a producer, you always need to consider your available time and resources, and you need to budget properly so that you can design, build, and finish your work on time.