Good Kitties Design Goals
A common practice in game design (and in design in general) is to create an initial set of goals. These become the north star that you can return to whenever you’re facing a design decision, which is useful because the number of decisions to be made is essentially endless. For me, and for many others, this takes the shape of answering the question “what do I want the player’s experience to be?” So here are my guiding lights/guard rails for Good Kitties:
A laughter-filled cooperative puzzle game that makes players feel like they’re diabolical, mischievous, and easily distracted cats working with purpose under pressure.
You can see that this design goal gives me a lot of guidance as I’m making choices. As an example, at one point I was considering a “dirtiness” track that would eventually force the player to lose an action taking a bath (I’ll be sharing way more about the journey of bathtime in a later post). But the activity of tracking was tedious and felt more accountant-like than cat-like. Instead, a more random mechanic is a better fit for actual cat behavior. Most people have seen a cat walking across the room decide to suddenly lick a paw and then continue on as if nothing happened. Given this, I made the choice to have bathtime arise randomly out of the Distraction Deck.
An interesting point to make about this design goal: it pushes the game towards randomness and swingy-ness (is that a word?). Randomness is great in games, but it takes control away from players and can make their choices feel (or actually be) less important. Too much randomness takes away opportunities for skill and strategy. If you take this too far, you end up with Candy Land. So somewhere in here, it’s also important for me to keep my secondary design goal in mind:
A midweight strategy game with a lightweight cat theme.
This creative tension of game weight and theme weight isn’t something I’ve nailed yet, but I’m working on it. And as the game evolves, it’s possible that this vision takes a back seat as the game reveals itself for what it wants to be. There’s also an interesting player perception challenge: people pick up cat games expecting them to be both light in theme and light in weight. So we’ll see where I manage to land. Like a cat, I expect it to be on my feet :-)
If you want to read more about design goals, check out this article.