Welcome to my reflection about modifying Settlers of Catan.
In this presentation, I’m going to talk about each step of my design process. Throughout the design process, I’ll talk about exactly how I went about modifying the game, how this game helps achieve my learning objectives, playtesting, and a reflection. Please read the rules before watching this presentation.
I started the design process by playing the game with some Settlers’ fans. My previous experience of playing online and trying to figure out the rules on my own really wasn’t working. Not only did I want to understand the game more, but I wanted to understand the game’s audience. Who plays Settlers of Catan? Why do they play it? What parts of the game are important to them. From my case study, I found that my subjects loved the competition and the strategy. They were excited when they got a resource card off a roll of 12 or 2. They studied the board and knew their next move, and next move, and next move. They remembered what the other players had in their hands and traded carefully. What I found most interesting was the way they interacted with other players. They decided if they were going to be “nice” or “mean” when making trades so the other players would be nice or mean back to them later in the game. That was a dynamic I really didn’t anticipate. I think this was THE most important part of the design process.
It helped me really think about the game pieces and the interpersonal dynamics when I began my modification. As I analyzed the pieces of the game, I kept my learning domain in mind. I selected business strategies and management for my game bibliography. It was obvious that the first thing I needed to do was narrow my scope. I thought about the positions available at my company and past companies. I felt that a project manager was the most universal. So what do Project Managers do? They manage projects; more specifically they work on the backend of a new product or promotion to organize the components needed for a launch. Components needed for a launch…that sounds similar to resources needed to build a settlement. That’s when I had my real idea and ran with it.
Now that I had an idea and a connection to Settlers, I deconstructed the game and analyzed each piece. What do I like? What do I dislike? What will lend itself easily to my learning domain and what needs to change?
I wasn’t a big fan of the ocean. It didn’t seem to serve any useful purpose to my domain. I tried to think of ways trading could help in the area of project management and decided it was too cumbersome to include.
So I flipped them around and now they serve as plan borders to hold my game board pieces together.
Next, I looked at the tiles. I have five resources. How many components does a project manager need to launch a project? Well, they don’t really need components, it’s more like reaching milestones. Any project can have as many milestones as you think is necessary depending on how close you zoom in or out.
I decided to stick with five since I’m sure Klaus Teuber is far more proficient in probability and spatial relationships than I am. And I’m sure he spent more than a few weeks making Settlers of Catan. Now, I really dislike the pictures on the cards. They’re too busy and complicated, and they don’t match the cards well enough. The tiles show the environment from which the resource comes, and the cards show the product that results from that environment. It didn’t sit well with my eyes. So, for my prototype, I chose plain colors. Red matches red. Blue matches blue. When I market this to the masses I’ll select simple icons to place on each type of tile and match that icon exactly to the cards they’re associated with. I like the board because of its use of spatial relationships, depth and dimensions, and how it allows for variation.
The five milestones I selected are: Having an idea for a product Developing the product Testing it Training employees so they can sell it properly And market it to the public When managing a project, milestones must be completed in order. This is quite different from Settlers of Catan, and I think it’s a pretty nice twist to the rules. I really took to heart the fact that we should do more than just reskin the game, and I think this helps me achieve that.
To help players keep track of their different projects, I created Exchange Cards which are the same idea as the Building Costs cards in Settlers of Catan. I mixed up the order a bit so it would relate to my topic. Justifications and reasonings for these decisions are outlined in the Appendix to my rules document. You’ll notice the three items listed down the left side of the screen. These represent the game pieces players place on the board. Consumer Connections are equivalent to Roads, Product Launches are equivalent to Settlements, and Product Upgrades are equivalent to Cities. I have most of the nuances of the tiles worked out. I liked the concept of trading in the original version of Settlers, however it doesn’t lend itself to my theme very well; you cant really trade milestones.
But what about the desert? It could play a role in the game, however, I thought it was an unnecessary layer of complication that didn’t add any substance to my learning domain or concept. I decided not to use it.
And the bonus cards…I couldn’t think of a situation in project management where something amazing would happen and a huge chunk of work would be done for you. It’s possible to use the cards with my concept, but I did not feel the idea was realistic enough to include.
And the robber…I don’t like him either. He could very well represent a sneaky coworker who takes credit for your work. But they way I development movement across the board, players would be able to avoid him easily and he really wouldn't play a role. I guess that’s simil;ar to real life too…we all avoid the sneaky coworker. Well, regardless, I didn’t use him.
I didn’t like the numbered discs either. Go with me here, I know it seems like I’m stripping the game bare, but there are a lot of components left, and I add other nuances to make up for my simplification here. I want an element of speed to my game. The discs slow down game play and require players to keep track or arbitrary items. I would rather have them keep track of relevant aspects of the games.
Players can manage up to three projects at a time. They must collect the cards in order. This element makes up for the dismissal of the number discs. It’s quite tricky to pay attention to all three of these items at the same time and with little time.
By little time, I mean each turn is timed. The die with the lower number determines how many spaces the player moves on the board. The die with the higher number determines how many seconds the player has to complete their move. This player must move six tiles in six seconds. This represents a common project management scenario; time constraints may affect decisions and strategies; players must make decisions quickly and accurately. But since I don’t have any discs to determine how players reach milestones, I need something else.
I decided to add player pieces as found in typical board games. The game will come with generic pieces, but players can order industry specific pieces. These players are seamstresses (it’s what I had). I roll the dice and move my player the designated number of spaces in the designated number of seconds. Since players can move in any direction, navigating the board is pretty easy (at least with the setups I ended up with during playtesting). The trick here is that because they’re timed, they’re likely to make the wrong choice when the right choice was possible. Or there is no right choice; that happens in real life too. If a player lands on a tile they don’t need, they have to select an Oh Crap! card. They say things like, “ Return the last Milestone card you collected.” or, “Skip your next turn.” During playtesting, I realized this didn’t happen often.
Now let’s make the game! I used foam and a rotary cutter to make the new tiles and flipped the ocean upside down to make it serve as a plain border.
So we have our border
And our tiles…
And our milestone and Oh Crap cards. The Milestone cards should be set up around the board in the order they are needed for a Product.
It’s time to set up the game. Set up is the same as in Settlers of Catan. Players can lay down two products and four consumer connections. Each product must be connected to another by two consumer connections. Ideally, the pieces should start next to the idea card, but I took this picture at the beginning of playtesting…lesson learned.
Here is the game board at the end of one of my playtests. The blue player has 10 points and is therefore the winner. I realized that with more than two people, players may not be able to reach ten points. I was unable to play test with more than two people, but tried to have one player act as two players…it didn’t work so well. Throughout play testing I found that placing two Consumer Connections between each Product or Product upgrade can cause problems for the player who laid them down. I believe this was a failing of strategy on my part, and I think it is a nice twist in the game. I also added the rule: If players have enough cards to exchange for a Milestone, and do not have a place for it on the game boards, they must forfeit all cards involved in the exchange. That happened to me and I had to decide how to handle the situation. I decided that is a sign of not paying attention to a mid-term goal and the whole project was sacrificed. I also learned that the navigation was easy and that players weren’t likely to get Oh Crap cards. If a project manager is managing well, their navigation should be easy. Overall, I play tested twice and found it to be a difficult and slow process (I waived the time limit for myself). Once I got into it and had a stronger link between the tile and the card, it was easier and I think it would work in a real life environment.
This game definitely achieves its learning objectives. I formed them simultaneously as I created the game, so it wasn’t likely that I’d have a gap here. I think the point here is to tie the learning objectives of the game to real life. All of these are goals in both worlds. Players and project managers need to recognize the short term goals of collecting Milestone cards and game pieces as well as their long term goals of releasing products. However, the skill of switching attention between each project and simultaneously identifying their options on the board is the main point here. This simulates skills they’ll use daily as a project manager.
How did the modification exercise help me learn more about the learning domain? This probably isn’t the right answer, but I think the things I may have learned aren’t of significant value. I thought about the concept of trading resources or milestones in a business environment, but I don’t think that made me realize anything new about my learning domain. I feel like I deconstructed the domain in terms of how time affects decisions, or which milestones are achieved and how. But I don’t think the modification of the game increased my knowledge. I think I needed this knowledge to be capable of modifying the game. I did however learn a tremendous amount about game modification. It is a slow and trying process filled with so many nuances. It’s a struggle to really re-work the way I think and analyze in a different way – a way outside of the ADDIE model. I think that is the real value here. That’s the part that stretched my brain.
Reflection Saturating Catan
What’s included… <ul><li>Design Process </li></ul><ul><li>How I modified the game </li></ul><ul><li>How it achieves my learning objectives </li></ul><ul><li>Playtesting </li></ul><ul><li>Reflection </li></ul>
Learning Objectives <ul><li>Release and upgrade more products than your competitors </li></ul><ul><li>Adapt strategies as unexpected happenings or actions of competitors take place throughout the lifetime of each project </li></ul><ul><li>Maintain a balance between short-term and long-term strategies simultaneously </li></ul>