How will I be deciding on categories and themes?
Categories are quite easy, I’ve already decided on:
Should actors and actresses be separate categories? No, because themes, such as ‘plants’ (Lily, Rose) and ‘minerals’ (Ruby) work well with actresses, but would be too difficult if its just actors.
Should movies and TV shows be combined into one category? No, both are broad enough to be categories on their own.
What TV shows should be included? Answers like ‘Japanese News’ and ‘Hungarian News’ shouldn’t be allowed, because they would not work with the ‘countries’ theme. But it shouldn’t be restricted just to fictional series. Shows like ‘Bondi Vet’ and ’60 minutes’ make for good answers.
During a play-test, someone used ‘Cake-making for Dummies’ as an answer. Using ‘[X] for Dummies’ is an easy way out. But I don’t want to restrict the category to only fiction books. Maybe the ‘one answer per franchise’ rule would keep this answer from being exploited. Or I can just leave this to the players to self-moderate.
Purposely not written as bands or singers so rappers and instrumentalists are included.
These two categories are combined because I thought albums on its own would be too difficult, but it should still be included because it can result in some interesting answers. Soundtracks are not allowed, otherwise it just becomes the ‘movie’ category.
Other possible categories:
Athletes – Excluded because I wanted to keep the theme to pop culture related.
Video games – Might not be mainstream enough. The target audience is families.
Rejected category ideas:
Sports teams – This can’t be included because they are mostly animals and all contain place names.
I will also be including the option for people to add whatever category they like in the paid version. I think this will be a point of difference with other mainstream game apps, as they don’t usually allow users to make additions to the gameplay.
All these categories will be worth one point. Some may be harder than others, but that will vary depending on who is playing (e.g. whether they are more familiar with books or TV shows). Then in an expansion I’ll have an option for more challenging, specific categories, that will be worth more points, e.g. British actors, TV shows from the 70s. Having the categories being worth 1 point also make the game more balanced. This way winning a round of an easy theme is worth 2 point (1 for category + 1 for theme) and a harder theme is worth 3 points (1 for category + 2 for theme), rather than winning the round with the harder theme being worth twice as much. This is so players that don’t get the harder themes are counted out of the game too early.
I don’t want to post all my themes here as that would make my game pretty much redundant.
Instead, here are my thoughts of what will qualify as good themes. This game is not only about having pop culture knowledge, but also about being creative and thinking laterally. The challenge is in having to juggle two concepts at once, thinking of words that fit the theme and your knowledge of that category. The themes should be familiar to everyone to be inclusive, but also offer broad interpretation to invite creativity. Also, getting into arguments with friends as to what is allowed is part of the fun. Though I have to be careful of themes that are too ambiguous which would take the focus away from the actual game.
Numbers is an obvious one as everyone knows what they are. But there are broad range of words to choose from. So everyone can contribute, but it is still challenging.
Places is another one that fits that criteria. A broad range of words to choose from, but still requires some thought and creativity.
Another ongoing challenge is finding themes that will fit with names.
How many themes should I have? I want to have enough themes so that the game has plenty of replayability. This is a high priority. I can’t have users encounter the same category/theme match ups, otherwise it becomes a memory game, trying to remember what was said in previous games. Also, it allows players to prepare for their next game by guessing combinations in advance.
So there are 8 base categories. Assuming most games will have 3 players/teams. And the goal is to reach 10 points (5 rounds of the easiest themes, at least 4 rounds of the harder themes). If its a close game, say Team 1: 10 points, Team 2: 9 points, Team 3: 8 points), that’s a total of 27 points. Most rounds will be worth 2-3 points (most themes will be starts with [A-Z]). So an average game will go through 9 – 14 rounds. Say I want the same group of players to play 50 games without repeated category/theme combinations, total of 700 combinations. That means I would need roughly 87 themes to go with my 8 categories. I’ve been conservative, so let’s go with 80. 26 will be taken by ‘starts with [X]’. So far I’ve thought of 23 miscellaneous categories that have to do with common sense. The ‘rhymes with [X]’ category is good for probably 15 themes at least. ‘Has a word in common with [draw a category]’ adds 8 themes. So that’s a total pf 72. I think if I can come with 7 more miscellaneous themes and make it 16 rhyming themes, that will make 80 themes (though really only 73 cards in the Theme deck). I might make it a neat 75.
Goal for next week is to have my themes set in place.
Thanks for reading.