Farmville: The Paper Prototype De-Make

Today at the NYU Game Center was the second day of Marc Leblanc’s “Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics” Game Design Workshop. One exercise, was to take a videogame (from a fairly randomly selected list) and distill it into a paper prototype that captured it’s essence and core mechanics as well as possible. I, along with Nicole Leffel, Lance Vikaros, Tim Szetala, and Haitham Ennasr chose to work with Farmville. We never quite got it to that perfect state, but it still managed to capture the soul of the game fairly well in the short period we worked on it, and I think it’s worth sharing just for that.

Welcome to Paper Farmville!

Generally, this is how it worked: In the middle of the table are 5 types of crops laid out, costing incrementally form 2-6$. They also each came with a different colored square of index card you took upon purchasing one. Each player sat around the table with a 6-sided die in front of them set to 1 at the start. The number on the die representing how many dollars they have. On a player’s turn, which rotated around the circle, they could advance their die by 1, or spend the number shown on their die to harvest crops. They also had to advance one other player’s die by 1. So say I’m going first, I advance my die from 1 to 2 (since no crops can be purchased for 1) and advance my neighbor’s die to 2. So now its my neighbor’s turn, his or her die is already at 2, so instead of incrementing it yet again, they choose to buy grapes for 2: resetting their die to 1 and taking a blue square representing some grapes.

It was important for the players to be able to see all the glamorous colors of plants they could buy if they saved up long enough.

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