Home Board Game Designer Diary: Akropolis, or Crafting the Cake | BoardGameGeek News

Designer Diary: Akropolis, or Crafting the Cake | BoardGameGeek News

Designer Diary: Akropolis, or Crafting the Cake | BoardGameGeek News


Board Game: Akropolis

When I work on a prototype, my whole focus is commonly targeted on a recreation mechanism that I wish to develop — however with Akropolis, this course of occurred in a different way. I used to be as a substitute thrust into the problem of constructing a recreation that might be very straightforward to grasp, but additionally supply a real complexity of decisions.

This want got here from taking part in The Builders, a recreation by Frédéric Henry, with my son. During the sport, I used to be impressed by (and envious of) the simplicity and fluidity of the gameplay. At the time, I used to be engaged on a number of fairly advanced prototypes, and I spotted what I actually wished to do was create a recreation that was as fluid as The Builders! Now I had my aim…however the infinite prospects weren’t actually serving to me obtain it.

Since I used to be influenced by The Builders system, my first concepts concerned a system of useful resource conversion — this recreation had gamers grow to be alchemists — during which you needed to “crush” assets on playing cards by putting the playing cards that wanted these assets on high of them. This concept of making a useful resource administration recreation with out useful resource tokens actually appealed to me!

The expertise wasn’t extremely satisfying, however I appreciated the minimalism of the elements. However, this turned the founding precept of what can be Akropolis: stacking the sport items! As quickly as I began testing this stacking notion, this mechanism instantly started echoing with a recreation design philosophy I’d had in thoughts for a very long time. This philosophy would result in a really particular growth strategy for Akropolis, which I name “The Cake”!

The Cake represents the act of building you’ll do in the course of the recreation and the constructions every participant sees on the finish of the sport, with you very proudly proclaiming, “Nice, I constructed that!” It’s a really primary sentiment, nevertheless it’s this pleasure that I wished to nurture in every participant in the course of the recreation: the satisfaction of making a singular object that can differ in each single recreation (and subsequently be very private), and which additionally represents the alternatives every participant made on their turns.

From gallery of W Eric Martin

Early prototype

This was important throughout Akropolis‘ growth: Knowing that it was this precise feeling I wished to achieve! There had been very many incarnations of the prototype, with so many variations over the course of two years that some prototypes had hardly something in widespread with one another — however the vital factor was that I all the time had this little voice behind my head that informed me which course to go. That little
voice wished a “cake”.

I borrowed the concept of this little voice, which made certain our goal was clear throughout your complete artistic course of, from Fumito Ueda, an incredible recreation designer who influenced a whole technology of online game designers via his work on the sport Ico and his unbelievable thirst for refining gameplay.

At that point, and for a very long time, Akropolis was referred to as “Uruk”, named after a metropolis with an orthogonal format that was constructed on a number of tales (along with it being the primary human metropolis, based eight thousand years in the past in Mesopotamia). This aligned completely with the prototype since at this level in growth, the tiles had been squares as a substitute of hexagons. Quickly although, I modified the form of the tiles to permit a lot larger flexibility to their placement choices.

From gallery of W Eric Martin


With the concept of the “cake”, I wished gamers to look upon their cities on the finish of the sport and picture having constructed a whole metropolis with a logical city construction. Using my expertise as an architect, I seemed for what the districts of this metropolis might be and what guidelines may exist that might let these districts be positioned logically.

These constructing guidelines had been the ultimate level in creating the gameplay expertise. I did not wish to depart gamers frozen with too many choices. I did not wish to have the “carte blanche” feeling during which you do not fairly know the place to begin to construct your good metropolis. Instead, it was far more sensible to introduce placement guidelines that informed you merely learn how to achieve factors if you happen to adopted them. Now, we requested the participant to make decisions that might give them the very best rating, and in doing so create a practical metropolis.

All these totally different elements had been the spine of Akropolis‘ design. Over the subsequent two years, I labored on numerous prototypes to make all these totally different notions come collectively. Several associates and playtesters helped me tremendously with my tweaks to enhance the prototype, whether or not that was by stating weaknesses or magnifying the enjoyable components. Thanks for all of your assist! I’d not be so glad with Akropolis with out all of your useful feedback.

From gallery of W Eric Martin


Among all of those enhancements had been a number of makes an attempt to simplify how gamers manipulated the “river” of tiles. It was Benoit Turpin, designer of Welcome To…, who had the wonderful concept to extend the worth of tiles the upper they had been positioned.

Then it was time to work with Gigamic, collaborating with venture supervisor Delphine Brennan, and to refine the stability of all these mechanisms. The growth lastly ended after an unbelievable day with the Gigamic group, validating all the ultimate guidelines round managing the “quarries”, “stones”, and the river. There was additionally a storm of checks with the “professional” variants. Thank you, Delphine and Gigamic, on your wonderful publishing work!!!

Today, I’m so proud of all the work that went into Akropolis, and I’m stunned that I nonetheless love the sport every time I play it. It’s precisely the type of cake I wished to carry to your desk! Whether you got a duplicate at Origins Game Fair, Gen Con, or your native recreation retailer, I hope you take pleasure in it — and if you happen to’re so inclined, take a look at the solo mode guidelines that had been not too long ago revealed on BoardGameGeek.

Jules Messaud

From gallery of W Eric Martin

So many layers on that cake…



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