Speed Design Challenge: Ninja Love Massacre

For one of my last assignments in my Game Design Workshop class this semester, we had a speed design challenge. We came into class, split into groups of five, were given ridiculous names from a random name generator for video games, and were told to create a game using the name we were given and a pack of 100 different colored index cards. In the pack of index cards, there were 10 each of the colors pink, purple, green, blue, and yellow, and were given the opportunity to manipulate the cards in any physical way we chose. We were timed on completing different aspects of the challenge, while the goal was to create a fully playable game. The title of our game was Ninja Love Massacre.

Here is an approximate of how the time was to be used in class:
5 minutes to create a concept and rules
5 minutes to make a prototype
5 minutes to play test
5 minutes to revise
5 minutes to play test
5 minutes to revise
5 minutes to play test


Our group decided to make a quick game using the index cards as they were. Each color card would represent various things pertaining to battling, ninjas, love, and massacre. The first thing that came to mind when using the index cards was to make a game similar to Magic: The Gathering, Yugi-Oh!, or any other trading card game. We incorporated some of the basic concepts into our game, but still wanted something different to make it stand out. We decided that the cards would be labeled as follows:

Pink – Love or Massacre cards
Purple – Ninja cards
Blue – Weapon cards
Green – Enemy cards
Yellow – Blank cards for players to keep track of health

Players would each control a ninja, would then draw a weapon and enemy card. The weapon card would determine if the player defeated the enemy or not. If the player defeated their enemy, they would then draw from the pink card pile. The goal was to collect five “love” cards before the other players.


Our team quickly wrote what each index card was meant to be, and came up with the stats. Each weapon card was given a +ATK (attack) number, ranging from one to six. Each ninja card was given a base HP (health) of twenty. Each enemy card was given an ATK (attack) and a DEF (defense) number to compete against the ninja players, each number ranging from one to six as well. Love cards and massacre cards were mixed into the same pile of pink cards, so that players had an equal opportunity to draw either love or massacre. Love cards were good, as the players would need to collect five to win, while massacre cards were bad, and they took five health away from any player that drew one. One group member randomly announced that we should have cake cards. This idea spawned the yellow food cards, which would restore a small amount of health if they were sweets such as cake or pie, or would take away a small amount of health if they were vegetables. Now, if players defeated an enemy, they could either draw from the pink card pile or the yellow card pile.


During our first play test, we found that our game seemed to work pretty well, although a bit difficult. Vegetables taking health away became an issue, since the yellow card pile was intended to help players when they were low on health.


Our first revision mostly involved tweaking the ATK and DEF stats on the enemies and the ATK stats on the weapons. We added in the rule that if a player did not defeat their enemy, they would take away from its DEF so that it would be lowered for the next attack. The food cards were also changed, so that sweets restored seven health, while all other food restored only two.


During our second play test, we discovered that we hadn’t made enough love cards to actually win the game (at least not with five players). The changes we had made earlier seemed to pay off, and we didn’t have a lot of problems other than the love cards.


From our last play test, it was obvious that we needed to make more love cards, which in turn meant more massacre cards to balance it out. Since we had used all of the pink cards we were given, we used the extra purple cards to create more. We also created more ninja cards with a wider variety to make the game more interesting. The ninja cards were as such: standard +20HP, +25HP -1ATK, +15HP +1ATK, and +15HP +1DEF. It was decided that the ninja cards would be shuffled and drawn randomly at the beginning of the game to make it more fair.


This was our final play test, and it went surprisingly well. The revisions made were implemented and made the game flow much more smoothly, as well as added a larger element of chance to the game. The basic game play went as follows: 1) Each player draws a purple ninja card and has a blank card to keep track of stats; 2) all players draw a blue weapon card and a green enemy card, and compares the two to see if the enemy is defeated; 3) if the enemy is defeated, the player draws from either the yellow or pink card piles; 4) if the enemy is not defeated, the player takes appropriate damage from the enemy, takes appropriate damage from the enemy, discards the weapon card and draws a new one; and 5) the first player to draw five love cards wins. During this last play test, we actually managed to complete a game, with one player drawing five love cards before the time was up.


This was, in my opinion, an excellent way to teach students about speed design. It was a lot of fun, and I think all the groups walked away with a good feeling about their timed designs. Our group accomplished the task the best, as we had created a fully playable game as well as actually completed it. In the game industry, sometimes we are given information on what to create, and must do so accordingly, and other times we must accomplish something that would normally take a long time in a very short amount of time. This challenge is a great way to test one’s skills in design and rapid game prototyping, and I may even try it again on my own for practice later.

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