During the last three years, I've had to do countless presentations to people who don't
understand games, who don't play games, and who really could care less about my philosophy
of Internet game design.
For those people, I had to come up with some way of
explaining, in ten minutes or less, the fundamental concept of a game that was unlike
anything they'd ever seen.
Somewhere along the way, I stumbled onto this, "It's
just like chess, but..." approach.
Seasoned game players and industry veterans might find it comical; but it has been effective in communicating at least the basic concepts to those non-gaming suits along the way.
"Everyone is familiar with Chess. Even if you've never played the game, you've at least seen other people play the game and are familiar with the basic concept.
SpiritWars is just like chess, except that it's a little different.
Chess is played on a game board comprised of 64 squares. These squares are divided into two types: black and white (or light and dark, red and white, etc.).
Each player plays with a set of 16 pieces.
This set of playing
components is comprised of six different pieces, each of which has differing movement
Let's imagine now that we're going to expand the number of playing pieces used by the two
Just to be creative, let's say that they can each determine how many pieces
they want to use.
The only requirement is that they select at least 30 pieces.
And instead of choosing a combination of pieces from the limited set of six
familiar chess icons, let's give them a library of hundreds of pieces from which to
Following me so far? Great.
Now before we move on, stop and think about that chess game if you don't know what kind of
pieces your opponent is going to be using.
And he, of course, has no idea what kind
of pieces you'll be using.
Suddenly it's a whole different game!
Now let's take a look at the game board itself.
Let's enlarge it a little, moving
from 64 to 86 playing spaces.
(We'll also change the geometry a little, but we won't
complicate this discussion by going into that right now.)
Instead of alternating board spaces between the familiar red and black squares, let's
create eight different space types on the board, each of which can impact those varying
pieces the players have selected to use.
Now consider that neither player knows the definition or nature of the game board until
the game begins since the game randomly selects from hundreds of playing boards at the
beginning of each new game.
You still with me?
In chess, you need to capture your opponent's king to win.
In SpiritWars you need to
find and destroy his castle before he destroys yours.
Oh, I forgot to mention that at the end of each game, the losing player loses some of his
playing pieces, and the winner gets new pieces added to his library of pieces
that he can use
in future games."
SpiritWars is a registered trademark of Kellogg Creek Software.