The Caledonian Games Developer Journal

Hello and welcome to the Caledonian Games Developer Journal.  This will be a regularly updated journal of progress on many of the games made here at Caledonian Games.

As games are conceived, discussed, organized, and created; Caledonian Games owner/developer, Scott Allen, will post notes and images to help visitors see the Caledonian Games Creative process in action.

August 26, 2012

Wasting time with Time Trouble

Hello to everyone.  This week I am going to write about another upcoming Caledonian Game called Time Trouble™.  

Journal Posts

Game board design draft ver1


Time Trouble is an easy to play and fun board game where players are thrust back in time due to a experiment gone awry at Runamuck University.  Due to this mishap, a tear in the time space continuum appears and various people on the campus are pulled into the vortex.  This begins a journey for the effected few, a quest to correct the time paradoxes that would surely ruin their own time on present day Earth.  By fixing these time abnormalities they open new vortexes that allow them to jump through time periods to correct further abnormalities. With each jump a player can bring themselves closer to their their own time where they will be lauded as a hero and the first to master time travel.

When the game begins player’s choose which person from the campus they would wish to be.  This choice is significant because each character has strengths and weaknesses defined by the skills they possess, the skills they can learn and the skills that they are unable to learn due to predisposition. For example, The law professor already possesses the legal skill.  She is predisposed to learning politics and ethics due to the nature of her career.  These assets could become substantial as most certainly one or more of those skills would be required to face the paradox challenges in her journey.  As she travels, as with all players, she may choose to study and learn other new skills.  By drawing the right secret skills card she might learn a skill needed to solve her present challenge yet some skills she simply cannot learn. If for example, she needed to learn the theft skill in order to pass a current challenge she is in a quandary. The theft skill is incompatible with her predisposition so she is therefor unable to learn that skill.  Her only option is face a different challenge by journeying to that times alternate vortex or try to learn a new way to manipulate time by drawing a temporal instance card from the secret skills deck.  These cards can be used at anytime and provide the opportunity for players to change the paradoxes they face, the paradoxes of another player, or sometimes even allowing a player to alter time itself.  

As player’s succeed they will move closer to home but there’s a problem.  The accident at Runamuck University that sent them careening through time has caused severe temporal damage. It is the source of all of the paradoxes the players must resolve.  In order to get home the players must resolve these issues, but the temporal tension created by coming closer to the initial accident makes traveling home more difficult as the goal draws near.  Player’s will need to employ an increasingly difficulty combination of skills to get home.  If a player has a little luck and some intelligent play, they just might make it.

Challenge card design draft ver1


So that is the general gist of the game. Its a fun game that requires players to make smart choices and enlightens them a bit about diverse events throughout history while they play.  Conceiving of this game was easy and fun.  Making it a reality is a whole other matter.

When I initially thought of the game I decided that time travel would be a fun concept to play with.  It seemed logical that a player could be lost in time and face challenges to bring them closer to home.  

Things began to get more difficult when I began to think of the details.  Questions that needed to be answered before I could move forward. Some big questions were;

Q: How do player’s move closer to home/victory?

A: They solve challenges based on various skills.

Q:  How many skills would a player start with, how many could they learn?

A:  There will be 28 possible skills in the game but a player can only learn ones that are compatible with their disposition.

Q: How many different time periods would there be in the game?

A:  There are 12 different possible time periods/regions of historical significance.  In a game a maximum of 9 of these can be in play at one time.

Q: How do you choose what time periods and physical regions are appropriate to represent in the game?

A:  This was perhaps the toughest question to resolve.  In one sense I want to be as diverse as possible and present a bounty of new events for players to learn about.  On the other hand, I want to use regions and time periods where a lot of information is specific and well documented.  I also wanted some events to be historically iconic and relatable to the player so that their was a genuine sense that the game was taking place in a historic frame they were familiar with.  In the end I chose mostly well understood time periods with the occasional paradox challenge revolving around some fairly esoteric events.  

Q: How will challenges be faced?

A:  Early on in the process I decided that I wanted to get away from using dice in this game model.  Instead I determined it better that players would find success when they possessed the necessary skill type(s) to resolve the paradoxes.  

Q: How can information be conveyed most efficiently?

A: For a character to understand the challenge and nature of the event in history it seemed clear that text would best convey the paradox.  Skill checks on the other hand, would simply be recognized through the icons related to each skill. If a player possesses that skill, either innately or from learning through paradox solutions or secret skills study, then they are able to face that challenge.


The Time Trouble™ game concept is still in its infancy.  I think it would be a lot of fun, a sort of playable Quantum Leap.  I will continue to work on the game and update as progress is made.  The next post will be about a game that is already much closer to being publish ready.  An exciting international secret agent game called Espionage™.  Stay Tuned for more!