Generative Artwork Surprise Progress

Surprise elements in a board-building card game.

To be updated with visuals later
Presentation in class

22 Oct


  • Main gameplay
  • Main card design
  • Main objectives
  • Main surprise factors


  • Refining visuals
  • Card variety
  • Structuring a narrative
  • Playtesting

Further plans:

  • Printing out cards
  • Post-game montage (maybe)

Generative Artwork Surprise Sketch

Following from the previous studies, I have decided to augment the game to suit the generative properties better.

The main difference: Instead of playing cards and removing them, players now play cards which stay on the board permanently.

New cards can be played over old cards, which card create generative patterns which suit the player’s needs in the point of the game, yet opens interesting end results more unique than a mere win/lose.

A card would have a 3×2 combination of designs on it. When a player would place a card onto the board, they can play it overlapping or adjacent to their existing board, in attempts to create chains of 3, or more specific patterns as the game goes on. Players have the freedom where they would place their new card, which card result in more interesting board states as shown above.

Topic: Surprise
Some of the aspects to reflect on:
– What constitutes surprise?
– What determines its qualities?
– How surprise figures in different contexts such as the arts, everyday life, technology (e.g. in classical information theory by Claude Shannon), etc.?
– How does it figure in your own life and experience?
– Find out and explore other features of surprise.

Surprise elements can be applied by having unexpected results by betraying expectations set. To do so, first we have to set expectations for the user, then twist the outcome that does not follow the expectations.

Positive Surprises can include low odds of a positive bonus, something a player is aware that they exist, but unlikely enough for them to set an expectation not to get it, for example a low chance of a “critical hit”. Getting something more out of an expectation already made is generally a pleasant surprise. Meanwhile Negative Surprises are the opposite, and in the case of a cautious or pessimistic individual, a negative surprise should be outside any predefined expectations. It has to enter from outside the realm of what a player should be expecting or prepared for. To balance a surprise while not taking away the enjoyment of the game is something to be defined carefully.


Post to be updated after presentation

Generative Studies Final

Generative Study of of a deckbuilding card game

As a followup from the previous study,

Simplified Rules:
Gameplay goes in rounds, and they repeat until either the player or the monster is defeated.
In the course of a round, it is further split into 3 stages: Setup Phase, Main Phase, and Cleanup Phase

There are several zones, Your Hand, Your Deck, Your Field, Your Discard, and The Trash, and the respective Shop and Monster Decks. Cards in decks are placed face-down, while the rest have their cards face-up.

In the Setup Phase

  • Look at the shop. If the cards on your board fulfill requirement of a card in the shop, you may add said card into your discard pile. Else, remove the leftmost card in the shop and reveal a new one at the right.

In the Main Phase

  • You may play any number of cards in your hand onto the board
  • You can resolve any of these effects

In the Cleanup Phase

  • You may deal 1 damage to the monster for every trio of same colours you complete, then for every trio of different colours completed

Here there is a trio of blue, so the total damage would be 1.

  • If the monster has not been defeated, look at the cards on your board. If they do not fulfill the block requirement of the monster, put the top card of your deck into the trash pile.
  • Then, put all your cards on your field into the discard pile.
  • If the monster has been defeated however, put the monster card into your discard pile, and then trash the following monster. (This creates more variety of monsters appearing, instead of always the same ones)

Example Monster Cards

Repeat the rounds until either player or monster have been defeated. Whenever you need to draw a card while the deck is empty, shuffle the discard pile into the deck.


Gameplay has generative elements due to the player interaction being relevant to affect or control the unreliably generated options as the deck gets shuffled giving new scenarios each time the game is played.

Giving control to the player allows the human interaction element to directly affect the outcome of a game, although they would not have perfect control over what might happen.

Elements such as trashing every other monster, as well as a shop that replaces itself, increase the amount of variation that can happen in a game, creating replayability as well as unpredictability over the flow of games.

Exploratory Generative Study: Deckbuilder

A physical deckbuilder card game with a range of random results to keep replay value.

What it contains:

  • A goal
  • A list of tools of the player in the form of cards
  • Randomised combination of choices (dependent on card draw)
  • Randomised hindrances to achieving the goal (random event deck)
  • Control by the players in the form of choosing which tools to use
  • Lack of full control as the randomisation might act against the player’s decisions, leading to unexpected or chaotic results

Possible other additions:

  • Die rolls to raise random results (controlled to create interesting results; 6 isn’t necessarily better than 1)
  • Multiplayer (increases entropy and unpredictability)
  • Multiple goals

Example inspirations:

  • Aeon’s End
  • Gloomhaven
  • Slay the Spire
  • Monster Train
  • Joking Hazard

Monster Train might be the best deckbuilder since Slay The Spire | Rock Paper Shotgun

Joking Hazard Game