At IndieCade East this year, Move38 hosted a Blinks Game Jam where Game Devsigners (developers + designers) of all experience levels worked in teams to build games for Blinks. The designers of the winning game BeRrY - Wei Yun and Shiyun Liu - were kind enough to discuss via email their experience designing with Blinks and why one of them thinks Blinks are the best tool for building abstract strategy games.
We'll get to gaming in a bit, but first tell us about you?
Wei Yu: My name is Wei Yu, and my friends always call me Vivi. I’m a 29 years old girl who comes from China. I’m now a MFA student in NYU Game Center, before I came to US I was a full stack web programmer who has over 5 years working experience (if you play League of Legends you’ve already met the product I’ve developed - the LoL Client Update). And most importantly I’m a gamer since I was 4.
Shiyun Liu: I'm Shiyun Liu, an indie game designer and game developer from China. Dreaming of making games, I graduated from Communication University of China with a bachelor's degree. Then, I moved to Brooklyn to study for a master's degree of game design in New York University Game Center.
What do you two do when you're not either working or playing and building games?
Wei Yu: Other than play games and design games, I also like to travel a lot in my spare time. I’m also a licensed scuba diver, and like extreme sports a lot :)
Shiyun Liu: Besides games, I’m also interested in arts, comics, novels and costumes. I enjoy drawing and stories. I would compose a fantasy world and a character from that world, and draw said character while designing corresponding costume to immerse myself in the glee of creation.
You made a game with Blinks, you both have experience with game design, Wei you professionally and Shiyun for you as a course of study. Clearly you're passionate about games.
Wei Yu: I grow up with different kind of board games and video games.
Which do you enjoy more?
Wei Yu: I’m a super bad action game player, but luckily I’m pretty good at strategy games. I like all kinds of strategy games: card games, Mahjong, Tetris and League of Legends.
Shiyun Liu: My interest in games started from my elementary school era, introduced to the joys and wonders of games by my father. My favourite games elements are always strategy, simulation and role-playing. I am also enthusiastic in simulating real world in games, which is reflected in my thesis project, a game simulates constructing and operating a eco-farm.
Any particular favorites?
Shinyun Liu: Hanabi is one of my favorite game, easy to learn but creates deep communication dynamics during playing. I like how elegant some board game designs are.
How did you hear about Blinks?
Wei Yu: I met Blinks in 2017 Global Game Jam. At that time I learnt that Blinks are the programmable hexagon pieces, but since I didn’t play the games on Blinks, I had little knowledge about how amazing it is. In 2018 I participated the IndieCade Alt-Ware Game Jam, and it’s my first time to design games for Blinks.
Shiyun Liu: I was acquaint with Blinks when I registered for the Blinks game jam during Indiecade East. Before that, I only heard about it during Global Game Jam. Blinks is special because it blurred the boundary between digital and tabletop games.
What was designing with Blinks like compared to other games you've designed?
Wei Yu: I designed a bunch of board games and video games, and some games that use special controllers. I think Blinks is something in-between - it’s board game platform, but it’s programmable. As a game designer, I’m especially interested in designing abstract strategy game. I realized it’s the best platform for abstract strategy games - the pieces can store data, switch colors and communicate between each other.
Shinyun Liu: The development process is also a combination of tabletop games and video games. Game mechanics are designed with a tabletop mindset yet they need codes to implement, same as digital games. When designing games, I would like it to be simple in rules but enables players to strive for new strategies.
Wei Yu: The challenge is how can we make interesting strategy game with only six pieces. Luckily we found a very good solution by making use of the Blinks feature, and then we got BeRrY - the best abstract strategy game I’ve ever designed. I’m still so proud of this game, and I do think the Blinks platform inspired me so much! The advantage is that Blinks can tell the game rules by themselves. Player can easily learn what happens by reading the color changes on each pieces. I think that really solved a lot of issues in traditional board game design.