The Celeste Board Game

The first major project

This was my first major project while working on my bachelor’s degree in game design and production, where I had to design a board game based upon a previously existing video game that I had made a game review of.

Celeste wasn’t actually a game I specifically chose to make a board game of. This project started when I first began my degree and was told to create a review on a game, for that I chose Celeste. After that module had finished, we were told we had to make a board game based upon the game we had chosen to review.

Designing the board

The process for designing this game was surprisingly quick because I believed I had a strong idea fairly quickly with Snakes and Ladders gameplay focusing on the player “climbing” up a mountain similarly to how the player climbs up a mountain in the game. On the right is a prototype of the original version of the game, a “greybox” of a 3D board the player has to climb up rolling a dice. However, this design didn’t last a huge amount of time because of one main reason: I did not have the time nor resources to create a full 3D board game. Afterwards a new design was created turning the game 2D, which was the best call for the game.

Implementing the mechanics from the original

This was probably the most challenging part of the creation, figuring out a way to implement the core values and the ideas of Celeste. The surface level idea behind Celeste is the main character climbing up a mountain, and this was something I wanted to implement into the board game, but with the transition over to 2D, it took some time to figure out how this would work. I took a few different ideas, and combined them together, these being the idea of going around the same board indefinitely from Monopoly + advancing and falling on specific steps from snakes and ladders which resulted in a multi-layered board where the player has to climb up the “mountain” by landing on ladder tiles, and falls down the mountain when landing on cliff tiles – a mock up of this on the right.

Landing on card spaces was another one of the mechanics used to try and showcase more of Celeste’s gameplay, for example, the card “Tripped” which puts the player down to the layer below was directly influenced by Celeste’s difficulty as a platformer, which results in the player failing to make a jump countless times.

Player feedback

Throughout this production, I was lucky enough to have multiple playtest sessions with users, who were incredibly helpful when giving feedback. The major piece of feedback I got in one session was that the game was too long which was because of how difficult it was to land on the “ladder” tiles (At this point, they had been renamed to “feather” tiles to showcase another of Celeste’s mechanics). The solution to this found to be quite challenging to figure out, but after discussion with the playtesters, and with tutors, there was a fairly simple solution. Give the player a choice of dice, between a D4, D6 and D8 on each turn, which resulted in the game being much shorter and much less frustrating.

The final product

After about a month and a half of work, I found and used a company that would allow me to create the board game if I were to create all the art assets for it, and so after a couple of days in photoshop, I was able to produce all the work for the game, which to this day, I am still incredibly proud of – All images of the board game at the bottom of the page.

Documentation work & The Reflective Presentation

As a part of the submission for University, I had to create a game design document which discussed 4 major topics

  • The process of design
  • Project Management Methodologies
  • Game Design Fundamentals
  • Meta Critical Analysis

I also had to create a full reflective presentation discussing the creation of the game and how I felt about the whole process, using Driscoll’s Model of Reflection (1994) as the main theory behind what I was discussing, which went through 3 major sections:

  • What happened in the production
  • Why that incident happened, and the good / bad aspects of it
  • And finishing off with what I’ve learnt in this production, and how I can use what I have learnt to better myself in future productions

Project Duration:

3 Months

November 2019 – January 2020

Early prototype of the game
2D mock up of the board
Ladder & Cliff Steps on a new mockup of the board
Image of a card from the game
Dice on the final product
Slide of the reflective presentation

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