“There Will Be Porridge” (Cooperative board game)
“There Will Be Porridge” is a cooperative game inspired by the Grimm Brothers’ fairytale “Der süße Brei” (Sweet porridge). The adventure takes place in a medieval German town deep in the Black Forest where a magical porridge pot is flooding the town “just as if it wanted to satisfy the hunger of the whole world.” Four brave citizens of the village (the witch, the carpenter, the horseman and fishermen) each with their own special abilities are trying to collaboratively tame the porridge and save their homes. However, this is not an easy task as the porridge is rapidly overflowing, pushing everything away. Will the brave citizens succeed in taming the porridge before it reaches the edges of town and swamps the world?
This game was based on the end of the fairytale “The Sweet Porridge”. In our representation, we wanted to codify the experience of the villagers fighting back the unending wave of porridge threatening homes and businesses. The greatest challenge was giving players the feeling of fighting a battle that could actually be lost.
We used the game Pandemic as a source of inspiration. In Pandemic, the players fight cooperatively against the rapidly spreading viruses that threaten the human population. We chose to use a similar model for “There Will Be Porridge.” As opposed to moving from country to country, we tasked players with fighting against constant waves of porridge that can push players back from the pot in the center of the town. The expansion of porridge was based on Pandemic’s “outbreak” mechanic. While our core mechanic was solid, it lacked the personal connection needed to feel immersed in the story told by the game events. In the same vein, the game was too abstract. It was little more than a game about whittling away at a problem of alternately geometric and exponential expanding shapes.
For this reason we chose to add roles into the game. We wanted to give players choices beyond moving and eating porridge on any turn. At first, these roles seemed superfluous. We reduced the abilities to power cards that were earned by eating porridge. Each card had one of four actions: teleport to an empty space, eat all porridge in your current space, build a barrier, or get an extra action. Unfortunately, this seemed to suffer from the same problem of the original game. Even if the cards added depth of choice, they did nothing to increase the immersion of the player in the narrative setting.
Because of this, we reverted to named roles and redesigned the board to increase the narrative depth of the experience. We increased the power of the unique abilities for the roles to make them more compelling choices during a turn and increased the flow of the porridge to create a more intense and dynamic experience.
Co-designers: Michael Consoli, Noah Schnoll, Nick Zhang and Diego Garcia