2018 IDEA Sandbox Boot Camp - GEMS (Board Game)

By Carson Deveau

GEMS is a 3D strategic puzzle game created by Florent Herbinger, Arjun Lal, and Jack Mahody and in which players compete against each other to complete patterns and collect points.

The original idea the trio had for their board game was much different from this concept though. In the beginning, the group had a similar style 3D game that required players to build patterns and collect points, but was also a one versus all, collaborative, game that required all of the players to work together in order to beat a common evil and reach a common goal.

“Though the concept of this game was very interesting to us, it was really overwhelming to try an create and explain to anyone who wasn’t us. People playing found it confusing, and didn’t understand the objective of the game, so we had to pivot our idea quickly, said Herbinger, a graduating engineer student at Dalhousie.

 The group went back to the drawing board to try and come up with a new way that they could retool their previous game. It wasn’t until Lal suggested that instead of having the players remove the tiles on the game board that they should be using the tiles to build patterns on the board. After that, the rest of the game came together very quickly, and soon enough the group had a game that was fun and easy to learn.

Because Lal’s suggestion made GEMS simpler than the previous version, the game could be played more quickly and players would typically only need 20-40 minutes to complete one game, which Herbinger wanted.

“The common time for tile games is about 30 minutes or so, so we decided we wanted our game to follow those guidelines as well.”

Now that their board game is handed in, the group reflected on their two-week experience as helpful, and a good building block to help them with the rest of the IDEA Sandbox boot camp. Mahody, a first year commerce student at Dalhousie, said the project made him better understand product design, which was an area he wasn’t that expose to before entering the boot camp.

“It just made me realize that there is so much stuff that you have to take into account whenever you are trying to bring a product to market that you can’t get too attached to anything and have to be always prepared to scrap it and do something else.”

The experience was slightly different for Herbinger though, as he is a board game enthusiast and even founded a society dedicated to board games at Dalhousie a few years ago.

 “I was a little nervous at the beginning about if my idea was too ambitious and unachievable, but honestly the entire experience was great. Having only a limited time to get everything done made us focus on the important aspects of the game, and not the minor things that don’t matter that much in reality that I probably would’ve been worrying about.” 

From left to right: Jack Mahody, Florent Herbinger, & Arjun Lal

From left to right: Jack Mahody, Florent Herbinger, & Arjun Lal