Photomone: Antsassins started life as a spin-off of my family drawing game Photomone. As development progressed, however, it quickly became its own thing and a very strong—but different—board game on its own.
What’s the difference? In the original Photomone, you start with an empty paper (with dots), and draw things during the game (as straight lines between those dots).
I thought: what if we reverse that? You start with a paper filled with abstract or random shapes. The computer generates that for you. Then it’s your job to describe those shapes, or guess which ones belong to your team.
Iterating on the idea, it turned into something akin the popular board game “Codenames”. Where that game uses names (as the title suggests), mine is purely visual with random shapes.
Almost everything! All elements of the game are generated by a computer.
- The tiles with random lines
- The code cards (indicating which shapes belong to which team)
- The ant tokens (used for expansions)
Generating the tiles was a wild adventure. They had to produce random lines, that still resembled something, that still looked good. Even though the tiles could be assembled in any way! Without that, the game would never work, because players can’t describe the shapes they’re seeing.
The result is a game unlike anything I’ve seen before. Something that’s easier to get into than Codenames (because many people aren’t that comfortable with words and language, while most are comfortable with shapes and lines), but more creative at the same time.
Honestly, I’m glad it worked at all. That’s how experimental it was.