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Lingua Franca design journal (Jan 18, 2022)

The concept of Lingua Franca started when I got into social deduction and party games a few years ago. I had an idea for something that imbued the spirit of Mysterium but had a bit of the word association of Codenames.

I initially wanted to add a deck-building element where you can play words in interesting combos. This contest was the excuse I needed to try something like that out. It didn’t work. Cards were too busy and players were hamstrung by not having the right suit to play certain words. A week ago, I got rid of the deck-building elements and stuck with a simple limited communication concept. Someone draws an icon card and they have to get their ally to guess the matching icon card by communicating through word cards. A word card has three words on it, and the player can only tell their ally how many of those words relate to the icon card but they’re not allowed to state which ones.

I playtested that version, which is the version available right now. It worked! Most importantly: It was fun!

My next steps are to turn the “icon cards” into “illustration cards” and improve the graphic design and artwork of the cards across the board. I also have some ideas for how this game can be played competitively with teams or still cooperatively with an increased player count. I’m also itching to playtest a variant where players take turns: One draws an icon card and the other guesses the matching card, then they switch roles next round.

By Neutrino Burrito

A writer and game designer currently hiking through the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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