Tuesday, February 16, 2016

JENGA! - Jenga Max and Jenga Boom

The game Jenga has become a perennial favorite over the years. At this point there have been a number of spin-offs,  even an oversized patio/yard version.
Some years back Hasbro Games called on me to help them explore a new tabletop version of Jenga that used an entirely new method of block stacking.  And instead of the tower ultimately collapsing from tipping, it relied on a magnetic hub that dropped when the imbalance went beyond its limit.

The play-pattern and basic design had been resolved by the time I was tapped, my task was in exploring the design of the base and top hub.  Aside from aesthetics, I needed to consider storage of the blocks as well as different ways they might hang off the top hub.  We also needed to have a logo or two in there.   

Here are the initial sketches exploring the base, center hub and outer ring of Jenga Max.
I started by generating a universal view of the set in play, then just swapping out a number of different designs for the rest. It saved some time while still providing scale and context;

I deliberately separated those parts in layers to allow for switching out bases and tops.
One combination they chose went on to receive a round of color studies;

They ultimately went with a more subtle color palate, the final look leaning toward an older audience;


Jenga BOOM came a few years later, this time the design process focusing less on style and overall presentation and more on basic mechanics.  In this case, they wanted something at the base of a regular Jenga tower that was on a timing mechanism.  The play would be heightened by a time limit on each move, almost like the game Perfection.  If you don't finish your move in time and reset the mechanism, then BOOM; the tower 'explodes'.  Somehow.
That's where I came in.
I was asked to explore a range of possibilities from ones that resembled a cluster of standard Jenga blocks, to more obvious ones abandoning any attempt to disguise the mechanism.  The main thing to solve was that it needed to be simple, work every time, and look really cool when it blew.

Simple rough sketches, but that's all that was needed; 

They liked the TNT concept but it was small and hidden in the core of the tower.

Ultimately they came up with a combination of some of the above elements to produce Jenga BOOM!

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