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Meta-Progression Challenge


This contest is complete, and the winner has been chosen.

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Game Ad Game Name Crafter Point Votes Status
{{}} Winner! Finalist Semi-Finalist

Contest start date: {{wing.format_datetime(}}

Re-think Replayability with the Meta Progression Game Design Challenge. Each replay builds upon the last, creating a unique and dynamic experience for the player, but does so without irreparably altering the game itself. While a common mechanic in the popular video game genre of Rogue-lites such as Hades, Rogue Legacy, and UnderMine, or Slay the Spire, this is seldom translated to the table top.

The Meta Progression Game Design Challenge is a chance to design a game in which the players may replay the game again and again with some advantage or tweak that they didn’t have the last time. Each play may be a new experience without the need to irreparably alter components like a legacy game or create a set of new missions, stories, or maps like a campaign. Imagine a cooperative game that gets harder each time it is won, or a quick racing game that allows players to spend their winnings to change parts on their car between races, or a sports game where players can manage their team and draft better talent between kick-offs.

The possibilities are endless and it's up to the player to decide how they want to shape their experience. Enter now and push the boundaries of what a game can be!

Example ideas:

  • An adventurer may be going through a dungeon but is not strong enough to defeat the monster at the end. Each time they play through, they keep some gold to visit the blacksmith between sessions allowing them to get progressively stronger until they can at last overcome the final challenge.
  • A deck builder where players can upgrade one of their starting cards each game so that they acquire resources faster in future games. This may allow them to eventually gain cards that were previously unobtainable due to resource costs.
  • Players are business owners and each game has them opening a new cafe. They may not have the right equipment or enough money to cover some things that may come up, but they can acquire that between sessions so it is available when they open their next location.
  • Ghost hunters are exploring a haunted house, but encounter locked doors or blocked passages they cannot pass through without special equipment or keys only available when they leave the house and end their current session.

Thinking about Meta-Progression

There are lots of ways meta-progression might be implemented, but these are some guideposts:

  • Non-destructive: no writing on cards, destroying cards, applying stickers to boards or tokens, etc.
  • "No Big Reveals:" There are generally no "reveals" or "secrets" that once revealed minimize the replayability of those elements.
  • Generally "reversible:" You should be able to recover to the game state before any progression or reverse all of it
  • Inter-session progress: The progression isn't contained to a single game. There is a game start and a game end. And when the next game starts, something is altered based on the previous. For example, a deck builder isn't meta-progression unless the built deck carries forward to the next game.
  • Usually optional: A player can choose to take a progression or not or to start a new game with no progress. This is similar to the fact that the progression should be reversible.

There are a lot of options for implementing meta-progression, but they can be as simple as: carrying forward experience points, money, or equipment from one game to the next to help change the players' starting conditions on the next play through.

Contest start date: {{wing.format_datetime(}}

To qualify, your game must comply with all of the following rules:

  • Your game must include a meta-progression mechanic.
  • Open to any theme or additional mechanics, including legacy or campaign-style games. It can be as light or heavy as you want.
  • No limit on player-count. May be a solo, cooperative, or competitive game.
  • Each game should take around 45-60 minutes per session.
  • Cost not to exceed $74.99. This is to allow players the freedom to use components they need to create a compelling experience that can be played over and over again.
  • You may use any printables or game pieces, if TGC sells it, you can use it.
  • Though not explicitly required, a 2-minute overview video is highly encouraged.
  • All artwork must be your own, commissioned by you, licensed to you, or in the public domain. Be sure to attribute your images when required.
  • Full rules must be included in the game. You can provide links to other sources, but players need to be able to learn how to play your game just by reading the rules that come in the game.
  • A PDF rules document must be downloadable from your game's shop page.
  • The total cost of your game must be less than $74.99.
  • The game must be publish-ready (as it relates to our shop, not as it relates to being finished). This means it has a logo, backdrop, shop ad, action shots, description, and cool factors. It must also have all images proofed.
  • This must be a new game created for this contest. It cannot have existed on TGC prior to the start of the contest.
  • All entries must be submitted through TGC's game editor (by clicking on the "Contests" button) no later than 7pm US Central on April 30, 2023.
  • Games and their shop page should not be changed after the contest deadline, until the finalists have been announced.
  • Contestants may submit multiple entries to this contest. Each entry will be judged separately.

You retain all rights to your game, and are welcome to sell it in The Game Crafter shop during and after the contest, regardless of the outcome of the contest. Your game does not have to be available for sale to enter the contest.

The community voting process will be used to determine 20 semi-finalists.

You can read more about TGC contests here: Game Design Contests - The Game Crafter

The winner shall receive all of the following prizes:

  • Tulipa (McMeeple Gateway Games contest), Duan-Wu (winner of the Holiday Games Contest), and Starving Artist (Survival challenge contest) from the Judges.
  • $250 of shop credit on
  • Automatic Showcase status for their game on
  • The possibility of judging a future contest.
  • Induction into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame.
  • Semi-finalists, finalists, and the winner will all receive accolades for their achievements.

Finalists will be chosen from the group of semi-finalists by the following criteria:

Appeal - Do the theme and presentation of the game make us excited to play it?

Rules Clarity - Are the rules provided easy to read through and understand? Are they laid out in a cohesive manner?

Shop Page - Does the shop page provide an adequate (but brief) view of what the game is and how it plays?

Clear use of mechanics - Does the game utilize the contest mechanic in a clear and obvious way?

Semi-finalist scoring and feedback can be found here.

Finalists will then be judged on a scale of 40 points, broken out by the following categories:

5 points - Theme Integration - do the mechanics and progression make sense within the chosen theme?

10 points - Mechanic Integration - how well does the game utilize meta-progress?

20 points - Pacing and Replayability - This is the heart of the contest. Does the player feel like they made good, tangible progress between games? Does the challenge scale with the player or become too easy? This category is defined by how excited the player is to jump in again for their next session.

5 points - X-factor - What makes the game special


Ben Pierro - game designer and winner of McMeeple Gateway to Games Design Contest

Drew Lovell - Co-owner of Bonus Round Game Cafe

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