Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Design Process

In general I am an Idea Designer. This means that, for my games, the theme and flavor almost always come before the mechanics. For me the fun part is building the world and the story of what the player is doing. Then the mechanics part of the design is where I tend to slow down, and in most cases abandon the idea. I am hoping that by writing this down, it will remind me that this is a trend that I follow. Maybe having it exposed will help keep me focused on finishing the ideas I have started.

Here is a great page about game design in general, but directed towards Board Game Design.


  1. Conveying themes/flavors/ideas through systems has always struck me as the core, and the central challenge, of game design. Of course, it's also the hard (and when working out the kinks), often tedious part.
    It's kind of ironic then, that in commercial practice not a lot of that sort of game design is actually accomplished, really. Having to re-invent the wheel constantly tends to get in the way of getting the work done, so you have to fall back on tried and tested mechanics. Plus audiences look askance at the idea of having to learn a bunch of novel game mechanics. I think it's only small, indie computer games and board games where new game mechanics are not just accepted but seen as a positive thing. In both those cases the total number of systems is low, so the player isn't overloaded with unfamiliar rules.
    Of course, that being the case, designing board games does become a great way to challenge yourself.

  2. This is all very true. In most cases the big publishers do not task risks. Mainly because there is to much money at stake. I also think that in part its because they have become so big that its hard to change directions if something they try doesn't work.

    I think this is less so with Board Games, but still applies. The margins for profit are so small on a board game that there can be little to no room for error. Because of that many Board Game will borrow the mechanics of another game, but its not always the big guys doing the borrowing. A perfect example is Kingsburg and Alien Frontiers. Kingsburg got a ton of acclaim and won a bunch of awards. Then Alien Frontiers came along and borrowed the dice mechanic, but in my opinion created a superior game.