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What is the Board Game Design Lab?

BGDF is partnered with the Board Game Design lab - an effort by BGDF user Gabe Barrett to create and curate regular content for game designers.

The Board Game Design Lab:

  • Curates articles from around the web, guiding users through the process of game design and publishing.
  • Publishes a podcast, with insightful interviews with industry veterans
  • BGDF is happy to have Gabe in our community, and his contributions to the site through BGDL.

    Take me back to the BGDL blogs!

    BGDL 8 - JR Honeycutt: Why Development Work Is So Important

    JR Honeycutt, developer of SeaFall, goes into all the ins and outs of what game development is, why it’s important, and how you can become a developer.

    People often don’t understand the difference between a designer and a developer. JR sorts out the difference and goes into the value of having a developer work on a game.

    Check out the episode here:

    BG Mechanics - #3 Set Collection

    Set Collection

    This workhorse of a mechanic has historically filled many roles in games. This has been everything from the core mechanic of a game all the way down to a small sub-mechanic that you might not have realized was even set collection. Games like Gin Rummy, and Go Fish, are examples of games where the core mechanic is set collection. Monopoly, Ticket to Ride, and 7 Wonders are all games that have a heavy use of set collection, but they also have other mechanics that play a large role in shaping the gameplay. Then there are games like Forbidden Desert that have many other mechanics all working toward the singular goal of making a set. Did I lose anyone?

    Understand, Forbidden Desert is not a set collection game (in the traditional sense), but it does have one set to collect. The players need to find all of the parts to fix their ship… collecting this one set of components is the goal of the game. As a workhorse mechanic, no matter what role set collection has in building gameplay, it is capable of filling that role. This means deciding how much of a role set collection will have in your game is the first step.

    TIPS & TRICKS 02: Bright Text Over Dark Backgrounds


    Tips on considerations for using bright text over dark backgrounds.

    Check it out here:

    BG Mechanics - #1a Dice Actions

    Dice Actions

    Players can take many types of actions in a game, this article will deal with just some of the actions related to dice. Dice rolling is normally considered a random mechanic in games, and rightly so. However, giving players actions related to the already rolled dice and not just giving them the task of rolling them to decide the outcome, opens up another world of possibilities in game design. This deals with choice, as the fundamental difference between a task a player must do and an action they have selected.

    For thousands of years and across many types of games, players have been told by the game rules to roll dice. This has traditionally only been used to find the outcome of an action that is happening in the game. The player might be able to choose the action but then are told to perform the task of rolling dice to determine the outcome of that action. What if the designer just changed the order of these things? We could make many other combinations of actions, tasks, and outcomes relating to dice. (discussed further down, under the title, “dice and the outcome”.)

    Note: This is a follow-up article to one that I wrote called Dice Rolling

    Overhauling the layout. "Dark Horse C"

    Group V6.jpg

    So the overwhelming majority said "C" with my last blog.
    On the right, you will see 2 groups of images. On the left are all the characters (aside from warrior which you've seen) with the same "C" style. The cleric is in 4 positions, each labeled on the bottom of his card. Which position do you prefer?

    I guess there's always room for improvement.

    A, B, or C?

    TL;DR Which do you think is better? ------------------->
    Here's with the cleric. I don't know if I want to put his glowing hand in there or not.

    TIPS & TRICKS 01: Creating Card Layouts Specific to Your Gameplay Mechanics

    TIPS & TRICKS 01: Creating Card Layouts Specific to Your Gameplay Mechanics

    Tips to assist you in creating a card design layout specific to your card game’s play mechanics.

    Check it out here:

    BGDL 7 - Richard Launius: General Advice, Cthulu, and Creating an Epic Gaming Experience

    Richard Launius, designer of Arkham Horror, gives incredible game design advice, talks Cthulu and what makes a great Cthulu game, and goes into how to make games that create epic experiences that stand the test of time.

    This episode is packed full of wisdom from a game design legend.

    Listen to the episode here:

    BG Design Concepts - #6 Resources


    Having “something” for players to “collect” or “gain” or “make” and then “consume” or “use” or “spend” adds “interest” to a game and can “enhance” a game’s theme. It can also quickly drive up the amount of complexity in the game. As designers, we need to understand when to add resources to a game and how to make them fit within a game’s "flow" and theme. From the most simple “infinite bank” to the most complicated “economic simulations”, knowing “how many” and “what kinds” of resources you need for the game you are working on, can be a challenging issue.

    Fitting the resources into the theme has more to do with “what” the resources are “named” and “what” they are used for. When it comes to fitting them into the “flow” of a game, we are talking more about “how” the resources are produced and used turn-to-turn and “how” those things might change throughout the game. As long as things make sense to the players you should be fine. Just remember, wood should not become spaceships... (unless you are Russian)

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    by Dr. Radut