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BoardGame phrases

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Anonymous

This might sound kinda funny, but please, dont get mad.

Im new to the forum, and all the "Offical" game development. Iv been making my own games for about a year now( I think) and i just wanted to get to know all the phases ppl use on the forum.

The words/Phases.
Prototype.
objective playtesters.
tweaking game mechanics
Copyright(in the BG realm, lol)

And one other thik about making games, What does "Having a Theme" mean? Like a Storyline? Basic Gameplay? Concept?

Im really new!
Ill have a theard on my game im working on soon!

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: BoardGame phrases

Bboysoda wrote:
This might sound kinda funny, but please, dont get mad.

No one will get mad. We were all new, once.

Quote:
Im new to the forum, and all the "Offical" game development. Iv been making my own games for about a year now( I think) and i just wanted to get to know all the phases ppl use on the forum.

The words/Phases.
Prototype.
A playable version if the game, hand-made (as opposed to manufactured in quantity). There are usually many prototypes for a game: you make one and play it with some people, then make a new one based on changes from that first playing, play the new one, make another, etc., until you reach a final prototype.

Quote:
objective playtesters.

These are people who can play the game and give you feedback about it who don't know you and won't be swayed due to any relationship with you. If your friends help you playtest, they can give you some good advice, but no matter how hard they try, they'll probably either try to spare your feelings by not being too critical, or will point out things that aren't really wrong because they secretly don't like you. :)

Objective playtesters in the truest sense are people who have never played a version of that game before. Since you're going to make changes again and again, if a group played an earlier version and are now playing a later one, their play will be influenced by the old rules, by things that worked or didn't work last time, that kind of thing.

To summarize, if they're objective, they have no reason not to evaluate the game fully and give you the complete honest truth about this version of the game.

Quote:
tweaking game mechanics

The mechanics (or mechanisms) of a game are the actual rules that make the game work. In Monopoly the mechanics involve rolling dice to move around the board, buying properties, drawing cards, paying rent, etc.

Tweaking game mechanics is about making small changes in the rules and/or the prototype (like making changes to the cards and what they do) in order to slightly change how the game plays. For example, in a game where players fight each other with, say, armies of elves, you may have set it up so that archers cost 4 (something, 4 gold, 4 whatever) and swordsmen cost 1. After playing a time or two you see that even though archers are really powerful, no one ever buys them for 4 because they're too expensive, so you reduce the cost to 3 and see if it changes how the game plays.

All kinds of mechanics can be tweaked. Sometimes tiny changes (like the one described above) have very little effect, while other times such tiny changes have a tremendous effect, changing the game a ton, sometimes much to your surprise.

In case it's not clear from all of the above, most game design is done iteratively: you design, play, redesign, play, etc., always making your best guesses when designing/redesigning.

Quote:
Copyright(in the BG realm, lol)

It's just like copyright everywhere else, and you get it the same way (your work is automatically copyrighted when you put it in some physical form, but you can file for $30 at http://www.copyright.gov for more protections). A copyright, just like with everything else, covers the particular expression of your game -- the words of the rules, the pictures on the board or cards or box, that kind of thing -- but does not protect the idea. Just like someone can write a book that's the exact same story as The DaVinci Code, as long as they don't use the same sentences and such, so too can someone make a game that is just like another game as long as they don't use the same words and pictures.

Only a patent protects an idea, and -- generally speaking, though click the word "Search" above, next to the words "Forum FAQ" to search for more about patents and games here -- games usually aren't patented.

Quote:
And one other thik about making games, What does "Having a Theme" mean? Like a Storyline? Basic Gameplay? Concept?

In Monopoly, the theme is being a landlord in Atlantic City, buying up property, improving it, and charging people rent. Note how this is different than the mechanics described above, which have to do with rolling dice and moving around a board, etc.

The theme of Magic: The Gathering is wizards dueling by summoning creatures and drawing energy from the land. The mechanics of Magic: The Gathering are about building decks, drawing a card, playing cards, tapping cards (turning them sideways to indicate that they're used), etc.

Quote:
Ill have a theard on my game im working on soon!

Great, welcome aboard!

-- Matthew

jwalduck
Offline
Joined: 09/06/2011
BoardGame phrases

[edit] Take out the bit about being first. But I go a bit more in depth on theme so I hope it helps.

Theme

Theme in board games is usually discussed in relation to Mechanics. Mechanics is how the game is played, the motions players go through in playing the game. ie "Roll two dice, add the result and draw that many cards from deck one."

Theme is the setting, the scenario or the story for the game. For example "We are all Gangsters in 1920s Chicago", "We are settlers on the island of Catan" etc.

A good theme will generally give players an intuitive understanding of the aim of the game (Gangsters want to take turf from opposing gangs), what they might be able to do (Whack opposing gang members), and the general terminology for the game (Dons, Tommy guns, Speakeasies).

Good themes make the mechanics of a game easier to understand by wrapping the exchange of cards and movement of counters in a familiar context.

You could have many games with the same mechanics but different themes: think Risk, LotR Risk and Star Wars Risk.

You could have games with the same theme but different mechanics: think of all the different LotR games out there. There are also several games that started as board games and now have card game versions.

Some games could be considered mechanics without themes: Poker, Chess. I am not sure if you can have a theme without mechanics and still be a game though.

You will see theme and mechanics often discussed here. Sometimes someone will come up with a mechanic and then be stuck on the right theme to make a game, sometimes they will have a theme and be looking for game mechanic to support it.

Anonymous
BoardGame phrases

WoW! thanks you two! You replyed on my other one too! Your guys are great! I should/might have a thread about my game, maybe in a week or so. It should put al my thoughts together so i can reorginaize. Which i should do more offen...

I still need to think up a theme, havent really thought about it.
Thanks again!

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