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Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

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Anonymous

Hi everyone, first post here... thought I'd get my "biggie" questions out of the way.

Please note: I have searched the forums here and found some stuff but have more specific questions, so please bear with me. I'm bearing.

Ok -

1) I'm looking for game design books - one that specifically deals with the mechanics of game play, not necessarily the production/marketing aspects. In other words, I'd like to learn and expand on the rudiments of board styles, play styles, rules, and so forth... not so much about how to write a letter to Wizards of the Coast or something.

2) I'd like to know if anyone uses "Zillions of Games" to test things like board games that also use cards and/or dice... also, if it can be used for irregularly-shaped "courses" and movement rules, such that you might find in Formula De and so forth.

3) My text here is all green! WTF?!?

Again, I realize these may have been asked but I humbly beg for your mercy.

Cheers!
Andrew

Anonymous
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Having spent hours and hours scouring the net, I've concluded that finding a book on game design is difficult and that there are really no good books on it. Sure, there are books which touch on aspects of marketing, publication, and so on, but no good ones that deal with inventing mechanics, playtesting designs, how to balance a game, how to provide multiple roads to victory and so on. These are the kinds of things that we discuss on BGDF. As such, I've determined that special interest forums, as this one, are your best means of learning the game design craft. There are also some websites that provide how-to type articles on designing games:

http://www.sloperama.com/
http://www.discovergames.com/

And, as I said, the game design books are not the best:
The Game Designers Handbook (interesting stuff but no in-depth design help)
The Game Inventor's Handbook (written to the business side not the craft side)
A Handbook of Game Design (1982, more about crafting, not sensational)
Rules of Play : Game Design Fundamentals (This could be the one! Not out yet.)

We should all petition Reiner Knizia to write a game design book. He would certainly offer just what we all want. If you find any better books, than I've mentioned, please let me know. I have given up on the matter.

My advice: just open up threads to discuss the areas that interest you and rely up the members of this site to offer some interesting feedback.

Mario

Brykovian
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Re: Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion tim

Turner wrote:
2) I'd like to know if anyone uses "Zillions of Games" to test things like board games that also use cards and/or dice... also, if it can be used for irregularly-shaped "courses" and movement rules, such that you might find in Formula De and so forth.

Even the Zillions website will admit that there are square pegs which do not fit into that system ... you might be better asking that question on the Zillions forum. Zillions seems a wonderful tool to test out more traditional turn-based abstract games -- especially if you want to see the way that engine's AI will play the game. However, it looks to be a lot of work to make a more complex board/card game fit.

However, personally, any of my designs that are card- or dice- based will most likely either get physically modeled/tested, done up as an actual computer version of the game (using VB or BlitzBasic, or the like) ... or, if I want to go the engine route, I'll most likely use THOTH --which is designed specifically for playing card games, but can be used with other boardgame elements as well. Unfortunately, there's no AI in that system.

-Bryk

FastLearner
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

It's sadly true that there are no books on actual game design yet, though you can be certain that I will write one when I become a reasonably famous designer (a few published designs under my belt).

In the meantime there is one book that, while not about design per se, does delve into the game mechanic process enough to be worthwhile:

One chapter, for instance, is about Monopoly and why it's not a good game, game mechanics-wise. Then the author makes several suggestions for rules changes and explains why they're helpful, again game mechanics-wise. Again, while ot strictly about game design, it does offer some useful insights. Unfortunately it's out of print but it wasn't a year ago so you should still be able to find it. The link above (the book title) will provide a couple of used copies for sale on Amazon.

As far as Dr. Knizia is concerned, he has published one book that, while not technically about game design, does delve into the math behind some of the design. I don't have this book, however, and cannot vouch for it:

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Anonymous
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Thanks all -

I'll look up those books but I trust your advice as far as their applicability goes.

Well, I appreciate the invitation to annoy the forum(s) with silly amateur game design banter.

I'll remember you all when I'm rich, screeching my 911 Carrera down a winding Greek mountainside overlooking the sea, the smell of sage in the salty air, laughing maniacally.. oops, sorry.

Anyway, thanks, and I'll be seeing you here!

Andrew

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Turner wrote:
Thanks all -
I'll remember you all when I'm rich, screeching my 911 Carrera down a winding Greek mountainside overlooking the sea, the smell of sage in the salty air, laughing maniacally.. oops, sorry.

I know this is meant as a joke, but I still feel compelled to reply to it.

One of the biggest mistakes wanna-be game designers make is the idea that creating games can make them rich. There are only a handful of games that made their inventors very rich: Monopoly, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Magic, Settlers. Perhaps I miss a few, but you get the idea.

Creating a game costs a lot of time and effort and the payoff will be modest at best and the chances that your design will not get published at all are pretty big. If you want to create games than you should do it for the love of it, not because you have dollarsigns in your eyes.

Selling millions of games has more to do with marketing than with solid game design anyway. Even the world's most prolific game designer: Reiner Knizia never created a game that made him a millionaire overnight. Instead, he is a workhorse, creating dozens of solid games each year and makes good money out of that. If I had to chose a rolemodel in gamedesign I would chose Knizia over a one-hit wonder such as Richard Garfield (Magic).

Bottomline, if you want to get rich by selling boardgames a class in marketing would be far more helpful than a class in gamedesign.

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

I would also say that the best way to learn about games is really to play a lot of games. I agree that it would be nice to have a book that documents different mechanics, etc, but ultimately, the way you learn what is out there is to play what is out there.

I started gaming "seriously" (playing 'German' games) about 4 years ago, and started designing games about 3 years ago. My first efforts were way too complicated, way too heavy on "simulation" and light on "gameplay". I've only learned that by playing a lot of other people's games and finding out what I like and what I don't like. To that end, resources on the net like www.boardgamegeek.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/spielfrieks have been invaluable both in reading discussion of other games, and in learning more about games that I haven't had a chance to play. For example, if I'm going to make a bidding game about opening a coffee store, it would be useful to see what other games involving bidding or beverage sales are out there, to see what has already been done; these resources are tremendously valuable at that.

Also, hanging around this group is a great start. We have some discussion about the "publishing aspects", but also plenty on the "craft" of game design.

So, my recommendation is to take things slow. Spend some time playing and learning about other games. Design a lot of games. Your first 20 will all stink, but that's ok; you're trying to learn what makes games good, and you'll see some aspects of those games that were really inspired, and you can modify those games to make something special. Keep at it, and don't settle for less than your best, and don't worry too much about "can I sell this?" Concentrate more on putting together something you'd want to buy, and if it's good enough, others will want to as well.

Green text? No clue about that one.

Just a few disjointed "suggestions", take them or leave them as you see fit! Best of luck!

-Jeff

Anonymous
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Hi zaiga...

Perhaps a little background is in order...

Yes, I am kidding - that said, I won't be needing that marketing class... I've been a graphic designer for about 14 years and worked extensively in design for marketing - and my wife has a degree in marketing and works in it :) so I'm pretty set as far as that part goes.

I'm actually back in school pursuing a degree in fine art and will finish in the fall...

However, I am pursuing this out of a love of gaming, and the love of having fun with friends. I started gaming back in the '70s with Starship Trooper, got into D&D in 1980, and though I haven't gamed regularly for quite a while It's something I miss.

So, my two "things" - design and love of games - are what's driving me here... I bet it's pretty satisfying to design a game that simply -works-.

I have no problem with the graphics; that's the easy part as far as I'm concerned. I want solid and fun gameplay, and it looks like I'm in good company here.

That said, if I design something marketable... well, I guess I'm a bit ahead there. But I'm not giving up my day job yet.

Andrew

zaiga wrote:
Turner wrote:
Thanks all -
I'll remember you all when I'm rich, screeching my 911 Carrera down a winding Greek mountainside overlooking the sea, the smell of sage in the salty air, laughing maniacally.. oops, sorry.

I know this is meant as a joke, but I still feel compelled to reply to it.

One of the biggest mistakes wanna-be game designers make is the idea that creating games can make them rich. There are only a handful of games that made their inventors very rich: Monopoly, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Magic, Settlers. Perhaps I miss a few, but you get the idea.

Creating a game costs a lot of time and effort and the payoff will be modest at best and the chances that your design will not get published at all are pretty big. If you want to create games than you should do it for the love of it, not because you have dollarsigns in your eyes.

Selling millions of games has more to do with marketing than with solid game design anyway. Even the world's most prolific game designer: Reiner Knizia never created a game that made him a millionaire overnight. Instead, he is a workhorse, creating dozens of solid games each year and makes good money out of that. If I had to chose a rolemodel in gamedesign I would chose Knizia over a one-hit wonder such as Richard Garfield (Magic).

Bottomline, if you want to get rich by selling boardgames a class in marketing would be far more helpful than a class in gamedesign.

Anonymous
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Hi Jeff, and thanks for the advice.

Unfortunately I don't know many people (read: almost none) who really take gaming seriously, except for a few but I don't get the chance to see them often.

It would be amazing if there were some sort of program to allow us to playtest online... I'm sure there have been things like this done, but I guess it involves a lot of programming.

Anyway, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that my first 20 don't stink ;) but I won't force anyone to play something I don't love myself!

Andrew

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Game testing software

Turner,

Check the downloads section, there is a program called Thoth that you can use to emulate your board game online. It's designed for two player card games, but a lot of popular board games have been adapted to the system. It does require scripting knowledge (it's not really programming though).

Check it out.
-Darke

Anonymous
Re: Game testing software

Thanks, I will.

Darkehorse wrote:
Turner,

Check the downloads section, there is a program called Thoth that you can use to emulate your board game online. It's designed for two player card games, but a lot of popular board games have been adapted to the system. It does require scripting knowledge (it's not really programming though).

Check it out.
-Darke

jwarrend
Offline
Joined: 08/03/2008
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Turner wrote:
Hi Jeff, and thanks for the advice.

Unfortunately I don't know many people (read: almost none) who really take gaming seriously, except for a few but I don't get the chance to see them often.

Yeah, I know what you mean. But to learn about other games, you can still learn the rules and participate in discussions at the sites I mentioned. There's also a German website called "BrettSpielWelt" that lets you play a lot of great German games over the computer. I don't think you need to know a lot of German to do it. As for playtesting, see Darke's reply...

Quote:

Anyway, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that my first 20 don't stink ;) but I won't force anyone to play something I don't love myself!

I hope they don't! What I've found is that whatever design I'm currently working on is the best game in the world, and will revolutionize gaming. However, now that I've come up with quite a few games (at varying stages in development), I've found that looking back on the early games, they left a lot to be desired. That said, one or two of them were pretty good, and with some tweaking, could be good. So, my guess is that you'll only be able to appreciate what you've learned as you design more games, and as your games get better, you'll find you like your older games less, and you'll find that your newer games take relatively less effort to get to a pretty playable state. At least, that's what I've found. I hope your designs are great right off the bat! But, no matter what, the best thing to do is...get started designing some games!

Good luck!

Best,

Jeff
Andrew

Anonymous
zillions of games

Lifetimes and generations and time all made modern chess to obtain notation, then, NEW NOTATION came along. Notation is the abcdefgh on the side of the
of a big rolling tournament professional green and white board. This goes for many of the games and sizes and spaces like the Risk playing field, and nearly everyone has their own make it up versions on how to play it so they can fool the novice into thinking that is the way the game is played skipping the real rules.
Like the pot in monopoly for free parking, which in the rules does not exist, and naturally with a money pot the game runs out of bank money, that normally would not if played by the rules.
History and games and spaces of moves in a game are by inventors choice, and this corolation is in the zillions, and most likely would take a life time to analyze. Style of play in a game would make a great course, like that of your Formula De game you mentioned.
Most spaces and movement in games are either by dice, cards, spinners,
or by game spaces, which all are based on the size of the board.
All again equally stylized by the factors of the game. Pies for Trival Pursuit
were real pizza slices when the college boys who invented it to keep others from eating there pizza slices. To get a slice you had to answer a question correctly.

roulette, black jack... carry a flavor of their own in history.

Turner wrote:
Hi everyone, first post here... thought I'd get my "biggie" questions out of the way.

Please note: I have searched the forums here and found some stuff but have more specific questions, so please bear with me. I'm bearing.

Ok -

1) I'm looking for game design books - one that specifically deals with the mechanics of game play, not necessarily the production/marketing aspects. In other words, I'd like to learn and expand on the rudiments of board styles, play styles, rules, and so forth... not so much about how to write a letter to Wizards of the Coast or something.

2) I'd like to know if anyone uses "Zillions of Games" to test things like board games that also use cards and/or dice... also, if it can be used for irregularly-shaped "courses" and movement rules, such that you might find in Formula De and so forth.

3) My text here is all green! WTF?!?

Again, I realize these may have been asked but I humbly beg for your mercy.

Cheers!
Andrew

Anonymous
Newbie questions! I bet they've been asked a billion times..

Thanks again guys.

Andrew

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