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What comes first?

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Anonymous

Hey, I'm a super newbie. I've always thought of creating my own board game and I'm thankful of this website. I am stuck.
As a newbie, what should come first.
The Board Game Design or the Theme, Rules...?

Thanks ---
Dougie

CodeFalcoN
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Joined: 12/31/1969
What comes first?

I'm afraid it's entirely subjective and up to how the individual gets inspired. Sometimes I'll come up with a clever rule mechanic and try to make a theme around it, or sometimes I'm really intruiged by a theme and try to come up with the rules to go with it, etc. Heck sometimes a simple clever title is all I need to get started!

I guess start with what made you think you wanted to design a board game in the first place...Surely you must've seen something that piqued your interest. Then just flesh out the detailas you go!

A good rule-of-thumb I have used to keep me going during the rough spots is "it's never going to be fun the first time." So don't discouraged when you run through it alone or w/ friends and you go "wow, this is boring." Just jot down what didn't work and work it out!

Anonymous
What comes first?

Dougie-
Figure out what you want the game to do. Do you want the game to simulate something? If so, decide on what the important things are and what your take on them is. Ex: Monopoly is about real estate development. By design, it ignores "flipping" and the selling of real esate and instead focuses on direct income generation through improvement. Of course, players can trade amongst themselves, but its a design decision to focus on one aspect of real estate.

If you are doing an abstract game mechanics are everything. Focus on those and graft a theme on later. As far as I can tell, this is how 90% of German games are made.

Finally, do something you're interested in. Don't make judgements about salability right off.

Best of luck!

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: What comes first?

Dougie_D wrote:
Hey, I'm a super newbie. I've always thought of creating my own board game and I'm thankful of this website. I am stuck.
As a newbie, what should come first.
The Board Game Design or the Theme, Rules...?

Hey Dougie, welcome to the forum!

There aren't any rules as to what should come first. Whatever inspires you can be a good starting point.

Personally, I have no problem coming up with original mechanics, but I do like to start a game with a theme to give the design focus.

Julius
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Joined: 12/31/1969
What comes first?

Chicken! No, wait... Egg! No, wait...

It doesn't matter. I usually adapt a mechanic to a theme, myself. Though I have done it the other way, and there are plenty of designers who use both methods, depending how inspiration strikes them.

lordpog
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Joined: 12/31/1969
What comes first?

Personally I start with a theme e.g. "train game", "dungeon crawl", "war game" etc. and try and think up some original mechanics to go with it. If I started with a mechanic but no theme, then I'd try and pull the mechanic into the the theme, rather than theme onto mechanic, if that makes sense. Having said that, a lot of games out there look as if the mechanics came first and the theme was just added as an afterthoguht! e.g. [insert Knizia game here]...

nosissies
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Joined: 07/26/2008
What comes first?

Ah the perpetual question :-)

It will be interesting to see how these conversations get tracked on the new wiki as this is probably the 2nd or 3rd most asked question (behind "I just invented a game how do I sell it?") Still, it's always fun to ponder. Here's the short list of how I've started games in no particular order..

x) mechanic: on occasion I have come up with a mechanic and worked to devise a game around it. In fact I've got one mechanic right now I'm trying to work through which was inspired by how a friend was divying up freeze-pops to the kids one day. This is related to the oft spoken phrase "hey, that should be part of a game"

3) bits: quite often I'll come across interesting little bits of stuff that seem like they should be in a game box. A craft store is a great place for this sort of inspiration (I'm still trying to figure out what to do with the bag of tiny clothes-pins I bought a couple years ago)

Q) theme: yeah, of course this is the obvious one, but I think this can be broken down even further than we typically do. Perhaps it's current events or some historical novelty or an interesting location. Though, somethimes I'm inspired by a concept or even just a word or name or catchy phrase (perhaps this is the marketing approach?). Not exactly "that sounds like a band name" but "hey that should be the name of a game." Often these names or concepts will strongly imply a theme. Yep, I've got a few of these on the shelf too.

%) people: Sometimes I've even started with people as in "How would I design a game for so-in-so" ... my family tree came started this way as I was trying to come up with something my father-in-law would appreciate as an avid geneology researcher. I've got a high speed game which came from thinking about a friend who can't sit still (she routinely crushes everyone except my wife at games requiring speed/pattern matching)

$) dreams: This is probably much more rare, but I know that there are several on this board who can attest the the usefulness of dreams in creative work. I myself have one game in my portfolio which is largely unchanged from the way I learned it in a dream (push and shove for those in the know)

well, I know there are others, but these are the top ones on my list, and all I've got time for at the moment. Have a great day.

peace,
Tom

Anonymous
thanks

Hey guys. Thanks for the useful information. I'll just start brainstorming... mixing mechanics and themes. Thanks! ---
Dougie

Anonymous
What comes first?

I want to hear the freeze-pops mechanic! If only so I can call it that if I ever see it anywhere. :)

Anonymous
What comes first?

gameprinter wrote:
I want to hear the freeze-pops mechanic! If only so I can call it that if I ever see it anywhere. :)

Addendum: Assuming that wouldn't violate any NDA's, rules of game design etiquette or international law!

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