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Who do you design your games for?

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prophx
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I normally design games with my brother (who is 14) in mind. I make games that he can play with his friends who are great playtesters because they will try anything. They like revenge type of games where as you go along in the game there is alot of back and forth taking and being taken from. I also design games that my daughter (who is 3) and I can play. We have plenty of kid games, but it is special to make something just for her. Sure, in the back of my head are the dreams of publishing a game, but the craft of game design and the fun I hope to provide to others is my inspiration. :D

zaiga
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Who do you design your games for?

I design games primarily for myself and the people I play with. I have a broad taste, which I think shows in the wide variety of type of games I design (or plan to, one day ;) ).

There are some games that I wouldn't design. I don't think I'll ever design a typical American style wargame, simply because I don't enjoy such games. I also find it hard to design games with a very large element of luck, I tend to shy away from such games as a player and therefore I just cannot properly design those kind of games, I think.

However, I do intend to design children's games. I think it is a challenge to come up with a game that has simple rules and components and has a theme that appeals to kids, yet is not a dumb game or game game totally relient on luck.

FastLearner
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Who do you design your games for?

Foremost I design games for me, primarily because I'm not even close to experienced enough to design a game that I know would be fun for someone else even though it's not fun for me. Maybe someday, though that's quite a challenge.

Once I get past me, I design games for 3 different groups: my regular spielfriek-y group, my semi-regular smart-friends-but-not-gamers group, and my family (who are also smart but who have different tastes than the second group). I want each of my designs to make at least one of those groups extremely happy and reasonably satisfy the other two then I've got a winner.

I am working on a couple of games for the Wal-Mart/Target/Toys-R-Us crowd that should also be good enough to please me and gamers looking for a light filler. It's a notoriously hard market to get into, though, so they're not high priority just yet.

Oh, and I've got one I'm working on for a couple of museums, but they don't know it yet. :)

Anonymous
Who do you design your games for?

Originally I designed games for myself, but always for others to play against me, now for others to discern any possible virtue.

My basic idea is to roleplay strategic conflicts of interest. Say if I am taken with reading a book on a particularly interesting strategic situation I would try and recreate it in a game, distilling its thematic points. Often I might try my own fictional variation, and they may be real-life or historic or fictional or imaginary battles, wars, races, etc.

World War Three/Cold War was always a nice source of gaming inspiration, being a mostly hypothetical conflict. what fond memories (sigh) ... :twisted: :wink: :roll:

Scurra
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Who do you design your games for?

FastLearner wrote:

Oh, and I've got one I'm working on for a couple of museums, but they don't know it yet. :)

Better get moving on that one. Martin Wallace (Liberté, Age of Steam) has managed to sell a design to the British Museum, which means that for once they will actually be selling a decent game, instead of the usual tat ;)

Anyway, in answer to the question, I think that any amateur designer inevitably designs for themselves in the first instance, and perhaps for others later. (I recently designed one that played to the different strengths of two of my regular playtesters, and it was interesting watching them gradually realise it :))

Anonymous
Who do you design your games for?

My focus has changed somewhat in the past few months. I finally got the game "Odin's Ravens", which I had been interested in for quite some time. The game is part of the Kosmos-For-Two line. I wanted something that I could introduce quickly to other people, so that I could start playing games at work.

This game fit the bill perfectly. People were able to pick up on the rules instantly, and since the game has some fairly deep levels of strategy, the replay value grabbed them right away. Before long, I was keeping score for 5 different games on the whiteboard in the breakroom. Odin's Ravens has proven to be a great intro to German-style gaming.

That said, I have come to really prize games with:

1. almost universally accessible thematic elements
2. as few rules as possible
3. complexity that develops through replay

These are the things that I would like to bring into my games. For that reason (and becuase production-wise it seems to be the cheapest model) I have become very interested in quick theme-driven card games, but I feel that these really MUST break new ground to be truly engaging. For this reason, I would term the niche "German Board Style Gaming with Cards".

Dralius
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Who do you design your games for?

I create games that I think are fun to play and are somewhat unique. Right now there is a flood of building/German style games on the market so I am not about to go and create another. I have been a game hobbyist for nearly 25 years now so I have seen many trends come and go. One of the current trends in board games in individual play. Your playing a game against others yet nothing you do has any effect on your opponents. I think these types of game while not necessarily bad and sometimes good are missing real competitive interaction. I like games with competition and direct interaction so most my games will have both of these elements. I might be designing for a narrow group of gamers like myself but without my games those gamers could be stuck with only searching e-bay for some out of print game that they loved to play years ago and missing the fun of the new game.

Scurra
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Who do you design your games for?

Dralius wrote:
One of the current trends in board games in individual play. Your playing a game against others yet nothing you do has any effect on your opponents. I think these types of game while not necessarily bad and sometimes good are missing real competitive interaction.

Can you give us some examples of this, please? I've been racking my brains to try and think of any but I can't. Perhaps the closest example is Princes of Florence, and if you think that doesn't have player interaction then (as the old saying goes) "you've been playing it wrong" :) I suppose something like Take It Easy might count, but that's just an old party game updated.

Seriously though, I don't think I can agree with your point:

Dralius wrote:
I like games with competition and direct interaction so most my games will have both of these elements.

All games have competition and direct interaction - that's what makes them games! (Even Knizia's Lord of the Rings meets that criteria, and that's about as far down the track as you can get.)

Can you amplify what you mean by "competitive interaction" please?

Dralius
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Who do you design your games for?

How about a prime example of modern popular games.

" Puerto Rico "

Not that it is a bad game. The only effect you have on other players is using up recourses before they can get to them. You don't attack them or change what they have gained during the game only what they can gain. indirect interaction!

IngredientX
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Who do you design your games for?

Dralius wrote:
How about a prime example of modern popular games.

" Puerto Rico "

Not that it is a bad game. The only effect you have on other players is using up recourses before they can get to them. You don't attack them or change what they have gained during the game only what they can gain. indirect interaction!

And yet, the choices you make as a player make a huge impact in what other players can do. Just because you can't directly mess with their inventory or doubloons doesn't mean that there's no player interaction.

Don't be misled by the fact that every player has the same board. Every player is competing for a limited number of roles each turn, a limited number of shipping spaces, a limited number of trading spaces, a limited supply of buildings, and a specific choice of plantations. If you view all of these as one giant gameboard, you can see there's plenty of common ground for players to compete over.

I'd argue the same thing about Princes of Florence. Just because each player builds in their own grid doesn't mean they're unaffected by other players. What a player does has no effect on his opponents? Tell that to someone who just got outbid on the one Freedom he needed! :wink:

For multi-player solitaire, I'd present a game like Yahtzee. Each player has his own scoring sheet, and how he fills his sheet in has no technical bearing on how the other players fill their sheet in. The player who wins is the player who happens to have the highest score. There's no common resource that the players are fighting for; it's who happened to roll the highest in that game. (Funny, though... I still like Yahtzee. Go figure.)

Dralius
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Who do you design your games for?

My wife and i play yathtzee on occasion and enjoy it also. I think that some people are getting the idea that i think there is no place for these game. There is certainly a place or they would not sell well. As in the case of " Puerto Rico " which i hear is a high volume seller. The thing about the game is if some one gets far ahead all i can do is race to catch up. I can't destroy, steal or devalue what my opponent has gained. All this is fine yet i would be spending my gaming money on something with a more battle like atmosphere. What i am saying is that i prefer more combat oriented games or game with combat like elements so i design games that i would prefer to play regardless of the popularity. I must emphasize that i am not a professional and never intend to support myself by making games. If that was my intention i would looking for the next big thing. I am a nostalgic gamer who would like to see more games on the market like the ones i grew up with. in the 70's and 80's before Hasbro blackholed some of my favorite game company's. That is also why i like this group and hope that every one out there that wants to publish their game gets a chance at least once. With few exceptions i buy my games from small and micro game company's and i encourage everyone here to consider that your 10 to 30 dollars means allot more to them then it ever will to Hasbro.

phpbbadmin
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Indirect vs direct interaction

Ahhh I think this thread has actually nailed down a problem I had with games like Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence! There is no DIRECT way (and even this is arguable) to screw up another person's game play. Let's face it, you may choose to purchase something you KNOW someone else needed to get ahead, but is it really clear that you fully intended to screw them up? I really like a game where it is cut and dry who your enemies are. Like in Settlers I love the feeling that I get when someone sends the thief to one of my settlements, because now I have a clear rival that I need to think about sending the thief to the next chance I play a soldier or roll a seven? I'm kind of on Dralius on this one, because I prefer games where I feel like I have a little more DIRECT control over things. Not to say that games like PR and PoF are bad, but for me, I game to relax, not to bust a vein trying to think about all the different possibilities...

-Darke

IngredientX
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Re: Indirect vs direct interaction

Darkehorse wrote:
Ahhh I think this thread has actually nailed down a problem I had with games like Puerto Rico and Princes of Florence! There is no DIRECT way (and even this is arguable) to screw up another person's game play.

Yes, I think that's something I can agree with. While PR and PoF aren't multi-player solitaire, the interaction isn't direct. Instead of attacking a player directly, you attack the resource you know they're after. At this point, it's a matter of taste. Personally, I love both games' indirect mechanisms, but I realize they're not for everyone.

Dralius wrote:
The thing about the game is if some one gets far ahead all i can do is race to catch up. I can't destroy, steal or devalue what my opponent has gained.

If I can make one last point on this poor flogged horse... :?

PR and PoF have interesting mechanisms that keep most of the players involved in the endgame. What they both have in common are devices that give a player a huge gain in victory points at the very end of the game (for Puerto Rico, these are the 10-doubloon buildings; for PoF, these are the 8-point Prestige Cards). PR also keeps victory points hidden to further cloud game progress. As a result, the exact game leader is usually a mystery.

But I can see Dralius' point, because neither game has a way you can directly take away what another opponent has already gained in cold hard victory points. If you're up against someone who really knows the game and you give him an opportunity at the very beginning, you may have lost right there. Also, both games have a relatively small factor of pure luck; the different situations that arise in playing them come mainly from the different choices each player has made. Since both games lack a device to directly interfere with a clear leader, it can be very frustrating to be five minutes into a 90-minute game and know that you'll be coming in last place.

Dralius wrote:
All this is fine yet i would be spending my gaming money on something with a more battle like atmosphere. What i am saying is that i prefer more combat oriented games or game with combat like elements so i design games that i would prefer to play regardless of the popularity.

Yes, I hope you understand that I'm not trying to say that PR or PoF are intrinsically better than a game with more direct player interaction, like a wargame. If there were only one style of games, we probably wouldn't be playing at all.

~Gil

Anonymous
Who do you design your games for?

I actually think this thread exposes a clear discussion point that has been emerging lately. Namely, the diversification of this discussion group seems fairly wide, and I would say is still widening. I think some (me, for instance) came to this group from a link on bgg, or a similar site, and just assumed that this would be a discussion of german style gaming. In fact, however, many come in wanting to discuss wargame/boardgaming, beer and pretzels games, etc. I also don't think everyone is coming to the table with a copy of W. Kramer's article on game essentials in hand, and that's not a bad thing.

I really like this diversification. Firstly, it helps me to understand the kind of game I am trying to make (this might be something cool to add, but I really am not going for audience). Second, it pushes all of us to think outside of the box a bit. Thirdly, the perspective offered by those who have done this for a long time is invaluable. Those that have grand hopes of making huge amounts of cash have older, wiser designers to give them a good dose of reality.

I would like to continue to see both niche designing and diverse designing run parallell discussions on this site. Perhaps we could have niche sections (a wargame section, a beer and pretzels section, etc), while at the same time having general discussions where everyone participates.

zaiga
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Who do you design your games for?

Direct interaction in the sense that you can destroy an opponent's resources, armies or whatever does pose a problem for the game's designer. Far too often you'll see that direct interaction leads to overt leaderbashing, which in turn may bog the game down. This doesn't mean that you cannot use "destructive" interaction in a game, but that you should be cautious when you do use it.

I always find it important to think about how a game will end. What is the endcondition? Is it possible that players keep dragging eachother down and that a situation may arise that no-one is able to win? May the game go on and on, with no real progress being made, just players picking on eachother and dragging eachother down? If that is the case, then you may want to reconsider the use of direct interaction or try to find a angle.

One of my favorite tricks to use in a game with direct interaction is to not let one player own one particular thing (or make it a choice whether they want to own something completely or not) and to score at intervals, not just at the end of the game.

For example, in my competition entry "Gheos" players can "share" a civilization and at the end of their turn they may decide to use a scoring chip to score points. A smart player will spread his risk by having followers in different civilizations, so that when on civilization is destroyed they will still have some followers left. When a player chooses to invest heavily in one civilization, it is likely that this civilization is attacked and whiped out in the following turns, but at least the player can score points for it before that happens, if he chooses to.

I don't think direct interaction is so much a design problem when dealing with shorter games (half an hour or less). The trick is to have a "timer", which makes sure that the game will end on time (for exmaple a deck of cards that runs out).

IngredientX
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Who do you design your games for?

zaiga wrote:
Is it possible that players keep dragging eachother down and that a situation may arise that no-one is able to win? May the game go on and on, with no real progress being made, just players picking on eachother and dragging eachother down? If that is the case, then you may want to reconsider the use of direct interaction or try to find a angle.

I arrived at one game session, and watched the end of a six-player game of Drakon. It was dragging into its third hour, and the players had an exhausted but determined look on their face; they were going to finish, no matter what.

The problem was that anytime a player came close to getting the proper number of coins to win, the others would gang up on him and bring him down. This was done via groupthink, so everybody probably had been in a position to win, maybe several times, and were brought down by everyone else.

I've never played Drakon, and I see how it would work with a smaller group. But it seemed to be a flop with a larger group, because of the direct player interaction.

Zaiga's point about sharing resources and giving points at intervals are good ones. Another thing that can help prevent a situation like this is hidden information. In Drakon, everyone knows how close the others are to winning the game. With six players, there were enough ways for the others to gang up on the leader that it took forever to end. (Of course, with the proper number of players, I'm sure this problem is alleviated.)

But if there's some sort of hidden information - cards in Poker, tiles in Acquire, etc. - you can avoid the problem of groupthink in destructive interaction.

~Gil

Anonymous
Who do you design your games for?

On direct attacks:
I can see where this is useful, but one of my personal dislikes is games that FORCE me to attack someone. This is especially problematic in card games - eventaully I find myself with a hand full cards that do nothing but destory other people's stuff, (sometimes it's a steal so at least I have some benefit, sometimes it's just to be spitefull) even if I have no enemies (yet; with a hand like that I'll probably have at least one shortly...)

Of course this isn't an issue in two player games - it's obvious who you enemy is ;^)

Scurra
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Who do you design your games for?

It's a good point about card games - in my designs I generally try to ensure that if a player does end up with nothing but "attack" cards, those cards don't directly attack another player, but are used to sabotage the "board position" instead: which usually means hitting the leader (but not always.)

The other alternative is to make sure that "attack" cards have dual functions, so that this situation is at least alleviated by the fact that you can do something else with them.

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