Skip to Content

Your design process

23 replies [Last post]
hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969

I had intented to post this as a journal entry but something went wrong. Fortunately it was in the clipboard.

Anyways, here goes:
Yay! Free time.

Since I

Ken
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

Something in your question struck a chord with me! If "Too Many Games" syndrome is bad, then I may be beyond a cure! I have only been indulging in this game design obsession for a couple of years. In that time I have been able to Finish a dozen or so, but for every one completed there are at least 2 or 3 more in the works. Some days I can find myself thinking about (and maybe even working on) 3 or 4 different games at a time.

Finally completing a game is one of the biggest rushes out there (even better if it is playable)! Having two dozen unfinished games sitting all over your computer room can be a little frustrating! But I would contend that it isn

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

Hello Ken! Welcome to the BGDF.

Personally, I think the "too many games" syndrome isn

Ken
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

I don

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Your design process

Hello

I did my first game when I was 8 years old and I have now designed games as a hobby, for over 30 years. I have done all types of games as children games (I have 2 daughters. They are now 12 and 14 years old), adventure games, war games, tabletop games, chess variants, role-playing games, card games etc. It is enjoyable to give away a nice original game with wooden pieces and/or the family portraits (that was a card game) as a birthday present or a Christmas gift.

My work process has changed during the years. The current workflow is:

1). I got an Idea and I write it down. It can be a drawing on a paper, a short description or just a theme. I will also decide the type of game components (cards board, figures etc.) and for whom I am writing the game.

2). Write an outline to the rules (A long list of what to be included (no rules, just headlines)). With this list of headline I start to split the game into modules, where the first module always is the Basic game (smaller games will only have one module). The rule for this work is that the Basic game module should only include the necessary rules but be fun to play. Each module has a team.

3). Write the Alpha version of the Basic rules. This also includes doing a test version of the game.

4). The Alpha version is tested and normally I have to modify a lot of rules. Now I have a loop of tests, writing and reviews. The next module is now planned (then I get the correct naming and some rules will added, moved or deleted so the can work with the next module).

5). After the Basic module is completed I start with the game component design (graphics). At the same time I start with the Alpha version of the next module.

This is a lot of work and a game module will take between 3 and 8 month to complete, but I have several games going in parallel (when one module is halted (waiting for test, it is out on review or I just getting *%&#¤ with it, I have at least two more in the pipe) and I got to do a lot of test gaming (and it is a hobby (I don’t have any time limits)).

... and no, I decided to not write in English for over 10 years ago (it is not my native language and I have to put in a lot of more work in the process).

Scurra
Scurra's picture
Offline
Joined: 09/11/2008
Your design process

I

Anonymous
Your design process

With me the game appears almost ready while an idea. I start to make my notes and draw something. I settle the game premisses and make its blueprint. Then I start to sofisticate the blueprint adding the game rules. Then I test. If ok then next rule else remake and test again. Ocasionally I have to stop writing and start drawing, so I can see what Im thinking and test if its fisically viable, if the size is correct, the colors, if the shape is really clear and not visually polutted, thst things. I keep this going on for sometime, then I STOP because I remember that I have a life. Sometime later I STOP again and keep meditating for a while, visualizing the game ideas and waiting to see if someone up there sends me some news. Then I 1-run to write it down or 2-relax and go do some other thing so the subcounscient keeps doing the hard work for me. When my mind is relaxed, the answer pops up and I run to write it down.

By the way, I practice this with everything in my life and I EVEN find lost things with it. Its a very ancient technic of mental creation. I can talk more about it if people want to hear.

Again I wish to suggest that we create a - Foruns Guide to Game Design - thing. Any comments?

Hugs!
Xavier.

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

I would like to welcome everyone and thank you for your great inputs.

Ken, I like what you did. This is similar to what I would like to accomplish. I had seen your website before and found your ideas / themes original. Congratulations, from my perspective it does not hinder your "standing", far from it.

Johan, wow that was nice and detailed. My process is similar to yours but sometimes the rules are written after the prototype is made. Also, I draw (badly!) very much. ex: I will draw a card instead of writting "card", no idea if it helps or not but I should probably outline stuff in a written way more.

Xavier, That

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Your design process

Right now I am trying a different game design style.
I want to make a fantasy WWI tactical game. Elf’s, orcs and magic (high fantasy) in WWI.
The restrictions I have made on the game are:
- It should be on single character or group level
- It shall not be a tabletop with miniatures. It can be board game, a card game or something between.
- D6 is forbidden (D10 and D12 is OK) (I have worked with D6 in the last 4 games).

So with these small restrictions I have talk to some people to do the artwork. They are interested in the project and I will get the first set of drawings (humans and humanoid rats (for trench battles) in April. After that I will start with the rules (knowing what components I have to work with. If I manage to do a game out of this, the first Beta version is ready in September.
I really looking forward to this project, but it can be a total disaster.

// Johan

Anonymous
Your design process

Thanks! Now I suppose you are talking about mental creation and not the way I plan my games, hmm?

If you want me to explain it better, just tell me how I can do it or were I should place it and I will do it. Its a very easy technic to use and it can be use to many more things, well, almost for anything you need. It helps me a lot all the time, specially when I get to a no way out problem. Sometimes it may lead you to a completelly different way from where you thought would be good, but the new idea normally is much better and solves lots of problems you didnt even notice well.

Now, and that idea about a forum

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

Johan, that

Ken
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

If I had to detail my average design process it would probably look something like this:
1- Hit with a concept (game mechanic or theme)
2- Scribble out pages of rough notes with format, simple mathematic calculations, doodles of card/board set up
3- Set it aside for a while (days-months).
4- Pick it up again and do a second scribble session extending rule concepts, adding elements, deleting fluff.
5- Begin the computer assisted work of prototyping.
6- Beg and plead for others to try it out for (or with) me. (I can

Anonymous
Your design process

Johan - Sounds like a neat idea. If you need/want some inspiration, there was a role-playing game out that was very close to your game subject (WWI era with elves and faries, etc.) that you might want to look around for. It

Anonymous
Your design process

Hpox, English isnt my language. Sometimes I find true difficulty to explain what Im thinking and trying to say. Lets see if it goes now.

I were thinking that the forum could create a guide to game design edited by you and darky (Hehehe, work, slave, work!) and made from the suggestions and experiences of us all. It could contain all the standards of game industry, some nice tips on how to take advantage of size, color, space. A guide containing the log of a game being created and info on how to manufacture a prototype. Maybe even pointing who to be contacted for artworks, printing, and all.

The way on how to do it is open to be discussed. Using the pool was just an idea. Maybe this needs a thread just for it.

How about it this time?

Hugs,
Xavier.

Johan
Johan's picture
Offline
Joined: 10/05/2008
Your design process

Thanks for the input bitraven. I will try to find the game.

I am lucky to have a game group that tests the game (we get together at least once per month). Ken, if you want to have your game tested, you can send them over to me. Byt be prepared on that we (they) are realy honest and critical.

The persons that doing the artwork for this game are my brother with friends. They will probably do a manga style but I have to wait and se. The only thing I know are that one is working with figures for counters, another with weapons, the third with battle scenes (for the rules) etc. The problem with this is the pressure to come up with rules and to use the artwork.

One of my daughters is doing a lot of the artwork for me. She likes to draw and use different techniques.

Most of the “artwork” I do by my self, using scanner and computer

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

That

phpbbadmin
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2013
Your design process

Maybe we should create a wiki for game design. If you aren

Anonymous
Your design process

Games are fun and easy to make, but great games take time to develop. One never knows at the start the potential of a game or the appeal it might have for others.

I have many ideas. A few I have worked on for years. I test them, get feed back and work on them some more.

Who has ideas about what makes a great game? What attracts people to them? How and why do they take the trouble to learn them? What emotional payoff do game give?

hpox
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Your design process

Quote:
25-01-2003 at 11:58, Moonpilot wrote:
One never knows at the start the potential of a game or the appeal it might have for others.

That

Anonymous
Your design process

Actually, I think was preping the game design wiki I started about the same time Darkehorse mentioned stating one. (I knew I wasn

Anonymous
Your design process

Hi Rauros and welcome to the bgdf. Your game design patterns wiki is a great idea. One of those "now why didn

phpbbadmin
Offline
Joined: 04/23/2013
Your design process

Rauros,
Let me apologize for that.

Anonymous
Your design process

Darkehorse: Yes, I have some high-concept ideas about how to organize things (the pattern language) If it works it will be really cool. But first and formost I (and not very many other people, so far) am collecting nuggets of knoweldge from all around. I did it as a wiki for two main reasons:
1. It won

Velociryx
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Ressurecting an old gem

Was reading back through some of the oldest threads in this forum, and found this one...some good info here, and I thought that I'd chime in "better late than never" with my own methodology, the hope being that if someone reads this stuff who is new to design, then they might be struggling with finding their way, and any tips such as the ones contained in this thread, would be welcome indeed.

I have a long-lived passion for game design (creativity in general, really...I also write...three books published so far, and counting!), spanning some 25 years now, and have about a dozen titles completed, with approximately twice that number eventually abandoned in varying stages of completeness.

As others have mentioned, the first is the premise. The idea around which the game is to be built.

Like writing a novel, the premise is central to developing a game concept, and then, the game itself. If you don't have a solid premise, then you can't possibly develop a solid story arc, or properly manage the flow of your game. Premise first, always!

Once you nail down WHAT you want to do, basic mechanics must be considered. Will this game express itself on a game board? Via cards? Dice and chits? Some combination of all of the above (my games usually incorporate all of these elements, plus some).

And once the basic mechanics are hammered out, the next step is codification. Write the rules set as you understand it. Very basic, leaving plenty of room for notes in between lines and in the margins, cos LOTS will be changing, especially early on.

As a rule of thumb, try to keep your initial rules set to no more than a page. Half a page is even better. The goal isn't to make the game all at once, but to focus on 1-2 (maybe a handful) of mechanics at the start, and get THOSE working...then build on them, iteratively (as has been mentioned with the write - test - revise - test - repeat).

Testing, IMO, should almost always be gnomic in nature. Just make rules up as needed, on the spot, and write them down in the margins. When you reach a point where a new rule invalidates the game play so far, reset the board and start over, with the new rule(s) in mind.

I'll give you an example, based on one of my completed games. It's a kids game called "Here there be dragons."

Unlike most games featuring dragons, where you hunt the dragon or seek to slay the dragon, in this game, you ARE the dragon. It's designed as a multiplayer game (2-5 players), but can be played solo with modification.

First step: Premise. What does this game seek to do?:

You play as a young dragon out to establish a lair and build a horde. Unfortunately, the Kingdom has other young bucks like yourself, who are all interested in doing the same thing, so there will be competition, both for lair real estate, and for treasures to place in your horde.

From this, we get a game objective: Establish a lair and build a horde (get ten "gems" (generic treasure piece) into the lair you establish). First player to accomplish this goal, wins.

Mechanics to be used:
* I arbitrarily established that the game board would be roughly shaped like an "X" with a box around it, enabling player pieces to travel anywhere along that geometry (quick trip to eckards to get some supplies, including some poster board, and upon getting it home, I roughed out a quick (five minute) sketch of the game board). 160 "squares" in all.

* Second arbitrary decision. Movement would be standard for this type of game. Roll d6, move that number of spaces.

Okay, so mentally, we got board. We got dragon. We got dragon moving on board.

Not much of a game so far tho...so let's mix it up a little.

Let's say that some "squares" do stuff. New arbitrary decision. Some squares "do stuff" (presumably when you land on them).

Roger. So...like what? Well, maybe they trigger random encounters with monsters.

Monsters are good...makes sense that dragons would fight monsters...but what sorts of monsters would dragons fight? Well, we'll just make up a few (The HuggitaBuggita Beast, one named after my dog, another named after my cat...fanciful stuffs. Oh! And to give a good reversal on things, maybe the dragon would fight dragon slayers! :D Yeah...that's the ticket! Okay, so draft out twenty or so critters for the dragon to fight if he lands on squares with an "X" marked through them (changed board, make another trip to eckards to pick up some index cards, and scribble notes of my various critters.

Yes...in fact, let's call these "Critter Cards" and now, we have a new mechanic. If your die roll causes you to end your move on a square with an "X" on it, you draw a critter card and do as it instructs you.

If you fight and win, you may discover that the monster has treasure (one or more "Gems" from above)...ahhhh...Okay, so this is how you'll get gems.

But if we're talking fighting, then we'll need to give our young dragon some stats. Health and an attack strength at the very least.

Done. (make up some numbers, and decide that he'll attack using 2d6). Make up stats for the critters on the newly formed "critter cards" as well.

Hey, and maybe we can spice it up further. Fighting is so linear. Maybe the dragon could encounter friendly critters, too! Like....a unicorn...he could play a game of chess with a unicorn....win and get a gem for the collection. Or talk to a fair maiden (sing for her?). Conversate with a friendly wizard? And all of these could "do things" (we'll not worry too much about what kinds of things at present, cos right now, this is mostly still in our heads!)

Okay, a quick review...so we've got dragon. moving around on board. fighting stuff. getting treasures for winning.

Closer, but there's problems. Healing is one. We could say that the dragon is healed up between battles, but that's kina weak IMO. So what if we made another rule...a dragon can skip his turn and heal 1pt. per turn by holding still. Cool. Good way to get the health back. Also maybe make another kind of square (with a cross in it for now). A healing well. Stop and spend the turn here and get all your health back.

Groovy.

Now we're jamming.

So what else?

Well, it'd be fun to DEVELOP your dragon over the course of the game, so maybe if you win a battle, you get an ability. A spiffy dragon ability. Or learn a spell. Smart dragons can cast spells, and of course, you're PLAYING a smart dragon, so why not?

Sure, and now, we need two new types of cards. Abilities and Spells.

(make up a few of each).

Hmmm...and maybe if you draw the "Conversate with a kindly wizard" he can GIVE you a spell...yeah, that fits. (more notes).

another review, and another quick playtest. Now we got dragon. dragon moving on board. dragon moving on board and fighting stuff. fighting stuff and learning new dragon abilities and spells. healing when hurt. collecting treasure.

all we need is some lairs.

new card category...lairs. make them spooky, remote lair possibilities and give them all interesting backgrounds. make room for 5 lairs on the map (one for each player), on little offshoot paths at various points along the board's basic geometry (more map modifications). Place a lair card (bout a dozen of these) face down at each lair site (with a dozen cards, you get some variability between games). Each lair starts with something nasty already living there, but that's okay...you're a dragon...you can kick 'em out and make it YOUR home.

This will be where you can stash your loot (new rule...you can only carry 3 gems at a time with you...this way, you HAVE TO make trips back to the lair...cool..got that potential loophole covered).

New rules: Dragons (other players) attacking each other? What happens?? (can steal one gem per successful attack, if you are carrying one). Cool.

Nother new rule, to prevent hoarding of spells and abilities. You can only have three dragon abilities and three spells at a time. If you draw a fourth, then you have to discard something (introduce strategic choice).

'k...now we're really starting to get somewhere.

More testing.

D'oh! What if a rival dragon goes to YOUR lair!? ouch...that sucks. Okay, so he can steal up to three (as much as he can carry) from your lair. But this makes the game really hard (and sorta boring). Must be something you can do about it.

Ahhhh.....maybe you can spend some of your treasure to hire guards (draw a critter card and place him at your lair). Or preferably more than one! In this manner, you have defenses against rogue dragons stealing your stuff!

More playtesting, repeat for fine tuning and final balancing.

So far, the game's a hit with kids....:)

****

Example two (not as complete)

General ntoes when doing a war game (axis and allies style, for example)

Mock up the board

Draw your territories

Quick "rule of thumb" for determining resources for each territory (10x # of territories adjacent to the territory you're defining)

Borrow pieces from other sets

Invent costs off the top of your head (balance later, after testing)

And you could have a crude prototype of a war game up and running in less than an hour.

-=Vel=-

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut