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Your game design lab

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Jebbou
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Joined: 07/29/2008

Good morning everyone,

I am curious about something. Do you guys have some sort of game lab where you can design your game and build your prototypes? If so what does it look like. Do you have a room dedicated for this, do you use a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Or maybe, like me, you use the kitchen table for now. I would suppose a desk in the bedroom is not very practical for prototyping, since you would not want to sleep with that glue/paint smell. Also, what's your wife/gf reaction to you having such a setup? Please let me know !

Regards,

Jeb

rkalajian
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Your game design lab

Right now my lab is my laptop. Everything for anything i'm working on is stored there. As for material parts I need for building, I have a workshop in my garage (new house) that I'm in the process of setting up for this. Hopefully i'll have a nice little development enviornment setup in there soon :)

Anonymous
Your game design lab

I don't have a lab, but I am slowly working on a kit. It includes bits, like dice, pawns, money, tokens, etc, and is ever expanding with things I think are useful in trying out new game mechanics.

This kit is intended for pre-prototype stages of brainstorming, as well as early prototypes. For later prototypes, I spend more money and effort on putting something specific together.

Dralius
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Joined: 07/26/2008
Your game design lab

I like to think of my main work space as my game design studio, makes it sound big. Actually it’s a small room with computers, drafting table, misc bits, prototyping materials, most of my game collection and then all the spare stuff from the rest of the house. Ok it’s a storage room. If and when I need more space as I often do for playtest the kitchen table works just fine.

Scurra
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Joined: 09/11/2008
Your game design lab

As I live alone in a small apartment, the whole space is my "design lab" - there are bits of games scattered over every available surface (I have to remember to take the ironing board down and put it away as otherwise it too gets covered with bits in no time at all.)

I used to have a fair-sized table for laying out test games and messing with them, but that's covered in piles of boxes now...

As you might guess, I don't have guests round too often (if I do, it's to play games anyway, so the clutter isn't too terrifying.)

Anonymous
Your game design lab

Interesting discussion!! I love the term design lab, it makes the clutter sound so much more justified!

Much to my wife's chagrin, our dining room is currently acting as my design lab. We have a good sized dining table that I use to lay out bits and parts of projects as I work on them. In one corner I have a large cabinet in which I store all the tools and materials that I have accumulated. The idea was that I would return everything to the cabinet at the end of every creation session so that we would always have an intact dining room, but the theory nevery really met the reality. While waiting for glue to dry, there are frequently clamped pieces laying around for a day or more. Projects that I work on fervently for a week or more (like an aborted attempt at an election game) tend to stay in place for weeks on end.

Luckily for me we also have a dinette in our kitchen that serves our immediate dining needs. God help me if we ever have company...!

GeminiWeb
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Your game design lab

Design lab ... that sounds great ...

Admitedly, this is a relatively new hobby for me, but most of my 'design lab' is a computer (board template ... in powerpoint/freelance, card templates ... Microsort Word, various ramblings ... word/e-mail) and a plastic bag with bits and pieces (makeshift cards, rolled up paper board, draft rules). The plastic bag only includes components for one game ('High Council of Evensford') (only game to make it to prototype at the moment), except for those components scavenged temporarily form otehr games (specifically Tikal).

I suspect the next game will get its very own plastic bag :)

Joe_Huber
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Re: Your game design lab

Jebbou wrote:
Do you guys have some sort of game lab where you can design your game and build your prototypes? If so what does it look like. Do you have a room dedicated for this, do you use a desk in the corner of your bedroom. Or maybe, like me, you use the kitchen table for now. I would suppose a desk in the bedroom is not very practical for prototyping, since you would not want to sleep with that glue/paint smell. Also, what's your wife/gf reaction to you having such a setup?

OK, sure...

I have a den, which houses:

* My game collection (around 330).
* My videogame collection (Atari, Colecovision, Vectrex, etc.)
* A bookcase full of books.
* My computer.
* My game design equipment.

The single most important item for me is (like many respondants) my computer. I have the artistic capabilities of a drunken snail, so I rely heavily on clipart; probably the single most important step for me in starting game design was the realization that Avery 5395 labels fit perfectly on poker sized cards.

So what else do I have?

* A drawer full of labels for printing.
* A shelf full of game designs.
* A dozen Kosmos 2-player games. I discovered that these boxes are ideal for housing my prototypes, and so pick up inexpensive Kosmos games whenever I can.
* A large and a two small sets of drawers.

These drawers contain:
Wooden roads in 5 colors.
Wooden meeples in 6 colors.
Wood discs in 7 colors.
Wood cubes in 7 colors.
Wood pawns in 6 colors.
Wood trucks in 4 colors.
Wood boats in 4 colors.
Small poker chips (mostly white and red).
Plastic cards in 4 colors (from Bumper Cars).
Stackable tiles in 4 colors (from Advance to Boardwalk).
A drawer full of metal pieces from Clue Master Detective & Monopoly.
Plastic trains (from Union Pacific, mostly).
Castle pieces (from Castle Risk).
Dice (plain, 6 sided, 6 sided 1-3, and others).
Wooden houses (from Kontor and Easy Money)
Random wooden pawns in multiple colors.
And a bunch of pieces from Kahuna, Hera & Zeus, Kontor, and other games.

*Cards from Lost Cities, Kontor, Hera & Zeus, Heave Ho!, and other games.
*Decks of bicycle cards (I go through about 4 decks/month).
*And other stuff (including random bits that I have no idea of what they will be used for).

Megan is very understanding of my hobby, and in fact helped me set up the space.

Joe

GeminiWeb
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Your game design lab

Joe Huber wrote:

Quote:
I have the artistic capabilities of a drunken snail, so I rely heavily on clipart;

I dream of having artistic capabilities that high!

I also dream of having a set of game components like yours to draw upon ... (and having the ideas to use them!)

phpbbadmin
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Joined: 04/23/2013
Re: Your game design lab

Joe_Huber wrote:
probably the single most important step for me in starting game design was the realization that Avery 5395 labels fit perfectly on poker sized cards.

Sunova @$#&! Do you know how long of been looking for such labels? And you just throw it out in casual conversation.. Argh...

But thanks anyway =).

-Michael

Anonymous
Your game design lab

Lab.... no.

I have several boxes of odd parts that i have scavenged. Things that might make good game peices in prototypes. Most of it prolly won't ever get used though.

Darkehorse wrote:

Joe_Huber wrote:
probably the single most important step for me in starting game design was the realization that Avery 5395 labels fit perfectly on poker sized cards.

Sunova @$#&! Do you know how long of been looking for such labels? And you just throw it out in casual conversation.. Argh...

Wow, that's good to know.... Why isn't this message just quoted in the Production forum?
Darkehorse... Come now, do you need to resort to explicatives of a comic book nature? (just kidding)

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
Your game design lab

Currently I long for that "perfect design lab".

Right now I am stuck with living from boxes since I am in the process of selling my current home.

I did have part of a room set up once a few months ago. Had two desks and a component cabinet.

One desk was for my PC and two printers, the other for game construction area.

Oh... And a closet for my very very small game collection....

prophx
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Joined: 08/13/2008
Your game design lab

I have a "traveling lab" which is mostly in my head and then gets blasted into a computer either at work or home from time to time. After I print out the designs onto cardstock, I cut them out, assemble, bag, and long for the weekend so I can spring the new ideas onto family and friends. My lab is pretty much nonexistent besides the computer. I have a drawer of parts, but prefer to create custom bits using graphics on cardstock. That is pretty much it.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

Fun thread!
Ok I was going to write an article about this with some great discoveries I've made for the Mad Game Designer's Laboratorium we all want to build.

One of the key components for a traveling version is a fishing tackle box for holding bits, and a larger bin for scissors, tape, markers, labels, etc. Another cool thing is a flat plastic box with little dividers. All of these you can get at the mega craft stores that are popping up these days. There you can get glass beads in the floral department by the pound, as well as all kinds of stickers in the Scrapbook making department. And don't overlook Parent-Teacher supply stores: they often have game making equipment for teachers who design games for their classes. I 'm talking dice, spinners, sand timers, poker chips, geometric shapes, blank playing cards in white and multi colors, and all kinds of other amazing stuff.

The greatest overlooked game making secret I've found, and it's a doozy: these Scrapbook superstores have little plastic die-punch things that spit out circles and squares and even round corners! And they come in bright neon colors! You can buy a circle puncher, a pack of construction paper, and a pack of stickers, and whip out a game in no time. They're designed to create shapes for decorating scrap books. Who knew?

Anyway, I also have a hard-shell briefcase I pack everything in, a legal pad, scissors, drawing set, markers, and my plastic box full of dice and bits in little divided cells. Samsonite makes a great one with a 3-digit combination lock. You can look professional while having fun. They will also hold your pocket PC, your James Bond spy camera, your cell phone and anything else.

At Home Depot, they now have a folding 3 foot by six foot utility table, with a molded plastic table top and folding steel legs, even a carry handle. It makes a great portable game table or game design area. Another must is a reversible vinyl Battlemat with a grid on one side and hexes on the other side, these are available from game stores or from Chessex. Use overhead markers, not dry erase, and avoid markers with red or orange pigment. Great for prototyping. Also, you can make your own boards by going to Home Depot and buying chalkboard spray paint. With this, you can turn any surface into a chalk board. I bought a set of that collectible trading tile game Maelstrom: the Vortex, and painted all the backs with black chalkboard paint. Now I can play the game, or use the little hex-shaped chalkboard tiles to design new games.

Oh, you can also buy packs of about 200 4x6 inch zip lock baggies for holding pieces and game components at the craft superstores. And if you go to Office Depot or Staples, you can get white shipping boxes designed to mail book shaped packages: these make great prototype boxes as well. The guy who makes the game Phantasy Realm apparently uses these since he self-publishes his game.

Well, that's all my secrets...or maybe not.

Enjoy!

Anonymous
it's been down hill...

Sadly when I was younger I had far more resources I didn't take enough advantage of...

First it was my parents basement where I spent lots of time molding and cutting random materials (made a frame for a board from old wooden molding my dad had ripped up...). There I had power tools and odd materials to make custom bits. Spent too much time painting things with bad ventalation too... (go figure.)

Then onto college and the dorms were tiny. :-( Nothing but my computer to help, and at that time my computer just stunk and was good for word processing mostly.

Then on my own and I had a drafting table and a bit of closet space to store stuff. Sadly in this apartment my design lab fits in two medium cardboard boxes that contain lots of folders, random bits, drafting materials (yes my computer now can do better, but I like the tactile nature of using pencil or pen on paper), molding materials and the like. My computer houses numerous files. No room even for that drafting table, so the dining table is makeshift when necessary, but the girlfriend won't let me leave the stuff out for more then a week, by then she insists its dry and and eyesore...

My faithful travel-lab is a reporters notebook I don't leave home without. I have an idea, I jot it down, I think of a sketch, I doodle it. Once I can stick a PDA in my back pocket and not break it, or my rear it'll be great. :-)

Maybe someday I'll have a home of my own with a basement I'll turn into a design lab...

Anonymous
Your game design lab

jjacy1,
I remeber that basement. I actually I think Al brought the sea game you designed over and had it in my house for a while... until the flood. I think the ships got destroyed...

Terrible. Just terrible.

Anyway next tim your in B-lo we have to play some games my friend.

OldScratch
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Your game design lab

I just have my computer on my desk in the kitchen, which also has my prototype parts on it (stuff printed on the computer) as well as other materials for games I need.

Not very glamorous, is it?

Jebbou
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Joined: 07/29/2008
Your game design lab

Thanks for your answer everyone! I saw someone using a fishing tackle box for holding mage knight figurines a while ago, which also gave me the same idea. But for now, my collection of games and my computer is my modest design lab. As portable design kit, I have a binder with all my game designs printed, with a blank section for me to add to whenever I have an idea.

Have a good day everyone !

Jeb

Anonymous
Game design lab

My game design lab is basically my room, where I have my computer and all my stuff, including the graph paper that I'm sketching out the Empiria map on.

I hope to at some point, get the registered version of Campaign Cartographer, a very excellent mapmaking software that is usually for designing RPG maps. However I think it will work well for the final draft of my conquer the fantasy Victorian world game.:)

Good idea with the Avery labels, I will have to try that when I get to making the cards.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

Wow, pieces... and parts, you guys are advanced I have a computer that’s about it, every once in a while when im really desperate I take out the pen and paper, but that’s about it.

Aaron

Anonymous
I had designed a educational boardgame over a year ago.

I designed this game a year ago, it is somewhat a finished prototype. what I would like to know is what materials could be used, or cheapest way to make the actual playing board. I need to take my design and get it faced. hmm. I think of new game ideas almost everyday. some I jot down and begin to work on. but honestly, I get discouraged because, I don't know what to do with them. I use my bedroom, that is a partially finished basement for working. my husband got me a drawing easel desk and I have shelfs and what not. even got me a drawing pad that hooks to puter. but I just don't know what to do with my ideas. would like to show my kids a completion of one of my games, boxed and all. any suggestions?
much appreciated, I am so new to all of this.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

BookGnome wrote:
Fun thread!
The greatest overlooked game making secret I've found, and it's a doozy: these Scrapbook superstores have little plastic die-punch things that spit out circles and squares and even round corners! And they come in bright neon colors! You can buy a circle puncher, a pack of construction paper, and a pack of stickers, and whip out a game in no time. They're designed to create shapes for decorating scrap books. Who knew?
/quote]

Hey Bookgnome or anyone who'd know... these scrapbook stores... do you know any names for them. I'm in Victoria in BC and I don't think I've seen something as such around here. Do you think that Michaels the craft store might have the circles puncher thing?

Just curious.

Anonymous
Re: I had designed a educational boardgame over a year ago.

k wrote:
I designed this game a year ago, it is somewhat a finished prototype. what I would like to know is what materials could be used, or cheapest way to make the actual playing board. I need to take my design and get it faced. hmm. I think of new game ideas almost everyday. some I jot down and begin to work on. but honestly, I get discouraged because, I don't know what to do with them. I use my bedroom, that is a partially finished basement for working. my husband got me a drawing easel desk and I have shelfs and what not. even got me a drawing pad that hooks to puter. but I just don't know what to do with my ideas. would like to show my kids a completion of one of my games, boxed and all. any suggestions?
much appreciated, I am so new to all of this.

I'm just as new and I think my suggestion to you is don't worry about having a glossy finished product. Put together a mockup of what you want your game to be... make a scratchbuilt game board and put together game pieces and/or cards or whatever. Just get something put together. You'd be surprised how impressed people are by the fact that you have something done even if it's not a finished retail product. Get your kids to try it out and then enjoy it with them. Whether they are meh about it or over the rooftop in enjoyment... you still put it together and have shown them what you can do. My first game is done on plain white paper with plain white chits with little handdrawn pictures. It's very simple but for me it was a massive step from having a notebook full of notes, a computer full of rule sets and clip art and such. It was something I could actually point to and say... "yep, that's my game". Fortunately, my wife has to make approriately good noises this first time.

good luck.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

k wrote:
I designed this game a year ago, it is somewhat a finished prototype. what I would like to know is what materials could be used, or cheapest way to make the actual playing board.

Hello and welcome! Before this thread gets too far off topic, I will say that all of your questions are answered in the various posts and threads on this site. There's a whole section devoted to Game Production and techniques for producing prototypes.

gamemaker-KD
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Your game design lab

Ahoy there, I guest I'm the lucky ONE, for I have two labs to creat my wonderful master pieces. A upper level and a sub level, which is called GAMEMAKER LABORATORY AND RESEARCH FACILITY. This is where I spend alot of time, pretty must top secret. MAN that place sounds good, I had to stop for I was starting to think it was true, the upper level is our dining room where the PC is at and the sub level is my basement which I use my bar as my drafting table and supply room. But it does feel good to dream. Got to go the washing machine just stop.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

My whole house is a madness of making things, the dinner table is always covered, there is a studio full of paints and a desk, all covered. the pc table is all covered, there is a big desk and game playing table in the garrage, but its all covered.

there are boxes of things, and counters, and found bits and old games everywhere. baggies, clothes washing, food, tv, hi-fi.. everywhere.

stacks of sewing machines, glues, materials, bits of wood plastics paper perspex wire screws pawns...

argh need more room

Anonymous
Your game design lab

captain_strobe wrote:
My whole house is a madness of making things...

That sounds familiar!! Until recently, I would spend a full 30 minutes uncovering the dining room table any time company came over. Otherwise it would be full of bits and pieces of every imaginable project. My wife bought me a storage cabinet to store and organize most of my game making supplies. Fortunately I still ahve the basement in which to let the overflow take over.

Anonymous
reply to mikeb

thank you for your help and thoughts. I do have a game together. I made the decks of cards. I made wooden game peices using a woodburning tool to make the design in them. Then painted them. I have a game board that was printed from a local printing company whom which took my large drawing and then advanced it. (but it is on a posterboard). I do have everything I need for the game. sets of small pencils in small clip baggies. small notepads etc. but now I do not know what to do with it. my husband and I share 6 kids( not all together all the time). and although he makes good money, we just don't have the extra cash to self produce. wondering what to do now. it
thanks you,
k

Deviant
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Your game design lab

While I can't admit to having anything as elaborate as a game design lab, the lower drawer in my bedside dresser is devoted to stashing my finished games, paper notes, pawns, buttons, poker chips, bags, etc. - everything I will (hopefully) need when I get around to designing my next masterpiece.

Unlike many (most?) of you, I do have an artistic bug, and have been known to illustrate my games. It is a labor of love that I do not recommend to anyone who values efficiency. The first set of art is never good enough, so I wind up going through two or three drafts before I work up the nerve to find a publisher. Clip art is smart, especially for the first draft. Don't make the art until you know the game is worth that effort.

Since most everyone here uses a computer, I would like to make an important announcement that may save you dozens, perhaps even hundreds of hours of lost time. Back up your games! I have encountered system-crashing bugs that nothing but a full reformat and reinstall could fix. There is NOTHING more disheartening than losing all your work in the space of a moment, so burn a CD-RW, or get one of those USB flash drive thingies.

True story: the first time something like this happened, I lost three of my first completed games and several half-completed ones. For a year, I mourned for my lost children (well, not quite, but it was hard). Then I discovered a long-forgotten, unlabeled CD that contained much of my most important data, including my games! Designer euphoria! So lesson #2 for you computer designers: label your CDs!

Invisible_Jon
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Your game design lab

mikeb wrote:
BookGnome wrote:
Fun thread!
I'm in Victoria in BC and I don't think I've seen something as such around here. Do you think that Michaels the craft store might have the circles puncher thing?

Yes, I'd expect that it would.

On to the topic at hand: Game laboratories (Muwahahahaha!)

I don't have a "lab", per se. There are many excellent ideas that I intend to borrow from previous posters. Here's where I'm at right now:

* Computer - I do most of my game design and note-taking on my iBook running 10.3. I create rulesets, game boards, cards, and other bits in AppleWorks 6. 10.3's ability to take any documents and save it as a .pdf makes it very easy to distribute my games online to PC and Mac users. (Shameless plug: http://www.invisible-city.com/games/.)

* Notebook - I carry a Moleskine everywhere I go along with a .1mm UniBall pen. Many of my best game ideas have been jotted while sitting on a bus, waiting in a parking lot, or just before drifting off to sleep.

* Printer & Paper - Canon S9000. Can print on paper and cardstock. Prints up to 13" wide and I forget how long (2'?). I usually print game board mockups on 13" x 19" paper. I have standard 8.5" x 11" paper in white and four colors. I have cardstock (I've forgotten the weight) in four colors also.

* Paper Cutter - I have a simple rolling blade paper cutter. It'll cut about 8 sheets of cardstock in one pass. It's very portable, takes up very little space, and is very accurate. My most common use for it is cutting out cards that I've printed on cardstock. (I don't print on labels. I find that cardstock + cutting is cheaper and creates a perfectly usable prototype.)

* Misc - A box of plastic cardsleeves with old M:tG cards in them to add stiffness. A bag of beads in red, green, white, and yellow (with a few oddballs). A zippered pencil bag full of dice (multiple colors, sizes, and faces). Chessboard bandana. Full set of Icehouse pieces (one stash of every color). Set of double-twelve dominoes. Several Poker and Pinochle decks. A three-minute and a two-minute sand timer. A stopwatch with alarm. Pens and pencils. Laminated cards with china markers. Index cards in multiple colors. Assorted pawns.

* The Monday Night Games Group - I have a group of friends that meets every Monday night to play games. They're very tolerant of my near-incessant stream of new games to test and play. Even with everything I mentioned above, I wouldn't be nearly as productive if I didn't have access to them.

Wish list:
1) A hand-operated die-cut machine. There are two companies that sell hand-operated die cutters. Their target market is scrapbookers and schools, but there are dies available that would be great for making print-on-demand boardgames and prototypes. There are dies for cutting out cards with rounded corners, regular geometric figures, and various foldable boxes. A die-cutting press would be a nice compliment to the paper cutter. I'd mention their names here if I remembered them. A quick Google brought up one name: Ellison.
2) A good tackle box, cabinet, or series of boxes to store my stuff in.

Yeah. That's about it for me.

Anonymous
Your game design lab

Not really any "lab" perse. Most of my designing is in the living room where I use a desktop computer where my brother and I write down brainstorming sessoin notes, rules ideas, the infromation for each card/miniture unit and design game peices and cards to priint for testing. Next to the computer is a table I use for game testing. In my bedroom I keep boxes full of the game peices and cards (probibly well over 600 peices!)

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