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Diagrams, notes and plans: How do you get your ideas onto paper in a logical way?

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sniggerjolly
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Joined: 04/27/2011

Like many I often come up with ideas and I may even get as far as mocking up boards and pieces and a rough set of rules. Usually I get hung up on some aspect of the game trying to find a mechanic that will make the game unfold the way I intend. I end up with half completed ideas knocking around the house for years which eventually get thrown away in frustration. If I leave them for too long I loose track of what I'm doing.
What I would be interested to know from others is how they go about recording their ideas and planning the stages through their game. I use a note book which rapidly fills with diagrams, notes and rules which are constantly revised. Is there a better and more logical way of doing this such as using a flow diagram or spider charts. Has anyone come up with a standard format that helps you to go from each design stage to the next in a more coherent maner than I seem to be able to devise?

Abersade
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Joined: 10/03/2011
Like you I use a notebook,

Like you I use a notebook, and keep a revision number on each set of rules so that I can see how the game has changed and whatnot. Once I have several revisions I tend to place them all in a folder for ease of organization.

KViki
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Joined: 06/07/2010
papers and versions

I also use paper, only blank sheets and write the game design in order, how I think about it. Each later version carries Vx, to know, how many times i've changed the game design. When written properly, i see clearly, what is a text part, a table and so on....

ibot
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Joined: 10/19/2011
First post

I use a word processor to jot down my ideas. I can edit things easily and write down my thoughts quickly. Stuck on my laptop I have two-dozen documents concerning game design arranged in a sort of hierarchy of folders.

PierreNZ
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Joined: 10/01/2011
For initial/seed ideas, i use

For initial/seed ideas, i use a simple .txt file on my laptop and jot down a very quick description (3-6 lines depending on how "developed the idea is in my head).

Then i usually leave it there for some time while i pursue other projects. I find it helps me decide if the idea is really worth something.

I do quite a bit of work out of the office in unfriendly enviromnents (as industrial environmental monitoring) so i always carry a small notepad with me. I write down in it all the time, very "stream of consciousness" and more flexible than computers for the ease of including (crappy) diagrams and mock designs.

Now having ideas is great and all, filling notepads after notepads is also good but I've noticed that it's really sticking and completing projects that's the real key. As opposed to having some rules fragments going around in your head, sit down and actually write the rules properly and you'll be surprised how quickly the myriad ideas come together (or not) and how easily the chaos gets ordered. I'm a big fan of the chaotic approach to projects but, to my dismay, it's really doing the boring stuff of organisation that seem to yield the better results.

Hope that helps

Kalmari Krapula
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Joined: 11/19/2010
My way

Hi,
When I first get an idea, about mechanic, theme or part of the game I immediatly write it down. If I'm working with my computer, I create a .txt file and just write anything what comes to my mind, every sentence in new row to keep any possible path clear for new ideas.
If I have no computer next to me, I'll grab pieces of paper and write it down (and that's why my lecture notes are not usually about lecture but anything else). I'll usually pile these papers according their subjects and about once a month I read them through and type them to my laptop.

At my laptop I have a folder about these games and spare mechanics, where everything is in (quite) strict order.

sniggerjolly
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Joined: 04/27/2011
It's comforting to know that

It's comforting to know that my way is not unlike the way that many of you record and plan your ideas but like PierreNZ says its the follow up that really counts. We all seem to be able to come up with ideas for a game but how many of these are left exactly as that and are not pushed forward to a conclusion? Anyway thanks for all your thoughts, I shall take them on board and continue in my quest to find some kind of format or program that assists in organising ideas and taking them to the next step.

Snarky Pickle
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Joined: 10/20/2011
Board Game Mockups

I just posted a story on one way to mock up and experiment with ideas for a board game. Inexpensive and flexible.

http://blog.snarkypickle.com/2011/10/big-board-games-are-awesome.html

hotsoup
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Joined: 08/28/2009
I have some yellow legal pads

I have some yellow legal pads there I actually design the games, rough out boards, mechanics, ideas, etc. It's a bit jumbled, but I like it that way, as I can come back to it for some random inspiration. That being said, I'm working on a txt file on my laptop for storing new mechanic ideas for later use. They are hard to come by, so I have to save them carefully. What was also useful was finding geeklists on BBG dedicated to original, thematic, and elegant game mechanics, ones that thought outside the box. Lots of good inspiration there.

Geikamir
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Joined: 10/20/2011
Soup, do you have a link to

Soup, do you have a link to that geeklist page?

lewpuls
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Joined: 04/04/2009
Use a computer

I use an unfortunately-expensive program, Info Select. It is a free-text database. Microsoft One-Note might be an alternative. If I am not near a computer (I usually am) I speak notes into my PDA, then listen to them later after syncing with a computer, and write into Info Select. On rare occasions I'll write into a paper notebook, but that needs to go into the computer to be backed up ASAP.

Paper is really hard to back up, electrons are easy. I rarely do anything by hand any more.

For diagrams, Visio. For maps, CorelDraw. For cards, I use the business card template in WordPerfect (I don't make fancy highly visual cards).

hotsoup
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Joined: 08/28/2009
Geikamir, here's a big one:

Geikamir, here's a big one: http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/32306/what-specific-game-mechanics-mak...

For more, I just searched for geeklists with "mechanics" in their titles.

Geikamir
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Joined: 10/20/2011
Cool

Awesome, thanks. Appreciate it.

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
Plain text files. Sync to

Plain text files. Sync to rsync.net to access from all my computers (dropbox when collaborating with others). Everything in version control system.

Inkscape for graphics, or draw sketches on paper and photograph into computer.

pelle
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Joined: 08/11/2008
If you are into mindmaps I

If you are into mindmaps I know freemind is powerful and popular (and free), but it's just not the way I like to organize information.

http://freemind.sourceforge.net

Also tried different free "personal wikis" but always come back to just simple old text files.

CloudBuster
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Joined: 04/14/2009
Pseudo code

I've been delving into the possibility of doing a bit of programming with Python so I got a book for beginning programing in that language. One of the things the author mentions called "pseudocode". Basically, you're not coding anything at all. You simply write down (in English...or whatever language your prefer) what you want the program to do. Once you've got that down, you program to what you've written. Seems like this might work for boardgame design, too. Don't worry about the mechanics yet...just write down what you want the game to do. Write down what you'd like to see and how you'd like things to play out. Once you've got that, you'll have a pretty good skeleton of a game and you can work on the mechanics.

I have lost count of the times I've seen posts here where someone says, "I've got this idea and I've figured out how to do such and such, but I can't figure out how to do this and that." By describing a little bit of the existing mechanics, the people here generally jump in and come up with several cool ideas for how to accomplish what the original poster wanted.

I don't know about you guys, but sometimes I get too caught up in a specific idea and I can't seem to get around it. For instance, I was working on a game that was WAY TOO DICE HEAVY. I had dice for movement and dice for combat and dice for mining, etc. etc. I posted a question and someone suggested that I remove the dice for mining and movement. Simply give the ships (or whatever) an inherent ability to move a certain amount each turn. Give them the ability to mine a certain amount and keep dice rolling only to combat (where it kinda makes sense, cuz if you're shooting, there's a chance you'd miss). This made perfect sense, but I was so into the "randomness" of dice that I couldn't think of a way to get around using them. The game is a lot better now and it moves faster.

-CB-

CloudBuster
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Joined: 04/14/2009
Sorry...double post

Stupid connection was too slow to show me my post was saved.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Mind Maps: Cmap tools is another good option.

pelle wrote:
If you are into mindmaps I know freemind is powerful and popular (and free), but it's just not the way I like to organize information.

http://freemind.sourceforge.net

When I'm "mind-mappping", I like to use Cmap tools, downloadable from: http://cmap.ihmc.us

...However, I don't often use mind maps for jotting game ideas down. I also usually use plain text files and an unlined notebook.

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