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Games that teach you design

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truekid games
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This is perhaps a broader approach than normal for this particular sub-forum, so if you want to move it to a different one, feel free.

Which 3 games have taught you the most about design, and what/how did they teach you?

pauly hart
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three games that tought me design.

jezz-ball, age of empires 2, classic soccer... and... maybe go.

Pastor_Mora
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HeroCard: Rise of the Shogun

I've met the whole HeroCard system recently and I think is neat. The designer (now owner of the firm, if I heard right) uses the same characters parameters in all his games, so you can use characters from one of his games in another one. So, every game you buy functions as an expansion of all the games you have bought. For example, he has a game of orcs vs elves, a game in medieval Japan and a game in distant future. You can have the orc and the ninja playing the starship comander hero! Plus, you can also pitch the HeroCard characters (any of them) in a one on one duel.

I think design-wise it's worth at least checking. Keep thinking!

sedjtroll
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Pastor_Mora wrote:I've met

Pastor_Mora wrote:
I've met the whole HeroCard system recently and I think is neat. The designer (now owner of the firm, if I heard right) uses the same characters parameters in all his games, so you can use characters from one of his games in another one. So, every game you buy functions as an expansion of all the games you have bought. For example, he has a game of orcs vs elves, a game in medieval Japan and a game in distant future. You can have the orc and the ninja playing the starship comander hero! Plus, you can also pitch the HeroCard characters (any of them) in a one on one duel.

I think design-wise it's worth at least checking. Keep thinking!


The HeroCard games each had their own designer. Peter Hansell is now the owner - he may or may not have been one of the designers of the HeroCard games - I think he was actually in charge of art direction for TableStar before they had a sort of reorganization - now I think it's just him.

The HeroCard system is pretty interesting, and I remember when they first endeavored to create it. Honestly though, I think it ended up shooting itself in the foot- in order to maintain this cross-platform mechanism, each game was made to suffer a little bit. I think each of those games would have been better if not confined to the HeroCard system, and I don't see how it's all that attractive to, for example, use a Ninja character in the Suprhero game.

So I think conceptually, making unrelated games and connecting them with a similar mechanism isn't a great strategy for design. Kudos to TableStar for trying though!

ReneWiersma
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truekid games wrote:This is

truekid games wrote:
This is perhaps a broader approach than normal for this particular sub-forum, so if you want to move it to a different one, feel free.

Which 3 games have taught you the most about design, and what/how did they teach you?

It's very tough to name just three games. I like to think of my learning of game design as a kind of journey. In my childhood I played mostly abstract games and American games: Chess, Mastermind, Clue, Monopoly, Risk, Trivial Pursuit and when I was a little older: Axis & Allies, HeroQuest, Magic and Dungeons & Dragons. Then I discovered German games: Settlers, Carcassonne, Ra, Puerto Rico, Ticket To Ride. All those games (and many more) taught me something about game design.

If I had to pick just three I would say:
1) Chess - as a pure abstract game, simple rules, deep strategy
2) Magic the Gathering - the polar opposite of Chess, a fiddly, rules wise complex, multi-layered game with ever-changing rules
3) Ra - the penultimate Knizia game, a simple mechanic with complex scoring

Pastor_Mora
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Unless...

sedjtroll wrote:
So I think conceptually, making unrelated games and connecting them with a similar mechanism isn't a great strategy for design.

Unless you name your games "Catan something"... ;)
Good points though.

larienna
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At the beginning, I did not

At the beginning, I did not know much about board game. Most of my gaming experience came from role playing games. So At that time, I were developping more RPG than board games. Then I joined BGDF in 2005 and I did not even played settlers of catan yet.

1 yeat later, I met what I call the european trinity: Settlers of catan, Carcassone, and Puerto rico. 3 euro games which are totally different and that shows a different aspect of euro board games.

It changed completely they way I saw game and now I understood a bit better, by playing more and more games, how they were working behind.

But the problem is that I drifted too much. Pure euro game is not the kind of game I would have normally designed. I was starting to imitate too much euro games. I kind of stand in between ameritrash and euro design. With time I took back my place in between both styles in my design philosophy.

So if I could name 3 games, it would be the european trinity. It's also the first 3 games I recommend to non-gamers who wants to get in the world of board games.

hulken
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I think it is hard to just

I think it is hard to just pin down 3 games, but I say this. What ever typ of game youre looking for to be able to design youre self you should atleast play 3 games with the same/simular mecanis. This way you get a feel for what is done and also most importantly a feel for what can be done.

pelle
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I think this is different for

I think this is different for each new game project. For my only completed/published game I didn't have any specific inspiration in mind, but after completing it I realized that there were some definite traces of Memoir44 and/or Starship Troopers Prepare for Battle in there. I think it ended up a bit more ameritrash than I would have guessed before I started working on it.

All sorts of games are interesting to play to learn about games anyway. In fact I rarely bother to play the same game more than once or twice, since the joy of trying something new is a big motivation. Besides, as a player, I could never be bothered to actually study a game to master it. The theme/simulation/rpg aspect of boardgames are important to me and if I look at the game as just a problem to master and play it over and over again to figure out all the details that will ruin it. It is also much more fun to see a completely new problem and improvise, compared to applying known-in-advanced best-practices. But that's a bit off-topic here, more related to how I like to play games than design them. If the game has different scenarios that are very different, or a variable setup that actually matters, then I might play the game many more times though. (Designing a game is a different kind of problem and obviously can't be done without replaying that game over and over and over...)

Ewain
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Another bunch

Chess probably must be placed as #1 in my list, since I've never really enjoyed playing it but it's something 'everyone' know how to play. Lesson learned: complexity is easy to achieve and far less easy to manage.

Similar in that it requires some sort of strategy and a whole lot of tactics (both on a level I'm comfortable with) is Carcassonne, where I believe the theme of the game is at least as important to the experience as the mechanics.
Lesson learned: Go that extra mile to knit everything together.

And as a very broad #3, most childrens games I've come across. That whole field is a lesson in it's own right: absolutely any theme / mechanic combination can be made playable and enjoyable to a 5-year old, provided the rules make sense and the presentation is adjusted to your intended audience. A game that fail in these areas will not be played again, except by adults, who can be tricked into believing flawed rules and poor theming is acceptable if only the price is right.

While I'm at it, The "Game Theory 101" articles by Jonathan Degann is probably the best guide for the aspiring gamer/designer that I have found so far. (http://jbdgames.blogspot.com/)

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