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Survey for Designers

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let-off studios
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Hello all--

I'm planning on attending and representing tabletop game designers at an upcoming game convention in my home state, and I was hoping readers could contribute to a free zine-style publication I will release to participants.

If you've the time, please respond to all or any of the questions below. Feel free to comment in this thread, or send me an e-mail message at editor [at] let [dash] off [dot] com.

Thanks!

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

Mansemat
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Don't know if my reaction is

Don't know if my reaction is required since I'm not a "Designer" with the capital D but I do design games in my spare time.

Anyhoo, since noone else is replying as of now:

HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS:

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?
-- Cause I enjoy boardgames and games in general and have always aspired to create something (comics, games, screenplays, art etc). Since I'm not adept enough to program for videogames this also seemed like a good in-between.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?
-- The place they bring me into, the story unfolding behind it and the general ideas in them. It's a different feeling then playing a video game and boardgames seem to have more deep and special subjects than other games.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?
-- From things I see and do and am interested in. From comics, games, movies, series to everyday happenings.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?
-- Don't worry that you're not being unique or that others have more resources, get more attention or seem to be more professional/better. Just do it.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?
-- That the game is fun and that you don't arrive on a point where you say "ok uhm this is kinda...idk" and then keep it in just cause of ego or lasyness.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?
-- Can't comment on this cause I have no idea either. I'd personally say: "believe in what you have made" but the cynic in me (and my experience) often refutes this (but it seems to work just fine for others!)

Greets

let-off studios
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Thanks for your responses,

Thanks for your responses, Mansemat! :D

Jerry
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

I started designing board games when I was about 12 years old, Because I didn't have access to many computer games. I just really enjoyed the creative process behind it. To this day, I enjoy seeing other people get enjoyment out of something I create. I hope to be published some day!

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

Carcassonne is currently my favourite game. I love the random tile placement and jousting for land and cities as well as Tons of replayability. All of which are my favourite things

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

Historical eras, for the most part. I enjoy creating a setting based on historical facts, but purely fictional. I also take Ideas from popular recent themes, such as zombies, or space sci-fi.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

Don't be afraid to accept your game may be bad, or that people don't like it. You can't get offended or discouraged by this, because it will be part of your experience. Move on to the next idea, or modify!

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

Listen to feedback! Don't be so set on your ideas that you stick to them no matter what. If your playtesters tell you it's not fun, they're on to something. Ask them what they'd change, remove, etc.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

N/A

McTeddy
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

I programmed my first computer game when I was ten years old. I loved nintendo and wanted to make games like that.

As I got older, I realized that game making no longer something I did... but who I am.

Went to college, worked as a game programmer for a while. Overtime took it's toll on my wrists and I left game making to be a normal adult.

Turned out... game making IS who I am. Eventually, I gave up and started making games again. I spent a year studying modern board games and then got my first board game published.

- - -

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

Mega Man 2, purely personal reasons.

As for board games, I mostly dabble. I would hesitate to call anything a "Favorite".

- - -

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

The better question is where DOESN'T it come from.

Sometimes it's a movie or a video game... and sometimes it's general curiousity of "what if?"

- - -

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

WATCH MY CHANNEL! Youtube.com/McTeddyGames

But seriously... the two things I'd share:

"Get ready to work your *** off"

My favorite quote regarding the game industry is:
- "It's not all fun and games... mostly just games."

Making games is ALOT of hard work with very little payoff. It's not something for everyone... but if you really want to make games... you better be ready to work.

"You are not an artist... you are an entertainer".
The player experience is the MOST important thing!

There are times when you'll find that players want a different experience than you wanted. Bad designers will stick with their own vision regardless of feedback.
Good designers will always consider what their audience wants. They won't ALWAYS do it... but they will always listen and consider it.

- - -
5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

Don't just playtest with one group. Playtest with friends... strangers... other friends etc.

The more opinions you get, the more useful the feedback.

Also, in playtests keep your mouth shut. Players in the real world won't have a designer to help them.
Sit back... watch and learn how real people are experiencing it.
If you need to help them... make a note of it. You'll need to fix it in the rules after the tests.

- - -
6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

I actually happened to just do a video on that topic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oGYehDQKqc

let-off studios
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Jerry and McTeddy: thanks for

Jerry and McTeddy: thanks for your responses!

Anyone else out there want to share their thoughts? I have a couple days left before I need to start on the layout of the PDF.

Please offer some input, regardless of your experience in game design.

Corsaire
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Responses from the unpublished...

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?
My dad was making games when I was a kid. I've accumulated skills to make computer games since my first computer. I really enjoy playing games. My first non-computer game design was a game called Orc Wars, a fantasy combat card game in the eighties that never went outside my college game club.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?
Favorite games:
Advanced Civilization by Avalon Hill: it has light conflict, trading, development, a little diplomacy, and it rewards resiliency based strategies.
Stratego: It's a pure meeting of the minds and has some great "moments" of play.
Magic the Gathering: It's a game of mini-game design.
Le Havre: Always strategic, plays fairly fresh each game.
...hmm... some running themes are I like games that play differently each time and allow for a wide range of optimal and sub-optimal strategies.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?
I like to think towards a small set of constraints. Lately, "things that my son would enjoy playing" is a highly significant constraint.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?
Try to walk the game in the head of a player, optimize their experience, look for the exciting story they can tell about the experience, then validate your assumptions.

baberahamlincoln
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?
Game design has seemed to emerge as my creative outlet. I’m a creative guy, but I’ve never really gotten past dabbling in any of the formal arts. My first game design started about 4-5 years ago, when I woke up following a vivid dream I’d had (about watching people play a game). After describing it to my wife when driving her to the airport that day, I returned home and spent the next 12 hours working on the design. I’ve also played D&D off and on for 20 years, and in retrospect, creating characters, adventures and campaigns seem like an aspect of game design.
2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?
I like games that provide the opportunity to play the way you want to, or at least support a wide range of strategies and game play. Games with emergent play, sandbox, or open styles of play are my favorite (TES, Fallout, MtG, Civ, tabletop roleplaying games).
3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?
I get inspiration from everything. Real life systems (politics, climate, economics), social encounters, dreams, books, history, wikipedia, movies, comics...
4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?
Somethings work, some don’t. Don’t get too caught up on one aspect or idea. Keep working and rolling with new ideas. Once you’ve seen a lot of stuff and have designed a lot of games, you’ll have a better idea about what is good / what works.
5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?
Pay attention to the players. Are they having fun, or at least engaged? Is the game evoking the response that you intended? And listen to everything they have to say.
6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?
I haven’t actually done this, but my advice would be to read about it. There’s a lot of helpful information out and about on the internet.

let-off studios
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Corsaire and

Corsaire and Baberahamlincoln, thank you very much!

Responses seem to be flooding in now. Does anyone else have something to contribute? Any level of experience is welcome. :)

schattentanz
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Let's go for it ..

Hi :)

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?
I like games and was stuck in a Job that didn't challenge me at all. If I recollect right, I was searching for "free games" or something like that, when I found the Boardgamegeek. There I found the designers' board the most interesting. When the 4 tile contest was started in 2010, I was hooked.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?
One keyword:
Customization.
I like games that play differently each time you play them.
In my games, customization always plays a role, whether you customize your "playing piece" (such as a hero you're playing) or the board (such as a track you are racing on).
Games always pitting you into the same situation feel kind of dull for me.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?
I read game rules for breakfast.
And the 'geek and - since lately - the bgdf, too.
Reading other designers' ideas often sparks own ideas.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?
For each enthusiastic feedback you receive, there will be one guy who wrote it. For each not so enthusiastic feedback you receive, there will be at least one hundred folks who didn't even care writing.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?
Aim for proper targets. Miniature wargamers probably won't be able to discuss a childrens' game while 6 year olds won't understand the concept of your highly detailed wargame.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?
In our society, the only thing of interest is money. The publisher does not need to understand the rules of your game. Instead he needs to understand, why your game will grant him profit.

Interesting questions .. forced me to think .. *like* :)

Kind regards,
Kai :)

larienna
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Here are my answers without

Here are my answers without looking at the answers of others:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

I always loved games, I first wated to make video games but they demand a lot of time just to program and requires many other elements like music, artwork, level design. Board games are easy to prototype, play and modify. Which gives the opportunity to make much more solid game design with less time spent on coding.

It's also easier to see your game progress when there is no coding to do. I am currently programming a video game and it looks like it's advancing like a turtle. The feed back loop is much slower than in a board game where within a week you can design , prototype, and test a game.

Before designing board games, I was playing and designing RPG. But RPG are much longer to play with and much more flexible. So you are not really making a game, but rather a flexible structure that can be used by the players. Board games are tight self contained design where you have control on almost every variable. They are much more easier to design.

Board games are also more accessible and playable out of the box. Non-games are more likely be willing to play a board game than an Role Playing Game or a video game. So Board games in general have a wider audiance.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

I don't really have a favorite game because there are so many different style of board games. I could have a favorite in each category of game or a small group of my best games. Now one of my "problem" is that I hate most board games, my average rating is currently 4.73/10. So I am very difficult.

In order for a game to be my favorite, first it must have an interesting theme that I like. Second it must have a set of mechanics that relatively make sense with the theme. Third, it must not contain annoying mechanics which are either brain burning or on my black list ( first auctions, worker placement is in second place so far). Fourth, it must be developped to it's maximum capacity. Like reiner knizia said, most games are 80% finished, and that is a problem of many board games out there (especially kick starter ones), they are unfinished, not enought tested or good ideas badly implemented. More works needs to be done to make it an awesome game. But most importantly, Fifth it must be "Elegant".

Elegancy is something, that I am still trying to define, which is missing it at least 95% of board games. It is a property that makes the game feel that the mechanics looks like they were design to fit with each other. Game design is like a puzzle where any pieces can be attached to each other. In the end, you are going to end up with a picture, but it might not be the most "Beautiful" one. What I am looking for are "Beautiful" game in a figurative conotation that I called "Elegant".

When all of the above is there, now I could say that the game is a master piece and it could enter my list of favorites. I still have a treshhold which allow almost "elegant" games to be included. They are really few pure elegant games, there is always something I want to change in most games.

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3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

First, from other games. Many times some of my designs are blocked because I am lacking a piece of puzzle to make it work. But when looking at other games, sometimes I discover a mechanic or a piece of mechanic that I can reuse in my game.

Second, video games are also a good source of inspiration for theme and mechanics. A few of my design are actually simplification of video games as board games.

Third, Life in general. Various situation in real life can lead to inspiration especially game theme. It's important to look elsewhere than games when designing games.

---------------------------------------------------------------

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

Very hard to determine when you have a whole website with guidelines for game designers. There are so many essential things that must be said, myths that needs to be broken, that it's hard to define the most important thing.

I thinking the most important thing to say is to break the greatest delusion that you will make money out of your game design. You have more chance to make money by winning the lotery than designing a board game.

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5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

Again very hard to determine because there are so many aspect to verify. I think the flow of the game is important, if the game slow down or blocks in certain area, then it means there is a problem. Each element of a game needs a certain level of depth, expresse at it's simplest form and be integrated with the rest of the game. That is some how the key to make a flawless game.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

I did not shop publishers a lot. One thing for sure, research your publishers and only submit those that would be interested in publishing the type of game you are making. Else you'll waste energy.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Enjoy and have fun!

let-off studios
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Schattentanz and larienna,

Schattentanz and larienna, thank you very much for your responses!

I hope to do all this material justice with the final result. And of course, of anyone else has responses to share, please do so! I'll be putting the PDF together this coming weekend.

Thanks again to everyone for their responses so far! Keep 'em coming! :D

Shoe
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

I think truly GOOD cooperative games are one of my favorite things. I also LOVE cards, drawing cards, shuffling cards...Games that allow you to express your idea by crafting a unique strategy are something I love. Games that feel like a micro-game designing experience are super fun!

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

Everywhere...I find theme ideas from commercials, daily life, stuff I wish were a thing, but isn't
I mostly get mechanical inspiration by finding mechanics in other games people hate and trying to make them fun

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

NO COW IS SACRED, if something is SH*ty you have to be willing to scrap it.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

Fun, if players are bored, the game sucks

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

no idea, I'm terrible at this part. I guess be prepared for a ho-jillion rejections

Markus Hagenauer
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

I love playing games and I love to designe things (I´m an architect).

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

I don´t realy have a favorite game. It verry much depends on the situation and the group I want to play with.
Regarding the best of my onw game I like that the games ar quite innoveatve, not just a vatiation of Catan or Chess etc or a mixture of ...

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

Most of my games are inspired by "geometrical relatinships", but the first idea can come from everywhere.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

Never trust the praise of your friends. ;-)

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

If the game does not work well, don´t change to much in one step but do the improvement step by step.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

Do not take them too seriously.

let-off studios
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Had the first game designer's

Had the first game designer's workshop at Tennessee Game Days, and had a superb experience. The attendees will receive a copy of the e-book I'm putting together for this effort.

Here's a brief write-up of the experience:

http://www.let-off.com/talk/?p=258

I'm still at the event, and will send out the e-book once I've returned home and had a chance to put the finishing touches on the resource.

THANK YOU once again to all the contributors here at BGDF! I'll be in touch with you all to send you out a copy.

:)

BENagy
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Hope you're still looking for responses!

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?
I have always had an interest in table top games since I was a kid. I designed a lot of my own, and would make new rules/content for games that already existed. But a year ago, I had a class in college where the final project was to launch your own business. I thought about it, and I knew I had to take my skills to the next level and take myself seriously as a game designer if I wanted to go anywhere.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?
Magic: The Gathering is one of the most inventive games out there. It was a brilliant concept, and they keep it fresh, by practically reinventing the game mechanics around the core rules every year or so. Choices is a big factor for me in games. That's where strategy comes from. And Magic has a lot of choices, from what cards to build a deck with to what card to play on turn 6.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?
Inspiration comes from everywhere. You can watch a television show, go to the park, read a book, or just talk with people, and you'll be surrounded by ideas for new games. The trick is finding them and using them effectively. But the best way to find inspiration is by playing and evaluating other games, and it's a skill that every game designer needs to cultivate.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?
Get your game out there! The difference between successful, published game designers and those that are all talk, is moving forward. you need to take an idea in your head and put it on paper. Then you must take that paper and make a prototype, Then take that prototype and playtest it, and put it in front of others. And do that quickly! Fail fast, or else you'll be wasting your time. Too many early game designers take months or even years before they get their idea to "work" and be "perfect." And often, by then, they find out that their idea doesn't actually work, except inside their heads. You should preferably be able to make your idea a reality the same day you have the idea, even if it's the worst balanced and aesthetically faulty piece of garbage you've ever seen. Refine it, but get it out there fast to see if it an work.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?
Is everyone having fun? And no, I don't mean your brother and your grandma telling you it's fun. Seriously pay attention to if people are having fun. A game can be perfectly balanced, but if it's too balanced, and no one wants to play it again, you've failed. What makes a game successful is when people are smiling, laughing, interacting, and genuinely having a great time. A great line I heard that you should look for from playtesters is : "Can we play again?" You hear that, and you've got it.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?
Know the publisher. For example, Hasbro mostly deals with family games. If you're creating a game that's too "adult" for them, or that they're already producing. They won't care to see another idea from you. Now you can't always predict what they have in development that you don't know about. But if you bring them a solid idea and they are already doing something similar, they'll let you know, and want to see what else you have, so always bring a portfolio of a few ideas.

let-off studios
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It's here!

I've created a PDF e-book of collected quotes and added various links for resources and additional materials. The whole of it I call "Perspectives on Game Design." Hopefully you find it useful.

THANK YOU once again to all those who contributed to it, and sent along suggestions for editing.

http://www.let-off.com/bgames/pers-gamedesign.pdf

Any feedback or suggestions on how to make it better? Please let me know.

ENJOY!

The Chaz
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Too late, I'm sure!

let-off studios wrote:
I have a couple days left...

I know I'm late to the party, but I'm just getting active again on the boards. Maybe this will be of some benefit to the next generation, or something :)

1. I am pretty deep into the "designer" board game hobby, playing 1-2 times on a slow week, up to 4 times on a good (summer!) week.
I heard Eric Lang say, paraphrased, that "I used to play euro games, but now I design games instead. The design process scratches the same itch".

That resonated deeply with me. I am also moving away from "euro" games, and prefer more social, thematic, interactive, and even random games.

2. Cosmic Encounter is probably my current favorite. I love that, aside from some crazy edge cases, it takes luck, strategy, wit, and social maneuvering to win.

3. Some games are thematically inspired. Others come from my experience on game nights, where I feel like there is *probably* a game that would best fit our [player count/mood/time constraints/etc], but I don't know what it is!
So I'm going to make the perfect game for that situation!

4. You don't have a game until you have a prototype.
In other words, having a playable prototype is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition.

5. Does this game achieve its goals? Can the game grind to a halt or be broken in some way?

6. Know the publisher that you are pitching to. Each is different, and even if they love you/your game, the game might not be a good fit for their company (at its current state, at least).

RyanRay
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1) I found it to be a really

1) I found it to be a really enjoyable creative outlet, along with my music composition and general art hobbies. It is by no means a money maker for me.

2) A strong balance between luck and skill! Also, any game that makes me think "Hmmm... I'll try THIS method next time, or THAT method..."

3) Everywhere.

4) Don't get stuck in the minutiae. Also, IMO, don't make a game overly complex for the sake of complexity. Think of the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid.

5) Is everyone engaged in the game, or are some people zoning out easily? Also, for more strategy-based games, see what people tend to do when given choices and take notes. Are not enough people using this alternate method to acquire gold? Perhaps give an incentive of some sort to make it more desirable.

6) Have it VERY well playtested first!! Seriously, playtest it like 50 times in its finished final prototype form. Try your hardest to "break" your own game within the rules before even attempting to approach publishers.

let-off studios
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More Replies

Hey Chaz & Ryan Ray, thanks for your responses! I don't see why I can't add to the original and make it a "living document" or something like that... I'll see what I can do. :)

Ekobor
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If you're still accepting...

1. I chose it because it is a hobby that can utilise many skills. It is a creative hobby that can involve other people, unlike many of my other hobbies that only tangently involve others. You can work with another designer, you can work with artists, you work with playtesters. You work with your hands and your brain.

2. I like the ability to pass time quickly, without noticing. The ability to get lost in what the game says it is doing, rather than the pushing of cardboard that I am actually doing.

3. The aether? From real life situations, from dreams, from other games, from plants. I take ideas from story situations.

4. You are going to make games that you don't like. They will be fully playable, others may enjoy them, but you will hate them. And that is okay.
It is also okay to make a dozen iterations of one theme and still not like any of them.
You are your game's best advocate, but you don't have to advocate for it.

5. What do your players look like as they play? Are they confused? Bored? Enthusiastic? Or for blind playtesting, make sure you get as many people as you can!

6. Be courteous.

wineaholic
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Don't know if I'm authorized

Don't know if I'm authorized to comment on this, I'm still new to board game design and haven't fully completed a game yet (only to first playtesting stages), but here is my input from what I have thus far learned...

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

I love building things. It really gets my creative juices flowing and it makes me happy. I used to think I wanted to make video games but I didn't have the skills needed. I thought 'Well, I could make a board game on my own...' so I am now doing just that. I've found that the hands-on social experience of a board game can be more rewarding than a video game, anyway.
I started by writing my ideas down in notebooks during slow work days or between classes and working on the prototypes on my days off.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

I tend to gravitate towards two genre of games: building games and RPG games. Building games because I love starting with a blank slate and building something I can call me own. RPG games because I like to play my own character or race, make my own decisions, and so on. I also love games with the perfect atmosphere to draw you in. I love to feel that to some extent I have control but that there is always the element of chance as well.

I probably haven't played as many as others but my favorite games at the moment are Arkham Horror, RuneWars, Agricola, and Settlers of Catan.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

Anywhere and everywhere. For instance, one idea's inspiration came from Plato's Republic. I want to make games that I want to play, so some inspiration comes from things I've enjoyed. I also get inspiration from certain themes or wild ideas that sounds fun and that I'd like to make work. Basically, anywhere.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

Always think about your players. Also, try to keep it as simple as humanly possible. I adopted the "Keep it simple, stupid." Motto pretty early on. The best games are usually (in my opinion, of course) easy to pick up. The complexity comes from within. So think about every element of your game and if something doesn't add anything to the experience, or if it's just unnecessary clutter, get rid of it. No one likes flipping through the rule-book every other second...Nobody!

This might be elementary advice, not sage advice (for I am nowhere near a sage) but it's all I have to give.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

I have only little experience with this, but here's what I've been looking for: Where are they getting confused? Is something not working right and if so what is it and why? Do they seem engaged, or do they look bored? How fast did they catch on to the rules? Is an element of your game being neglected? Why? Have they done anything you didn't expect?

Take notes. Take lots of notes.

Oops, didn't realize this thread was so old. Well, I guess I'll just leave it anyway.

let-off studios
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No sweat. :)

Your input is much appreciated. I may come up with a second edition of the ebook sometime in the next couple months, which will compile the additional responses (including yours).

So, thanks for sharing your thoughts! :)

Zedrex
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1. Why have you chosen game

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

Well I don't have a published game yet, just starting out though as a kid I wrote a bunch of them. It was a good creative outlet, I'm one of those people who wants a go too - I love music so I became a musician to make my own. I like books so I wanted to write as well. And I've always loved games, so it was inevitable I'd want to make at least one of my own....

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

My most memorable days and night playing with friends (who are mostly non-gamer types) have been when the game has a sense of humour or the play is fun, such as really zinging your buddy as he's about to do something ambitious, etc. Favourite games definitely allow for this, and I'm pretty old-school so Talisman, Bloodbowl, Magic: The Gathering and my all-time favourite is Illuminati - all of these allow you to be inventive, keep the mood light and fun with friends and create enjoyable days/nights and memories

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

Life, kinda. While other games make me want to create, it's pretty meta to use existing games and might not bring anything new to the party. My approach is like the one reality TV producers use: you can take any job or scenario or situation out there - real or created - and it's grounds for entertainment.... but only if it's entertaining. So while being a factory cleaner has challenges and could turn into a TV show or game, it might not be an interesting one.

And it's got to be a fantasy I want to have; you could make a clever game about cleaning public toilets with really smart mechanics but I might avoid that because I don't have that fantasy and if I wanted to experience it (again) I would take that job (again lol.

Actually, the reality TV thing is a strong comparison for me because I was watching one recently and thought that this sort of thing ought to be a game, and so that's my latest idea. The shows in the genre provide all the plot twists, backgrounds and characters I could possibly want and because the premise is essentially ludicrous (paranormal investigators) I can add a lot of humour to make a really fun experience

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

I am a new game designer! But I can offer from other creative things I've done that not all ideas will flourish and be worthy. You might come up with 11 screenplay ideas, but not all of them will turn into something that people want to see. Maybe any of them could with the right attention, but there's value in dropping an idea completely and looking for something new instead.

I read that in Hollywood they say there's nothing less valuable than an idea. So many people think all they need is an idea and the rest will take care of itself - but the execution and development are what has value. There's zillions of great ideas that will never come to anything or not be developed into anything worthy. A great example of a stock idea is a lot more enjoyable than a laborious game/movie/etc of a unique idea

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

That most of the fun isn't in the rules or components. A fun day/night or a great memory from a game session comes more from player interaction than from completing tasks and deciding strategy. People will be more likely to think favourably of your game if it provides a framework for fun and laughter than if it's got chin-strikingly clever mechanics detailed in war-and-peace-sized instructions and rigid rules. Playtesters (I have been one of them) will give feedback about *rules* but what you want to look for is where the *fun* is.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

Again, a novice... but I'm pretty sure that the advice for games publishing is the same as for music and novel publishing, which is that the role of publishers is being dramatically redefined thanks to the interwebs. Where once upon a time you needed a record label/publisher/studio to get your work "out there" there are a lot of ways you can get your product out there yourself these days.

It depends what you're after. Marketing directly from your own website often doesn't get the reach you're after, and if you want to be a household name then a publisher might be the best way to do it. But as a commercial venture? Do the math. I sold 822 copies of my album in 2001 from my website, but I got to keep all of the revenue which turned out to be a lot more worthwhile than moving 5,000 through traditional means would have been.

What I'll be looking at when the time is right will be what it will cost to make my final product. Chances are I can do it cheaply because it's cards, so I can fund that myself and distribute through my website, social media, local games stores, etc. (If I were making something in a box with a lot of figurines etc, I couldn't produce or mail that sort of thing cheaply on my own and I would need that sort of thing to be backed by a publisher).

Publishers are like record labels - if you do it yourself and develop a buzz, they come looking for *you* and they'll be a lot more generous with their offer than if you went to them, cap in hand, trying to sell an unproven idea. 822 albums was all it took for me to start getting emails from labels - if you can sell a few hundred units with their network, then the risk is removed for them and you can get a better deal :)

radioactivemouse
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I know it's a late topic

I know it's a late topic, but the questions are so interesting, I kinda want to answer them :)

1. Why have you chosen game design as a hobby or job? How did you start?

Because I love games. I started game design way back in middle school when I didn't like how (early) D&D had no maps and so I made my own using graph paper and I sold them to my classmates. I then moved to creating mecha profiles for BattleTech and didn't really do any more designing until I went (actually returned) to college for Game Design. I started by working in the video game industry in 2003, being a tester on the original World of Warcraft. I then worked as an animator for several AAA video games, worked at a board game company, then I started teaching game design on the college level. After several years teaching I decided to create my first card game, Conquest at Kismet, released September of 2015. Now I'm working on my first expansion and my second game.

2. What do you like the most about your favourite games (either yours or someone else's)? Why would you consider them your favourites?

I like balance. I like games that can be won by a measurable amount of skill, but a novice can give them a run for their money. I also like unique or different game mechanics that fit well with the theme. Pasted mechanics are a turn off for me.

3. From where do you find the inspiration and ideas for your game designs?

EVERYWHERE. From working out, to my experiences traveling, to watching movies, to walking my dog, I look at everything as inspiration. Lately I've been looking for very unique themes and trying to go back to things that inspired me as a kid and making them into games.

4. If there's one thing you could share with a new game designer about the game-making process, what would it be?

Learn theory. It's something that's not mentioned, but new game designers should understand things like balance, conflict resolution, marketing, theme, trends, and many other things before they even start designing. So many DIY game designers don't realize they're grinding their gears on their first project when all it takes is more planning, theory, and a lot of social maneuvering. Unfortunately, I can't say anything when I see it because by then it's already too late.

5. What is the most important thing to pay attention to when you are in the playtesting stage with your game design?

Audience reaction. Even the little things. Eventually, you start to see patterns in the reactions and, after many many playtests, can give that extra amount of polish that turns your game from good to great.

6. What's the most useful suggestion you could give to someone who wants to approach a publisher with their game design?

Know the people that are working at the publisher. You could go blind, and there are success stories, but there are many many MANY people that go in blind and they fail. Go to conventions and talk to these people. Show that you can do it by completing a prototype, but don't overdo it. Even when you know people, maintain the relationships...don't just drop them when you've got a publisher on lock.

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