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Game Design Idea

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Kevinct
Kevinct's picture
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Joined: 03/26/2012

I am a new poster and I just wanted to share an idea about making new game design easier. Any responses or criticism is welcome!

Here is my outline for making a new game using a series of questions you ask yourself. I do this to help myself develop ideas and it seems to help me get a feel for more complex decisions as I move down the list.

1. What kind of game it will be?
-board game
-card game
-etc.

2. How many players can play at once?
-1
solitaire
-2
chess
-2 to 6
risk

3. How does a player win the game?
-checkmate in chess
-attack life points for specified damage, force opponent to draw out
-yugioh and mtg

4. What can each player do during their turn and each other players turn?
-play one land, tap land to play cards, respond to the opponent
mtg
-roll a pair of dice and move, buy property they land on, mortgage property, trade with other players etc.
monopoly

5. What is the initial state of the game?
- both players draw seven cards
yugioh
- all pieces are arranged in a specific pattern
chess

6. How do the players interact with each other? (if it is multiplayer)
- Chess
you share the same space with the opponent
- Monopoly
you must trade with others to match colors, pay rent when you land on their property

7. Is their an optimal strategy?

By this point in the design you have figured out most of your game and you can begin to add definition. This question is important for adding depth to your game. Ideally you want to have many different playable strategies that are equally balanced.

For example:
-magic
if a player chooses blue which is slower and more controlling, red can player more quickly for direct damage
-monopoly
if a player decides to trade for Park Place and Boardwalk because of higher rent, another player might trade for lower rent properties that cover more area

Here is a simple game using this concept:
the game has three pieces
-factory
-tank
-turret

Each player starts with one factory, the factory costs 5 to build and produces 1 resource per turn for tanks and turrets.
Turrets defend the factories and cost 2 resources to build
Tanks can move to attack the opponent but cost 3 resources to build.

In this game there is no optimal strategy.
If a player builds more factories to improve economy, the opponent will build tanks.
If a player builds more turrets for defense, the opponent can simply build more factories because an attack is not imminent.
If a player builds more tanks, the opponent can simply build more turrets for defense.

What will eventually happen in this game is a state of equilibrium where both players develop evenly until they plan an attack on eachother. This adds more depth to the gameplay overall in my opinion.

8. Does the game have enough variety?
-mtg
creatures, spells, artifacts, enchantments, 5 suits, many many creature types etc.
-chess
6 different pieces, pawn, rook, knight, bishop, king and queen, 64 squares, two types of squares

This one is important as you build more layers on top of your basic outline. Now that the foundation of your game has been laid out, you want to be sure that the game feels different enough each time for the players to want the experience again. Not too different or it becomes confusing! :)

For example:
In the game described above you could have different types of offensive units. Maybe some can attack from the air/water? Different types of defense like anti-air or walls? Maybe different structures can be built like power plants or a lumber mill? You could even add more kinds of resources to add interest!

9. What will the theme be and how does it relate to the overall design?

One of the toughest questions on the list for me, but also very important! Would monopoly have been as good if it were a war game? Would chess make sense if it wasn't about two armies?

The reason this is so hard is because you have to look at how the game functions and add flavor where it makes sense.

The theme should relate to the features of your game because it will draw the player in deeper and they will really feel they are a wizard or a landlord or a general commanding armies!

If the game goal is to take all resources from the opponents, the theme should relate to that goal. What is this resource? What is the world I'm in that could have that? If you are trading pieces to match color groups, what could best represent those pieces? What could you trade resources for that generate more resources only when the opponent has landed there?

As you go through each layer from win condition to player interaction you can start coming up with ways to represent each of these mechanisms in interesting ways.

10. Is this part of the game is necessary?

This is the last question I ask myself when making a game. Here what I try to do is remove or trim anything from the overall design that doesn't need to be there. Anything likely to cause confusion or pull the player out of the game. I like to simplify as much as possible everything a player needs to do. This lowers the downtime of to much to figure out on your turn and confusing mechanics that can be replaced by a simple solution.

Anyways, just my two cents on game design. I hope this helps anyone having trouble with their design to finish it! That way they can get to the fun part of playtesting over and over and refining their design.

Orangebeard
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Joined: 10/13/2011
Great Start

Hi Kevinct,

Thanks for sharing your list!

My "game list" is nearly identical and I find having a list like this really helps to organize thoughts.

Sometimes I try to write what I think might appear on the game box to generate inspiration or excitement.

Kevinct
Kevinct's picture
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Joined: 03/26/2012
Game Design Idea

I try to curb my creativity by writing all ideas on a paper in an unbiased way. (no discarding even if you think it's stupid!)

I like to keep the idea section separate so I don't get confused with so many things to think about. I don't want to feel like I can't move forward without deciding on how something should look or whether the idea justifies the game.

To me it's best to just work from the ground up and try to move the game forward. Otherwise I might scrap the whole thing because I got stuck at some trivial part.

Not sure if anyone else feels that way sometimes too. :D

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