My name is Jake and I'm delving into my first game design over the next year or so.
I am a graphic design student and will be graduating next year with an emphasis in corporate branding and product packaging. I've spoken with my professor who specializes in design production and for next year as an independent study I will be spending anywhere from 4-10 hours every week for 28 weeks developing a board game from conceptualization to 100% professional quality game (one or perhaps two copies).
While much of the emphasis will be on the visual appeal and physical production of the board, box, and components, the game will be an original design that is (hopefully) very playable. I realize as this is my FIRST attempt at board game design I am not expecting a perfectly balanced, publisher-ready game to come out.
As I begin this process later this fall I'm sure I will begin to have many more specific questions, but for now,
With no real direction yet, how would you all suggest I begin brainstorming the concept for my game?
First, welcome to the board(?). I don't know if this is your first post or not. Anyway, welcome.
Second, to answer your question, that all depends... What board games do you like to play? Have you played the classics (chess, monopoly, go, checkers, life...)? Do you like card games? Are you into abstract strategy? Party / Social games?
Without knowing anything about you or your preferences, perform this exercise - Go to your local library and pick out a board game. Any board game. It could be a board game intended solely for children. Then, con / bribe / plead to have someone or enough someones to play the game with you. Tell them that the snacks and music (or even alcohol if permissible) are on you. Play that game ten to twenty times over. Keep notes on what you like / dislike about that game. Are there too many rules? Too many pieces? How long did that game take to set up / put away? Did you like the genre or color scheme? What play style seemed to have more success (aggressive, cautious, etc.)? Ask yourself if you could add or remove one rule from that game, what would it be? Were the game pieces too heavy or too light? Was the game too random or too strategic?
After you've played fifteen or so games, look over your notes. Do you see any trends forming? Are you liking large, complex games? Do you prefer quick, shorter card games? Do you like games that have lots of chance or others that are pure strategy? What did those people who you got to play the game with you say? Did THEY like the games? Did THEY think the games were too long, too short, too complex, too simple?
Look at a game that you'd never want to play and ask yourself, "If the genre of this game was different (such as sci-fi, steampunk, mecha, western, medieval, contemporary, etc.), would it make me more likely to play it?" Look at the art style of the games - Too cartoonish? Too realistic? Too stylized? Too bright? Too dark?
Inspiration can come from anywhere - One of my games started life while looking at the pattern on my kitchen floor and asking myself, "Can I make a game out of that?" Another game idea came from a display case mounted on a wall. Everyone is different and you'll eventually figure out what inspires your creativity.
Good luck on your project.
Thank you for the reply!
That was my post. I'm excited to be a part of this community.
It's great to hear your advice about playing a game to death to understand what aspects I and my friends dislike/find engaging. I have been trying to do this fairly intentionally for a year or so but not with the kind of dedication you are suggesting.
I actually own a good number of games and have played many boardgames of all kinds for years. My all time favorites include Ra, Bohnanza, and Battleline. I have observed that I tend to love games that have high levels of player interaction and some form of number crunching. Unfortunately Power Grid and Caylus will never hit the table in my group of friends.
I will definitely begin playing a select number of games as often as possible and start taking written notes!