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where to start ?

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comfused
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Joined: 04/11/2012

hi,

I've been playing games for the last 4 years now
and have been reading a lot on BGG

now I would like to try and create my own game
board or card - it doesn't matter

but where do you start ?
is there some good, inspiring text somewhere that I should read ?
or should I just jump in the water ?

thanks,
Tim

Zzzzz
Zzzzz's picture
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Joined: 06/20/2008
where to start ?

Welcome comfused!

This is just a quick basic rant, there are many other ways to go about creating your first game. But I suggest you start with a theme and then add and remove game mechanics that help you portrait your theme.

There is a lot of information here in the forums, but it might take you time to read through the posts.

One simple way to *start* a game, think about a theme that you would like to create a game around. Once you have the theme you can start breaking down game ideas (or game mechanics) that help portrait the theme.

For example:
Zombie Pirates take New York City!

From this theme you might start to think about how do I portrait Zombie Pirates invading NYC? One idea, maybe they come in on pirate ships off the coast line. So maybe you create a game mechanic that causes zombies pirates to invade from the coast line each turn. Thus the longer the game takes the more zombie pirates that get a chance to invade NYC.

From there you might think, ok what should the players be doing? They are going to stop the zombie invasion, but how? And you start to think about ways to allow your players to stop the zombies.

You will continue the iterative process until you have a game that seems to fit your theme, and plays well enough to give players enjoyment!

gilbertgea
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Joined: 04/21/2009
where to start ?

Hello Tim,

I'm kind of in the same situation. Been playing games all my life. Actually, in the last ten years or so, its been mostly video games. I've lost interest in them, recently, because I have a family and video games dont really lend themselves to "family time" as well as card games or board games do, in my opinion.

That said, I'm no authority on making games, but I have made a prototype of a game that I'm still developing. So, I can tell you what I did and what I am doing.

I think that one of the first things you ought to do is decide what your game's theme will be. Ancient? Mediaeval? Modern? Sci-fi? Will it be a game of conquest? Or cooperation? A little of both? What role will the players assume? Warriors? Clergymen? Bankers? Doctors? Lawyers? Real Estate Investors? One-handed bottle-washers? All of the above? None of the above?

Hand in hand with that, you ought to consider who your target audience will be. Is it a game for guys? For the ladies? Both? Adults and children? Adults or children only? Is it meant for a specific audience? Or for a general audience?

Then do some reading about game theory and the different types of games. I started reading on Wikipedia about things from "Zero-sum games" and the "Prisoner's dilemma", to "Poker" and "Craps". I dont know if anyone else does that, but it helps open my mind to different ideas about games and how to structure them. I'm sure there are other good sites that you can access.

I'd also go back and play some of the games you enjoy or enjoyed; or, if you dont have the time, then at least go back and re-read the rules. Playing your games and/or re-reading the rules will give you some additional ideas about how to make your game.

While you're doing this, I think that if you have a theme in mind, you'll start to assign some of the mechanics to the game as you read and digest the information. I would keep pen and paper with you close by, because you never know when the inspiration will hit you about some concept or aspect you want to include in your game. Write it down before you forget it! Even if you dont use your idea in your current project, you might use it in a future project.

Then, find a family member, friend, or associate with whom you think you might share a common interest in your concept and start bouncing it off of him. Make a prototype and playtest it. Again, keep pen and paper handy while you playtest, because new ideas will most likely surface during the playtesting.

Listen to all comments, suggestions, and criticism. Keep a thick skin. It's your game: you're in the drivers' seat. You say what stays and what goes. At the same time, you should consider what your family, friends, or associates have to say and perhaps incorporate some of their suggestions. You will be looking at your game from one perspective only, as well-informed as you might be. You'll be standing in the "forest", so you might miss the "trees", as the saying goes. If you dont listen to some input, you might end up playing your game by yourself!

So far, I've made my game for my own and my family's personal enjoyment. As such, I keep modifying it, adding to it, trimming it, etc. At some point, however, if you want to market it, I'm sure you're going to have to decide to stop taking input in the game design and start the marketing process. I know almost absolutely nothing about that part of the process.

I hope that helps. Again, dont take my word as the Gospel. What I've written is what I have done so far; others might have a completely different approach.

Good luck,

Geoff

ensor
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Joined: 08/23/2008
where to start ?

Hi comfused,

Reading BGG is a great start, knowing what's out there and what's possible should give you a good foundation to start. I've learned a lot about game design from reading the The Games Journal, there's a fair number of articles on game design organized in the Topic archives http://thegamesjournal.com/Archives.php?Sort=1.

For their first game, (myself included) I've seen many people take the kitchen-sink approach and throw in everything they've liked in other games; this normally turns out poorly and requires a lot of revision to get the mechanics to mesh. My advice is to start out small with just a few ideas and build from there, either inspired by a theme you like or an interesting mechanic you've seen that might be tweaked.

In any case, get a working prototype (quality doesn't matter, as long as it's playable) as soon as possible, don't let it just stew in your head for weeks or months, because the best way to see how a game works is by playing it.

Good luck,

Mark

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
where to start ?

Quote:
One-handed bottle-washers?

Naughty boy.

Quote:
You'll be standing in the "forest", so you might miss the "trees", as the saying goes.

Traditionally one misses the forest for the trees, not the other way around.... but this still works!

~Josh

gilbertgea
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Joined: 04/21/2009
where to start ?

OutsideLime wrote:
Quote:
One-handed bottle-washers?

Naughty boy.

Quote:
You'll be standing in the "forest", so you might miss the "trees", as the saying goes.

Traditionally one misses the forest for the trees, not the other way around.... but this still works!

~Josh

Eh, whatever. Just dont try to lead your chickens to water before they hatch. :-D

comfused
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Joined: 04/11/2012
where to start ?

thanks a lot for the lengthy replies

seems everybody starts with a theme
but what with these fast paced cardgames ?
geschenkt - nicht die boone - take 5 - ..

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
where to start ?

comfused wrote:
thanks a lot for the lengthy replies

seems everybody starts with a theme
but what with these fast paced cardgames ?
geschenkt - nicht die boone - take 5 - ..

Hiya comfused... There are basically two ways to approach game design. One is to start with a theme, and then think about what kind of mechanics would work with that theme. Another way to approach is to start with a mechanic, and then think about what kind of theme that mechanic could fit into, or perhaps one could decide to leave the game abstract.

Both ways are valid. There's no "best" approach. Designing a game is a fluid proces. Sometimes you come up with a theme that suggest a mechanic, which suggests another mechanic, but which goes better with a different theme, so you adjust your theme, etc. Just go with whatever inspires you most and don't try to get locked into a certain theme, or a particular mechanic.

comfused
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Joined: 04/11/2012
where to start ?

I think I'm going to start with a fast paced card game

I've been reading a bit about game theory on wikipedia - and I found the 'ultimatum game' a nice one
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultimatum_game

first idea that popped my mind is that the 2 'surviving' players of a round need to split the loot
by some rule - one player gets the role of 'splitter'
he now has to propose how to divide the loot
if the other accepts - they both get their share
if the other declines - the loot stays on the table, and is added to the loot of the next round

sounds like an interesting start to me
but now of course I still need to figure out the other 90% of the game ;-)

Gimmy
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Joined: 12/31/1969
where to start ?

Hi there newbie ^_^ (as if we all never been).
as most of the people replied, start with the theme and build around it the mechanics, that's the easy way. but I have a slightly different approach, after I think about the theme and the ganre of the game, I take it as alive RPG and start convert it to a board game, and that's gives you a mechanic. that's at least gives me the basis of the game and from there imagination can only stop you.

about your game, well the "Ultimatum game" can be a good mechanic but not the core of the game, that's my opinion at least, and in any case try a few games with your friend and see how you feel about it...testing is not less important than sitting next to the skatch board.

Hedge-o-Matic
Hedge-o-Matic's picture
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Joined: 07/30/2008
where to start ?

I'd also recommend getting yourself some basic playtest and prototyping equipment. Glass stones in different colors. Blank counters and tokens in various colors, pawns, and so on. This stuff pays for itself, and, for some, just having it around can spark new ideas. check out the Prototyping thread, and the other links on this site.

kissi
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Where Next?

Intersting Ideas

I am also just beginning need to know what to do next.
I have an idea for a game somewhat similar to chess but where the pieces actually "plug in" to the board. Have written most of the steps for the game and some general rules and the idea for basic board design is in my head, but need a few suggestions on the design/style for "plug in" pieces. The other thing that would be helpful would be suggestions on marketing/ further development etc.

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
where to start ?

I would suggest starting a new thread with an apt title if you have a more focused topic that you want to generate discussion around.

~Josh

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