Skip to Content

board game vs. video game design

37 replies [Last post]
The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
My last words about

My last words about Zelda

Remember the NES game cartridge? It was gold with a simple shield on the cover with symbols on it. When I was a kid I wanted to know what this game was that had this emblam on it. I think that was better than haveing Link on the cover flying through the air, as he makes a blow with his sword showing his teeth. I got to imagine what the rest of the game is like. It didn't matter that the graphics were bad it was fun.

In video games, they progress technilogically getting better in graphics and more realistic game e experience. The beauty of board games is that they don't have that issue. A board game from the 70's could be created just as well as a game today. It's different. But what about the idea above, where it doesn't have to be a dramatic picture on the cover but draws a person in. We know a simple game can be vary fun. I'm gong to stop there because that's all I really wanted to say. What do you got?

larienna's picture
Joined: 07/28/2008
Board games also evolves on

Board games also evolves on the mechanic and estetic point of view. Board games today have be strongly enhanced with the use of computers for making artwork. Mechanics also has evolved, you see tables much less often. CCG was a mechanic that could not possible be done in the 70ies. So there is an evolution but it's different.

Larienna, your game sounds interesting. How does the magic the gathering part factor in?

In the video game, you just have a spell book of assorted spells for the 5 colors of magic. You pick a spell to research and eventually you will learn the spell. Your mana can be splitted as mana for spell casting and maintenance, research or skill improvement.

Then at anytime you can cast a spells on either units, cities, areas, in combat, on the world, etc. Some are permanents, some are instant, etc.

In the board game I try to make, it's a bit more touchy because there is too much information to note ( for example, I cannot have an enchantment token under each city and unit to mark that they are enchanted.

So for example, when you cast an enchantment, all your cities in a certain range from your tower are enchanted automatically.

Right now I am not sure how spell cards should be handled:

The dominion way: You draft cards during the game add them to your deck. Draw, cast, reshuffle. Some powerup allows you them to leave them in play. (need many multiple copies of cards)

Permanent powerup: You develop a field of magic, place the card in play and the effect stay permanent for all your civ. (it gives you bonus)(need less spells and not that much multi copies).

Reusable spells: Spell are cast from your hand but you can re-cast them as you like, you just have a limit of spell you can cast/maintain per turn.

So the game is now on ice waiting for futher ideas will eventually comes in.

Joined: 09/29/2008

When I was a kid I wanted to make video games... I would fill notebooks with characters, stories, special moves, joystick motions, etc. But I grew up in rural Wyoming before the internet. There was no way to purchase a descent computer or a programing language without a trip to Denver, and I wouldn't have had the thousands it would have required anyway.

Eventually, in high school, I turned my attention to board games instead. My first attempt was at an abstract strategy game (after all, board games are like chess, right?). It wasn't a failure, but it was certainly cumbersome. When I turned my attention to board games I became concerned with things like new mechanics, player interaction, and elegance of design.

I now focus strictly on board games largely because I can create them, they are feasible, but also because I like the act of pushing a limited medium to it's limits. I think video games have begun to stagnate. The indie scene is exciting and there are still a few big titles that raise my blood pressure (STREET FIGHTER IV BABY! WOOT) but I'm more interested in board games.

All that aside, I always tend to look to video games as the inspiration for my own ideas. My only successful game, Deadly Harmony ( )was an attempt to bring fighting games to the board game realm. I wanted a game that captured not just the theme, but the heart and soul of a good fighting game match; I wanted to make a game where you didn't play the game, you played your opponent.

I think video game design is constrained by genres. Designers want to make "A Fighting Game" or "An Adventure Game" and all they do is swap out characters, stories, and levels. This is a strength and a weakness. Sometimes I want something that feels like Zelda, in which I pick up one of its myriad clones.

But sometimes I want something new...

Board Game design is LESS constricted by the concept of genre and is not only open to, but demands, fresh ideas (very few people are excited about all the different flavors of Monopoly, which don't alter the base game at all, or Uno which only add minor changes). A war game can't JUST be a clone of Axis and Allies, or Diplomacy, or Game of Thrones. Something new must be added or the audience will see it for what it is: a clone. In the video game world a clone of another game can still survive because of those things that video games do better, most importantly, aesthetics. Story, characters, music, cinematic. In short, video games are becoming a dramatic (as in theater) medium. They can do this well. Board games... not so much.

Now this isn't a hard and fast rule. Many have tried to make story/games. Android ( ) is the latest in a long line of attempts. Narrative, theme, color, chrome, whatever you wanna call it, this is video games strength. I think it is little wonder that they have drifted in this direction. It was these factors that drew me to them when I was a kid, not the cleverness of their mechanics or the elegant balance of their rules. Video games are also able to solve the problem of a finite amount of space, cards, and bits. A computer will manage all of those clunky things like line of sight, and thousands of counters, timers, and tokens. In short a computer solves the problem of "fiddly." Video games are also really good at simulating objects moving in space in real time. Just try replicating Joust on paper. Even with turn based or simultaneous action selection and rounds rather than real time movement (which would be patently impossible) the game would become a mess. The math for calculating trajectories, inertia, mass, simply can't be done fast enough to make the game remotely playable. A computer does all of that for you on the fly.

This all brings me back to Deadly Harmony. When I wanted to make a card game/fighting game instead of worrying about distance, timing, reach and frame counting I attempted to discern what a fighting game makes a player feel like when they play it. I then sought mechanics that would engender those responses. Video games, like all games, make us feel. Some things they can make us feel are easier to replicate than others. If someone plays Ditaka in Deadly Harmony they are never going to get exactly that strange nexus of story, art, joystick motions, and play mechanics that makes Ryu in Street Fighter or Ukyo in Samurai Shodown exist as a "fighting game character" but I hope they will touch something similar. I hope they will be able to feel something new, but familiar. Something fresh and challenging, and stimulating, but dramatic (again as in drama or theater).

There is a place where the different schools cross over.

The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
Thanks for speaking up

Thanks for speaking up! I've been trying to communicate similar ideas and enjoy your posting your thoughts.

In my opinion, I'm new to game design, but in my opinion starting with theme can trigger many creative and fresh ideas. Especially if one creates the mechanics to support the theme to create the feeling. For example, my game isn't about a labyrinth. That's where it takes place but the theme is initiation. I am an initiate so I know what it feels like. I have gone through a huge real life labyrinth in an initiation blindfolded. I past the test. Can't talk about it too much and I'm not saying that to be a bragart but I know what kind of feeling I want to create.

Joined: 07/24/2008
Jackhalfaprayer I agree with


I agree with your comment that video games are restricted by genre (mass market ones anyway) yet believe that there are board games like those you want to see. The general public just does not get to see them because of restrictions imposed by publisher services, product line or costs.

Take Adagio's post for example (Galaxy's Edge- manufacturing), component shape had to be changed. In this instance it was a happy change, how many designers make unhappy changes and lose their intended design in the process?

The Magician
Joined: 12/23/2008
The subconsious mind is rad

My train of thought about this thread topic if I recall, I have been contemplating how far a board game experience can be stretched and how much story and adventure can be backed into a board game and still be....well accessible and fun. Also, how to get the adventure of many video games into a board game. I know there are so many board games out there and I haven't scratched the surface. I don't have ambitions of making much money off board game creations unless that reality hunts me down by some conscequence of some cause. But I do have ambitions of holding a box in my hand of a beautiful game that I created and produced that I can sell. And because of this attitude, I am free to explore what I want to do. What I love about creating a board game is that it is a new exciting meadium for me to create with. Okay I'm rambling, time to get to a more focused ramble.

Somewhere in my contemplations, among many sorts of things about games, the thought was entertained for a short time about haveing music soundtrack to one or more of my games to be. What would it be like to add certain music to a board game experience. Not a practical thought, but hay the imagination needs time to roam. This thought was up there with thoughts about "dramatic elements" and "adventure". Okay, a music is not even necessary to board game design probably. But anyway do to the usual nature of the imazing subconsious mind, a series of events led me to discover a great looking game called "A Touch of Evil". This was braught on by my questioning "how much story can be told in a board game". This game looks great. I noticed it also has a high rating on BGG. But what it also has that I never seriously thought a board game would ever have- a game soundtrack CD. I thought "oh my god! Well here I go. Never underestimate how overly produced a board game can get. Well, I haven't played it yet but it's sitting on top of the biggest game I own and love, a large roulette table, and will be played vary soon. Ahhh, this game I am excited about. Anyone play and enjoy a touch of evil? I am interested to discover how it handles it's story and if it works out to be a good game.

End of Time Games
End of Time Games's picture
Joined: 04/16/2009
shazzaz wrote:Did you play

shazzaz wrote:
Did you play the game Magician?

Appearances can be deceiving, maybe this particular zombie game has something others do not. It is only the good games that get 7+ on BGG.

(FYI "Magician" was my old profile.)
Shazazz, I feel terrible for judging "Last Night on Earth" by it's cover. I am becoming a big fan of Flying Frog Production's games. Those people are ausom. I don't know how they put out such large produced games for being an independent company with only a couple games out so far, but they are frikin rad! I'm drooling over there games. I don't care anymore that the game has Zombies because it's just fun. In reality I haven't played LNOE, but I own A Touch of Evil and it could be damn nearly my favorit. I must get LNOE. In this interview I hear really cool news that they're coming out with a new martian game and it is compatable with LNOE. Also the creator sais the touch of evil expansion has similar game board that buts up against the original making two game boards side by side.

interview with ATOE designer :
Actually, I would never have found A Touch of Evil if you hadn't sugested LNOE. These games inspire me as well about what I like in board games.

Syndicate content

forum | by Dr. Radut