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how do you know how much theme to add?

3 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/21/2010

I have a game in process, with a fairly solid mechanic (still testing). right now I am working on theme and background. It seems like it could have a huge background but I don't think I should spend the time on it in case the game does not sell? so whats a good rule when determining the amount of theme and background content?

Joined: 04/18/2009
There is basicly two main

There is basicly two main ways of designing a game. One, design a mecanic and make a theme fit on top of the mecanic. And two, have a theme and design the mecanic to fit within the theme. This is a litle simplified ofcors.

But it seams you have chosen the number one. This is normaly what you would consider a eurogame, strong in mecanic and week on theme (the oposit would be ameritrash, mutch stronger theme but weeker mecanics and yes I am speacing about the difrent game types in general). So unless you did design the mecanic to fit a certan theme I would say that you can add all the theme you want but the ods are that people will still se it as just pasted on. This unless you have some luck and have found the perfect theme that almost sems to fit your mecanic like magic. Then I would say the more theme you can add the better. This becaus if theme and mecanic works together it will highten the playexperience. But it will alsofacilitate the learningcurv. It is easier to learn new gamemecanics if you can asosiate them to somthing, or if the theme makes it so obvious that this is what hade to hapend next.

Also if your looking to publish the game, then I would say you have a higher chance of keeping youre theme the stronger it ties in with the gamemecanic.

Also a litle side note. I have found theat if you find a realy good theam it is basicly no work at al to fit it in to the game. It is sort of like putting on a glove or youre favourit pair of shoes.

Hope to hear more about your choise of theme and mecanic in the near future.

Koen Hendrix
Joined: 11/24/2010
Theme is good, but the game is more important than the story

Well I think that a little flavour text never hurt a game. Especially for a game that's got a strong focus on the theme, there's no reason not to include bits of theme and background whereever you can -- a short mood-setting story at the start of the rulebook, a paragraph on the back of the box, a sentence of flavour text on specific cards...

That said, remember that people are buying a game, not a book. The main thing should always be the game. For example, my zombie survival game in a victorian steampunk era (have a look in this thread) is a game depending on an appealing theme rather than innovative mechanics. So I'm making all the weapons and transports and roles appropriate for the setting: Sabres, Lightning Guns, Steammobiles, Zeppelins, Gentlemen, Apothecaries. I'm pouring as much Victorian style into the illustrations as I can. But I would never spend three pages detailing the world's history, because that would be in the way of the game rules, or write all card names with Victorian quill-and-ink, because that would get in the way of the readablility/playability.

Anyway, that's just my $0.02. Maybe other people have actual published examples.... does anyone know an example of a published game that's got too much flavour in it?


Joined: 11/25/2010
Here's a question...

Let's look at some of the top ranked (and, let's assume "best") games out there. For instance, Puerto Rico or Agricola. I think what pushes them over the top is their amazing ability to have both a strong theme and interesting mechanics/decision-making. So, maybe the real trick is to find how the two meld together. Whichever end you start at, your goal should be to end up at a point where theme and mechanics are indistinguishable...

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