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What Do You Want?

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BENagy's picture
Joined: 09/25/2013

So you've decided you want to design games. Maybe you have one idea in mind, or more likely a hundred. Maybe you don't have any idea what kind of game you want to design, but you know it sounds like fun. I mean, it's games, right?

One thing I want to do with my blog (at, is go over the board game industry in general, and how we're building a board game publishing company from the ground up. It really is a lot of fun, but there's a lot of work to be put into building any business, and the secretive nature of the game publishing industry makes our job that much harder. I want to share what I've learned (and what I'm learning daily), as well as show proof that it really is possible to do what you love in life, successfully, if you go all in on it.

Back to your game(s). You most likely have a billion ideas running around in your head, just waiting to explode from your brain and onto the table. You've developed a whole new genre of board game, or a new twist to an old theme. Or maybe you already have a few projects you've been working on. You've perhaps tested the game a couple times, maybe shown it to family and friends, or even had playtest group you've never met before provide you feedback, and they think it's great. You go to bed at night, dreaming of all the success you will have, the life you will lead as a big name game designer, or perhaps even just the joy of seeing the 10-20 people you let play your game enjoying themselves with something you've created.

But hold on! You forgot one of the most important first things to do (and no, it's not taking out the trash).

In all of the books I've ever read about game design, from all the tips I've ever gotten on business, there is one vital thig I've heard only once: "Before you start, know what you want." It's not something that's talked about often, and certainly not something that I thought about when I first started designing games. Not right away. What I would do with a successful game, what I would define as a success, was a problem I could deal with when I got there.

Now there are certainly a lot of things to think about when designing a game, and I don't want to take you away from it for too long, but sit down just for just a little while, and think about what you want to achieve from your successful project. You don't have to try and take over the world. Sometimes, presenting a fun activity for your family on a Saturday evening is more than enough reason to make something new and exciting. But when you actually define what it is that you want from your project, then it becomes much more obvious what you need to do to succeed.

I've seen a lot of people ask whether or not, for example, they should take their game to Kickstarter, or present it directly to a company. Whether they should playtest it themselves, or send it out to others. Whether they should make all their own art for a project, or contract out the work, or bring someone else onto the team, or be satisfied with stick figures. (But not mine. I can't even draw a straight line. More like... squiggle figures.)

All of these answers become clear as soon as you define what you want. Here are some common possibilities, though there are as many reasons to design games as there are people... or even more!

1) Making the Dream
Maybe you've thought about this game for a long time. Perhaps you've worked on some rules with buddies at your play group, or you've always wanted to fix that one rule in that one game... Regardless, people who want to 'Make the Dream' generally just want to make one copy of the game that they can show off be proud of. They want to accomplish something, a challenge unique to board game design where they can show the fullest extent of their creativity. 'Dream Games' are usually extremely complex, have a very limited scope (a lot of 'Dream Games' are war games), or are actually just re-envisionings of a favorite game.

2) Making Fun
'Fun Games' are all about getting as many people a possible to enjoy something that you have created yourself. You enjy other people enjoying your game, and nothing sounds better than a compliment on a job well done. Sometimes 'Fun Games' are just about sharing the game with family and friends, but many people who make 'Fun Games' would like to have 100 people or 1000 people out there really enjoying their game.

3) Making Profit
Games that fall in the 'Profitable Games' category include the ones that people make to sell on Kickstarter, to publishers, or even just at the local garage sale. They usually need to be flashier than 'Dream Games', but appeal to a lot more people than most games, so that they can be sold. People who make 'Profitable Games' usually want as many people as possible to play the game, and want to at least fund the hobby, so that they don't lose cash making games, although some do expect to actually make a living making board games.

Obviously, any given project may fall into any one of these categories at different times, or even be in multiple categories, or in categories not listed here, those these are the major ones.

So what do you want to do with your project? where else can you apply this? Which of these categories does your game fall into? Or is it in a different category entirely?

Thank you, and I hope to hear your replies.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Category 1, obviously: -War

Category 1, obviously:
-War game.
-"Extremely complex". Well, there are strategies in all kind of ways.
-Re-envision of RTS. It's just the S now. But in basic, it is a copy.
-Several special mechanics that all other games have not or is rare.

I had my fun. Now it's time for Category 2:
-Getting a second prototype done with new ways of using pieces. Thus less handling. Thus more fun for other players.
-New art too. No more stick figures. They are going to get round figures. And a bit more detail in it. Still a lot of work to do.
-Perhaps more people will like the game if the prototype doesn't look like crap. Which is my major problem right now.

I am extremely slow in things.

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