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Hello from Sweden and request for advice

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 11/12/2012

Hi there!

My name is Mayu and I am a game designer. Well at least in my head I am. See the thing is one of my hobbies is thinking up interesting concepts for games I would like to play, however I never actually get to the part where you start actually building the game.

The process for me usually goes something like this: I think of a cool theme. Then I start coming up with mechanics that would work nicely with the game. And then I just keep revising and revisiting my notes over and over. I always end up finding some flaws with the design (this is all happening mostly in my head still) and then decide that the game would probably not work anyway and I move on to something new.

Now my question to you more experienced designers is this: How did you take that leap from something that is mostly in your head to actually building a prototype? Was is easy for you or was it something that you actually had to actively "convince" yourself to do? What are some good tips and techniques for prototyping on the cheap? Would really appreciate it some advice on this, even if it is just the story of how you got from idea to prototype for the first time.

I am fully aware that "ideas are cheap" and that often the biggest difference between an aspiring game designer and an actual game designer is that the game designers actually take that step and create the game. So I am hoping you all have some advice on crossing that line. :)

On a more personal note, I am 32 years old, married with two lovely daughters, living and working in Stockholm, Sweden.


truekid games
truekid games's picture
Joined: 10/29/2008
I made games for my friends

I made games for my friends long before I started taking it more seriously, so there really was no leap. But broadly speaking, I would say as soon as you've got something that sounds INTERESTING (and have worked out a few of the kinks beforehand in your head), put it on cardboard. You will never solve all the problems of a game before you hit the prototype stage and get some plays in, so don't delay it until it dies quietly in the back of your head.

For cheap prototypes, I would say buy a package of 110lb cardstock or equivalent (150 to 250 sheets should be somewhere in the $5 range), Scissors, a Ruler, and either a pack of 10 colored markers or a package of erasable colored pencils. Odds are you've got everything but cardstock already, so $5 should get you going. Sheets of cardstock can be taped together to make boards, cut up to make cards, folded to make boxes and player screens, and everything in between.

If you want to go one step further, I'd grab a bucket of cubes for about $20:
Because they're useful for everything- they can be pawns, money, resources, meter-markers, etc.

pelle's picture
Joined: 08/11/2008
Hello (from Sweden too)!

Hello (from Sweden too)! Välkommen!

Try some design competitions like the ones hosted here on BGDF every month, or in the BGG design competition forums. It is very good for exercising all the skills you need for a real game (prototype) plus you will sometimes get very good feedback (a few games from such competitions have even ended up being published).

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
From IDEA to an actual GAME

The way it works for me is that I have a *Theme* I LIKE. Something that has not been overly done and there are possibilities to bring to life a unique game experience.

Other times it is *suggestions* from another designer. For example, a designer after talking about my game would say something like "Take a look at game X or Y." When I do, I try to differentiate my product but perhaps use some concepts from the game.

Take for example my current game: "Tradewars - Homeworld".

In this game I was interested in *Deck-Building* and wanted the game to be a Deck-Building Game (DBG). So I did research both on BGDF and the Internet to see how other DBGs are played. So I looked at Dominion and Eminent Domain. I knew from researching them, that my game was DIFFERENT. Eminent Domain uses ROLES like in Puerto Rico and my game uses roles like SAN JUAN (but again differently). Lastly my game skirmish mode is something similar to Magic: the Gathering except it uses dynamic, customizable configurations of starships.

Again, that concept was not perfect. I had to rework the rules of the game seven (7) times. So I have had seven (7) different PROTOTYPES. Each time tweaking more the game as it gets playtested.

The bottom line is this: Don't expect your FIRST prototype to be PERFECT. What you want to do is PLAYTEST it and see what needs changing/tweaking/adjusting. If there is ONE aspect of your game you like, build AROUND it...

Usually a prototype comes after I DESIGN Black & White cards in Adobe Illustrator. Nine cards to a standard 8.5" x 11" letter paper. Then you can buy CARDSTOCK and print out the cards... I recently bought a paper slicer to accelerate the time it takes to CUT cards... Worthwhile investment many times over!

Just don't expect everything to happen ALL AT ONCE. It's a PROCESS and it takes TIME.

Hope you find the time to take one of your ideas and turn it into a real game... Best of luck to you!

Note: My NEXT game "Monster Keep" was entirely thought up by sharing messages in these forums. It would be my 3rd Published game. But right now I am mostly focusing on my 2nd game (Tradewars - Homeworld)...

Nix_'s picture
Joined: 09/23/2009
getting to prototype stage

Its true, I have a lot more ideas sitting in a notebook than I have prototypes.

If you think one of your ideas might be fun, put the effort in and prototype it- chances are you'll be glad you did. Trust me, once you have a physical game in front of you and play test it a couple times more ideas will come, and those flaws that you are thinking of in your head might smooth over.

Joined: 11/12/2012
Thanks everyone for the great

Thanks everyone for the great feedback. The game I am thinking of involved only cards and different colored standard D6s, so it should be relatively easy to make a physical prototype.

I am not proficient with Illustrator/Photoshop type programs. Are there any "standard" TCG card templates floating around the net that you know of by chance?

Again, thanks very much for the feedback!

questccg's picture
Joined: 04/16/2011
Magic Set Editor (MSE)

MayuPolo wrote:
I am not proficient with Illustrator/Photoshop type programs. Are there any "standard" TCG card templates floating around the net that you know of by chance?

There is a program called "Magic Set Editor" (

It has templates for different types of Magic: the Gathering, VS System, and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards.

I think it also has OTHER templates as well, not sure. BTW if you are not proficient with Illustrator/Photoshop, I would suggest either using an editor such as MSE or simply writing the cards by hand. I have done this with two (2) of my other prototypes. One of them is 100% completed prototype - however at this junction I am not interested in publishing that game...

There is also "CCG Maker" (, but I have never used it... There are a limited amount of templates available through this software.

I personally think MSE is probably the better choice...

Knicksen's picture
Joined: 05/18/2011
Just go for it...

...I did and I've now got a game designed. Listen to the advice here and have a look at the Board game Geek forums on Game Design and Graphics. There are also FB groups.

Pelle has posted before about using PowerPoint to do basic layout / graphics for prototypes, so don't be daunted by trying to do professional graphics straight off.

If you want a template to try out, you can download files from for their cards, which are fairly standard sizes.

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