Game Design

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 5

Design Workbench

Design Objective

In this round I will try to address two seemingly unrelated observations: The “1” Action (Reveal/Peek at any card) does not get used much and a player may run out of time sooner than they want. According to the major objectives for this game, both of these observations may not be recognizing negative conditions, but they may be more pronounced than desired. Let’s break them down a bit into what is actually positive about these observations and what might be negative:

Pick A Player, Any Player


Recently on another game design blog there was a debate about whether a designer should accommodate poor player decisions in the game design. Although it was not the topic of the original article, the discussion veered into new territory (as they often do). I pointed to my article Eliminating Player Elimination where one of my points is that the designer takes on a higher challenge and risk by keeping players in the game (rather than eliminating them) because those players need to be engaged in the game to the end. The idea that the designer is responsible for prompting this engagement was challenged by one of the commenters and, in particular, my light-hearted description of behaviors that bored losers will exhibit was criticized with the following. (Paraphrasing…)

Mechanics Makeover: Dice in a Cup – General Playtesting


A few words about the playtesting approach are in order so they are not necessary in every posting. While the specific variations in this makeover are relatively simple, a valuable aspect of this makeover is to review the testing approach to a highly variable game.


For playtesting an individual mechanic, I am introducing what I call a “Gamelet.” A gamelet (like an applet compared to an application) is a mini-game in the sense that it does the functions of a game, but in a very narrow sense. A good gamelet will exercise one mechanic in a very limited sense. In this case there are also Attributes that impact the operation of the mechanic. So there is a grid of Attributes and Gamelets to test if each attribute is tested separately.

Resource Focus: Board Game Hour


Board Game Hour is a little difficult to describe within my limited categories for resources. It is a weekly meet-up on Twitter to discuss board games and board game design. The meet-up is hosted on Nurph and moderated by the Minister of Board Games himself, Nate Brett. The “Hour” of interest is every Monday at: 7pm GMT (which I mention first since the Minister is in the UK). This translates to 2pm EST, 1pm CST, 12pm MST (which works great for me so I can join on my lunch hour), and 11am PST. Note: The time gets a little wonky at the time changes since the UK observes Daylight Savings Time differently than the US.

The 4Xs of Expansions


Expansions come in many varieties and those variations can be described in various ways. While researching my article on Hobby Game Trends 2000-2014, I had to decide whether or not to include expansions in my data. This decision caused me to consider the question, “What is an expansion?” One categorization criterion is what the expansion does to the original game – how it expands the game. Keeping in tune with game descriptions, I’ve categorized expansions into 4 X categories.

Resource Focus: Jamey Stegmaier


Of the game design and development resources I have highlighted so far, this is the first that is a person rather than a brand. This is done with no intended slight to those highlighted previously; there are real people behind each one of them and in all cases a very small number of people (usually 2-4) behind each. What makes this case special is when I set out to write up this mention, I was at a loss to describe it in any way other than as Jamey himself.


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