Game Design

Game Design and Development: 2014 Review

Author(s): 

The New Year is an obvious time for reflection, so please excuse the navel-gazing.

This was the first year that I had any specific goals related to game design that I set out to achieve. Sure, there were several times in my life that I tinkered with game design and even constructed substantial prototypes, but I built those to play with friends or to train my mind. In December 2013 I decided that I was going to make an honest attempt at completing some of my game designs. By “completing” I meant making multiple thorough ideation-design-build-test iterations with the intent of developing a quality, marketable game. Having been supportive of several games on Kickstarter by that time, the power of possibility had grown enough that I was going to make the investment. By that time I had a couple new game ideas and one that I had iterated through 3 or 4 prototypes.

Game Design

In the exploration into new game designs I will certainly come upon ideas that have been tried, successfully and not, in other games. I also just might come upon some ideas that are "new"; that is, new to me or not well known. This notebook will document some of that exploration.

Objective

Explore game design "ideas" and post any research and insights regarding:

  • Game Design Process
  • Game Genres/Classes
  • Game Components
  • Game Setup
  • Game Mechanics
  • Victory/Winning Conditions
  • Game Design Tools
  • Game Design Resources

Hopefully, you will find this discovery process interesting and maybe even gain some inspiration from it.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 4

Design Workbench

Design Objective

Now with a game that seems to be pretty solid and fun it is time to introduce Orientation as a card state. Orientation is the final (at least that we can think of at this time) card state important to the game. Its importance comes from the original goal of having a purely graphical game in which the scoring is obvious by the appearance of the grid. Along with making orientation important comes providing an action to manipulate it.

Will card orientation introduce more fun and new (desirable) player challenges or just complicate the game with little or no benefits? Let’s see.

Resource Focus: The Dice Tower

Author(s): 

The Dice Tower website, podcast, and anything you can think of to promote the board game hobby is the brain child of Tom Vasel. It is unlikely that you have found Opie Games without already being very familiar with the Dice Tower, but here is a quick breakdown. Eric Summerer has joined Tom as producer of the podcast and there are many contributors to the site and the web presence that is The Dice Tower. Tom and company produce an amazing amount of game related content every week.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 3

Design Workbench

Design Objective

Now that we have a sense of how the game plays, we are ready to make a few more changes. Although we started with fairly stripped down rules, we are going to try to strip them down a bit more. Previously we only allowed Actions and Locks to be played on Revealed cards. That made it simple to think about what was happening, but also imposed a rule; “the card must be revealed” that may not be necessary and may actually inhibit the game play. So what if the state of the card Concealed/Revealed doesn’t matter?

Is the game more interesting? Is it easier or more difficult to understand, explain, score, play, etc.? What new problems may arise from this new mechanism? Does it reduce or increase the rule set?

Eliminating Player Elimination

Author(s): 

In modern hobby board games player elimination has largely been eliminated. That’s a good thing, right? Probably, but it depends on the implementation. Let’s take a look.

Current Norm: Generally, most recent games avoid player elimination unless the game takes less than about 30 minutes and any player is unlikely to be out of the game for more than about 10-15 minutes. (Note: These statistics are based on a quick summary of games I have played recently and are not scientific, but you get the idea). The modern designer doesn’t want any player left in the cold for more than about 10 minutes and presumably that is based on the fact that most players don’t want to risk being out in the cold for more than that either.

As a designer working on a game design, you may ask yourself, “How do I keep all the players in the game to the end?” Depending on what you mean by “in the game” you may be asking yourself the wrong question. If your first thought is to let the player stay in, but without any real chance of winning (probably by some brute force method of basically starting over) then you are not only asking yourself the wrong question, but getting the wrong answer. Better to let them go jump into another game or Tweet on their phone for the rest of the game than to patronize them with a false sense of belonging in the current game. At least they will be Tweeting about how they sucked instead of how your game sucked. Maybe.

Resource Focus: Board Game Geek

Author(s): 

If you don’t already have a Board Game Geek account, follow the Homepage link and set one up. Spend a few hours (or days) perusing the site and setting up some subscriptions to content that interests you. Then come back here. Board Game Geek was not the first resource featured here solely because I assume you already know everything you need about it.

Scott Alden and Derk Solko started the site in 2000 that has been growing at an increasing rate ever since. For more information, read the Wikipedia Article or visit the site and find out for yourself.

Game Makeover: Nines Micro – Round 2

Design Workbench

Design Objective

It didn’t take very many more test games to figure out that a stalemate condition could arise; where Player 1 would perform an Action (or more likely 2 Actions) and Player 2 would immediately perform an Action (or likely 2 Actions) to exactly counter or undo Player 1’s Action(s). Now Player 1 is set to do the exact same thing. Details are discussed a little later in the Grid Play section.

Let’s see how we might fix this issue without creating more rules.

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