Recommend
 
 Thumb up
 Hide
15 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: A Diagram of the Game Creation Process rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Lewis Pulsipher
United States
Linden
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've posted a diagram at

http://www.pulsipher.net/gamedesign/GameCreationProcess.htm

intended to illustrate the game design process.

It isn't clear to me how I could make this diagram directly available on BBG to readers of this thread.

Start at the upper left, go toward the lower right. This is a data flow diagram, NOT a flowchart. Information (or physical items) can flow both ways between processes, or perhaps only one way. Circles represent processes/subprocesses. A rectangle represents an external entity that provides input (such as a playtester). The triangle represents an external entity that receives output. The other symbol is a data store, where information (or objects) is stored.

Comments?

Lew Pulsipher
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Justin Redd
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmb
To add the image to the thread, click the "IMG" button and enter the URL of the image itself in the pop-up.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alexander B.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmb
Looks OK for ONE POSSIBLE game design process, but this is certainly not THE game design process.

Nice tools, but there is no one answer to creativity, if there was, then we'd be swimming in great games instead of being lucking getting a few really good ones a year
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jeff Paul
Canada
Winnipeg
Manitoba
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Very interesting. Have you read Bowen Simmons Design notes for his games?

Some factors you may not have considered - and these depend on the game you are designing:

1. The publisher may modify the design

2. Sometimes the prototype or a component is the genesis for the idea. For example in the Simmons' game - the look was critical and impacted the design. A similar factor may have been involved with Wallenstein, where the tower _may_ have come first.

3. Where does "theme" fit into this? For some games this is not as important, for others (like most wargames), this is a central facet.

4. You have "solo playtest" and "playtest by others/blind playtest" - shouldn't this really be three categories? ("solo playtest" and "playtest with others" and "blind playtest")

5. What about rules proofing? I think this is a different task from playtesting.

Nice idea.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lewis Pulsipher
United States
Linden
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is not a diagram of creativity. I'm not sure even the scientists who work on creativity as a subject would diagram it. "Creativity" happens within the processes. This is a diagram to show what happens along the way. Quality is not part of the process diagram in and of itself. If a designer leaves out some of these steps, I think he's less likely to create a good game. If a designer follows these steps, he may still end up with a lousy game, though it should not be an unplayable game (if it were, the blind testing would never work).

The diagram is a process of game design. The publisher is outside the system (somewhere after the "complete" submission). "Complete" is in quotes because publishers usually change a game, sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. Accidentally or by intent to change, the latter is, unfortunately, quite common. Researching and solving production issues is outside the system, insofar as the manufacturer does this. The designer ought to be aware of how the components of his design can affect the "producibility" of it--2,500 pieces might be a bad idea, or a huge board--but questions at that level should not be shown in the *process*.

My experience is that publishers will manufacture the way they think is best. They believe they are the experts in game presentation and manufacture. The designer has virtually no input. When I playtest I make sure I have 3D pieces (for those games that use them) because that affects visibility and "manipulability", but I am not likely to send the entire prototype with 3D pieces to a publisher, as they can tell well enough from the PDF whether they are interested in a game or not. If I meet with them at a convention, then I'll bring the full version, but I never make a box or illustrations for it. I suppose this is one of those "your mileage may vary" instances, but all evidence I have seen points to "polished look of prototype" as a waste of valuable time and brainpower. (Similarly, the author of a book does not try to submit a "prototype" that looks like the published book will look. Book publishers definitely do not want that.)

Probably the smaller publishers are more open to presentation suggestions than the larger ones are.

Theme is part of ideas and prototyping and rules. It is no more or less important than many other facets that are not specified in the diagram. If we were going to do subdiagrams for each process (as is often done in data flow diagrams/systems analysis) then theme might turn up somewhere down the line.

Rules proofing? Blind testers are likely to do that in passing. Thereafter, is that not a part of production, hence outside the diagram?

You can certainly make a case to separate in-person testing and blind testing, but so much of the process is the same that I combined them for simplicity. There is a difference in communication method only.

To me, a component such as the Wallenstein tower, or such as a particular type of piece (I have a game whose genesis was a desire to use the glass beads or "gems" as the only pieces) is an idea much like any other. Once again, I'm trying to separate the process from the details. Inside that first "idea" process the subdiagram would show the possibility of starting with a theme, or with a mechanic, or with a component.

No, I have not tried to do the subdiagrams. Perhaps this Christmas.

BTW, the diagram is meant to show the process for any game, non-video or video. I forgot to number the processes, but that may be a good thing. The numbers do not represent any particular order, so they can be misleading to those who aren't used to DFDs. I have revised the diagram slightly, but not posted it on the Web yet.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A reasonable presentation of the game design and development process prior to submission.

Yet for at least wargames, research is to a great degree the source of 'ideas' and influences just about every design and development stage.

The degree in which this happens is of course dependent on the nature of the game/vision of the game designer. A light wargame (e.g. Command & Colours) or broadbrush treatment (e.g. your excellent classic Britannia) demand FAR LESS historical research than more complex designs - say those modelling military, political and economic affairs in detail.

Research may of course also be important for a eurogame. In the Shadow of the Emperor (a game with more of a 'simulationist' approach than most euros) or The Pillars of the Earth (a game based on a novel) both are in many ways informed and inspired by research.

The great design-related challenge of course regarding research is not to get swamped by it and overly chromify one's design. Triumph of Chaos appears to me like a game whose designer lost focus and got mired in superfluous chrome. Of course, the yardstick here is vastly different, depending what kind of game we're talking about.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Bohrer
United States
Hereford
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
charlesf wrote:

The degree in which this happens is of course dependent on the nature of the game/vision of the game designer. A light wargame (e.g. Command & Colours) or broadbrush treatment (e.g. your excellent classic Britannia) demand FAR LESS historical research than more complex designs - say those modelling military, political and economic affairs in detail.


You know, Charles, I'm not sure I entirely agree with this statement. I would agree with you that the amount of research required depends on the designer's intent. But simply because a factor is abstracted or left out of the model doesn't mean that the designer doesn't have to do the research to make the decision to do so.

Action Front is a light wargame. Not QUITE as light as C&C, but close- it's more simulationist and less game, to be perfectly frank. Now, I know a bit about ground combat; and I have to assume that most of my target audience does too. Through a LOT of the design process, I found myself with a LOT of situations where I was saying "OK. I'm going for short, clear rules and relatively uncluttered counters (something I didn't quite make). So how the HELL do I deal with [faulty radio communication] [platoon vs battalion weapons] [differences in command structure] [friendly fire] [ammo types and quantities] [sighting systems] [specific battle occurrences] [etc] without writing a rule to do so, and in a way that doesn't sound a false note to my audience?" The only way to answer that question is to do a LOT of research, and come up with abstractions that match audience expectations.

Now, if you write the game first and THEN add the theme, yeah, all you're doing is adding words and artwork. Research is definitely less important than playing with mechanics then.

So overall, you're right in saying that design intent does determine the research to be done. But I wouldn't necessarily agree with saying that the level of detail in the finished game does.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Dearlove
United Kingdom
Chelmsford
Essex
flag msg tools
SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
As an illustration of the previous made point that this is a design process, not the design process, consider the role of playtesters. If I read the diagram correctly, playtesting modifies rules/programming and the prototype. However I know from personal involvement that some designers take playtest input all the way back to the ideas stage, which isn't shown. (They may also input into theme, which isn't shown as a separate concept - while the "bolt on theme game"'s frequency can be exagerated, it exists.) And the diagram only admits of one conclusion, complete for submission; there is another important alternative: scrap.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lewis Pulsipher
United States
Linden
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Dearlove wrote:
As an illustration of the previous made point that this is a design process, not the design process, consider the role of playtesters. If I read the diagram correctly, playtesting modifies rules/programming and the prototype. However I know from personal involvement that some designers take playtest input all the way back to the ideas stage, which isn't shown. (They may also input into theme, which isn't shown as a separate concept - while the "bolt on theme game"'s frequency can be exagerated, it exists.) And the diagram only admits of one conclusion, complete for submission; there is another important alternative: scrap.


A DFD is, by intention, a diagram of a process that works. That doesn't mean it never fails. The process is the same even for a "scrapped" game. I don't see a "clean" way to note at every stage that the designer may abandon the process. It could be incorporated into subdiagrams (diagrams of the individual processes).

How does the diagram not include a "big idea" role for playtesters? The ideas stages are still there, but the designer in that case may spend little time there in order to get to playtesting to take advantage of the ideas of the playtesters. The "Ideas Structure Framework" arrow goes both ways, which admits of playtester input ultimately affecting the fundamentals of the game. I can see why someone might want an arrow from playtesting directly to the structure process, but that would occur only if the "playtesters" are involved before the prototype exists, that is, before the game is played. I prefer to define playtesters as people who play the game, and introduce (in subdiagrams) the possibility of "collaborators" or "contributors". Now the same people might fill both roles... but they are different roles.

I do sometimes talk with people about game ideas before any prototype exists; but at that point they are collaborators in the design, not playtesters.

Seems I will have to make the subdiagrams...

I have to say I disagree strongly with people who insist that it is not possible to diagram this process in one way, because there are so many ways to do it. There are many ways to *creativity*; the effective way to employ that creativity is something we ought to be able to figure out and define, just as we can figure out and define any "system" in system analysis. That doesn't mean all successful designers will follow it. Example: some musicians or composers cannot even read or write music, but they are still great musicians or composers (McArtney and Irving Berlin come to mind). Nonetheless, if they had been able to read and write music, their tasks would have been simpler. And most successful musicians and composers do read and write music.

Lew
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alexander B.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmb
My point was not to imply that studying process cannot be useful. My point was that it is a bad idea to present any process as working AT ALL in general.

If you read how various writers approach writing, say, ficion, you'll see that they all have different methods. We can say that it goes from rough, to better, that is about it. However I have heard that Stephen King sometimes has almost zero editing for some books, so even that is not always true.

So, for sure study processes! Just make sure to include the thought that PART of the design process is to consider that whatever process you are using could and should be changed as deemed best by the designer: that is how we develop our own style. It is NOT science, it is art.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Christopher Dearlove
United Kingdom
Chelmsford
Essex
flag msg tools
SoRCon 11 23-25 Feb 2018 Basildon UK http://www.sorcon.co.uk
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
lewpuls wrote:
How does the diagram not include a "big idea" role for playtesters?


I mean there's no feedback from the playtesting state to the ideas states.

Quote:
I can see why someone might want an arrow from playtesting directly to the structure process, but that would occur only if the "playtesters" are involved before the prototype exists, that is, before the game is played.


I have done that in a special case, but even if you ignore that, a playtester may suggest something that's structural, especially if playing at the really early stages. There are plenty of reported instances of games that started out completely differently to how they finished, to the extent that no outsider would recognise them as even related.

Quote:
I prefer to define playtesters as people who play the game, and introduce (in subdiagrams) the possibility of "collaborators" or "contributors". Now the same people might fill both roles... but they are different roles.


OK, but I think the people I know tend to call it all playtesting, and the two may happen together - even in the same sentence ("you could do this - or you could even do this"). And you'll pardon me for assuming you had them together, as only playtesters are shown as an external input.

Quote:
I have to say I disagree strongly with people who insist that it is not possible to diagram this process in one way, because there are so many ways to do it.


I would draw an analogy with software engineering. That can be diagrammed. In fact it can be diagrammed in different ways (waterfall, spiral etc.) that actually show some difference in methodology, not just in diagram. That makes spiral (for example) a diagram, but not the diagram for software development (even ignoring that there's more than one way to do a spiral). That would seem to be the same here. Your method obviously works. Others may have approaches that work for them. I playtested a session with a successful designer who didn't want suggestions from playtesters, he just wanted to see the game played and draw his own conclusions. That is a different methodology than one which takes in playtesters ideas and uses (a few of) them.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Charles F.
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
gbohrer wrote:
charlesf wrote:

The degree in which this happens is of course dependent on the nature of the game/vision of the game designer. A light wargame (e.g. Command & Colours) or broadbrush treatment (e.g. your excellent classic Britannia) demand FAR LESS historical research than more complex designs - say those modelling military, political and economic affairs in detail.


You know, Charles, I'm not sure I entirely agree with this statement. I would agree with you that the amount of research required depends on the designer's intent. But simply because a factor is abstracted or left out of the model doesn't mean that the designer doesn't have to do the research to make the decision to do so.


Geoff, my statement was meant more as a rule of thumb in regards to the number of variables involved rather than being of a categorical nature.

Making an abstraction, which remains true to its subject may well also 'require' substantial research.

But I do hold that more variables being involved, increases the number of risks of messing up the portrayed subject. There are simply yet more 'mistakes' to be made.

This is one of the reasons why a more complex game may well be more unrealistic than a far simpler game on the subject.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Alexander B.
United States
Austin
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmb
charlesf wrote:

This is one of the reasons why a more complex game may well be more unrealistic than a far simpler game on the subject.


Yes, but theme and realism are only loosely bound together. Theme IS nearly always about detail whereas realism is more connected to research. Simulation is a mix of detail and realism, so will usually also involve more detail than is strictly needed in many cases to achieve the realism. In theory, someone could calculate all of the starting factors of WWII and have a single die roll realistically determine the outcome of the entire war... this shows that there is no link between realism and fun EXCEPT via the detailing processes of simulation or theme.

That is why I rarely use the term "realistic". Theme, flavor, and detail are what many wargamers (as well as fantasy gamers using complex systems) are looking for more than realism.

It could be that this gives the "illusion" of realism... be that as it may, it adds theme and flavor, and that is often the primary goal. Same goes for writing techniques. Read any high quality fictional account of real WWII battles and you'll see that the author is usually putting theme and flavor in the driver's seat, while making sure that the realism is also accurate as a secondary (yet important) consideration.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Geoff Bohrer
United States
Hereford
Arizona
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Yep, and I'll unreservedly agree with everything you said there. Making a more complex game IS riskier...not least because there will always be someone there to point out that the Hetzer didn't mount an exterior machine gun or that shrapnel was unique to the British (or whatever slipped through your research). When it happens AFTER release, it can be a disaster.

I'm very fortunate to have an excellent fact-checker picking up my mistakes in AF.

And your point about broad-brush games being more accurate than detail games is well taken, too. I love to scandalize fellow grogs by pointing out that, from the perspective of a national commander, Axis & Allies does a better job of portraying the choices available than does Third Reich.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lewis Pulsipher
United States
Linden
North Carolina
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've posted a modified version of the diagram at the same place, along with the old one for comparison.

http://www.pulsipher.net/gamedesign/GameCreationProcess.htm

 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.