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Subject: What's Your Analogy of Board Game Design? rss

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Josh Kotlowitz
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There isn't much purpose to this thread, but I think it might make for interesting and maybe even poetic conversation. My very unpoetic analogy is as follows:

To me it often feels like solving a Sudoku puzzle. You begin with a few mechanisms and ideas to work with and have to fill in all the missing information using these starting ideas. When tackling a missing idea/mechanism (or empty cell in the case of Sudoku) you often realise you first need to work out missing idea/mechanism B, which then also needs idea/mechanism C and D to be better defined, etc, etc.
Eventually you find the ideas and mechanisms you can define with just your initial information. And as you progress, it gets easier and easier to work out the missing ideas and mechanisms because you have so much more data to guide you.

Does anyone agree with this analogy? What does board game design feel like to you?
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Brandon Rollins
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It's kind of like the never-ending pursuit of the North Star. It's so iterative and you'll never reach perfection, but you can get close.

It's kind of like tinkering with a complex clockwork to make it run a little bit better. But every piece, every little mechanism touches something else. You must be careful to avoid unintended consequences.

It's kind of like writing a novel. Even with every word so carefully chosen, in the hands of someone else, it will take on a whole new meaning you never expected.
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Charles Ward
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Anyone heard of Swiss Tony?
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J C Lawrence
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Carving David: Start with a blank block of marble and remove everything that isn't David.
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James Arias
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I read somewhere that game rules and flow are like programming, which I agree with, especially the iterative design/try/break/fix piece.

Writing rulebooks is like a legal contract, since in both you ideally have clearly defined/consistent terms and no ambiguous situations like "what do I do next" or "if this happens, what do I do".
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Sean T
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To me it is most similar to engineering problems. I have a collection of various tools and concepts to make this object function most efficiently and still be user friendly.
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Michael Brettell
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ex1st wrote:
Anyone heard of Swiss Tony?


Is that the European version of Fat Tony?
 
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Michael Brettell
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At the moment for me, it feels like swimming against a very strong current - make some small progress, then pushed back to where we were months ago...

I agree its like solving a puzzle, and carving the statue of David. You know there's a good game in there, if you can just find it. Peeling away the extraneous is key.

I'm a software developer by trade, but game designing for me has one crucial difference. The criteria of a good computer program can be compared to a detailed requirements document. The criteria of a good game more than anything else is its enjoyability, its fun. Very hard to describe that from an engineering perspective.
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Candace Mercer
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brettellmd wrote:

At the moment for me, it feels like swimming against a very strong current - make some small progress, then pushed back to where we were months ago...

I agree its like solving a puzzle, and carving the statue of David. You know there's a good game in there, if you can just find it. Peeling away the extraneous is key.

I'm a software developer by trade, but game designing for me has one crucial difference. The criteria of a good computer program can be compared to a detailed requirements document. The criteria of a good game more than anything else is its enjoyability, its fun. Very hard to describe that from an engineering perspective.


I was just thinking about this. I am working on my first game [getting ready to make my first prototype after thinking and writing and researching] and it definitely feels like writing/editing. I have too much now, I have overwritten and now I need to edit down. Less is more!

Like Sudoku or a crossword I have some glimmers of logic, clues to the solution, but it is only through iterating will I come to the solution.

I have learned from working on other large art projects that right when I am getting most frustrated I am also most likely on the verge of finding the solution. I am in that slightly overwhelmed place right now. I know it will pass, but ugh...my head feels like it will explode at times!
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Josh Kotlowitz
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Reading all these great responses has made me realise that it's hard to attach one single analogy to the entire process of game design and I think it's because board game design consists of several very distinct phases, all of which require completely different ways of thinking from the designer.

I guess this is why board game design is so difficult and why so few games make it past prototyping. Designers have to be innovators in the conceptual design phase, analytical thinkers in the balancing phase, novelists* in the rule writing phase and punchbags in the testing phase.

This is all a good reminder of how far I still have to go with my game blush. Time to get back to work!

*Thanks to Brandon Rollins for this one!
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roger miller
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I use game design as an analogy for any extremely difficult project. All my friends understand when I say its just like game design.
 
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JP Ginley
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Agree with the stone carving analogy and cutting out all the
unnecessary crap...simple game, simple rules and simple packaging
- but easier said than done !
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Dimitri Sirenko
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Sheiss wrote:
There isn't much purpose to this thread, but I think it might make for interesting and maybe even poetic conversation. My very unpoetic analogy is as follows:

To me it often feels like solving a Sudoku puzzle. You begin with a few mechanisms and ideas to work with and have to fill in all the missing information using these starting ideas. When tackling a missing idea/mechanism (or empty cell in the case of Sudoku) you often realise you first need to work out missing idea/mechanism B, which then also needs idea/mechanism C and D to be better defined, etc, etc.
Eventually you find the ideas and mechanisms you can define with just your initial information. And as you progress, it gets easier and easier to work out the missing ideas and mechanisms because you have so much more data to guide you.

Does anyone agree with this analogy? What does board game design feel like to you?


to me it is an art form just like visual art, animation, fine art, movie production, music production or even martial arts. There is a reason it is called "Design", that word can be used in any medium of creation in my opinion. Whenever you create something it becomes art. To me as a game designer and professional artist, you can be a game designer, a doctor, a lawyer, a sales person, a sergeant, construction worker or even simply a cleaner and be considered an artist if you are using your brain to solve problems creatively.
 
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Niko
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ex1st wrote:
Anyone heard of Swiss Tony?


Exactly what I was thinking.
 
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Oliver Greenwood
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I specialize in grid-movement abstracts and I've thought for a long while that crafting a set is like building a musical instrument. So designing a new game is like building (spatially, physically) and tuning (i.e. drafting the rules of) an entirely (sometimes) new sort of instrument.

I see games and music as having much in common, being both mathematical and beautiful. Chess, for example, is like a classical violin or perhaps a harpsichord. Each piece is like a string, each move a note, and openings are like a familiar movement. Every game is a song, and it proves to be well played when each action taken is in harmony with all the rest.

A great difference, of course, is the presence of an opponent and the need to contend with his actions (less common in music), which makes games more difficult (in some ways) and more beautiful (in some other ways). A kind of duet.

I think Weiqi is like the two-stringed erhu, simple design but hard to master. Backgammon is percussion. Fox and Geese games are like flutes, lighthearted and fast-paced.

I like to think my own games are like harps, but in reality they're probably more like the hurdy-gurdy.

I suppose euro-games and other resource using games are akin to electric musical instruments. Same idea, but a bit more time consuming and "busier" what with the need to find outlets, fiddle with cords (as well as chords) and set up a sound system.

So in designing, when you draft the rules (or string the instrument) you have to see (or hear) how every possible move (or note) blends with the rest. The result is either a melodious masterpiece or discordant disaster (or something somewhere in-between, like a guitar with a broken string or two).
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Greg
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For me it's like flying gliders.

You are beautiful and free and can go anywhere and do anything. A technical understanding will help you go higher and further, but reducing it to a mere technical exercise is to miss the point.

Then you land on the ground and have to drag the damn thing through the mud to wherever you were supposed to have landed it and tinker with a million bloody things to get it ready for another launch, if you can find space in the queue for an already overcrowded launch pad.
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JP Ginley
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"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication" (Leonardo Da Vinci)

"Simplicity is the key to brilliance" (Bruce Lee)

"You've got to keep it simple" (Albert Einstein)
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Scott Allen
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Song writing.


For one, how many thousands of songs have already been written, and yet artists and bands keep writing them.

There are certain rules, but many of the good songs break some of the rules.

There are many types of songs: anthems, ballads, instrumentals,... and genres: folk, pop, rock, classical,...
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