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Subject: Game Design Challenges rss

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Andrew Birkett
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Hello all,

I have been trying to be more creative and foster a greater total number of game design concepts. Recently I have been doing a 5 minute challenge every day where I essentially just come up with as many theme ideas as possible in 5 minutes.

I have been thinking of expanding this to also do a 5 minute challenge for game mechanic ideas.

My question to all of you would be what are some of the things you do to be more creative with your designs? Do you create any lists of game ideas and/or mechanic ideas?
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Scott Allen
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I don't create a written list of mechanics. I do have a written notebook of game ideas.

I don't have a method, but for each new game design (just for contests here on BGG), I try to have a personal design challenge. Some of these challenges are built into the contests: 24 hour contest, 9 card contest, etc., bit others are "self imposed" such as:
- cards only, no other components
- standard playing cards as main randomizing mechanism
- using a shared board
- no dice
- etc.

I think having a different personal challenge for each new design hopefully keeps each game design fresh.
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Gil Hova
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To echo Scott, constraints are wonderful. Use them.

Other nice exercises:

* Design an expansion for your favorite game. Try to take it to a new place.
* Remove a mechanism from your favorite game. Try to make it still work.
* Playtest other people's games. Your feedback on their game will make you a better designer.
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Michael Brettell
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I'll add +1 for constraints as well. The main constraint I follow is theme. Start with theme, and some idea of the story you want players to exeperience. It becomes a puzzle you need to solve - how do you create that story, support that theme, while coming up with something fun and interesting?
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Matt Knaack
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Reiterating: constraints, constraints, constraints! They seem like a challenge but they are actually the opposite: a framework for focused creativity.

I'm about to enter my first 18-Card Microgame Contest here on BGG. I've got a laundry list of game ideas and one of them seems to be able to fit (like the square piece through the square hole) so I'm chasing it!

Most of my ideas come from random moments in life: miscommunications between friends, almost getting clipped by an ambulance while on my bike, trying to make coworkers perform their job more efficiently, interests like Stonehenge and aliens, walks near cemeteries and thoughts about archaeology--these sorts of things.
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Andrew Birkett
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I have done components challenges designing games only using a certain number of components. The next game I am launching on Kickstarter actually started as a challenge of designing a 108 card game.

Narrow Gate Games wrote:
I don't create a written list of mechanics. I do have a written notebook of game ideas.

I don't have a method, but for each new game design (just for contests here on BGG), I try to have a personal design challenge. Some of these challenges are built into the contests: 24 hour contest, 9 card contest, etc., bit others are "self imposed" such as:
- cards only, no other components
- standard playing cards as main randomizing mechanism
- using a shared board
- no dice
- etc.

I think having a different personal challenge for each new design hopefully keeps each game design fresh.
 
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Mus Rattus
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Boardgamizer http://www.boardgamizer.com/can be useful to flex those creative muscles. It generates different combinations of mechanics, theme, victory conditions, and constraints.
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Andrew Birkett
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I do a lot of constant exercises, too. Just not as a daily thing.

I have never thought of making an expansion for an existing game or removing and mechanics. That sounds really interesting.

I do playtest a lot of games, too. I try to do a weekly event here to play test other locally designed games (there are not as many designers as I would like, but it is a smaller city).

Thanks for all the really cool suggestions!

IngredientX wrote:
To echo Scott, constraints are wonderful. Use them.

Other nice exercises:

* Design an expansion for your favorite game. Try to take it to a new place.
* Remove a mechanism from your favorite game. Try to make it still work.
* Playtest other people's games. Your feedback on their game will make you a better designer.
 
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Andrew Birkett
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Yea, that is always fun. Though I need to look at it more as a puzzle to solve, especially when I get stuck.

I am a writer so I try to start create a story and my theme comes first, I might have one or two mechanics I want to incorporate, but I always want the story to shine through. I personally hate when a game feels like the theme was just thrown on afterwards.

brettellmd wrote:

I'll add +1 for constraints as well. The main constraint I follow is theme. Start with theme, and some idea of the story you want players to exeperience. It becomes a puzzle you need to solve - how do you create that story, support that theme, while coming up with something fun and interesting?
 
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Andrew Birkett
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Yea I have never done that intense of a constraint. I typically do things like just cards or only x-number of cards, or would fit in x-size box, etc.

I have never heard of those challenges on here though so that is really cool. I don't know what I could make into an 18-card micro game, but that sounds like fun. Now I must try that.

_mackinac wrote:
Reiterating: constraints, constraints, constraints! They seem like a challenge but they are actually the opposite: a framework for focused creativity.

I'm about to enter my first 18-Card Microgame Contest here on BGG. I've got a laundry list of game ideas and one of them seems to be able to fit (like the square piece through the square hole) so I'm chasing it!

Most of my ideas come from random moments in life: miscommunications between friends, almost getting clipped by an ambulance while on my bike, trying to make coworkers perform their job more efficiently, interests like Stonehenge and aliens, walks near cemeteries and thoughts about archaeology--these sorts of things.
 
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abirkett2 wrote:
I have never thought of making an expansion for an existing game or removing and mechanics. That sounds really interesting.


For Ameritrash and miniatures collectors, I think it's commonplace. For the Savage Worlds miniatures and RPG game, someone made stats for all the Reaper Bones miniatures. All 200+ of them. Myself, I made 1000+ powers for Cosmic Encounter as a permutation exercise -- and this pales in comparison for entire fan expansions for the game. I also have 150+ cards for Wiz War, mostly based on translating sillier generic fantasy tropes into Wiz War mechanics. RPG game masters regularly make up worlds and adventures for their favorite RPG system.

Removing mechanics is the best exercise for your own games, imo. Many themed games get overcomplicated as they try to simulate more and more things and do more and more things (hello, PACG!). RPGs go stupid with dice rules when all dice boil down to adjusting a percentile for success. Myself, I'm boiling down a diceless simultaneous combat game to three steps per turn and pushing the thematic stuff onto the cards. I *am* looking to see if this chaotic game can be used with more than one genre, but that's about it for now.
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