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Subject: A couple of things about game design rss

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Greg
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I've written two or three hundred articles on game design on BGG and have just now decided I wanted to try to pull them all together into some sort of sensible index.

I could use a little feedback on how well that's come out. I didn't re-read all of the posts in full and I'm sure at least some of my "I remember what this one was about" will turn out to be wrong. I don't seriously expect anyone to read all of these, but if you see a topic that interests you and give it a click then please let me know if it's misfiled or if the clicky link text was misleading.

Also if anyone knows how to pin a post to the top of a BGG blog please let me know - I haven't been able to work it out and didn't get any responses in the BGG forum I guess I could also have it persist here in thread form and link to that from the blog description text, but that seems unnecessarily snakey.

Hope you find something interesting

---Philosophy of Game Design---


The relationship between board games and culture
Elegant Design
The essence of strategy and why I make games
Reflections on the desire to offer extras and the nature of them
Honour in presenting prototypes
How should game designers be organised and paid?
An example of what we're up against in fixing gaming culture
Morality and board games
How awesome other people in the board games industry are
Games as metaophors for life
Games, cultural impact and thresholds
What is a game designer?
Innovation in Board Game Design (Yes you can!)
Gratitude and Honesty
Realism is a crappy excuse
Linguistics, Game Design and Social Engineering

---Designing a Game---


My General Process of Game Design
On the process of writing an Introduction to Game Design

Key Design Decisions

When should the game take its turn?
When should a game start?
When should a game end? Part 1
When should a game end? Part 2
What is losing like? How can it be made fun?
What choices are restricted, how and what is gained by that?
How many players does it have?

Properties of Games

Incomparables (abilities that are not similar to each other)
Emergent Properties (complex properties coming out of simple rules)
Emergent Play
Emergent Stupidity (How sensible rules and rational players can generate frustrating gameplay)
How to make friends by setting yourself on fire (or daft emergent traits)
Differences in Kind
Asymmetry
Analysing the weight of a game
First Impressions (part 1)
First Impressions (part 2)
Pacing
Start and End States

Mechanics Discussion

Critical success or failure
Traitor Mechanics
Using the player's capacity to lie
Using a player's capacity to cheat
Playing with ideas around deckbuilders
Real Time Mechanics
Stealth Mechanics (part 1)
Stealth Mechanics (part 2)
Choose your own adventure (blog post is presented in the style of a choose your own adventure game)
Action Programming
Various Initiative Systems
Distinct 'setup' and 'go' phases
Hidden Objectives
Asymmetric Difficulty (part 1)
Asymmetric Difficulty (part 2)
Allowing players to make up a rule
Trading Mechanics
Secret Identities
Dexterity Games
Mechanics for generating mystery
Combo Play
Social Deduction
Self Defeating Moves
Creating Standoffs

Themeing

Games that's themes successfully imbued them with meaning
Rethemeing
Storytelling vs Mechanics
Theme-Mechanic interactions in Card Games (duplicated in SatW section)

Emotions

Using piggybacking to create emotional responses
How depth and complexity are experienced emotionally rather than rationally
Feeling of balance vs reality of balance (cross posted in balance section)
The nebulous concept of fun
Emotional investment (or getting players to "buy in")
How players feel about carrots and sticks
Communicating Intended Emotional Load

Gamer Motivations

In Game Achievement Systems
Impact of player expectations on play part 1
Impact of player expectations on play part 2
Narrative Gaming
Why people rules lawyer (and why that's not a precise enough group)
Different sorts of gamers (A guide for non-gamers)
Redefining the victory conditions mid game
Mechanics for Imperfect Players
Sportsmanship
Players Playing for the Journey
Motivations for Gaming (Discussing Quantics model)

Psychology

When people mispercieve probability, why and how to use it
Visual Search Research (and game design applications)
Psychological tools for pushing players towards suboptimal play
Reducing cognitive load for small repetitive tasks
Encouraging good table behaviour through good design
Reward schedules and feelings of mastery
Effective use of tropes
People will try to win, so make that fun
Signalling design priorities through graphic design
Designing for players with different motivations
Probability Delusions (and applications for game design)

Interesting Decisions

Understanding and Choice
Resource Management
Interesting Decisions and Multidimensionality
Players personal philosophies and their impact on meaningful choice
Recognising Situational Value
One card Two choices

Chance and Control

Cumulative Probability
Different types of randomness
Cards and Randomness
Action Cards
Randomisation Timing
Player Count vs Controlled Interactivity
Chance to Win (The impact of retroactive calculation)
Fixed Hands vs Random Hands
Dice rolls totals and pools (mathematical analysis)
Cards as randomisers

Balancing

Self balancing games
Feeling of balance vs reality of balance (cross posted in emotion section)
Articulating Game Balance
Balancing environment difficulty to player progression
Balancing is Impossible and Boring
Balancing Spending Options
Dealing with power creep

AI for Boardgames

Cardboard AI
How should the AI cheat
Hidden AI Goals

Writing Rules

Use of Terminology
Use of Iconography
Writing deliberately obscure rules as a means to generate gameplay
Writing for Skim Readers
The practicalities of obfuscating rules (This is as much game design as rules writing, but I'll put it here for now)
Writing Simpler Rules
Writing for Brevity, Fidelity and Precision (and why you can't have all three)
Tips for Interface Design
Effective use of Summaries
Graphical Rules Expressions

Common Problems

Kingmaking and Virtual Elimination
Hidden Trackable Information
Calculation Burden
Simplifying Designs
Game Length (too short)
Controlling Information Release
Overcoming complexity through making it optional
Runaway Leader Effects in Skirmish Games
Overcoming all or nothing Situations
Uncluttering designs

Learning from other Genres of Game

Differences between board games and live action games
LARP and Boardgames
2.8 Hours Later (Analysis of live action game)
Turn Based Strategy
The mighty sport of 'face ball throw'
Design lessons from my first big LARP battle (part 1)
Design lessons from my first big LARP battle (part 2)
Game design lessons from a big scavenger hunt (no really)
Four Card Blind (Magic the gathering format)
Twitch plays Pokemon
MOBA Boardgame Design
Boardgames of Yesteryear
Are board games boring? (reaction to 'Video games are boring')

Components

Cool technology and board games
Use of paper at the table
How much can you do with a die?
The cost of miniatures
Mobile Phone Apps and Gaming
Fire as a Board Game Component
How the physical nature of cards impacts design
Board Design
How many cards does a card deck have?

Miscellaneous

Finding Value in the Design of Monopoly
Quickfire design analysis
Designing deliberately misleading games
Educational Games
Modular Design
The Use of Humour in Game Design
Bloat and Refine Technique
Designing for Injured Players
Adult content in games (Different to the specific post about SatW)
Designing at 90mph

---Playtesting---


Lessons from AJs success indicator model (Essentially the notion that with longer games how much a person thinks about the game once it's done is more relevant than whether they immediately want to play again)
Focusing on problems rather than solutions
Tabletop Simulator as a Prototyping and Testing Tool
The Impact of Venues on Playtesting
When to break or rewrite something that works
Playtesting graphic design
Solo Playtesting (and pseudoAIs to play any game against)
Local Maxima and When to Burn Everything
Remote Playtester Feedback Forms
Getting the most out of Playtests
Tutorial: Creating a tabletop simulator mod for testing

---Publishing a Game---


Pre-launch

Use of Promotional Cards and Elements
How working for a small business (not focused on games) skews decisions
Setting the player count (It may seem odd this is in publishing not design, but it's about displaying possible vs optimal)

Art

Working with artists (And other people who are experts in things that you are not)
Art Styles
The magic of textures

Kickstarter

Balancing retailer needs with Kickstarter needs
Making my first Kickstarter Video (part 1)
Making my first Kickstarter Video (part 2)
Analysing impacts on the 404 Kickstarter (at the halfway point)
Setting a pledge level price
Business Models and Kickstarter
The Evolution of Kickstarter
A comparison of two approaches to video creation
Designing a KS Page
Getting ready for a KS launch
How to get your Kickstarter Game First
How to get the word out about your Kickstarter

Reviews

Reviewer-Designer Relationships (not that kind)
The process of contacting reviewers
How to avoid driving reviewers away from Kickstarter

Distributing

Getting on to Tabletop Simulator
Phoning Game Shops

---Project History---


General

My first day as a game designer

Scandinavia and the World A game about country spirits made manifest. Based on an awesome webcomic.
BGG Entry
The Webcomic
Announcement and Overview
Adult Content
How card quality varies by context
Divisive Cards
Theme-Mechanic interactions in Card Games (duplicated in theme section)
A few card mechanic design lessons from this game

Wizard's Academy About incompetent wizards. My highest rated game on BGG!

BGG Entry
Introduction to Wizard's Academy
Early Playtester Feedback
Updating WA Events (Edition one was so much harder!)
Decision to publish WA over M:TV and Assassins
Applying elegance philosophy to fire in WA
WA Components (early version)
WA Setup (early version)
WA Rules (early version)
A game of WA expressed in graph form
Calculating how many games it takes to no longer be surprised
Emergent Properties in Wizard's Academy
Character Design
First Draft Character Art
Flitter
Badly written pulp fiction
Introducing the Miniatures
WA Kickstarter Launch

Wizard's Academy Puzzles Early in the development of WA I wrote puzzles, similar to chess puzzles.

Abridged Rules for Puzzles
The Firefighter
Firefighter Solution
The Exterminator
Perfect Victory
Dimensional Sciences
Commentary on Perfect Victory Solution and how it influenced design
Dimensional Sciences Solution
Development Hiatus
Analysis of Spell Design
Adding New Scenarios During the Campaign

Escape the Nightmare A party game about trading cards and trying not to ruin everything for everyone by trading the wrong thing at the wrong moment. My third 3DTotal game.

BGG Entry
SNAFU (A Kickstarter I backed for a dollar that planted the seed of EtN - I'd forgotten all about it before writing this index)
Meet the Games (EtN, Cheats and Genesis)
Kickstarter predictions and projections
Mistakes in the post-campaign period

404: Law Not Found The first game of mine that got made! Early posts refer to it as "Monkeygame" or "Space, Cannibalism and Monkeys" because we didn't settle on a name for ages.

BGG Entry
Introducing Monkeygame!
Decision to publish monkeygame
How to play Monkeygame (early version)
The invention of chips!
The addition of anomalies
Analysing the difficulty of different objectives
Picking a name for Monkeygame (Spoiler: It wound up called 404 Law Not Found)
Picking the highlight for the KS video
The timing of human death events
A peek at the art for 404
First game jitters
Setting Stretch Goals
Adding the Ferret Anomaly
The Organise Breathing Objective
The Explore Breathing Objective
The Timing Chip
Directive Difficulty (part 1)
Directive Difficulty (part 2)

Shenanigans: The Musical A quick social deduction game that I wrote for The People's Orchestra

BGG Entry
The three options for the TPO game
The best game splits into two design threads
Orchestral Stereotypes
Shenanigans Expansions
Development Jun-Jul
Setting Victory Conditions
Development Jul-Aug
Graphic Design Decisions
Stretch Goals and Breaking Rules
Multigame Scoring
Degenerate Games
Developing Outside the Boardgames Bubble
Shenanigans pre-launch Overview

Room Wars A silly game I released via PnP that has lots of potential. I should consider a small print release of this sometime!

Room Wars

Cheats A bluffing game that was soundly rejected in comparison to Escape the Nightmare and Genesis. It may see retheme and release in the near future.

Meet the Games (EtN, Cheats and Genesis) (repeated in those sections)

Dauntless Hunters A free skirmish wargame featuring many vs one gameplay. Presently on hold, I'm not sure it'll ever see the light of day.
Announcement
Early playtesting and the impact of facing
The monster hunter theme
Slime trails and rules writing
Wizards vs Demons
Wizards, minions and the luck mechanic
Planning Out the Project to Account for Absence or Illness
Halfway Point
Rage Mode (to overcome runaway leaders)
The effects of the rage update
Unit card design
Monster Card Design
Rules Refinement
Version 0.3
Pack Tactics for Monsters
Legendary Monsters
Improving Legendary Monsters
Faction Building
Custom Warbands
Story Based Warband Building
Project Pause (and a teaser for another project)
Mothballed

Infinite Legacy The first game I'm considering as an alternative to Dauntless Hunters. A true sandbox game.

Introducing Infinite Legacy
Early Components
Negative Buildings
First Infinite Legacy Prototype
Initial Complexity: The first play of the new prototype
Improvements based on that experience (lots of advice for complexity reduction.)
Interconnectedness and Playtesting (short)

Assassins A deckbuilding stealth game. I hope to finish and publish this one.

Early Playtester Feedback
Character Design
Decision to publish WA over M:TV and Assassins

Genesis A shufflebuildy bluffing card battling game about forging a world in your image. I would really like to do more with this one.

Meet the Games (EtN, Cheats and Genesis) (repeated in those sections)

Arena A small scale arena fighting game. It had some promise but at the moment it's unlikely that I'll ever go back to it.

Introducing Arena
Decision to publish monkeygame

Murder:TV Game about a reality show based on battle royale. This one is abandoned.

Introduction to Murder:TV
Early Playtester Feedback
Item Design
NPC AI
Decision to publish WA over M:TV and Assassins

Lies and Lightning A two player battle game that was pretty DOA, a few interesting lessons to take from it.

Introducing...nevermind it's terrible

Project: Deathmatch A live game played as a fight to the death in a park with hidden weapons. May see a resurgence due to a new venue opened in Birmingham.

Initial Notion
Introduction to Project Deathmatch

---Asides---


Joking about the Emperor's New Clothes KS
Comments on the expanding board game market in 2013
Thoughts from my sickbed
The Player of Games (Iain M Banks passing away)
A little light market research on what 3DTotal's 3DArtists play and like
Lessons from Wench
UK Games Expo 2014
Artists for Game Designers
Responses to iSlayTheDragon Interview
Why I design games that I do not enjoy
UK Games Expo 2015 (My first stand)
Starting work for The People's Orchestra
Delerious writings while really quite ill
Looking back on delirious writings while fine
Tabletop Simulator vs Tabletopia
Storytime
UK Games Expo 2016
Mental Battles in Game Design
Game design 2017
What's wrong with me?

---Reviews (My reviews of other's games)---


Review: Stack and Attack
Review: Risk Legacy
Review: In a Bind
Mr Game

---Interviews (My interviews of other people)---


Interview: Luca Caltabanio
Interview: Jason Washburn

---Guest Posts (by me on others blogs)---


Unboxed (Aka the one with the voices in my head)
Funding the Dream
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Charles Ward
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Wow - You have been busy! This is a great collection.
 
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Terry Kirk
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I'll give these a read when I get time.
Thanks for taking the time to collate these.
I'd to you but I have no gold.
 
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Pelle Nilsson
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Impressive! I sense that many old blog comment-threads are going to be suddenly revived.
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Greg
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I don't feel busy, but I guess things build up over time.

That's okay, nice comments are better than gold anyhow I've got plenty of gold because I get to upload pictures of my new games before anyone else does, but I don't have enough reasons to smile every day.

Aye, there are a few old ones shuddering back to life already, but that's fine by me. Hopefully it means someone is finding value in them. I'll get into them when I'm awake.
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Sight Reader
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Wow. I'll need to bookmark this and read it.... over the next six years...
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Nik Macmillan
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Wow, this is awesome! Thanks so much for pulling this together. This thread definitely deserves to be pinned!
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Greg
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Thanks but I don't think this overview is anything like comprehensive enough to be pinned to the game design forum in general.

I reckon a pinworthy version of this thread would integrate posts by other designers on the same topic so that a person who was interested in - say dice pool mechanics - could get perspectives from a few different designers.
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Marcos Estevo
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Berebekan Katabamba, Berebekan Katabamba, Berebekan Katabamba...... Kikerá!!!!
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Thank you very much. Quickbared!
 
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Lindsay Jamieson
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A large quantity of interesting topics. I have bookmarked this page, and will graze so to speak ie read samples of them regularly during the next few months. Only then will I feel ready to comment further.
It is rather an impressive list.
 
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Greg
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I think there's some variety in quality between the posts based on how much I knew when I was writing them and how rushed I was on any given day

Since it sounds like some people are reading through them all (!) I'll try to post a comment when I add something to the list so that it's possible to tell when something's been posted in a section a person has finished

---Gamer Motivations---

Motivations for Gaming (Discussing Quantics model)
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Robert Wesley
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Re: A couple of things about game design REVAMP
While 'moi' still HATH "graphics designs" over 'toi', and perhaps yet plenty another. Great seeing your "contributions" as well, and best regards.




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Greg
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Mothballed

A quick account of the state of Dauntless Hunters and why I'm putting it on hold for a while.
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Greg
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It is a delight to cross paths. They said that I hadn't looked backly but then it was around so I think we agree.

Thank you
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Robert Wesley
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We're the: "Flapping Jack-a-napes of A-L-L 'Traits'!" cool
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Greg
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New article Are board games boring? added to "learning from other genres" in reaction to an article 'Video games are boring'.

Mostly talking about design space and whether board game development has become a bubble of like minded people producing samey games.
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Greg
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Sorry soblue no time to lose lately! It's good laugh but I'm a ROUS.
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Greg
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Another new post (Two in a day! Problem with having so many irons in the fire is that their update schedules don't always line up)

Introducing Infinite Legacy

Starting a new project as an experiment for what I want to lead my patreon when I finally launch it. This one is pushing towards being a true sandbox board game.
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Sight Reader
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x_equals_speed wrote:
Sorry soblue no time to lose lately! It's good laugh but I'm a ROUS.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm missing in these posts except that I'm clearly I'm too stupid to get the joke... (hangs head)
 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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You're not alone.
 
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Emil Larsen
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Wow, that looks overwhelming - in a good way

I'll be saving this list for later, it's certainly worth a look on those long winter nights

Thanks Greg!
 
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Greg
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sightreader wrote:
x_equals_speed wrote:
Sorry soblue no time to lose lately! It's good laugh but I'm a ROUS.

I have absolutely no idea what I'm missing in these posts except that I'm clearly I'm too stupid to get the joke... (hangs head)


I have no idea if my interpretation of Grognards posts is correct and therefore whether my responses actually make any sense. They're interesting though and it's fun to engage with them for their own sake
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Greg
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New post, talking about setting a start point (since I'd written about setting an end point already )

When should a game start?

Added to "Key design decisions"
 
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Greg
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Another new post, this time updating the Infinite Legacy project talking about early components and tangenting a little into future proofing vs rapid prototyping
 
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Billy Pitiot
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How about a cake break!
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x_equals_speed wrote:
New post, talking about setting a start point (since I'd written about setting an end point already )

When should a game start?

Added to "Key design decisions"


The link doesn't work.
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