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Subject: Episode 25: Turning a Mechanism into a Game rss

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Matt Wolfe
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Listen at https://www.buzzsprout.com/48513/451085-episode-25-turning-a... or subscribe through iTunes https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/game-designers-north-car...

Adam Skelding (@spur_serif) and Graham Allen (@f3thermoore) join Matt Wolfe (@mattwolfe) to talk about how to turn an idea for a mechanism into a game.

:58 - GDofNC news
5:19 - What's in the Oven?
9:07 - Main topic part 1: Turning a Mechanism into a Game
27:31 - Main topic part 2: Mechanism Brainstorm Exercise
44:08 - Contact Info

List of things discussed in this episode:

2017 Cardboard Edison award
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Mark McGee
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Similar to some of the thoughts given, but with a different angle, if I start with a mechanism and want to make a game out of it, I try to identify the feel of the mechanism (I actually think of it as "theme" in the literary sense, but most people use that word for something else). From there, I try to find ways to support that feel with other mechanisms or game fiction, which then inform other development decisions.

Like, if I have a mechanism that drives a collaborative behavior, I run with that and try to identify other things that mesh well that reinforce the behavior of the players and keep the desired feel.

There's a bidding game I've been rolling around in my head where one of the key decisions is whether to spend more money to get something now or whether to spend a bit more time to try to get it for less money. I think of that mechanism as having a "time is money" theme, and that informs how I want to do other parts of the game. Standard set collection doesn't have the same "time is money" theme to it, so I'm looking for a different scoring method that can be described as having a "time is money" theme/feel to it.
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Jamie Sajdak
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Clarify the confusion? clear, clean, cull?

I haven't been designing games for very long however the only game that I have finished that started purely from a mechanic ended as an abstract strategy with no real theme, it felt very much that adding a theme would be an after thought.....which to be fair it would be.

That being said it was really interesting listening to your guys thinking through a mechanism!

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Matt Wolfe
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JamJam52 wrote:
I haven't been designing games for very long however the only game that I have finished that started purely from a mechanic ended as an abstract strategy with no real theme, it felt very much that adding a theme would be an after thought.....which to be fair it would be.


It might be to you because you see the history of the design. But adding a theme might feel like it fits to a player who is not knowledgeable of the history of the design. Don't hesitate to try to find a theme and see what playtesters say!

Quote:
That being said it was really interesting listening to your guys thinking through a mechanism!


Thanks! We hoped it would be helpful for listeners to have a concrete example of that type of thinking.
 
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Jamie Sajdak
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You may have a point, I might try that at the next play-test night I attend!
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Seth Jaffee
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I enjoyed this episode, as I generally enjoy thinking about how mechanisms caan be made into games.

One idea that came up sounded like it could work, and I ran with it a little bit on a plane ride the other day. I posted about it in my design blog just now:

http://sedjtroll.blogspot.com/2017/01/again-with-mechanics-f...

My current feeling is that without finding a theme to use, designs tend to die on the vine. but if I can find a fitting theme for this, then maybe I'll continue with it.

thoughts on theme are appreciated!
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Chris Broadbent
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sedjtroll wrote:
I enjoyed this episode, as I generally enjoy thinking about how mechanisms caan be made into games.

One idea that came up sounded like it could work, and I ran with it a little bit on a plane ride the other day. I posted about it in my design blog just now:

http://sedjtroll.blogspot.com/2017/01/again-with-mechanics-f...

My current feeling is that without finding a theme to use, designs tend to die on the vine. but if I can find a fitting theme for this, then maybe I'll continue with it.

thoughts on theme are appreciated!


Reading through your blog, my first thought was, of course, Scoville.
The second idea for theme was a swap meet of some sort. I give you X, I get Y (and maybe Z if I give you something you REALLY want). Sort of like those people who started with a pen and made swaps and trades until they had a car (I'm not sure if that ever actually happened, but it makes for a cool story).
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Matt Wolfe
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clbroad wrote:
sedjtroll wrote:
I enjoyed this episode, as I generally enjoy thinking about how mechanisms caan be made into games.

One idea that came up sounded like it could work, and I ran with it a little bit on a plane ride the other day. I posted about it in my design blog just now:

http://sedjtroll.blogspot.com/2017/01/again-with-mechanics-f...

My current feeling is that without finding a theme to use, designs tend to die on the vine. but if I can find a fitting theme for this, then maybe I'll continue with it.

thoughts on theme are appreciated!


Reading through your blog, my first thought was, of course, Scoville.
The second idea for theme was a swap meet of some sort. I give you X, I get Y (and maybe Z if I give you something you REALLY want). Sort of like those people who started with a pen and made swaps and trades until they had a car (I'm not sure if that ever actually happened, but it makes for a cool story).


The story I heard was the guy who turned a red paperclip into a house: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_red_paperclip

Seth, as for a theme, I think I would start with a generic theme like medieval society or farming or something like that to use as scaffolding to work on the game. Each of the pawns could be a specific profession (butcher, mason, smith, etc.) and the spaces could be tied to those professions. Everyone has to go to the butcher shop sometime (they need to eat!) but when the butcher goes there it produces goods instead. So there could be an interesting ebb and flow with available goods and trying to time when to use certain pawns at certain locations.

Super boring theme, but it might be enough to get the idea to the table to test it out. And perhaps a better theme would emerge through future iterations.
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