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Subject: Designer Diary - The birth of the game rss

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Mauro Chiabotto
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I've loved the post-apocalyptic theme since I was young; I spent several months playing Fallout 2 and I’m a big fan of Interceptor trilogy. When I fell in love with board game designing, I was immediately struck by the desire to create a game to honor this setting.

In 2016 many aspects of my life changed, and for almost a year I was too stressed at work to dedicate my free time to creating a new game. In October 2016 I decided to make a change, and the first step was to look for something to motivate me. (I believe that repeating the same idea over and over in my mind is a total waste of time when it involves creative works.) In order to obtain great results however, it wasn't enough to have only hope for a brilliant idea. I needed some external inputs. So that was my starting point. I tried to find motivation around me and my passions became my primary source of inspiration.

I opened Boardgamegeek and spent hours reading the contest section until I found a really interesting one concerning a 'survival' theme. I immediately liked the background and the fact that this particular contest lets designers present a game without too many constraints. Unfortunately, this alone wasn't enough to trigger my creativity.

Unlike many designers who start from a very particular mechanic or component to create their games, when I have an idea for a game I usually spend weeks trying to imagine the final product; the completed game. I don't actually know why I need to have a general idea of the game (materials, settings, mechanics, etc.) before drawing the first idea on a blank page, but this is my way to face the creative flow growing in my mind.

If you would have been able to peek inside my mind in October 2016, you would have seen a crazy swarming mass of ideas.

A card game. Cool.

A survival game. Nice.

I wanted to use a very simple idea that I had in mind for quite a long time: a card game with many characters, each one with a unique ability. The theme and my general idea seemed to be a good match. I had to design a game in which every player must save people. Each person is represented by a card and each character should perform a different skill.

But no other ideas came, no matter how hard I tried.

One Friday I came back home exhausted after a long day of coding at work. I went to bed and put on a movie that I’ve watched many times. This is one of my habits when I’m tired so I can clear my mind. I can usually fall asleep within about five minutes.

This time was different and I couldn't fall asleep. The movie I was watching was Mad Max: Fury Road, and a light bulb went on over my head. I remember exactly when the idea was born, and it was during this scene:

This chase scene triggered my mind and I started to develop game concepts: "people have to drive a truck"… "they have to escape from a disaster"… "they have to fight to survive"… "they have to find fuel to move vehicles"… "they have to have different spaces in the truck for people, resources, or weapons".

I didn't sleep much that Friday night. I began mixing these concepts in my head in order to test the general idea and see if it would work. All the thoughts matched perfectly, so I started creating a world...a tell a story.

And finally, Last Aurora was born! This was one of the most amazing design adventures I’ve ever experienced. It was filled with moments of happiness and frustration, playtests (a lot of playtests!) and a profound experience of design.

Thank you for letting me share my creative journey with you.

And you? I'm always curious about the designers' experiences. How do you start creating a game?
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