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Subject: Where to start? rss

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Gareth Davies
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Right I could do with some informed (or uninformed!) opinion on where to start when designing my own game.

I've come up with an idea which I feel really passionate about. I've got a theme and a general mechanic plus a few rough ideas about the detailed gameplay and how players go about winning. I've also got in mind a board (though no details of what it will look like) a few dozen ideas for cards (I'd like it be a card driven game). I've also begun researching around the subject for game and card ideas.

But where would people advised that I start properly? Any advice would be appreciated.
 
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Trent Hamm
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See this text? It's a gratuitous waste of GeekGold.
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The game itself isn't important. Spending time intellectually jousting with likeminded folks is the real reason to game.
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Homebrew everything with pieces of paper. Revise, revise, revise as you (inevitably) discover things you don't like.
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Joe Mucchiello
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How to design a board/card game.

Step 1: Get an idea (check)
Step 2: Figure out how the idea can be made fun (in progress)
Step 3: Develop the idea (where you are now)
Step 4: Test it on unsuspecting friends
Step 5: Test it on unsuspecting people you've never met
Step 6: Repeat steps 2-5
Step 7: Profit

For step 3 you need the following supplies:

Paper and pencils/pens (colors can be helpful here)
3x5 index cards. (especially for card games)
Pennies (for use as tokens)
Colored pieces of tape. (for differentiating the pennies)
Large poster paper (for board games)
aside wrote:
Note: that you can get all these supplies at an office supply store (ask for your change in pennies). Do not spend any additional money before you get to step 5 the second time.

Manipulate the stated supplies in a manner indicative of the game you are trying to produce. As you solidify the design you can start substituting printed components (printed on label most likely) for the pieces of tape and hand written index cards.

How you get from step 6 to step 7 is the real trick.
 
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Steven Metzger
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trenttsd wrote:
Homebrew everything with pieces of paper. Revise, revise, revise as you (inevitably) discover things you don't like.
I will "revise" your advice with some of my own

Homebrew everything with paper (or cardstock, if you have it lying around). Don't waste time on visuals.
Playtest, revise, playtest, revise, playtest, revise, rinse, repeat.
You can playtest by yourself.

At some point you will discover that you have a game. Playtest with others. Get negative feedback. Revise, playtest, etc.

At some point you will discover that you have local playtesters who like your game. Send your game out to a faraway land for a "blind playtest." Get comments. Revise, playtest, etc.

After that you'll want to send things out to publishers...but until then...playtest.
 
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Gareth Davies
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Thanks for the quick reply guys. Now, thinking way ahead (will probably never get to this stage) but how do you go about marketing ideas? Do you make a prototype copy and send it to developers/games companies? or do you produce the rules, etc, and then send it to games companies? would be interested to know how it all works.
 
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Steven Metzger
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jmucchiello wrote:
Pennies (for use as tokens)
aside wrote:
Note: that you can get all these supplies at an office supply store (ask for your change in pennies). Do not spend any additional money before you get to step 5 the second time.
"I found some great bits for a penny a piece!"
"Where?!"
"The bank."

(Try and get a roll of fresh pennies, btw)
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Tommy Occhipinti
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In my opinion the best way to go about it is to start making a prototype of the game you are making. Not a good prototype. In fact, probably a really really terrible prototype, with pieces pulled from other games and a board that's just scribbled by hand on a sheet of paper, etc.

You can even start doing this before you have a version of the rules that's complete, because by making the pieces and pulling the stuff together you will start to have some more ideas about how things should work, etc.

Once you've pulled this together, sort of, I suggest you make a really really rough draft of the rules. The draft should be complete enough that they are the rules to A game, although you don't have to worry about the technicalities and exceptions and all that, and you should not get too attached to any of the rules or what not, you are really just trying to get a way to mess with your idea.

Then set it up and play it. By yourself. The odds are very low you will finish the game, because a lot of things will pop up and the game is likely to spiral out of control. So fix stuff up, make changes to the rules, and do it again. For me, it is a huge accomplishment when I can get a game in good enough shape that I can play through a game I made to the end without having to rethink some things and start over halfway through.

Once you have played through the game with yourself many, many times and there are no longer niggling concerns, things you don't like about the rules, etc. etc., then you can make your friends play it with you, and then you're off the races.

That's my method anyway, I'm sure others will suggest various different approaches.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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metzgerism wrote:
(Try and get a roll of fresh pennies, btw)

Not necessary if you are going to wrap them in colored tape.
 
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Steven Metzger
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onemanlandslide wrote:
Thanks for the quick reply guys. Now, thinking way ahead (will probably never get to this stage) but how do you go about marketing ideas? Do you make a prototype copy and send it to developers/games companies? or do you produce the rules, etc, and then send it to games companies? would be interested to know how it all works.
Well...obviously, don't even worry about this for now.

- Find a company that doesn't have something similar in their product line.
- Prepare a decent prototype.
- Send with product treatment.

The prototype needs to be functional, not flashy (appearance will win tiebreakers but you don't want your game design to be on the fence anyways).

The treatment needs to have your "pitch" of the game, which need NOT include spectacular statements like sales estimates of "over a million!" and target demographics like "everyone between the ages of 5 and 100!" You should know your target audience ("casual-gaming teens and adults who enjoy Scrabble but do not like the downtime" - not a fantastic demographic but it's focused).
 
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Philip Migas
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This website may be useful: Game Design Concepts: Online design course: http://gamedesignconcepts.wordpress.com/ .

There is no right or wrong way to start a design. Do whatever comes natural, but do it quick. The quicker you work the less likely you will give up on the idea. The biggest mistake you can make is to not playtest your game. The quicker you can playtest, the better. This is why the other posters suggested making a messy prototype out of paper, right now.

Good luck.
 
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M H
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Personally i have also some nice game ideas, but i can't even get enough professional games on the table, so i can't really playtest my own ideas. Even less so test them over and over. This way i would lose the remaining players.
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Marc Pavone
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Dive in and do it, don't worry about selling it now.

If you concern yourself with things that are too far ahead you'll never get going.

I'm sure there's some Zen koan that I could quote...

Ok, here.

Just Do It.

Thanks Nike.
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Spencer C
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A variation on the pennies that I've used is to get some of those coloured dot stickers -- the ones they you put on boxes when you move or people put on games at yard sales. Put these on one (or both) sides of the penny for a quick and easy way to get some really great bits. Works most beautifully with shiny new pennies.

But of course, it all depends on what sort of bits you need. Othello is a great source for game prototyping (and for trying PnP games before getting invested in them) with its 64 double-sided disks. Also, Power Grid is a great source of bits with 21 houses in 6 colours plus various resource bits.

Anyway, the message to take away is that cut up some paper, find a pen, and just use whatever you have laying around. If you're playtesting it by yourself (as you should, at first), it doesn't matter if it's chickenscratch envelopes. When you feel you're ready to try it out with some friends or family, maybe spend a little more time on your prototype, but only so as to aid playability.

Oh, incidentally, cheap "penny sleeves" and some old TCG cards are great for trying out games. Just scribble on a piece of paper and insert in sleeve. Taking a pen to a cheap deck of playing cards also works well.
 
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David Gregg
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jmucchiello wrote:

Step 1: Get an idea (check)
Step 2: Figure out how the idea can be made fun (in progress)
Step 3: Develop the idea (where you are now)
Step 4: Test it on unsuspecting friends
Step 5: Test it on unsuspecting people you've never met
Step 6: Repeat steps 2-5
Step 7: Profit


Here's a flowchart for you cool

 
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Philip Migas
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David, that is brilliant! Did you copy this from somewhere? Or is this your idea? If it is yours you should put a title and your name on the sheet. Good stuff.
 
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David Gregg
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Glad you like it! I just drew it up real quick over at http://lucidchart.com/
 
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