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Subject: What does your game design obsession look like? rss

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Joel Mayeski
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I was curious how I compared with others when it came to how I went about designing games (frequency, type, play test amount, etc). So I figured why not start a thread about it to generate some discussion...

I've been keeping track of my design ideas for the past 7 months, writing them down in a Word file and logging the plays on BGG - here are the results:

Game design avg: 8.57 per month - I design about 3 to 4 in a couple days time and then go onto refine them over the next week plus and then inspiration hits again in another week or so it seems.

Number of prototypes created: 1.43 per month

Games play tested: 0.86 per month (its tough "forcing" friends to try out prototype games more often than this!)

Games submitted to BGG
: 0.14 per month (1) - this isn't my best game idea, but probably the simplest I've come up with and since I wanted to see how the process went I decided to submit it. (*Warning - shameless self promotion to follow* -- I'd totally appreciate it if you'd check the game out and let me know what you think: Circle's Winner - it only requires printing one page so it's very quick and simple)

Favorite Genre: Space/Science Fiction

Favorite Mechanic: Bidding

Biggest Problem
: My biggest problem is that I'm always moving onto the next idea I have before refining the ones I've play tested!

Well that being said I'd love to hear from others on how you go about designing games and what some of your answers are to the items I've listed above or even other questions you'd like to see others answer.
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Kenny VenOsdel
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I usually think up several ideas a month and sometimes I write them down sometimes I don't. Due to my current situation I don't get around to refining or testing that often. I usually go part way through the design until I get to the tough parts and then slow down quite a bit.

Send your self promotions this way if you want. I am working on starting a new resource for finding playtesters etc.

User Designed Unpublished Games That Need Reviewing or Playtesting
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ErikPeter Walker
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I design one game a month. Never prototype (my weakness is follow-through). Which means I don't submit anything to BGG.

Cards are my favorite mechanic but I don't stick to any specific genre (however I mostly do use genres instead of abstracts).
 
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Jim Harmon
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My game design obsession looks like a big stock pile of chipboard and all kinds wood bits

I tend to stay with one game at a time and it is usually several months of play testing and tweaking until I reach the point that I'm not making changes after each play. By this time I have made a nice prototype and I'm ready to do some blind testing.

I also make kids games which are much more simple and have short play time making this process go quickly, usually a couple of weeks from idea to decent prototype.

The part of game design I like the least if writing the rules and this is always the last thing I do.

I also get a lot of ideas that I jot down to pursue at a later time when I'm looking to start a new project.





 
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Gary Simpson

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I've concerted out 47 games in the last 4 years, whittling them down to 20 game designs (some games cannibalizing others). My plan is to release all the game designs as limited editions over the next year.
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David Whitcher
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I come up with quite a few ideas. Most of them stay as just that. The best of them get prototyped and tested. About 6 to 8 a year.


Gamer10150512 wrote:

Biggest Problem: My biggest problem is that I'm always moving onto the next idea I have before refining the ones I've play tested!


I had that problem at one time and some still get left in the dust when something better comes up. Most of them are revisited now and then. I just did a total redesign today on a race game that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2008. The new prototype is finished and I’ll start with solo testing it tonight to make sure my assumptions are correct on how the new mechanics work before unleashing it on others.

If your interested in getting your games polished there is this nifty event I run each summer called Protospiel where our main focus is the refinement of nearly finish games.

www.Protospiel.org

2010 is our 10 th Year. I expect that it will be our best so far. Feel free to drop me a line if you have any questions about it.




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Eric Phillips
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I paint a canvas every week, take one look at it and slash it with a razor.
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Dave Z.
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I've been working on the same stategic wargame for 18 months. It is a very ambitous undertaking for a first game. I had no idea how long and complicated the whole process would be when I started. I have other ideas, but I want to finish this one before I start something else.

Ideas are pretty easy to come by. Making them into a completed game is very challenging. Good luck with your designs!
 
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Michael J
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I haven't designed much this year, but last year I was probably cooking up 2 game ideas a month. I usually start by creating a folder on the hard drive for them, and then creating an "ideas" document with as many ideas about the game as I can come up with. Often times, my first set of ideas and designs is entered into a journal that I take with me in the car wherever I go, sometimes bringing to lunch so that I can look like a true artist. If the game makes it passed this stage, I'll create a rulebook for it, where I will do a more formal MS Word treatment of the game and try to flesh out actual gameplay. If I get passed this stage (e.g. if I still like the game), I'll work up a quick prototype and start playtesting. I've probably prototyped about 10 games this way. Only one game ever made it passed this point; and I found external playtesters to try it out, at which point it fizzled.

In the last 6 months, I haven't prototyped anything. I think that's because I now write a formal rulebook before creating any components, which means I end up stopping more often than not. I've always been realistic about my designs, and that means I don't continue with a game design unless I absolutely love it. If I get bored with the idea, I stop. If the rules don't work, I stop. I don't bother working on a game that isn't as good as the games I find on BGG. So far, nothing has got passed my internal sensors!

I have tended towards tile-based games (just looking at the bag of cut up components sitting next to me). I've done a more than a few card games. I've created more sci-fi and fantasy concepts than anything else. Just a few Euro games. Some PnP. And a few games with dice.

I think my main problem is that I'm not sure what kind of game designer I want to be. I like so many different types, yet can't decide on which genre I am most qualified to design for. I probably like thinking of designs more than creating the games. I'm pretty sure I have 10 winning game concepts on my HD right now, but no winning game mechanices. Grrr.... I'm not willing to duplicate things that are already out there, as I want to create original games, not re-themes.

Probably the best part about my design hobby is that I now have over two journals full of cool pictures, concepts, and drawings. It's actually fun to go back and read these when I have time!

Good luck!
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David Gregg
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I like to let random game ideas bounce around in my head until I come across a game idea that is both something I personally would enjoy playing AND is something I feel the market is missing. Then I focus on refining and play testing that one game as much as my time will allow me.

I make about 2 prototypes per month and try to play test weekly ( I split my gamer group into smaller chunks so its not always the same people playing, helps keep them sane ).

As the game approaches being finished I put down a little more money to make a nice prototype, something I'd be willing to send to a publisher and continue play testing with that set as I work out any remaining kinks in the rulebook.

Favorite Mechanism: Deck Building

Favorite Theme: Fantasy/Magic
 
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Steven Metzger
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I thought this thread was going to be full of pictures of our messy rooms, offices, workshops, and desks with the paper and the cardstock and the scissors and the paper cutter and the endless supply of penny sleeves.
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Joel Mayeski
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Wow - some great response and feedback. I think its awesome to see how game designers work, and how everyone's methods are unique. Thanks also for the links - the geeklist of games to play test is a terrific idea and I might have to try it out. I'd also totally find a way to show up at the design convention in MI if I wasn't starting a 5 week long training (only two weekends off that entire time) on June 28th. Maybe I can send two prototypes and a check in the mail instead of showing up in person??
 
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William Towns
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I have 1 game idea right now, but it's only as far as a design outline. I think if I take the time to actually build it out it'd be something to be proud of, but I just don't have the time. I'm not even sure how much I'd share it if I did finish it, I'm kind of shy when it comes to these things. Needless to say I don't consider myself a designer per se, I just get ideas once in a blue moon.
 
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Eric Phillips
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Fortuna wrote:
I paint a canvas every week, take one look at it and slash it with a razor.


Actually I don't. Some of the replies just reminded me of a great scene from the movie Bullets Over Broadway--a conversation that also includes the following exchange:

"You know, I-I-I have never had a play produced--"
"That's right."
"- And I've written one play every year for the past 20 years. - "
"That's because you're a genius. The proof is that both common people and intellectuals find your work completely incoherent."

Anyhow... I have worked on a grand total of THREE designs in the past eight years. The one that's gotten most attention is a Space Empires 4X game that is approaching Playtest #19 and has drastically improved over the years from an accounting exercise in which the players got to pretend they were interstellar despots to something right on the verge of being an absorbing strategy game. The fantasy wargame has some cool ideas but is indefinitely on the back-burner, having never been playtested (first things first), and the more abstract trading game turned out to be a dud in my own solo testing.

Actually, I guess I worked a bit on my roleplaying system in the past eight years too, but that's a different sort of project. I like the fact that a boardgame can be complete and self-contained in a way an RPG never can be--both in the sense that you can finish it and move on to something else, and in the sense that the players can finish it and then play it again, or play something else.
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Joe Mucchiello
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I generally get a good idea and write it down then obsess about it for a couple days. Then I decide I've been obsessing too long and put it down. Months go by and I find the paper again and if it still sounds like a good idea I mull it over for some time before starting to assemble bits. Usually at the bits stage I find some horrible misstep I've made that sends the whole thing to the dustbin. This is why I have not littered the BGG database with a bunch of non-existent games, yet.
 
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Eurojuegos Buenos Aires
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I come up with a new worthy idea about once a month. "Worthy" meaning I find a potential customer for my project. I do boardgame adaptations of videogames. Design part is the filter. If I'm not sattisfied with the design (mostly mechanics), I freeze the project for later consideration and move on.

I playtest a lot (weekly). But 2 player games get a lot of chance to PT than games for large groups.

I also design demo versions to show around. So workload is hard. Playtesting versions are done in spanish (PT group native language) but release versions must be in english. So, I do everything 4 times. This, however, helps me recheck rules (specially) over and over again.

My artwork is poor but the rules are the best part of my games.

Favorite genre: historic wargaming
Favorite mechanic: hex and counter + situation cards

Biggest Problem: videogame companies are not really into "unplugged" gaming

Nice post. Keep thinkign!

Pastor_Mora

PS: Self promotion space

Video game adaptations
Spacewar!
Space Rangers
Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Historical warfare
1810 Heroes of the Revolution
1982 Heroes of the Falklands
War Without Nukes
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J C Lawrence
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I design 1-3 viable games per year. The average is between 1 and 2. I don't consider that I've designed a game until I've extensively modeled it (this usually takes a month or three), made a prototype, and proven the prototype at least viable in play. At any given time I usually have 3-7 designs in progress in some form or another.

I do not submit my games to BGG until they are at least either under contract to be published, or they have clearly qualified for web-publication (ie are fit for commercial publication except for marketability). Others have been more generous in creating listings for my games, which I slightly regret.

Most of my games are logistical or economic or both. Most are also either perfect and certain information or close. They are all highly calculable.

Themes are irrelevant to me. I don't care. I pick something that is convenient for the game at hand, and then change it as necessary to continue being convenient as the game develops.

Networks are common in my games, as are temporary emergent alliances and paradoxes.

The largest problem I commonly face with my designs is Development. I am not a good game Developer. I readily produce perfectly workmanlike games, but I have no interest in marketability, and even less (if possible) interest in popularity. As a result my games tend to concentrate on game theory and raw difficulty rather the digestibility or appeal.
 
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Jarratt Davis
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Mine are varied. Lots of different mechanics and themes -- including abstract (which oddly enough aren't the sorts of games I enjoy). Mostly I tend to come up with the theme and mechanic at the same time.

I have a big filing cabinet where all my game ideas/works-in-progress from the past 20 years sit suffering thanks to my chronic procrastination -- not sure why, as I made heaps of games (mostly RPGs) when I was younger. I think these days life seems to complicated and so I retreat to computer and console games instead.

Anyway currently my system works like this: The most promising 10 or so game WIPs get carried daily between my work desk and my bedside table where they may be fed an extra idea or three (causing the pile to grow slowly) and do little more than make my house look untidy. Every now and then I get the entire massive stack out of the filing cabinet and spend an evening sorting through them to choose what I feel are currently the 10 most promising ideas. Rinse and repeat.

However for some reason I just can't let it go and give up. I still have hope -- all I need is the will and the interest (my own, not other peoples). In any case there really isn't anything holding me back other than myself as all my games are meant to be Print and Play. I hold no delusions about ever becoming a published designer.
 
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Luke Morris
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My main theme seems to be sport which isn't too surprising as I'm a huge sport fan.
I have the cycling game Tour I produced and sold, the 9 ball pool game Behind The 9, Paper Cricket, and am close to finishing a Baseball card game (which is working really nicely). Also working on a footy management game, a new cycling game (which is bordering on roleplay almost), trying to sort out a cricket game, an Olympics game....And man I love sports games.

Other themes I have jotted down or in primary printed form include a desert island shipwrecked game, tea picking, hospital management, an assassination game and a few more.
Ideas are constantly circulating through my head - themes at least with maybe a core mechanic.
 
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Vince Lupo
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mjacobsca wrote:
I haven't designed much this year, but last year I was probably cooking up 2 game ideas a month. I usually start by creating a folder on the hard drive for them, and then creating an "ideas" document with as many ideas about the game as I can come up with. Often times, my first set of ideas and designs is entered into a journal that I take with me in the car wherever I go, sometimes bringing to lunch so that I can look like a true artist. If the game makes it passed this stage, I'll create a rulebook for it, where I will do a more formal MS Word treatment of the game and try to flesh out actual gameplay. If I get passed this stage (e.g. if I still like the game), I'll work up a quick prototype and start playtesting. I've probably prototyped about 10 games this way. Only one game ever made it passed this point; and I found external playtesters to try it out, at which point it fizzled.

In the last 6 months, I haven't prototyped anything. I think that's because I now write a formal rulebook before creating any components, which means I end up stopping more often than not. I've always been realistic about my designs, and that means I don't continue with a game design unless I absolutely love it. If I get bored with the idea, I stop. If the rules don't work, I stop. I don't bother working on a game that isn't as good as the games I find on BGG. So far, nothing has got passed my internal sensors!

I have tended towards tile-based games (just looking at the bag of cut up components sitting next to me). I've done a more than a few card games. I've created more sci-fi and fantasy concepts than anything else. Just a few Euro games. Some PnP. And a few games with dice.

I think my main problem is that I'm not sure what kind of game designer I want to be. I like so many different types, yet can't decide on which genre I am most qualified to design for. I probably like thinking of designs more than creating the games. I'm pretty sure I have 10 winning game concepts on my HD right now, but no winning game mechanices. Grrr.... I'm not willing to duplicate things that are already out there, as I want to create original games, not re-themes.

Probably the best part about my design hobby is that I now have over two journals full of cool pictures, concepts, and drawings. It's actually fun to go back and read these when I have time!

Good luck!



Sometimes I start thinking about a current game out there like Dominion or Settlers of Catan and how I would fit a theme I like into that environment. Then I realize the mechanics would have to change to match the theme. So then I change the game mechanics and sometimes it brings in whole new mechanics I've thought up or it mashes in some concept from another game I like.

Or sometimes and recently, I designed almost an entire card game before I realized what the theme was. But once I did realize the theme, it matched perfectly, especially when I named it.

And like you, I don't think I would ever create a game that was essentially "Dominion" but with different pictures. But I would easily create a game that has "probable or likely" inspiration from a game we all know and love.

Part of what makes anything likable is how familiar it is to us already.

So, my point is, maybe you should take one of your themes and try it with a classic game mechanic that you already like and go from there.


I keep my game idea list on google docs and I haven't yet separated the game themes from the game mechanics on the list. In most cases they are highly intertwined anyhow. In other cases, I have one without the other.

I've only seriously prototyped one game so far and I started about 4 to 6 months ago, I think.
 
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Uwe A. Redjac
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Mine looks like this:


If you actually want to read what's on the map you got to go here:

http://images.boardgamegeek.com/images/pic676903.jpg
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Uwe A. Redjac
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Modern Art, 2nd ed.
Fortuna wrote:
I paint a canvas every week, take one look at it and slash it with a razor.
Very artsy. You Sir earned your culture badge.
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David Sheppard
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Mine looks mostly like a bunch of Text files. Hate to break it down like that but it really is. You see, my issues are many.

1. I don't want to get overwhelmed making multiple projects and losing focus.

2. While I'm making games I enjoy playing, it's hard to find others who enjoy my games.

3. Since I'm doing the art by myself and sometimes just NEED to pull myself away from a computer, the art aspect doesn't go by as fast as I want it to. So rather than have 15 artless prototypes, I try to make sure I at least have a visible theme and consistent, if not high quality, theme.

As for production, I'm currently trying to get playtesters for my third game. All three of my games have, thus far, been card games although I currently have concepts for a massive board game as well as an auction style game.

My first is one of those games I enjoy playing, others don't. Basically I boiled down fighting games, like Street Fighter, into a card game. Players chose their character/deck, and we went into a cycle of assault and defense turns until one player lost 300 hit points. Parts of it works, other parts are broken. Since all games end closely, it's not a balance issue, just a fun issue. However the design, while not marketable, can be modified to fit more of the "Sweet Science" style of gameplay. So after my fourth game, I'll be trying to adapt this one.

The second game was the easiest to design possibly because it was the most shallow. Haiku: The Card Game (currently for sale at Gamecrafter) is among the few designs I don't have to pull teeth to play. Since it was so basic, it went through two prototypes then was done.

My current one, Companion Galactum, has a fourth revision printable and I need to update the thread here and ship out some prototypes. I'm hoping once this version proves decently playable, I can focus on creating high quality artwork while cranking out a prototype for my fourth.

Mainstream. Auction based game where you take on concerts and events to try and promote a band to superstardom.

Then of course I have other games in design right now in text files such as a LCG style game asking "What if Robot Jox was a Team Sport?" Another is collecting trash/debri from orbit and space trash me. Another is a fast paced card game designed around Arguing on the Internet. My biggest issue right now is just having the time.
 
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Benny Sperling
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Guys this is really cool. It makes me feel somewhat normal.


Game design avg: In two years I have created 5 published games and constructed 30 prototypes for 30 different games. That's like 1.25 a month.

Number of prototypes created: 30, 1.25 a month.

Games play tested: 30 games, play tested each one at minimum 20 times before it was shelved or progressed to more play testing. I have play tested games roughly two thousand times.

Games submitted to BGG: 6 total submissions divided by 24 months is 3 a year or .25 per month.

Favorite Genre: Humour, i also like trains, fantasy, and history.

Favorite Mechanic: drafting, tile placement.

Biggest Problem: having too many projects and not following them to the end with getting them ready to publish. Finding a publisher is my second biggest problem.
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P.D. Magnus
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The target of my monomania is the Decktet. It's a game system, a deck of cards that can be used for lots of different games. For some sense of the variety, see the Decktet Games family.

Having the Decktet already designed gives me an instant prototype and provides a preexisting structure to wind the rules around. I still have ideas for games that don't work as Decktet games, but lately those have not made it past the scribbling in a notebook stage.

Favourite mechanic: Simultaneous action selection
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