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Subject: Does anyone design games for themselves, and not for commerce? rss

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I'm in the middle of designing a game which *seems* brilliant, but given the huge board and amount of parts, I'm pretty sure it'll never be published. Anyone else in the same situation, and are there any places (UK) which can do individual games (or parts, eg- board printing) at a *reasonable* (willing to go about about thrice the average wargame cost for this) cost?

And mainly, does anyone else design games just for themselves and gaming groups?
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Eric Jome
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Everything I've ever built was for me. Maybe some of it could make it commercially, but I don't really care very much about that.

For me, making things is just an expression of creativity... I don't really have any goals other than entertaining myself.
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Ziegreich
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I played a prototype boardgame with a guy who designs computer games for a living. The game struck me as quite good, but when I asked him if we're ever going to see it produced, his answer was that this one was just for him and his friends...

Based on that, it does seem that there are people who design games primarily for themselves.

Perhaps part of it is just realism. I suspect that producing and selling a boardgame is seldom a good moneymaking venture. Perhaps people who have tried would care to comment.

Any boardgame designer millionaires out there?
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Eric Jome
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henpen wrote:
Are there any places (UK) which can do individual games (or parts, eg- board printing) at a *reasonable* (willing to go about about thrice the average wargame cost for this) cost?


If you build a game you want to play and you want to just make a copy for yourself and your friends, I don't think you'll really need more than a computer, a printer, and some time. It helps to be a bit crafty with the glue and scissors too.

Here's things I've done;

1) You can find lots of great images and patterns and things just searching Google images. Save to your machine and use a graphics program (even good old Paint) to resize or crop it to suit your needs. Cut and paste are key to making things like repeated tokens and such.

2) You can make some very useable, resilient tiles using clear packing tape, the kind used to seal boxes for shipping. Print token, glue to cardboard, and wrap in tape carefully for a nice thick glossy token.

3) An old game board for a cast off mass market game, as you might find at a thrift store or garage sale (you call them car boot sales, no?) is a good surface to which you can glue a larger board. They're cheap and sturdy and easy to get. Foamcore can help too.

4) You can often make neat little game pieces and such out of elements you can find at a craft store. Worker tokens, other tidbits, these things are all over the place, cannibalized from another game or other places. Colorful glass beads or tokens are easy to find in bulk.

5) Card sleeves used in collectible card games easily hold a slip of printer paper and a card from another game to make your own cards. They'll be sturdy and reliable and easily modified this way.
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Al Arowx
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Most starup Indie game developers

I've just created a free game!

It started out as a board game, got really complex so I converted it to a computer game got even more complex and then stalled at alpha (playable but not complete).

Then I started reading The Art of Game Design and just got a flash of inspiration and ended up converting my game to a card game!

So now I have a card game (normal deck of cards) version of a computer game that was a board game ;o)

Anyway, I've written up the game rules as a pdf and you can download them from my website http://SaveTheSillyEarthlings.com

It's only v0.1 but all you need is a deck of cards and 1 to six players!
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David Bohnenberger
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Yes, since I no longer force anyone to play any of the crap I design.
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Kai Jensen
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henpen wrote:
And mainly, does anyone else design games just for themselves and gaming groups?


Yes. Every game my husband has designed has been to suit his gaming preferences. Fortunately, we have very similar tastes in gaming. And our group of gaming buddies and those family members who play happen to also like his games, so we have been lucky!
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Justin Hendry
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as i was reading this my wife came in and was reading over my shoulder, when she said "that sounds just like you."
i will say i am guilty of designing my own games, for my group also just for myself. i did think about maybe trying to get one published, but like you said being alot of pieces and being hugh. i think if i was to try they would laugh at me. although that game did catch on with the group.....
yeah i just find it fun. all my games i printed myself it was part of the fun "i think"
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Lowell Drake
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I designed my first game when I was 14. It was a take-off on Risk, but with panache. My friends and I played that game for a few years. Since then I disovered that I actually enjoy designing games more than playing them. I've designed several over the years, and submitted two for publication. AH was going to publish one in The General (a small expansion for Anzio of Sicily), but we hit a snag and it never happened. All of my games were for my own enjoyment and to play with my friends. Some of my games were a flop, some, I think, are pretty good. I'm designing one of the battles of The Lord of the Ring, and I'm loving it. It's just for me and my friends.
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Mike Beiter
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Designing games is my hobby. I have made easily a dozen games over the years, several of which people have begged me to try and publish. But there is something fun and special about just sharing it with friends.
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Scott Westgard
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The truly great thing about designing games for yourself is you can use ANY copyrighted material you want! You can make a game about My Little Pony going to the Elmers Glue factory if you want to...

I used to make custom Spellfire cards, by slapping images from magazines and all sorts of stuff together on the computer, and pasting it onto old card backs.

Game design is really not much fun if you dont envision yourself and your friends playing your creation. Although commercial in nature, my first published game Fishfry was made first for my friends who like to gamble on quick dice games...They loved it, so I self-published it.
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John J Perry Jr
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After 30 years of making games just for friends and family I finally took the plunge with Chaos Isle and released it commercially. There is far more work involved in preparing a game for release to the general public and at times it can become "work" rather than just for pure fun. Chaos Isle pays for itself, but little beyond that-so no boardgame designer millionaire here. It's still fun to do, but there is a big difference.

As far as game components we recently used The Game Crafter for printing out play test decks for our new Chaos Isle expansion, Rise of The Creator. Although the card quality doesn't match up to the manufacturer's cards used for the actual game, we were very surprised at their quality, price and quick turnaround. Certainly far better than anything I'd ever done at home for myself. I would recommend them highly.zombie
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Jason Sadler
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I am pretty sure if I tried to commercialize my The Hell of Athel Loren, I would be put on a pike in Nottingham. I play Hell of Stalingrad a lot and I think the war between GW's Beastmen and Wood Elves is cool. I have created rules, cards, and hero tokens that no one will ever see but me and my best friend. I think there are a lot of people out there that build similar projects because they just want to jam on a theme, like a bunch of guitarists at a Phish concert.
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Brad Fuller
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I understand making a print and play game. Maybe it has a specific theme or uses to little components to be worth your while. However, if you have a good and fun game why not at least try? 90% of the time all it takes is an email. If it is that good share it, everyone knows its not about the money.
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Timo Kilpiäinen
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Any game I design that doesn't get published is made "just for myself and friends to enjoy". This includes about 100% of my designs thus far
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Kai Scheuer
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cosine wrote:
Everything I've ever built was for me. Maybe some of it could make it commercially, but I don't really care very much about that.

For me, making things is just an expression of creativity... I don't really have any goals other than entertaining myself.


Quoted for truth.

Since I work in the IT business, I grew up with the proverb:
"Software is like sex - it's better, when it's free."
The same is true for games:
There are some really great commercial products on the market, but the true pearls are to be found among the free print and play games!
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Rob Wilson
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henpen wrote:
And mainly, does anyone else design games just for themselves and gaming groups?


I've designed quite a few boardgames over the last 25 years, never tried to get any of them published. I just like the processes of working out how things are going to work and be balanced without too much complexity that a turn doesn't take over half and hour.

I once designed a space exploration game that had loads to do but just took to long way too long to play.


My main method for creating the counters is to use a colour printer to print onto sticky labels. The ones I use are a single label for the whole A4 sheet, then just cut, peal and stick on to card or wooden counters.
No mess from glue
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Abdul Rahman Ibrahim
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I'm in the middle of designing 1 board game but now end up semi designing 2 other card games to go with it. What I do know is I want to get them played more than sold, so I'll be putting them up for PnP when I'm done detailing each game out (card design is a big headache!). If I'll be able to get them published, then it'll be a bonus (and more likely more work to give it more value than the PnP). As a rule of thumb, I like people to have fun first
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marc lecours
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I design games as a hobby. I actually like better designing than playing games.

I run a game club at a high school where I teach. I occasionally test my games there. Occasionally I get students who try their hand at designing games. Last year I had a student who did not play games too often but instead liked to design games.

Designing games is quite fun. I do it for pleasure not to get published.
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But are we not just a small inlet in the masses of game designers, most of whom design for commerce (observed from BGG)?
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Confusion Under Fire
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Dweeb wrote:
Yes, since I no longer force anyone to play any of the crap I design.


I stopped designing because it was all crap.
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My fellow students and I made a board game as a college assignment. We won't publish it because it's tied to copyright we do not own
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I often design games for use in the classroom.

There are vocabulary games, phonics games, and grammar games. Often, vocabulary games are as simple as playing around-the-world. Grammar games involve pieces of sentences and can take a number of forms, using die or cards or boards, and even cute eraser figurines (more kid friendly than zombies). The phonics games usually involve movement--party style games.

For elementary education, I am a strong believer in games. Sadly, games appropriate to their age (already published) are far too general to be of use. So I make my own games appropriate to their age--and the text we use.

The process is much more streamlined now, but it's taken years to get where I am. It's interesting to open up files and still find old designs. I tinker on them. It just gets better every year because my playtesters are already locked in on having fun AND learning!
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Andy Meneely
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Personally, I design games just for sheer joy of design. Sometimes you'll see a group of people on this site who talk about design being only about publishing or widely publicizing their game.

Not me. I just wanna make a great game.

And if 100 years from now people still like my game, then someone else can make money off it.
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Kai Scheuer
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andygamer wrote:
Personally, I design games just for sheer joy of design. Sometimes you'll see a group of people on this site who talk about design being only about publishing or widely publicizing their game.

Not me. I just wanna make a great game.

And if 100 years from now people still like my game, then someone else can make money off it.


That's the spirit - keep it up!
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