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Subject: Why are not everyone designing games to play? rss

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Richard Hutnik
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Yes, I am spoofing the other Magic thread to ask this question.

A game you design would arguably be your ultimate game (to you), and more ideal than any game that comes in a box. It can be as easy or hard to understand and learn, as fast as one likes to play, requires as much or as little of deep thinking and strategy as required. The game you design can take up as much spaces as desired to. Things like number of players, set up time, and amount of components can be tweaked to your own fancy also. And this is more than just doing some variants. You can create nearly an unlimited number of games!

So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?
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The Kid
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docreason wrote:
So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?

The same reason I don't make my own movies to watch or write my own books ... to read. Other people are much more creative than I am.

Somebody else has gone through the work in designing, playtesting, printing, etc. I get to be part of it without much effort (other than my cash)
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Gary Selkirk
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A very good question indeed. A game designer certainly has an idea that is most clear to them. Adapting it to a format that is understandable to the interested buyer is the problem.
The subject must first be of interest to the gaming public and understandable in a short and concise format. Very few game players, save the most hard core, want to spend time reading exhaustive rules.
 
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Tim Jesurun
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I assume you are not being tongue-in-cheek despite the title of your thread being so. The brief answer to your question, I think, is that designing a game is hard. A lot of time and effort goes into thinking about, playtesting, and prototyping all of the iterations of a game, time that could have been spent playing games that are already good.

I like analogies and might compare your question to this question "why do people eat at restaurants when they can cook for themselves?" The answer to that question is that restaurants do all the work and provide high quality food. In the same way published games have already gone through the hard work of tweaking and playtesting and published games provide a final product of a high quality (usually shake).

I agree with you that designing your own game is fun. For me it is more fun, at least when I am feeling industrious, than playing a published game. You can't fault other people though for liking their games pre-made.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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I'd rather play. Design is a different process.
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Mike Jones
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When I get done playing games, maybe I'll have time to design a couple.
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docreason wrote:
Yes, I am spoofing the other Magic thread to ask this question.

A game you design would arguably be your ultimate game (to you), and more ideal than any game that comes in a box. It can be as easy or hard to understand and learn, as fast as one likes to play, requires as much or as little of deep thinking and strategy as required. The game you design can take up as much spaces as desired to. Things like number of players, set up time, and amount of components can be tweaked to your own fancy also. And this is more than just doing some variants. You can create nearly an unlimited number of games!

So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?


Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.

The trick is moving from toying to seriousness. That takes a lot more effort (and time, and money), and really, most gamers prefer to put their efforts into playing games. Which is why those who do develop their pet projects into finished products are the rare few, and the best of luck to them
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JasonJ0 wrote:

Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.

The trick is moving from toying to seriousness. That takes a lot more effort (and time, and money), and really, most gamers prefer to put their efforts into playing games. Which is why those who do develop their pet projects into finished products are the rare few, and the best of luck to them


I see what you're getting at with the effort required to refine and finalize an inchoate or immature concept, but I'm going to object to the idea (or language) that one is only "toying" and not "serious" until the game becomes a "product." Were all the games of the past the work of mere dabblers until the Industrial Revolution turned them into products? Is every game created as a set of rules for use with pre-existing components unworthy of serious consideration and the outcome of an abortive process of creation?
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Richard Hutnik
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JasonJ0 wrote:
docreason wrote:
Yes, I am spoofing the other Magic thread to ask this question.

A game you design would arguably be your ultimate game (to you), and more ideal than any game that comes in a box. It can be as easy or hard to understand and learn, as fast as one likes to play, requires as much or as little of deep thinking and strategy as required. The game you design can take up as much spaces as desired to. Things like number of players, set up time, and amount of components can be tweaked to your own fancy also. And this is more than just doing some variants. You can create nearly an unlimited number of games!

So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?


Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.

The trick is moving from toying to seriousness. That takes a lot more effort (and time, and money), and really, most gamers prefer to put their efforts into playing games. Which is why those who do develop their pet projects into finished products are the rare few, and the best of luck to them


I won't say a lot of people don't toy with idea of designing that play games, but few people actually follow through. So I figured I would ask why not.
 
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Tony Bosca
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...or the possibility of designing a game that is good that you personally don't like. Oh, the horrors!
 
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Richard Hutnik
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blakstar wrote:
...or the possibility of designing a game that is good that you personally don't like. Oh, the horrors!


You unleash it and hope that, once it gets into the wild, SOMEONE decides they like it. Unless someone is bribing you to do more, you are free to say NO.

As a giggles project in design, I sometimes try to think of arguably the least interesting game genres out there to me, and think what I can do to make something more interesting in that genre.
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Philip Migas
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From an Architect's Perspective - Most people can't design.
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Game design is boring to most people. They want that "lightbulb" idea to just unfold before their eyes. But you have to test the game, consider alternative options, and then sometimes just admit that the design is crap and scrap it. The thrust of my life has been writing, and I find the disciplines of good writing also apply to game design.

I'm trying to design some abstract games (just for fun) and I am constantly revising and re-thinking things in the pursuit of making the game as simple and as easy to learn as possible. For me, it is good mental exercise. But it is also work. As hard as this is to believe, there are people out there who want the glory without putting in the work. Can you believe that?!?!
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JasonJ0 wrote:
Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.


I feel the same way. Each geek, eventually, thinks about designing his own game.

What I wonder is:

Why are not everyone (or at least, more people than now) working for free into designing fully developed games, instead of working for free into making translations, game aids, FAQs and random BGG stuff.

Same work, same payment (none), but a more interesting outcome.

Don't get me wrong, I love all the BGG stuff. But a workforce of geek designers, artists and translators could make great things if they focused on creating games. It would be good for them, because they would have rights and control over their creations (no more "file purges"). And it would be good for us, because even if half of those games are crap, I'm sure we would find some gems.

Also, I think publishers should be the ones responsibles for making not all but at least a significant number of aids/FAQs/translations of their own games. After all, they're the ones interested in promoting their games!
 
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Hollyhock wrote:
JasonJ0 wrote:
Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.


I feel the same way. Each geek, eventually, thinks about designing his own game.

What I wonder is:

Why are not everyone (or at least, more people than now) working for free into designing fully developed games, instead of working for free into making translations, game aids, FAQs and random BGG stuff.

First of all, let me say that I always appreciate it when my fellow Geeks make player aids, FAQs, reviews, session reports, etc.

Making a translation, or distilling a game's rules down into a helpful player aid is one thing. Designing a game from scratch is another thing entirely. It's not as much work to make a player aid (but I'm not at all bashing those who spend time and effort in doing that).

Reviews and session reports are even easier. I've knocked out 17 reviews in the past month. To some, that might seem like a lot, but it really isn't. I can't imagine desiging 7 games - let alone 17 - in that same time period.
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brhees wrote:
docreason wrote:
So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?

The same reason I don't make my own movies to watch or write my own books ... to read. Other people are much more creative than I am.

Somebody else has gone through the work in designing, playtesting, printing, etc. I get to be part of it without much effort (other than my cash)

I assume that the OP does write his own books, makes his own movies etc. Otherwise he would never have asked the question or at least already know the answer to the question.
 
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I'm the ultimate consumer, I like to leave my entertainment to the professionals. Even though most of the times it's complete drivel, every now and again they get it just right.
 
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My favorite games are the ones I designed. They also cost me hundreds of hours to design, create, and test not to mention that I ended up spending many times more money than I would buying one. Also, only about 1 in 10 game designs are something I really enjoy, so I end up playing a lot of crappy games with even worse components that I just throw away.

Yeah, its no wonder why people don't create their own games.
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Mark Campo
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why are not every one out playing football its much better magic or game design
 
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I posted a thread talking about the good and bad things about game design. Everyone has a million ideas about designing games, and that's always the fun part. However, getting from initial idea to finished product is not so fun (for everyone). Putting together rules that work, writing a clear and concise rulebook, putting together a prototype and playtesting the heck out of it, revising, revising, and revising some more, and that's before the art, design and layout for the game gets finalized. Like writing a good book, a lot of people think it's more of a hassle than it's worth and would be content to just keep those brilliant ideas in their heads.
 
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Even setting aside the fact that designing a game is hard, designing the "ultimate" game for yourself does not necessarily translate into a game that your friends also enjoy, and if your friends don't like it too then you'll never get to play it more than once or twice (unless you're talking about solo games).
 
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Hollyhock wrote:
JasonJ0 wrote:
Who says we don't? Most people I know from the gaming areas I've been interested in (RPGs in the distant past, wargaming a few years ago, ccgs more recently, and board games now) do seem to toy with making their own games.


I feel the same way. Each geek, eventually, thinks about designing his own game.



I invented my own RPG system in high school because a) I couldn't afford D&D books and b) I don't like how D&D does it anyway. I've had a wargame (my ultimate vision of how combat really was) on the go for at least 3 years (notebook stage), and in the past month or two I started on a space 4x kinda game (prototyped!!!! - and then stalled).

I reckon this is a fairly common state of affairs
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docreason wrote:


So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?


I used to but with so many great games and the barriers to publishing it's many many hours of work.
Also pulling out a cardboard prototype just looks lame.

I have had 2 games in mind for a long time - one I have a prototype for with what I thought was a new mechanic... but then I found it here, same basic mechanism, same theme... the version here was lame, mine is better but the it's so close people will assume I stole it.

The other I may work on some more.
 
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docreason wrote:
So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?


Read some Designer Diaries on BGGN.

You will see that quite frequently, designers come up with "The perfect game", design it... and then once they try it, realize that it's not actually good.

Now, those designers kept plugging away until it became good.

But if I was one of them? I would be spending all my time designing (fun value 1) instead of playing great but not perfect games (fun value 8)

Say it takes 1000 hours to make my perfect game. That's 1000 fun points.
Or I can get 8000 fun points by playing other games.
It takes over 5000 hours before my game catches up.

Assuming anyone else likes it and plays with me.
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docreason wrote:
Yes, I am spoofing the other Magic thread to ask this question.

A game you design would arguably be your ultimate game (to you), and more ideal than any game that comes in a box. It can be as easy or hard to understand and learn, as fast as one likes to play, requires as much or as little of deep thinking and strategy as required. The game you design can take up as much spaces as desired to. Things like number of players, set up time, and amount of components can be tweaked to your own fancy also. And this is more than just doing some variants. You can create nearly an unlimited number of games!

So, why doesn't everyone design their own games?

Some of us are...

But I understand why not everyone does. Some of the most brain-busting nights I've spent were at 2 and 3 a.m. a couple years ago, working out the numbers for an overhaul of a roleplaying system in beta testing. That one's paused for now, secondary to board games, but I'm hoping to pick it back up within the year.

The designer diary is to follow—the plan is, by the end of October. (Having kids slows everything down.)

Except their growing up. That goes by so very, very fast.
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