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Subject: How to start with the "crunch" game design? rss

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Mark F
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Hey guys!
I have absolutely no problem with the "fluff" side of game design, I always have ideas flowing into and sadly out of my head and so I decided to start an idea notebook.

My major problem is the "crunch" side. I have a good idea of the feel I seek for one of my game ideas and even a draft for the mechanics but how am I supposed to manage the mathy side of things - keep mechanics not too heavy while keeping the interest throughout the game and keeping stuff balanced.

I don't know how much is it allowed to tell here but the idea is not-so-loosely based on one of my favourite franchises that never got a boardgame made for it and the game features talismab-like mechanics mixed with some deck building.
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Scott Nelson
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Test it.
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Filip W.
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ropearoni4 wrote:
Test it.


Echo that. Playtest, playtest and playtest again. It's the only way to learn what works.
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John A. White
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filwi wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
Test it.


Echo that. Playtest, playtest and playtest again. It's the only way to learn what works.

I have this problem. I have ONLY 1 game of about 9 prototyped. I don't want to assume you don't know how to attack the math (let me know if that is the case).

In my case I am L-A-Z-Y, I innovate primary mechanics and cool theme, then I perceive the math as a work investment then block myself. I also feel the same about rules writing.


I have figured out how to inject card actions and math through teaming up with another designer strengths.
I have come up with a solution for rules writing (Same as above).

Most of the designers here don't understand because they love the math. What I did is PROVE the value of theme/primary mechanics then partnered with others.

Currently I have AP on which design to invest doing the math for I love them all.




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John A. White
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G+ Lab!

I would also recommend too all the G+ Game lab, using google+ hangout.
We present new work in a respectful NDA fashion, we often cover:
Theme
Verify Mechanics
Math
Market assumptions
Similar games

Bottom line it is ONLY a social event. Audio/Video not requiered but helpful.
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chuck dunn
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the crunch is work isn't it ?

playings supposed to be fun who wants to work ?

Some games out there have taken 30 some years to build out .. so start crunching ..
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John A. White
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chuckdunn wrote:
Some games out there have taken 30 some years to build out .. so start crunching ..

That statement, if true, is sad.
you think it was 30 years of crunch, or 29 years of dust collection?
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Mark F
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aVoidGames wrote:
filwi wrote:
ropearoni4 wrote:
Test it.


Echo that. Playtest, playtest and playtest again. It's the only way to learn what works.

I have this problem. I have ONLY 1 game of about 9 prototyped. I don't want to assume you don't know how to attack the math (let me know if that is the case).

In my case I am L-A-Z-Y, I innovate primary mechanics and cool theme, then I perceive the math as a work investment then block myself. I also feel the same about rules writing.


I have figured out how to inject card actions and math through teaming up with another designer strengths.
I have come up with a solution for rules writing (Same as above).

Most of the designers here don't understand because they love the math. What I did is PROVE the value of theme/primary mechanics then partnered with others.

Currently I have AP on which design to invest doing the math for I love them all.






Actually, that is the case, I have a good idea of the general mechanics I want in the game, and the mechanics the game is SUPPOSED to have (Again, based on an existing franchise/genre not really represented well in board games IMO)
Also, what about copyright, if I use the general ideas of the game in boardgame form, but change stuff so it is called differently, can I "get away" with that?

Before someones says, yes, I think that differentiating the game from it's mother franchise is a good idea, but first I want to "construct" a working "prototype" around the existing idea then see where I can change it further.

I'm a chemist (Student actually, but will finish my degree soon) and although I have some knowledge in mathematics, I don't think it's in the fields required for game design (I guess a lot of statistics?), I have the basic University math knowledge of Calculus, Linear Algebra and some chemical group theory.

Edit: For those who are asking about "Crunch" what I meant is the actual technical background behind game design, everything that's not concepts or ideas.
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John A. White
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First off be careful on typing anything about "theme" on this part of the forum because the users here take pride on De-coupling Art, Theme away from Crunch and mechanics. (I still use this method for inspiration and vision but Know its a throw away effort. users assume if your game is "Shinny" it's guaranteed to lack compelling game-play).

There Are 2 parts of the Math.
1 is an artistic balance Based on:
Other games (head start)
Player counts (scaling)
Goods counts (eye to production sometimes)
Unique Goods (open opportunity and potential exponential scenarios, -neg over Saturation [see TitM development])
Value of goods/cards/locations (control player effort, influence decision path, break game)
Amount of unique decisions at any one point. (AP)
resulting time of play (Possible Wrench: Filler Game
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Kevin Spak

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ropearoni4 wrote:
Test it.


This.

Look, I think a lot of non-designers have this mental image of designers sitting there and working up equations that magically produce perfectly balanced numbers for the game.

That's not how it works. There's no equation for fun. Just make a fast prototype of the thing with some educated guesses on the numbers. Those guesses will be completely wrong. That's fine. Everyone's numbers are totally wrong in the early playtests.

You seem to think you need to be a math whiz. You don't. Play it. See what seems right, what seems wrong. Adjust. Try again. It's not rocket science.
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Filip W.
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Murka wrote:

Also, what about copyright, if I use the general ideas of the game in boardgame form, but change stuff so it is called differently, can I "get away" with that?


In general, yes. The short story: copyright protects the expression of an idea, i.e. the way it's made. So you can paint a bunch of angels on a ceiling and call it your own even though Michelangelo already did it since your angels will be different.

You could even paint a picture of a picture, assuming it's sufficiently different (the term is "has artistic height").

You can't copyright rules but you can copyright the way those rules are written down.

So unless you're copying something outright you'll be in the clear. You might get a cease and desist letter anyhow, but that will work on the assumption that you won't have the money nor the inclination to fight in court.

As for the math and crunch part. I know right about nothing about math. I can count, and thats about it. But here's the thing:

You don't need math in order to do a good game. You don't even need math in order to do a complex game. What you do need is the ability to make a prototype, no matter how bad, and test it.

That's it. Make a prototype and test it.

I know that there are designers who claim (I haven't yet seen it credibly verified) to be able to sit down and "count out" a game, that is project it based on formulas alone. I don't think it can be made with anything but very simple games as you'll run up against problems you haven't foreseen in your design. But who knows, maybe it's possible. It just isn't probable.

As for what you do need to understand: basic probability if you're using random elements. Basic counting if you're using sets/hand management etc. Basic percentages and ROI calculations if you're doing something with building/4X.

It is good but not necessary to have basic knowledge of the differences between different ways to increment/decrement things (linear, exponential, etc.) and of logic (in the maths sense).

Anything above that is pure bonus. It might be nice, but you don't need it.

If you want the real crunch of game design, go read "A Book of Lenses, the Art of Game design" by Jessie Schell.

But most of all you need persistence. If you've got that you'll be able to create a game no matter what other skills you possess.

Good Luck!
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Mark F
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Thanks for the help guys, I'm currently writing a rough draft of the ideas and mechanics I'd like to implement in the game and will post a new WIP thread.
I hope that you'll be able to read it, give your opinions and help me refine and flesh it out.
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Mark F
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Also, huge thanks to David Gregg of Nightfall fame for his help

David Gregg
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You're awesome!
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Patrick Robles
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Murka wrote:
Hey guys!
My major problem is the "crunch" side. I have a good idea of the feel I seek for one of my game ideas and even a draft for the mechanics but how am I supposed to manage the mathy side of things - keep mechanics not too heavy while keeping the interest throughout the game and keeping stuff balanced.


I wish I had this problem. I get lost in the math, down I spin crunching away. Or, I suppose it would be more accurate to say, adding more and more crunch. Eventually I come up for air and realize I've created a nightmare of bookkeeping.

Most recently I forced myself to make a streamlined rules lite version of my RPG system when I realized the latest layer of complexity adds up to 141,122,520 possible abilities. Ridiculous.

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