On my walk yesterday, I listened to Jamey Stegmaier's "A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide". I was struck by inspiration when Jamey mentioned the benefits of microgames to growing your community. Of course, increasing the community of people surrounding my games is important to me, but more so, it's what that actually means that really motivated me. Getting games into the hands of as many people as possible, bringing joy and entertainment to as many households as possible. These ideas are more easily achieved with a microgame as I can decrease costs for backers both in terms of the actual price and shipping costs.
What is a microgame?
When I first heard of a microgame (yesterday), I was intrigued to find out what a microgame actually was. There's a couple of exciting forums on Board Game Geek, such as this one here, but it seems that the general gist is a game with 20 components or less. So games like Love Letter, Coup and others would fit into that category, but despite the Tiny Epic series taking on a small game's persona, games in that series often exceed 50 or even 100 components, so they wouldn't count.
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In this blog post, I plan to share my observations of games such as Dinsey/Marvel Villainous, The Binding of Isaac: Four Souls, Ticket to Ride and more. I will also be talking about my experience creating one of my games Food Time Battle in Space. This blog post is in no way a marketing post, it is just I have experience designing an asymmetric game, and it is vital to this post that FTB in Space is part of the discussion.
Why did I want to write about asymmetric game design?
In short, asymmetric games are a real pain to design, but secondly, and more long-windedly, to balance. Often this is because what allows you as the designer to create asymmetry in your game is the varied amount of mechanisms and win conditions in your game. Some are easier to use, some are harder to obtain, which brings me to one of the first tough decisions when making an asymmetric game.
I believe to be vital to any good game's design to create with the player's feelings in mind. Without that aim, you are merely just conjuring tasks for players to do until a win condition is met. Don't misunderstand; this could be fun and seen as a good time, but there's no way to create a unique user experience using this method. Games designed in this manner are usually designed with two or three games in mind, which makes sense. In the back of the designer's mind, they are attempting to recapture the fun they had with one game, but mashing that game together with a couple of others, in their head, should create an enjoyable and exciting time akin to what they had previously experienced. It makes sense because without designing with the player's feelings in mind, the only way to develop a good game's resemblance is to copy. Designing with feeling is complicated and tricky to do. Still, today I'm going to share the steps I take in the early stages of any concept to ensure that I have a goal to aim for, which helps me create the same player experience that I want.
When playing board games with new players, there are many barriers to getting your favourite games onto the table, especially for players who are relatively new to the hobby. These barriers are essential to understand because if someone buys your game and can never get it to the table, they are much less likely to buy your next game.
Disclaimer, I will be mentioning my game Food Time Battle in Space a lot, as these lessons were learnt whilst developing it.
Barrier #1 - Theme.
Yes, unfortunately, the appeal of your game isn't JUST about the mechanisms. You might be proud of how smooth your game plays or how innovated a mechanic is, but it doesn't matter to many people if it isn't initially wrapped up in a beautiful, appealing package.
I had begun my board game development journey when I started my game design course at the University of Huddersfield in September of 2017. Though as I first started to attend classes and work towards my degree, I didn't know this. I thought I was learning the trade, getting foundational skills that could set me on the right track for a game development career, something which I had always wanted to do. I thought getting a degree was something I needed to do BEFORE I started game development, but I was wrong.
In my first year, Dr Daryl Marples, my tutor for my concept development course, set us on the task of making a board game. To be clear, the degree that I am taking is mainly a digital game development degree, meaning video games. This assignment was to teach us the fundamentals of game design, to show us that the structure and skeleton of games, whether they be on the television or tabletop, is vital to creating a meaningful experience for the player. This assignment is when my game development journey truly began.
Hello, my name is Niall Crabtree, and this is my comprehensive blog showcasing all of my game development endeavors and successes, as well as essays on game design.
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