So, what's changed? Well, this relates strongly to my game design journey. If you haven't been following my blog, I will essentially capture a casual audience with a simple game; then, I plan to convert them to middle-to-heavy weight gamers throughout six games, therefore adding to the market rather than taking away.
As you can probably tell from what I just said, I had to wait for this sort of journey to play out in my group of gaming friends as well. When we first started playing weekly earlier this year, we started with games like Kingdomino, Coup and Ticket to Ride. Last Wednesday, we played Scythe for the first time, the biggest game we have touched to date. Here are my top tips to learning and playing Scythe based on my own first-time experience.
Tips for Learning Scythe
Making a game for your friends and making your game for the world are two completely different tasks. However, this isn't THAT blog post. Instead, I want to talk briefly about ways to save time, money and energy (the big three) when making a game that you know you will send to print one day.
Just as a bit of me and why I have some insight into this area of board game making, I have to date dealt with six different manufacturers, four Chinese, one American and one British, and I have produced four prototypes and two published products (soon to be three). I have made the mistakes, I have made the errors, the very costly errors at that, so hopefully, through this post, I can save you some time, money and energy, so you can better spend that on doing something we all love in this community, making games!
Just a quick note, I will be mentioning my upcoming game Langskip in this post a lot. This is only because it is a game I just recently sent off to manufacturing, so I have up to date information and images regarding such process. This is in no way a marketing post.
Tip 1 - Use a template first (or make sure your artist is using a template first). At the beginning of my game development journey, I cannot tell you the number of times that I had to change every single card in a
Everyone has played a gateway game, and usually, it's a player's first venture into the hobby that they have this experience, whether it be at a friends house, a board game cafe or just a game that they picked up on Amazon. This is the underlying pin of what I want to write about in this post.
What is a Slow Burn?
I enjoy the slow burn of some board games, and what I mean by that is I love it when about two-thirds of the way into my first playthrough of a board game, the eureka moment hits me. I think this is why this game is fun; this is why my decisions are important and matter. And that statement at the end right there is the crux of what makes an enjoyable slow-burning gaming experience for me.
Having meaningful decisions in a game can be tricky to design regardless. Having them from the get-go can create intense analysis paralysis for the newer player. That's why I think having these decisions be more meaningful towards the end of the game can allow people to canter into the experience without much drag and hesitation. This experience is essentially my entire design philosophy, so I appreciate it when identifying other games' strategies to making slow-burning "gateway" games.
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.
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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