Welcome to your weekly dose of board game design!

Had a fun time at the Boston FIG last weekend, both talking about one of my games (Kill Your Darlings) and chatting with other game designers / developers.

I also gave a talk about some of the insights I’ve had into game design – no video, sadly, but I’m sure I’ll have a chance to give it again in the future.

Something I learned about game design this week

I need to explore the rabbit hole that is indie video games.

It’s so easy to get caught up in board games or whatever AAA games are being hyped as the next big thing (looking at you, Tears of the Kingdom). Sometimes you don’t want a $70 title that’ll take hours just to get to the first tutorial (one reason I’m a big fan of Marvel Snap – 3 minutes a game!).

A few games or tools that I heard about during Boston FIG worth looking at:

This week’s tip

Today starts a new series on idea generating.

Brainstorming new ideas is the sort of thing designers either struggle with or never have to worry about.

Today, let’s brainstorm a bit by creating a format for a single word to inspire us.

I’ll call it ‘The [Noun] Mechanic’.

Just throw out some nouns. Pretend they’re part of a game. Person, place, or thing. Don’t think about it, just write some nouns down.

Here’s one of mine: The Treadmill Mechanic. Obviously I came up with this while at the gym (where’s my Couch to 5K crew?!)

What’s the treadmill mechanic, you ask? To make one up for this example, think about what a treadmill is. Don’t worry about how it might fit with a game. What do people do with a treadmill?

I run on one. I might walk on one. I can go as fast or as slow as I want, but I don’t physically go anywhere.

So from that, there’s a sense of what this might lead to. You can be ‘ahead’ of the treadmill a little (towards the display) or ‘behind’ a little (towards the back). You probably don’t want to feel too crowded in the front or feel your feet hit the back edge, so you want to be somewhere in the middle.

OK, being in the middle of a thing… That can go a lot of ways. Not in front, not in back, just comfortably in the middle. It’s where you might be competing with other people to be for some reason.

For now, take this first step. Write out five nouns. Brainstorm how people interact with these nouns. Don’t worry about themes or marketability or components or anything else yet.

Great, now I’ve got a mechanic. What do I do with it? Tune in next week and we’ll take the next step.

What I’ve been working on last week

  • Doing some online pitching

  • Attending Boston FIG

  • Met with an existing and a new client

  • Met with a co-designer who got our game to the table in the real world

  • Playtested Smite and Dice Cream, and helped a publisher playtest one of their games under consideration

What’s coming up this week

  • Make the next version of a co-designed game

  • Playtest Marshrutka, Smite, Downward Facing Panda

  • Get Spies officially on sale (now that all the translations are approved and created)


2023 05 22 10 39 17 UKGE 2023 Annotated Map

If you’re heading to UKGE, you’ll want this annotated map, courtesy of offlinegamer.co.uk.

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Thanks for reading, and see you next week!