“How do you make a game?” This very rhetorical question was posed to me by a 9 year old friend of my son. And it seems to me it is the perfect invitation to ruminate.
So, let’s ruminate.
Step one to making a board game: Love Board Games
I really and truly enjoy coming around a table sans electronics, with all apologies to Alchemist.
Things are best when I sit at a table with like minded people and push around tokens, manipulate small pieces of cardboard, and move plastic miniatures around a game board.
Step two to making a board game: Make a list of things you don’t like about the Board Games.
My list from games my group plays most often looks something like this:
- I hate waiting for my turn. Especially if it’s a game like DC when I just know one of my dick hole friends is going to buy the card I want out of spite. And yes it’s always out of spite and never because that’s what’s best for them.
- I hate it when I have a strong start to a game, only to have that strong start wiped out by something flukey at the end of the game.
- I hate it when I have a weak start to a game and can never catch up to the players who had strong starts, which in my group are most always due to luck and never skill, intelligence, or talent. Just saying.
- I hate games with a single best strategy –like the corn strategy in Puerto Rico.
- I don’t overly love symmetrical games –games where everyone starts with exactly the same pieces/cards, same goals, and same play style.
- I don’t like games that don’t require me to plan ahead.
- I am not a fan of games that don’t create player interactions that allow for smack talk and/or the creative hurting of feelings. Now I love Dominion, but I’m only mildly interested in the deck you’re building unless there are particular cards on the board.
Step three to making a board game: Make of list of features your favorite games include.
Again based on the games my group plays most often, my list includes:
- A playing time between 45 and 75 minutes. I love Axis and Allies, but….
- Easy setup and cleanup.
- Bidding on stuff.
- Themes that are funny.
- A building up of strength and a few turns where that strength gets to be used.
- A complete avoidance of placing someone (especially in the three player games because I have two brothers) in a ‘King Maker’ role. That is to say in a three player game someone finding themselves in a position where they can’t win, but depending on the choice they make, they get to decide who does win.
- Pretty pictures.
- High Repeat Play Value.
- Original mechanics.
- Enough strategy that we can talk about the game after the game, which is really one of the best parts.
Step four to making a board game: Design a set of rules around a theme and with certain mechanics that have all of the second list and none of the first list.
The results of Step four was The Game of Awesome version 1.0. And over three years of testing, tweaking, arguing, and lots more testing, The Game of Awesome version 1.o became Face Off version 8.2.
To see how that happened, tune in next week. Same bat time. Same bat channel. Same goofy jokes.