New Years Resolutions, we all have them every year and if you are anything like me you are probably thinking this will be the year I start creating my board game idea. Now February is getting closed and you have not even started on your new year’s goal and you have no idea where to start.
Well before you start pitching your idea to Asmodee here are 5 things you should think about before you start creating your first board game.
Disclaimer Creating board games is hard so if you are looking for a money-making success maybe try something else but if you are a gamer and want to create something you and your friends can play and share it with the rest of the world then keep reading and give it a shot.
Remember the best way to fail is never to try.
Number One: Know your Audience
Every board game has what we will call and audience a group of people that the theme and design of the game are aimed towards. For example, the game Wingspan is aimed at birders so the artwork is not cartoonish and the theme reflects that however to complement that the rules are simple you play a bird or activate a power.
The complexity of the game is then found on each individual card that are clearly explained to the players as they play the game. This is a perfect example of knowing your audience as it means the game is perfect to inexperienced gamers as a great gateway game.
It doesn’t throw players into the deep end of rules and complex strategic analysis something that would detur a new gamer from continuing. It however gently eases them in, this is a great example of knowing your audience the game is simple as not to detur new players bring them in with a theme you will love.
Elizabeth didn’t need to convince board gamers to play a board game, she needed to convince birders to play a board game and is successful with this.
If you know who you want to target with your game you can create with the end-user in mind making something that they will both love and enjoy.
Remember board game designing is a service industry you are there to service your player with a fantastic experience do that and they will share it with everybody they know.
Number Two: Play Lots of Games
The best way to design a good board game is to have experienced a lot of great games. No this does not mean you have played every expansion of settlers of Catan, but that you have played a diverse range of board games from the complex like race for the galaxy or terraforming mars to the physical like terror in meeple city or flick them up and everything in-between.
Istanbul, 7 Wonders, Ticket to Ride, Azul, Burger up, Machi Koro, Pandemic so many games offer so many different experiences and this knowledge is just what you will need to deliver a fantastic experience for your players.
So in the words of the board game sage Will Wheaton – Play more games
Number Three: Themes Don’t Matter
Unless you are looking to create a game that is heavily connected to a theme spending all your time developing a theme before developing your game mechanics may be a waste of time.
A lot of board game publishers will look to retheme a game once it’s developed they may have access to an IP that you could only have dreamed of using so creating a solid game with good mechanics and well developed rules is the best place to start.
I recommend focusing on the mechanics first then you can work on your theme later, you may even find that a different theme fits perfectly into your game once you have established its rules.
So hold on tight with the theming no need to create a 1000 illustrations of your box cover rules and gameplay are the most important for now.
Number Four: Record the Process
Recording the design process is super important writing things down and putting them into an sealed envelope and sending them to yourself is one of the most useful legal hacks you can have during this process.
It’s all about proving you had this idea first a lot of mechanics can’t be copyrighted as they sit in public domain but artwork and any unique ideas and content you create need to be documented.
This process will also allow you to streamline your work practices helping you become more efficient next time you make a game log how much time it takes you as well all of these factors will help you in the long run.
One of the most common things I have heard online from designers of products is they wish they documented better so don’t be like the majority and make sure you keep some notes.
Number Five: Make a Prototype
How do you know somebody likes you game? Well they need to play it.
How out if the rules are to hard to understand?
What about if it’s unbalanced?
Or hard to fit on a table?
Or you a mechanic doesn’t work?
Everything looks good as a design file on your computer but when it hits the real world and you are actually using that spinner you developed and find that you never get the bonus that’s when you know your game is going to work or not.
Once you have a solid design with rules and components it’s critical you bring it to life in physical form before you try to produce it it’s also critical for the next step.
Number Six: Playtest x 100
Playtest Playtest Playtest!
This word will need to become the most spoken word in regards to your game design process.
Playtesting is critical for a games success and you will know you are getting ready to publish when you have played your game so many times that you are sick of playing it.
One of the most common pieces of player and game reviewer feedback about a mediocre game is I don’t think this was Playtested enough. Playtesting gives you the feedback you need to make tweaks and balance the game so that it’s the best it can be.
Think of it as the practice sessions before the show starts you want have a great preformance if you don’t practice the same goes with board games you won’t have a great game experience unless you Playtest.
Note: Playtest was mentioned over 10 times in this post it’s important please from all the gamers out that Playtest your games you can’t skip this step.
Number Seven: Invest in a White Box
Having the ability to change things around try different tiles, add some extra meeples or resources is invaluable when you are trying to make a board game and you are getting feedback from your playtesters.
I recommend you invest in a white box from The White Box is a learning, planning, and prototyping tool for tabletop game designers you can use the included generic components to prototype and test your ideas. The White Box eliminates the need to buy new dice or meeples…or crib them from games in your collection and forget to put them back later or refer to the 25 essays on game design and production to help your game design journey.
About the Whitebox – From the Publisher
The White Box helps aspiring game designers and publishers get the games out of their heads and onto the table. Inside you`ll find The White Box Essays, a book of 25 essays on game design and production, as well as a ton of components to get you designing right away – from cubes and meeples, to dice, discs, and chits.
- Contains a book of essays on game design and production, covering subjects like where to find a great concept, how to use randomness, what to ask playtesters, and whether it’s wise to self-publish.
- Includes an abundance of components to get you started right away, from cubes and meeples to dice, discs, and chits.
- Maybe you have a golden idea inside you burning to come out. Maybe you want to tell a story or explore a problem. Do you dream of seeing your name on a box at your local game store? Or perhaps you see game design as a path to fame, fortune, and a satisfying career.
- The White Box Essays, a 128-page perfect bound book about how to make games
- Two punchboard sheets of custom counters and markers, some blank, others pre-printed with numbers, actions, elements, icons, and more
- 100 standard wooden cubes (25 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 8 mm each)
- 24 standard wooden meeples (6 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 12 mm each)
- 4 giant wooden cubes (1 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 25 mm each)
- 40 plastic discs (10 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 12 × 3 mm each)
- 50 plastic discs (25 each of gold and silver, 12 × 3 mm each)
- 8 standard six-sided dice (2 each of red, green, yellow, and blue, 16 mm each)