When we first had our idea to create a board game, we knew precious little about the process and jumped in with both feet. If we could go back and talk to Lock and Brent from three years ago, this is what we would share.
- Start small
- Your idea may be great, but if you’re diving into a new world sometimes simple is the best approach. We learned this the hard way by making wording and language a key component.
- Test early and often!
- Often initial ideas seem great on paper, but many practical considerations come to light with early play testing that can save a lot of time in the long run. We waited way too long to play test the first time. As a result there were a lot of hours we wasted on things that just obviously didn’t work during our very first play test. We could have saved soooo many hours by play testing a very rough version early on.
- Take down your contact information from your testers such as email address, Instagram, etc. This helps build your audience early which is key to being successful in the long run.
- Set a schedule and deadlines – and stick to them!
- You can’t do it all
- You may fancy yourself a jack of all trades, but this can lead to overwork and burnout. Let’s be honest, very few of us start out with this being our full-time job. Outsourcing what you can will greatly reduce your stress and shorten the development time of your game.
- Don’t forget to take a break! Seriously, take a break.
- Don’t focus on graphics too early
- Everyone wants a sexy game . We’ve heard the reviewers oohh and aaahhh over the graphics of the latest game. But, graphics are time consuming and you may find you need to make tweaks to game for play-ability that render your graphics useless.
- Let the theme determine your game mechanics for a more cohesive experience
- We all come into a game with our favorite mechanics, but if it doesn’t fit into the game it can seem like it is jammed in for the sake of the mechanic. Once it’s in there, it’s hard to let it go.
- Play games with similar mechanics.
- If you are making a deck builder game, play deck builders. If you’re making a ZZZ, play ZZZ. You need to have bench marks to compare your game to. If they have a certain thing to help balance out your mechanic and you don’t, what have you done to address what would otherwise make the game balanced?
- Attend as many design conventions are you can
- In other words, NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK. You will learn something from every designer you talk to, and designers absolutely love to talk about their games. Even if you can’t make it to conventions there are lots of places on social media to meet new people.
If you’re new to game design, did you learn something helpful here? If you’re new or a seasoned pro, what else have you learned along the way? We’re still open to learn from others!