Writing Game Rules

Sitting down to write out the rules of a game is one of the most daunting tasks a games designer will ever face. The thought process, methods, and interests of a designer, a writer, and a player are all very different. As designers we need to first understand the design of the game, become a great writer to express it, and think through as what information a player will need to understand and successfully play the game. As designers shifting into the role of a player is not all that hard, but becoming a writer is somewhat more challenging.

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Simple Advice?

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Advice for the next generation of designers

When I first became interested in board game design back in the late 80’s there was not much of an internet to search. My local library did not have any books on board game design and few people around me thought much about such things. This is not the case today, now a google search for board game design returns “About 40,000,000 results in (0.56 seconds)”.

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Pathways to Victory

Building multiple balanced tactical pathways to victory

This is a mouth full, a challenge all board game designers face, and a goal to aspire to! Game design is a complex process. The type of game you are trying to make might have just one easy goal or path to victory and there is nothing wrong with that type of game. However, some game designers are trying to build grand strategy games. These are not better only different from other games. The main difference between these games (from one point of view) is, there target audience! Players looking for a challenge in tactical strategy building.

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Tactical vs. Strategic

Plan your actions vs. Your plan of Action

In games, players need to make decisions about what to do next when it is their turn to take actions. These decisions or choices are based on what they know about the current state of the game on this turn and knowledge they might have about how the game needs to be played in order to win (along with many other factors). This is most often called a player’s skill level at the game. Among gamers, players that have a high general level of skill across many types of difficult games are called Tactical or Strategic thinkers. These two terms are commonly used interchangeably but actually have very different meanings when we use them for game design.

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The Role of Randomness

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In game design, a random element or random mechanic is not always desirable. Randomness in some circles is even looked down upon as a cheap mechanic that degrades the strategic or tactical elements of a game. The phrase luck based, has been used to label the random element of games to showcase that the skill of the player cannot be fully expressed in that type of game. On the flip side, many games hinge solely on a central random mechanic and in some circles luck based or random games are considered more fun or more inclusive of all players regardless of skill level.

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The Issue of Balance

We have all heard game designers talking about balancing their games. This is a very important issue and one that is by no means easy or quick. So, what is a balanced game? And also, how do we know if we have balance issues in a game? Or better still, how do we balance a game that has balance issues? But what about, is balance necessary in order to have a fun and successful game? Let’s take it one question at a time:

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Power & Control

“relating some to area control in games”

To make a game “effectively” using the “Power & Control” as a design concept you will need to understand the relationships and differences between power & control and also what types of force can be used to affect (or influence) those two concepts. “The power to force control onto the power and control forces.” The factors of power, control, and force are central to the idea of area control and many other aspects of game design.

For you as a board game designer, another main factor in this mix is player motivation. Keep in mind that these concepts will be presented only briefly in this article. You may have to go out and spend some real time researching, if you want to fully comprehend, the web that connects these concepts. Continue reading