Alright. So as soon as we moved Hinterlands to the side burner, we started up a much simpler game design project. We’re looking for a win here. We’re looking to get better, faster, stronger.

Let’s start with a few project goals

  • Learn from our mistakes
    • Don’t invest heavily into graphic design so early in the project (that was my bad).
    • Articulate what the game is before you do anything. Agree on this. Write it down. Refer to it often.
    • Design something simpler.
  • Get it to the table in its simplest form as soon as humanly possible.
  • Iterate quickly and with very small changes.
  • Revise until it’s smooth like buttah.
  • Only add to the game when you’ve achieved a buttah-like consistency.
  • Survive playtesting and make it to the finish line.

Kickoff Meeting

We both completed a survey of questions and compared our answers to find out what kind of game we wanted to make. We’re trying to understand the end goal and have the shape of the game already in mind before we begin so that we know which way to go, and so that we’ll know we’ve arrived once we get there.

Here are the questions we asked each other

  • Competitive or Cooperative?
    • competitive
  • How many players?
    • 1 to 4
  • How long should it take to play?
    • 45 minutes or so at 2 players
  • Potential Themes?
    • Greek Gods? Land Surveyors? Pioneers? Campers?
  • Who are we?
    • TBD – will fit whatever theme we choose
  • What are we trying to do / why are we doing this?
    • TBD
  • Where are we?
    • TBD
  • When is this taking place?
    • TBD
  • Core Mechanism(s)
    • purposeful tile placement to resolve objective cards
  • What triggers the end of the game?
    • run out of tiles
  • What emotion do I want players to feel when they play the game?
    • point-scoring tension
    • cleverness
    • satisfaction
    • friendly rivalry
    • “I want players to feel excited to play tiles and nervous about the other tiles their opponents will play.” – Collin
  • What is the most important / coolest mechanism in the game
    • objective card rewards (instant or ongoing) creating a sense of growth in player agency
  • What are the short and long term objectives?
    • short term goal shown right on the card. Immediate one-time reward or ongoing ability.
    • long term goal tied to overall endgame score
  • What are the constraints?
    • aim for minimal components to get the job done
    • must be simple enough to play at the biergarten
  • What is the simplest version possible?
    • stack of landscape hex tiles
    • small deck of objective cards with instant reward / ongoing ability / or endgame points

Next up: how do I design Carcassonne-style landscape tiles, anyway?

Question for the Audience:

What sorts of questions do you ask yourselves when starting a new game design?