Development and Design panel

By Polar_Bear
In Events
May 24th, 2014
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The ocean is my holster. – Eric Lang.

The next panel is about designing and developing games.
We’ve got Eric Lang, Michael Shinall, David Doust, and Ted Terranova.

We’re essentially going full Q&A here.

First is about chance and figuring how much should be used. An analogy is made to chess, that has no random elements. But there it is your opponent that determines the moves you can make through the moves they make.
Chance can come from 2 sources, pre and post choice.
Pre-choice is like Magic where the chance is in the draw and then you choose.
Post-choice is like minis games where you make your choice for an attack, then roll the dice.

Next is about designing versus developing. Design is the ‘ideas’ section of creation from whole cloth. The design phase of something like Rivet Wars was coming up with the look and then some basic, core ideas. It’s still and idea exchange.
When working on things, design is the sort of “we should make a game that’s…” sort of phase.
It’s like with Ron and Bones where it was an idea of theme, where they wanted to make a game that felt like a pirate movie. So a framework was thought of to make a game that captured that feeling.

Development is a bunch of math. It’s where the design is refined into a playable game. It’s the ‘coding’ portion of things. Making the game work and make it so others would want to buy it.
Shaving down the design ideas and tweaking it until there’s a core group of mechanics.
For Ron and Bones, for example, it was about figuring out the AI for the ‘mooks’ in the game so they worked running on their own.

One of The biggest pitfall in game design is having too many ‘simple’ mechanics.

Some designers don’t want their idea to ever change. This is a pain for developers, since there is always something to be done to it.

There has to be a hook for the game to make one different than the others, even if it wasn’t even there.

You have to keep in mind where the fun is. You may find, through testing that the fundamentals of the game may have to go, just to make sure the fun is up front.

Fun vs complex.
Content is king, concept is emperor.
First: identify who the game is for. Demands of audience is heavy a part of development.
Kaosball is for those that want a sport game, but don’t want the details of Blood Bowl.
If Koasball was to try and be a modern Blood Bowl, it would be a much, much different game.

Not every game is for every player, and that’s ok!
No game will reach everyone.
But you have to be make sure it does relate to the target audience.
You must be careful at the outset to know your target audience.

Every gamer has their favorite styles or themes or mechanics.

Talk about the type of gamer who would and would not like the game. During development, then, it is key to keep that goal in mind. There is something to ‘ignoring’ certain feedback, because it might just not be that person’s type of game.
Try everything, though, just because you never know.

Design is an idea to simulate what you want to see on the battlefield. Create base rules that create a certain thing, like targeting rules in Rivet Wars and the plug system to create the vision on the board.

Never create a rule to mitigate other rules. It there’s a rules exception, figure out why that exists and see if you really need it.

Learning curves are important as well. Creating intuitive rules helps with that.

Super-complex games are a luxury, as they will appeal to a smaller demographic.

Something like Arkham Horror is complex and could have been simpler, but since FFG can afford to put out a game that expected lower sales.
Same with GW games, where knowing what all the army pieces do can be a major advantage.

Cost is a major factor in all of this. MSRP is a part of development in coming up with components and how much go into the box.
There are cost barriers that you don’t want to cross because you will lose your audience.
This goes into component creation and use to keep costs at a place you want to keep it at.

And this can happen at any point, even at the very end, when a game is ‘done and ready’ from the initial design standpoint.

You must have a core game at the start. Expansions have a little wiggle room, but the start must be a firm foundation.

Design and development is not a line, but a sideways tornado.

So getting quotes on price early is a good way to at least get an idea of where to start.

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