At what point does an idea about a game become a game about an idea?
My game TOG (code name) was inspired by reading the original pitch document for the PC game Diablo:
To make this game my own, my goal was to distill out the things I love about Diablo (character progression and loot!) and capture those feelings in a board game form.
A game needs a system and a system needs building blocks. That’s where I started. My characters needed attributes to make each player’s character feel unique. This was the very first system I created.
I wanted something simple and visual, similar to a personality chart. The basic attributes in blue (Brawn, Guile and Wisdom) combine to give heroic attributes in orange (Prestige, Genius and Virtue).
I’m not a fan of adding unnecessary complexity to the lexicon of a game. Wherever possible I try to take advantage of familiarity and scaffolding (e.g. call a Victory Point a Victory Point not an Illustriousness Quantum).
So why didn’t I go with the usual Strength, Intelligence, Dexterity, etc? I wanted opposite attributes to feel like opposite personality traits and I wanted the heroic attributes feel like a combination of the basic attributes. I think this justified bringing out the thesaurus in this case.
What’s the next building block my game would need?
Resources! I decided on three resources (Skill Points, Experience Points and Gold Coins) and on how they would be spent (unlocking skills, leveling up and buying items respectively). I wanted to associate each resource type with one of the three basic attributes:
Once I had these building blocks in place (attributes and resources), I moved on to the game flow. Players would earn resources by selecting actions from a game board consisting of quests of increasing difficulty:
Players would then spend their resources in town to prepare for the next questing phase:
Mechanics vs Theme
So far, I have covered the first day I spent turning my idea into a game (I’m now 190 days on).
I often see the debate between mechanics vs theme as a driver for game design. I think of myself as being very mechanics oriented, but when I reflect back it is clear that I started with a theme and used this to develop the basic building blocks of my game. It was only once I had these building blocks that I actually came up with the key mechanics. It was one week later that I had actually fleshed out the mechanics to the point that I could print off my first prototype and play.
Below are a selection of the pages in my initial prototype print out.
Over to you
At what point did your idea about a game become a game about an idea?
What was the very first system you created for your game?
Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Design Theory, Designer Diary, Prototyping
Thanks for writing and sharing.
Thanks for reading!