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Game Design Secrets #1 – You need 2 people.

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An important point here campers. So important in fact that it’s Design secret #1.

Making a boardgame is not easy. If anything, the first 70% is easy. The last 30% can become depressingly hard. Sometimes it can get all too much…

“But what if this isn’t balanced? We found that this can’t match up with that if the player plays like this. But if we make this more powerful than that then that other thing happens which can break the game…?!”

You know what helps this out? A friend. One awesome game designer friend helps immensely. At times, it is a genuine, angelic, godsend. Your game design partner has their own brain. That brain, is different to yours. It will look at things in an entirely different way to you. Remember that you are on the same team and you are working towards the same goal (to make a fun game that people like). So you are working together but looking at it differently – this is exactly what your games will do well with.

Two points furthermore:

1. Choose someone that you wouldn’t normally work with. Someone that is different to you. Finding similarities tends to be easier than finding differences in any relationship. So start with someone completely different to you, and work towards similarities. It is much harder to start with someone the same as you and find reasons to be different. This upside-down way makes sense as you are looking for someone who can think differently to you and has a different experience to you. Some say that the weirder your partner, the better […]  as it encourages eclectic, and interesting views – things that you weren’t expecting.

2. Too many designers spoil the rules. Two is a nice number, three is harder – anything past three and the games design is simply to hard to get done as everyone has their own opinion that they would like to crowbar into the game. By all means you should get other people to “chime in” once in a while, to give their opinion. Once in a while. It can be like herding a room full of cats sometimes when even just 3 people are all trying to design a game collectively

Remember that we humans are a collective species. We work differently on our own, in pairs, and in large groups. But when there is someone else out there who has “got your back” – it can be so wonderful when  all of a sudden you hear:

So Sam, I was thinking about the game over the weekend a lot and I have furthered our collective cause

A big cuddly smile will warm it’s way across your grizzled and stressed-out game designer face. “I’m not alone!” and you will smile.

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One thought on “Game Design Secrets #1 – You need 2 people.

  1. Great post sam. I agree 100%. Also, working with someone who you aren’t afraid to hurt their feelings is key. Otherwise you waste too much time pandoring to one another. In my experience anyway. Finding a design partner that you can work honestly with is huge.

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