Good day to you fellow board game creators :)
On this day of January - I want to talk about something that won't always make people happy around the gaming table, which is player elimination!
This topic has many nuances to how and what is implemented it the games, but there are few opinions about it I believe, in general you can either live with player elimination or you can't.
Fear not - this post won't be about my personal opinion towards player elimination or the psychological effect behind them ;)
I want to talk about how you can decide whether or not it should be in your game - and how you can avoid and/or implement it in different ways...
What is player elimination?
In short - player elimination refers to the fact that you might get eliminated from the game, before the game is finished. E.g. you are starting out 4 players, and while 2 of you might get eliminated sooner or later, the game doesn't end before the last 2 players have battled it out.
There are also games out there - presenting players with indirect elimination. This meaning that they might not be "out of the game", but they can no longer "affect the game or win by any means". It can lead to the same feeling as being removed from the game - though here you have to sit and be reminded of your defeat every time it's your turn.
Should you have player elimination in your board game?
The first question you should ask yourself is... should I have player elimination in my board game?
Though many people doesn't like this factor - it is part of some games, and if implemented for the right reasons together with the right determinations / mechanics it may very well work.
Ask yourself some of these questions
How to implement player elimination
You might think it doesn't take a genius to implement elimination in a game, and you would be quite right about it. Nevertheless it does take some thought to actually implement it in a way - so that players accept it as a natural outcome of the game.
A player decision
One way to implement it is to create a visible barrier of which you as a player will have to cross in order to be able to be eliminated from the game. Here's some examples
Giving people a choice of "gain vs. risk" can create an acceptance towards the ultimate failure. Or like some of the examples illustrate - if you as a player knows that when you enter the final stages of the game (reaching a certain level of points) you now have a risk of being annihilated from the game.
Boosting your last efforts
While it's always a question about balance when it comes to the possibilities of players to catch up with the leader. It may be a good idea to include a somewhat "last stand chance" for players about to be eliminated from the game. Meaning that player might get boosted when in dire need of it.
I'm sure many of you would agree that if you have to go down - an epic last stand is the way to go. Making the ending memorable, and maybe you might even survive to take an enemy haft way with you in your fall ;)
And at last... make sure you take into consideration how long a player might be out of your game, if eliminated.
How to avoid player elimination?
Now that I have touched the aspects of implementing player elimination - I want to talk a bit about how to avoid it.
I've put together some examples on how you can achieve this.
How to avoid indirect player elimination?
While it might seem easy to avoid "total player elimination" by stating something in the rules. It doesn't really ease the pain - if your game consist of heavy indirect player elimination.
By indirect player elimination I'm referring to the possibilities of a player to hinter, lockup or block another player off completely, in other terms eliminating that player from the game.
A few examples on how you might avoid an indirect elimination
You can find many reasons why you shouldn't have player elimination in your game... but on the other hand, there's no denying a game might be more interesting if the risk is there. You wouldn't play paint ball if it didn't hurt when you got hit ;)
In the end - it's all about implementation...
Happy gaming to all of you - and check out my newest game project Burning Suns, remember to sign up :)
Hello again brave board game developers :)
I hope you have all enjoyed some great holidays. Today I'm going to share some experiences on how to involve freelancers in your board game production.
One of my key points in creating a board game is to include creative and competent people in the project - this makes it much easier for me to stay focused on creating fun game mechanics and developing the game further.
In the post I'm not going to talk about where to find freelancers, but only how to include them in a project. So if you're thinking about bringing on new people to your board game project, I hope you'll find these pointer informative and helpful :)
Your master plan
One of the first thing you should do when introducing a freelancer to your board game project, is to introduce your master plan in a way for the person to see what your goal is - and how it might affect his/her work.
Lay out the plan so that he/she can see that you got it covered and knows what to do in the future. It also helps yourself a lot because now the game is on and there's only one way and that is forward.
Together with your master plan, you should have a project website online. For your freelancers to continuously be able to find inspiration, reference material and specific project goals from you (one of my earlier blogs about project handling).
Keep your schedule and calendar of the project transparent for your team - nobody likes to work with hidden agendas.
Written and in contract form
Make sure to write down all details in a contract and make sure to cooperate with the contract in mind.
Keep all agreements within the limits of the contract - and keep them in written format (e.g. mail), and don't do it through Skype, Facebook or other IM programs that doesn't keep a logical record of the conversations.
This is specially meant for feedback on tasks, adjustment to final products, or conversation about hours/money spend on the different tasks. If it isn't in written form, it hasn't happened.
Include some bullets about how copyrighted material should be handled. I believe that the freelancer should be able to promote themselves with the things that they do - so give them an opportunity to show their newly done work :)
Your cooperation should always start with a somewhat simple task - like an initial audition. This tasks should be equal for each freelancer with the same profession. The result will help you determine who should be attending to what things on the project (e.g. you might have an illustrator good at drawing human faces, one good at making weapons, one skillful in terrain textures etc.).
It's a good way to start on even footing and get a good steady start plus you get to see your freelancers in action (e.g. file handling, "work in progress", deadlines and so on). You get to fine tune the process and see some choices made by the freelancers.
Starting out with your most important/difficult pieces of the game might be jamming the project early on, so starting with the board may not be the best choice.
Plus, you might think of audition work as free of change (in my world it isn't).
Though you should always stay professional about matters of challenges and problems - you should make the project and partnership "personal". This is an investment for you and maybe also for the freelancer, which means that your personal involvement in the project will be part of the success.
If you have the chance - meet with your freelancers, especially when deadlines are met and your ready to go to another phase or launch the project on Kickstarter, in stores or similar. Maybe Essen is the place to meet up, eh? :)
Be there and give feedback!
This counts for all kinds of leadership and management - you got to be there!
Well, here's a hot potato :) Probably one of the most difficult topics when talking freelancers.
What and why should you pay your freelancers?
For several reasons! Leaving payment out as a provision orientated partnership where "you get X percent of the profit when the game is sold" is one of the worst ideas.
Not only does this mean that your tasks will end in the bottom of the food chain whenever the freelancer gets a real job. But it also means that you can't really "demand" anything when we talk quality, because quality will always be worth something :)
A solution on the salary
I'm not rich enough to pay FFG, LucasArts or similar salaries ;) So a thing I came up with in order to find a compromise between the freelancers and I - was this...
Share good experiences
I had and still have good experience with some of my recent freelancers.
A few last pointers from me.
Good luck with your board game project and happy gaming :)
Happy holidays to you fellow board game creators :)
While heading towards the New Year, I'm going to talk about some methods and tools I usually use when examine new concepts or pieces from different board games.
I've talked a bit about this in another post (here).
This should be an ongoing process that you conduct every now and then. It'll help you when you're creating your own board games and make it easier for you to make decisions base on already tried concepts / ideas (e.g. scaling tokens and board, amount of game pieces, color relations etc.).
The reason why I do a lot of board game research is because - in this way I'm up-to-date and know about new solutions to game problems, game trends, game materials and so on.
I hope you'll be able to use these methods when looking into all the new board games you've received this Christmas ;)
What should I look into?
There are many different things you can look into when we talk board games. So I'm usually thinking in terms of categories that interest me when I'm developing my own games.
How would I go about it?
Let me point out some of the methods I use for examine board game pieces.
One of the most important details about tokens and plastic pieces is their size. This has a huge impact on playability (handling during play), price in production, coherency with the game and theme.
I always include a ruler and several of the board game pieces together on my pictures, to make sure I have a measure and a scale to look at afterwards.
Furthermore I want the pictures with a similar background and luckily I have a background with 1x1 cm grid on the backside making scale even easier.
Weight might not seem important at all. But after I developed a board game containing poker chips I realized how much it actually influence on the weight (postage) to choose 4 gram chips instead of 11 gram. With 200 poker chips in the game - you can do the math yourself ;)
Taking pictures of the board game in use at specific times might help you when recollecting the memory of the game and how it's played. Another great thing is to list all the cards / tokens next to each other - and in that way you have a catalog of all the influences in the game.
If you want to look into more exotic colors, I would recommend you doing it on a white background plus the original board setting with a proper light source installed.
What to collect online?
There are many board game related items on the web. So it's about narrowing your scope down to what you want to collect and how.
Please bare in mind that this is just a small preview of what you may or may not go through when examine board games, and that we all have our different styles.
There are many good ideas on how to go about this - which is why I've tried to focus on the key pointers in my approach to examine the different board games out there.
I hope it'll help you on your way :)
Have a wonderful holiday - and make sure to play some board games with your friends and family, happy gaming out there!
Hi again fellow board game developers :)
In this post I'm going to talk about how to create a board for your board game prototype.
Many people struggle with creating something that looks "final" - something people will be convinced by.
First off - I don't think you should concentrate on doing this before you're in the mid-to-late prototype phase. Because you'll often find yourself reworking the board to your likings as you develop on your prototype.
I believe I've build at least 2 full boards in vain because I only a few days later had made some significant changes to the layout.
So be aware.. when you go down this path you better be ready for it ;)
I imagine that you already have the layout and graphics in mind - and you'll start working on them one way or another.
There's really not that much to it - either you can do it yourself if you're skilled in Photoshop or the likes, or you can get someone else to do it.
Don't worry about using a few copyrighted materials if you're only going to show the prototype to your friends. If you choose to do any public display then you'll of course need your own original material!
When you want to print it, you can do it in several ways. You can print it yourself by cutting the print into smaller A4 pieces (I'm assuming you have an A4 printer like most of us ;)
Or you can do what I prefer to do... find a local printing department of some sort, they can usually help you out. Choose to print "poster quality". It's a bit more expensive but also a lot more durable - specially if the board is going to see a lot of token/miniature action.
Furthermore the poster print already has a glue/sticker back you can use when attaching the print to a board of some sort.
This will probably not be the kind of print you'll be using in the final print - since it also has a very reflecting surface, making it troublesome to look at in direct light when playing (but it sure does look nice - and ready for sale :)
The board material
There are several different materials you can use for your board, each with different strengths and weaknesses.
I usually go with 2mm for boards bigger than A3, and 1,2-1,5mm for smaller boards.
Look at some of the examples below.
Cutting, gluing... and so on...
When you have the components you need - it's time to put them together. This can be a tricky affair due to the "one chance"-aspect of putting it on. But if you follow the principles of this video you won't be doing it wrong (how to put on a car sticker).
Making the board more durable
If you want your board to be even more durable or stand out even prettier - it's time to introduce the transparent book wrap plastic (in Danish called "angel skin" or something). This will keep your board still going strong when you get to the production of any expansion packs ;)
Corners are usually the vulnerable part of a board. But it doesn't have to be. If you look at the following examples - you'll see how you can wrap around the edges and corners - making them fairly strong.
Edges and the finishing touch
Edges can also be a pain in the neck if not properly wrapped - and letting the print continue on the other side doesn't always look that good... But here's a money trick :)
Well... that will be all for now - I hope this article will help you in your board production.
Happy holidays and gaming to you all :)
Hey board game developer :)
I wanted to share some experiences I've had with board game production. I've been working on my own board game "Burning Suns" for almost a year now, and I thought it would be foolish not to share the knowledge I've gained over the many months.
My team and I are working alongside each other on both prototype and final components, and we're all working very coherently and close together in order to make sure things stay within the project scope and our goals are the same.
I'll try to go through some of the different digital production elements here. Enjoy :)
The index of all things
(I'm assuming that you're already well on the way with the ideas, blossoming in both text documents and drawings ;-)
Your first step is to create the "box" in which all things will be stored and sorted.
You'll want to be very systematic in order to make sure everything is just as you want them to be.
(e.g. in folder "1 - Rules") Early prototype rules ver2.
(e.g. in folder "6 - Player tokens") Elves - Leader token ver3.
Download the following spreadsheets to view some examples.
The project website of a board game production
Your next task is to create a project website for your board game. This will be the reference point for everyone involved in the production (no need to say, that this needs to be password protected ;)
You'll find a web solution like Weebly (that I'm using myself) to be very handy. A lot of "drag and drop" equals no trouble focusing on other things.
On this website you'll include subjects like
Make sure that it's regularly updated - and that you give your team everything they need in order to complete their tasks.
A few last things...
When you start to include people in the production process, make sure that you guys have a sharing method that works.
I like to use "SugarSync", so that we're all working on the same files - and that I don't get into any problems with different versions etc.
Without a syncing tool - you'll find yourself doing too much upload / download / back / forth with your email box.
Let your email box handle the communication with your team - not the file transfers.
Get an early economical perspective
When you settle on some of your production choices, it is time for you to look into the economy side of your board game project.
In other words... you should get an early quote on your production breakdown, and run through your financial possibilities - in the end - if your project doesn't become sustainable, you won't be able to do this as often as you would like to ;)
I hope this will put you off to a good start on your own board game production.
Happy gaming and holidays out there! :)
Hi again fellow board game developers,
I wanted to take up a topic which has always been a interesting aspect in a game for me.
The concept of language neutral layout / design in a board game... this may seem strange to some, but for me - who have played with many different people with many different native languages - the concept in itself is a huge selling point!
As a Danish guy living in Germany with a Belarusian wife - it's not hard to see why I like the no-text board games ;)
With this in mind, I would like to go through a series of thoughts and pointers you might want to explore further yourself.
Why would you make a language neutral game?
There are some neat advantages in making a board game without any real text on the game board, playing pieces, cards and so on...
Of course this doesn't come without a "cost", or at least some important factors you have to consider carefully...
Examples of board game mechanics and so on - explained with symbols.
I've found some examples in games, where symbol explanations seem well implemented (though some of them still have text, you can argue whether or not that's necessary).
I'm sure you can find many more - and these will be the ones you should refer to - when trying to make your own game.
The pictures above - are from the following game: Cyclades (Hades), Small World, D-Day Dice, 7 Wonders, Race for the Galaxy and Eminent Domain. I take no credit for their success, design or game play.
How to implement it.
If you choose to go for a game without text - you have to think about the implementation. How will you do it?
With text you can easily create associations - because you can tell the players to get them ;) But when you don't use text, you have to keep associations and visual explanation in mind all the time.
There's a fairly big chance - that you'll have to do a bit more play testing with the "no-text" solution.. but it will be a sweet achievement when you have a game that can be memorized by symbols and actions instead of long text sequences.
Plus - you might be lucky to have players from all around the world playing your game, without the need of a total reprint of the game!
No matter what solution you come up with - I hope you'll have fun :)
Summer greetings to all of you gamers out there :)
On this very day I'm going to talk about money flow and economy in board games.
As usual I'll stick to the point - keeping it short and simple!
As a board game developer one of the big problems you'll face - is the money/economy aspect of the game you're developing.
This goes for computer games as well, the obvious difference being that computer games have the computer's mathematical abilities to work for them, but on the other hand their economics are not necessarily being reset after each games.
Considerations before implementing economy?
There are some things you want to think about before choosing to implement economy. Economy is not a necessity - but a game mechanic choice that you make - so maybe asking yourself a few questions could easy the decision making.
How will you implement the economy?
So... if you decide to go with an economical system of some sort in your game. You have to look into some more practical details about the game.
How will this economy be represented in the best possible way - weighted again flexibility in rule changes, practical issues like the shape, color and variations of the cash itself, and in the end production cost.
There are many options to chose from, like...
Control of money flow
Like Blizzard have had problems with WoW money flow, so will you if you don't consider the whole aspect of a game economy (maybe not on the exact same scale ;-)
Simplifying the cash system
Sometimes you might find yourself in a whirlwind of units, abilities and upgrades that all need cash to get into play. This will always make things a bit cumbersome, since the pay has to be written somewhere, the players are likely to forget the cost, and the balancing is heavily depending on the right implementation.
In essence, you need to through every aspect of the economy in order to make sure it's as simple as possible, even if you're going for a heavy economy game. Making sure that things are smooth and simple, makes it easier to put on additional layers and rules.
Do you use the lowest possible numbers?
If you have 4 units, each with a cost of 4, 8, 20 and 40... then it would make the most sense to decrease the cost to 1, 2, 5 and 10. This will of course be affected by how your income is structured.
Do you let everything gain income?
Letting all your fields, planets or action add to the income might bug down the game, because players will have to adjust and add numbers together during every phase of the game. This might not benefit the flow of the game itself. So looking into how some factors could affect the game might be a way to limit the many numbers and make the game more "colorful".
Are people winning by having the most money or loosing by having the least?
Well, it's not exactly the same thing. Winning by having the most, may require you to have a time limit on the game, since gaining doesn't necessarily stop by itself, while loosing money will have an end to the unfortunate player.
I hope you got some inputs for your next game!
And remember to leave a comment, if you have any questions or general critique - I'm always listening to feedback :)
Until next time - may you have a great board gaming season!
Happy new year board gamers :)
I hope you've had a wonderful holiday so far...!
Today I'm going to write you some pointers about how to do board game research..
I'll give you an overview of how I'm doing research - when I'm studying board games of different sorts.
I hope you'll be able to use some of these examples to study your board games in detail.
No matter how well you may know a board game - no matter how many board games you've seen or played... it always helps you out to measure :)
Write it down - or even better yet, take pictures which include a ruler of some sort.
It'll come in handy when you're doing your own board game prototypes. You might hit the right board measures or square/field measures in first try ;)
Furthermore - having the right measures from the beginning will be a major help when you want to get an estimate on the production cost (finding boxes, prints, figures and so on that fits in).
And of course - everyone who works with graphics knows how important it is to get the measures right so you won't have to go and scale anything afterwards.
I don't think I have to go into any details why taking pictures for documentation is important for your research. I believe it is like than in any kind of research area - so let's move on ;)
It happens all the time - that you find some cool mechanic or feature in a board game... or it's explained to you through some review of a board game.
Here it's important that you write it down, copy links, produce some kind of documentation concerning that specific mechanic.
The problem often is that while you might still remember the specific mechanic, theme or layout when you're building your own prototypes, it might not be of any use if you can't remember the effect nor context it was used in. Make sure you write down as much as possible about the things you like - and why you think it works.
Always get other peoples opinion when you collect data for your research, we're all different - and therefore we look for and appreciate different things in board games.
Collect and sort (responsibly;)
Make sure you gain the "collector gene" (if you don't already have it)... collect as much as possible.
I'm sure you know where I'm going with this :)
Just remember to sort everything - so you'll get the most out of your efforts!
That's all for now .... and again - happy new year and happy gaming out there!
Good day my fellow board game developers,
Now the time has come to talk a bit about investors...
As a board game developer - you'll undoubtedly face to question - "Do I need or want an investor for my board game?" - So do you?
I'll try to go over some of the important aspects about including and excluding an investor for your board game production.
I won't be talking about how to find an investor or investments in general - but you can be sure I'll be posting an article about this topic later on :)
Pros and cons for having an investor
First - let's talk a bit about the pros and cons of acquiring an investor for your board game production.
Your board game dream
Another question you need to answer is this - "What's my board game dream?"
Do you want your game to be kicked off like a huge movie theater release? Or do you want your business to grow like a young tree in your garden? Can you put the time an effort demanded of an investor?
If you get an investor for your board game business - there's only one way - and that's forward! So you better be ready for this!
More than 1 board game
I've talked to very few investor-minded who would settle for 1 board game release. When getting an investor you talk about long term strategies and business deals - so you need to have the materials, creativity and time to keep on producing new board games...
First board game = home run?
If it's your first board game - you'll have to be 100 percent sure that your board game will break some records or at least bring back the investment. That might be a heavy burden to put on your first board game production... I would definitely recommend you to get as much experience with development, production and general business handling before including an investor in your board game venture.
There's another way
Even though the word "investor" always seems to solve a lot of thought process whenever money challenges arise... it's not the only solution to the problem.... there are many aspects you want to look into, so be sure to think it through before contacting a potential investor.
Happy gaming and good luck with the board game investment :)
Heyho my fellow gamers,
Now... I'm going to talk about how to find different useful materials for your board game prototype.
We now it all starts with a prototype - and this is the phase where you want to keep your expenses as low as possible while maintaining a fairly convincing prototype.
So - where should you go and pick up materials for your next board game prototype? I have a few suggestions that I've been somewhat successful with.
The $1, €1 or "Tiger" stores...
You probably already know them.. this is where you find cheap Halloween costumes, the 1 trip umbrella, crazy straws, b-movie DVDs and the list goes on!
These stores are stuffed with things you wouldn't need in 1000 years... But but but... there's also a hidden treasure lying around waiting for you to discover it :)
Many of these stores have generic board game pieces for Domino, Two of a kind, 4 in a row, Stratego and so on.
Flea markets and charity shops
This is probably where you get the most for your hard earned bucks. In flea markets you'll be lucky to find old board games or toys that you might use..
Furthermore there are always a lot of hobby stands and people with same interests - so you'll also be sure to find "alternative" ways of creating or developing your board game prototype.
Why not use cheap pearls for resources, or use the backside of a jigsaw puzzle for board.
There are many alternative ways of refilling your stock of prototype materials ;)
The local ebay variant
Yea I know... ebay might not be the easiest place to find cheap board games or materials - It's all collector's edition or full packages of some sort.
But you might have a "local ebay" of some kind.. a newspaper or a website. You can be lucky to find people here selling out of old storages or the likes...
And in general
Be on the lookout for sales in your local toy store, book store and so on.. It'll really help you create cheap board game prototypes :)
Happy gaming to you all!
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