The children’s toy and game company, HABA, has a game design contest. For $5.00, you buy a collection of leftover pieces and make a game from the ones that inspire you. It’s likely still sold out although they’ve promised to put more up for sale. Check it out for yourself.
Here’s the rules. The gist is you send back a working game and they award a winner with a bunch of HABA products with the chance that your game may be published someday. With such a vague commitment on their part, they ask for no commitment from you that the game be exclusive to them after the contest ends. For myself, I thought it would be a good exercise and something I could work on with my son.
You can see my selection of HABA pieces above. The quantity was impressive but I was hoping for some unique dice. Also, it felt like all my pieces skewed on the younger side of kids’ game pieces. I have some ideas so I’ll be posting my game updates soon.
Are you participating in the HABA contest? What are you working on?
I did a fair amount of research to try to find similar games before I started designing the game I’m currently play-testing. It looked like my idea was unique enough. However, I accidentally discovered Cutthroat Caverns today. It’s the same as my idea in that it’s a card game, fantasy-themed, and has a “take-that” style of play.
It’s discouraging to have come this far and find something so close. Reportedly, it seems to be a longer playing game than you’d expect something like this to be. Since I’m looking to have something lighter and faster, I haven’t given up on my game yet; but this definitely takes the wind out of my sails. I’m also going to want to play CC at some point to confirm things one way or another.
Have you discovered similar games after putting work into a new game design?
One thing I haven’t seen many designers speak of is the importance of the game title. In any list of new titles, on Kickstarter, on BoardGameGeek, or on a review site, you sometimes have little else to make you stand out from the pack. Few designers seem to spend the required time to truly come up with something unique and attention-grabbing. Let’s look at some great titles and analyze why they are good:
Five minute Dungeon: Immediately you know this is a fast-playing fantasy-themed game plus you are curious to know: How fast is it really? How in-depth is the play? What does it look like?
Tiny Epic Quest: This gives you a very similar vibe to “Five Minute Dungeon” but promises a bit more with the claim to be “epic”. Don’t you want to know more?
King of Tokyo: This one is a bit more mysterious but inspires the necessary curiosity. Even if you don’t figure out it’s about giant monsters stomping on Tokyo, you want to know why does Tokyo have a king?
Every month I’m going to support (at least as a reward-less pledge), one Kickstarter that looks fun or has a great campaign. I chose Kingswood for my first pick since it has some interesting mechanics as well as a flavor and theme that I’d like to have for one of my game ideas.
Which current Kickstarter campaigns are catching your attention?
I’m not talking about a literal gaming table. Specifically, what skills, life experiences, or points of view do you have that you want to share with the world that you can do better than anyone else? Here’s what I came up with:
Problem solving and system design: I have over 20 years of software developer experience that gives me the engineer’s perspective on board game design — how can I accomplish the design with the simplest, most elegant, and efficient design?
Graphic design: I have over 10 years experience in graphic design as a side gig. That, along with software user interface design, helps me create components that are clear and beautiful.
Storytelling: Although I didn’t follow through, I briefly had a creative writing minor in University. Dungeon-mastering, writing my own fiction, and being a voracious reader give me a wide gamut of ideas, themes, and experiences to share.
My relatively new interest in designing board games is partly from a realization that it combines so many things I’m interested in. What are you bringing to the table? What do you need to tell the world?
What games caught your attention, inspired you, or furthered your interest in board games?
For me, I have to start with Monopoly at a very young age — it was a game my older brother played with his friends and I would beg to play. They would eventually relent and proceed to rip me off every chance they could! Despite that and my repeated losses in that game (not to mention my subsequent realization of Monopoly’s many flaws), Monopoly has always been special for me.
The next major influence would be Dungeons and Dragons in high school. I dropped out of Geometry (even though I had a “B”) to add another study period in the library so me and my friends could play more D&D. Nothing fascinated me more than the world-building involved in being a Dungeon Master.
All of us who enjoy board games have thought at one point or another, “I could do this! Why don’t I create my own game?”. With crowdfunding and the growing interest in board games, it’s not a crazy dream. The question is, why? What are you hoping to get out of it? Even though I have some ideas, I’m still trying to figure that out myself.
Let’s explore those ideas together using this poll. You can select as many options as are applicable for you.
Although this is my first real post, I will be updating this continually over time. The intention is to capture all the steps that lead up to a published game. In addition, there are step that I intend to do (maybe), that are marked in italics. Besides continually adding new items to this list, I will also periodically flesh this out with links that describe further details.
Choose game company name
Buy domain and arrange web hosting
Create LLC or other corporate structure
Trademark company name
Setup WordPress to begin blogging
Create domain email, social networking, and other associated accounts
Hi, I’m Robert. I’ll be exploring board game design, game publishing, and using Kickstarter in this blog. As things progress, I hope to collect some useful information that can help you along a similar journey.