Category: Games

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #14: 131-140

131. Materiality Tip

White or pale cardbacks are the worst especially in bluffing games. They’re incredibly easy to unintentionally mark. If you’re going to make a game like this, make it small, so there’s not a lot of stressed shuffling.

132. Diegesis

Consider diegetically the game pieces. A game about high schoolers will have different needs than a game about high schooler mermaids. For example, mermaids can all ‘fly’ by our standards. Does a car have the same symbolism of freedom to them?

133. Been There, Liberated That

If you’re going to make a game about WW2, maybe consider any battlefield at all except Normandy?

134. Been There, Liberated That, With Other People

pursuant to 133. Maybe also consider there were people other than the Americans there?

135. Hard Lines

Simple, bold shapes can do the work of more complicated artwork and is comparatively attainable, like with The Suits:

136. Don’t Be Fatphobic

If your game has fat people in it and they’re only there to be mocked, you’re a piece of shit.

137. Winning’s Not A Drug

Resolutions of games aren’t as important as you think. Some games, the winner is basically meaningless to any but the most competitive.

Apples to Apples is an example, Charades is another. I learned this with Crowdfund This: For some games, people care about the doing.

138. 69+69

Twice as nice.

138.5. Make Rules Readable

Jokes are fine, and you should feel free to put them in rules, but don’t let those jokes make rules ambiguous.

139. The Purpose Of A Game

Absolutely core to what you’re doing as a game designer is trying to create a machine that creates a story. This means understanding stories is important, and so is understanding machinery.

140. The Purpose of A Roleplaying Game

RPG design is a step above that: It is [A Machine That Makes [A Machine That [Makes A Story. ]]]

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #13: 121-130

121. Assumptions in Structure

Reconsider your turn structure. If players need a chance to react to one another, or care about a pool of limited resources in a shared space, turn-by-turn works; But if players are all drawing out of a common pool, then building their own thing like say Galaxy Trucker, simultaneous play is fine. The lure of simultaneous play is players are engaged with their own work, then you have a theatrical moment where they go ‘wait what’ later.

On the other hand, games like Tales of the Arabian Nights and Dread of Winter make a great use of other players during someone’s turn – they don’t have to worry about their own turn and can instead join the ridiculous things happening to another player.

122. Resources I Use – Drive To Work

Mark Rosewater’s Drive To Work podcast is a really useful resource, even if I disagree with his definition of ‘game.’ You don’t need to be paying attention to Magic: The Gathering to get this stuff, though you really, really should. Particularly interesting are the discussions of ‘failures’ like the Tribal type.

123. Don’t Hide Your Theme

Being up-front about what your game is about is a better way to get people to play it than being coy. It also works out better for people who are easily distressed. If you’re making a horror game, people will prefer to immerse in that experience then have it jump out at them.

Consider; Dead of Winter doesn’t hide its apocalyptic bleakness. Despite this, there is still horror that you have to discover. Players don’t go into it thinking this game about starving to death in the frozen wastes probably won’t have any nasty surprises.

124. Trigger Warnings

TRIGGER WARNINGS ON YOUR CONTENT MAKES IT MORE ACCESSIBLE. Players who think spoilers ruin their enjoyment are straight up wrong, we have done testing on this. Trigger Warnings are a no-loss addition, and as a bonus, you piss off people who are just total shits about things that don’t affect them.

125. Remember Your Baselines

If you want to make a war game you need to be able to prove it would not better serve as Warhammer house rules. This sounds like sarcasm, but: So many miniatures wargames are just reskins of ‘this is how Warhammer SHOULD play’ home rulesets.

126. Include More Of Your Interests

The broader your interests and more instinctive your curiosity, the more stuff you’ll be able to apply to making your games.

127. Fuzzy Spaces

Human interpreters are very hard to program but they’re also very good at covering up cracks in the rules. You don’t need to tell players how to do things like ‘negotiate deals’ or ‘choose a player to exile’ – players can do that smoothly.

128. Editors Matter

RPG Design: If you’re making a game book, hire a fuckin’ editor and care a lot about your reader’s experience


129. Glossaries Matter

Glossaries are good to give short primers on rules players are PRETTY SURE OF, not the first place to introduce them


130. Math Matters

If your game math ever requires (brackets+(order of operations * averages)), you have fucked up


2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #12: 111-120

111. Advertise, Advertise, Advertise

Don’t pass up opportunities to get people’s eyes on your products, like HEY GO LOOK AT THIS TOTAL STRANGERS.

See the funny thing is, I wrote that a few months ago, because a friend regularly reminds me that I don’t advertise my own work enough. I did it in this thread a few times and not one of them converted to a purchase within the time frame.

Clearly, gotta advertise more.

112. You Can Make Games

I may not get more likes than this so here’s the big one. Here’s the king hit. YOU CAN MAKE GAMES. This time last year I had BASICALLY NO experience making games. In one year, I made about FIFTEEN You Can Make Games Too. You don’t need to do presentation. You don’t need to do aesthetics. You don’t even need to write formal rules. But you can sit down, with pieces of card, scribble on them, and you can MAKE A GAME. And I WANT YOU TO.

Right Now, we’ve got a Lot Of Guys Like Me making shit. That’s fine but hey look at that we have the same five nerd boy fantasies repeating.  You will find all sorts of weird, cool, interesting game ideas when you reach even the tiniest step out of Orcs Vs Spacemen Zombies You can make games with dice and cardboard and paper and pens and glue and tape and THAT IS AWESOME and YOU CAN DO IT. Want to take it to the next level? Free graphics programs. Free template tools. Free text editors and pdf exporters and stock art – YOU CAN.

And if fuckin’ ANYONE wants to tell you that You Don’t Have The Qualifications or You Don’t Belong in making games? I will fight them.

This idea turned out to be so important to me it formed the bedrock of my final thesis and a semester of teaching. You can make games.

113. Folding Prototypes

You know what’s super great for 3d prototypes? Oragami skills. Folding distinct pieces with stiff card can be v. Quick. There are TONS of resources for simple origami techniques out there.

114. The Basic Aesthetic Option

When in doubt, white text, black outline, or black text with white outline. It’s practical and it’s everywhere because it works.

115. What Doesn’t Belong

Most games wind up being boring because there’s an under-examined system in there ‘just because. ‘ Roll-and-move is a great example of this. Does your game benefit from random movement? Does it just slow shit down? You should be able to explain to yourself why you’re doing any of the things you’re doing.

116. Roll-And-Move

‘We wanted to slow things down’ is a perfectly fine thing to want in your game, btw.

117. Repeating the Game Loop

Some games like Poker or Skull are relatively dull in a single experience but become exciting in aggregate. Make sure to try out your mechanic in iterated groups with carrying-over score. You may find they’re more interesting that way.

118. Feedback To Seek

The worst feedback you can get is ‘I dunno, seems fine. ‘ If you get this a lot, it’s not your tester though, it’s on you. If things ‘seem fine’ then nothing’s giving a strong emotional reaction, whether it’s ‘this sucks’ or ‘this is awesome.’

119. Procedural Pals

Befriend bot-makers. Random, procedural computer generation can give you large sets of information or assets to curate. They can also make some types of game assets, like permutations of one another, easier to get.

120. A Permutation Resource!

I use this Permutation Calculator for a lot of the permutation/set math I need to do ‘cos I’m bad at combinatorics.

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #11: 101-110

101. Look To bad Examples

OneUpManship is the first monopoly variant I’ve seen that’s actively and aggressively worse than Monopoly. No kidding. Seriously, game is gross and odious. It shows you can take a bad idea and make it worse.

102. Be Aware of the Kickstarter Environment

Do not make your first kickstarter until you have backed a few kickstarters, even if just to see how they go, and to get your stats up. Seasoned kickstarter investors skip out on kickstarters with ‘1 project, 0 backed’

103. Be Aware of Who’s Listening.

Be careful when and where you talk shit. It’s one thing for me to call OneUpManship assballs here, but on BoardGameGeek, it’s not nice. Know your audience and environment. BGG is a place to hype up games you like, be positive, be kind.

104. Beware Unecessary Mixes

Just because you like two things doesn’t mean they belong together. Big space battles across huge distances don’t need tactical movement, for example. Nitpicky load and encumbrance rules don’t really belong in games where your load can be measured in half-tons.

105. Beloved Are the Playtesters

Early on, some people will try your game with nothing in it for them, and they will give feedback these people are glorious angels

106. Look To The Public Domain

Public domain art assets are great and give you lots of options for weird or interesting game ideas.  Old maps, old biological books, historical diagrams – look at what people like Wondermark do with this kind of resource. When you pick up art from a particular period in history, that period influences and defines the work. Alt-history games can be cool! (Alt-history is like steampunk without the popular racism, at least, right now)

107. The Quandrary of Horror

Horror is SUPER HARD to do well because game rules make ‘winning’ possible, but horror tends ask ‘can we even win.’ If you can stat Cthulhu out, you may have missed the point.

108. Ingesting Conception

Watch a review video for a game you’ve not played, then try describe the game’s rules to someone else. See what stands out to them. This pair of filters mean you can often hear ideas that were never in the original work.

109. Building Legacies

Legacy games are The New Thing but if you want to delve into that mechanical space look to older campaign games like Chainmail. D&D’s earliest versions did the same kind of thing. A print-on-demand or print-and-play legacy game needs to hit that kind of standard

110. Contextualising Sources

PULP IS GOOD. There’s a reason we have a HOJILLION Cthulhu games (it’s public domain) there are TWO reasons we have a hojillion Cthulh—

Pulp gives you a pre-existing story structure, and a handful of signalling tropes you can use. The connecting tissue informs itself; Using a pre-existing story base to theme your game helps players get into the right space, and you can design your mechanics to fit that. AND DON’T THINK I JUST MEAN THE AGE OF ADVENTURE BURROUGHS STUFF. Go to Pulp Librarian and grab ten covers there that’s your game’s aesthetic. Lesbian biker satan? Okay, let’s go

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #10: 91-100

91. Secret Identity

Sometimes I look at things and think about design space, then wonder about if anyone’s using it. For example, despite the fact that cards have two sides and superheroes often have two identities there aren’t any good superhero card games right now.


92. Film Influences

Movies have great lessons for pacing a game, about building a story and reaching a satisfying crescendo. Some games already basically follow the arc of a movie. Look to Samurai Spirits, or Risk.

93. Hiding The Purpose

Poker is pretty good at making you think it’s about having good hands. That’s part of its magic, moving cups around. Serious poker players will tell you the game is about using your behaviour as readable information and giving away as little other information as possible. Nonetheless, the game makes the hands seem important, gives them value, and the ‘real’ game emerges.

94. Broaden Your Sources

Listen to people who create even if not directly in your sphere. Even when not trying to, talking to and considering these positions and ideas of people with distinctly different life experiences (and there are a lot of those – I’m a white cis guy after all) has been useful for building and strengthening mine You’re always trying to create systems to stimulate players’ experience, and empathy is the best tool for knowing how to get there

95. Wins Or Losses

You can think of end games in terms of either a win (‘pursue this objective’) or a loss (‘which is often harder on the woman. ‘) Avoiding a movie slasher and being the Last Girl is a good example of Loss-Oriented design. Getting All The Gems is more win-oriented. Loss-focused design tends to be meaner.

96. Evens and Odds

Even numbers are good for cooperation, odd numbers are good for conflict. Players can divide things in half and feel fair, or share loads equally when there IS an equal amount to be shared. Odd numbers can’t be split equally and can’t be easily divided-and-conquered the same way, either. Look at the MTG colour wheel.

97. Clever Vs Fun

Your game can be super clever but it doesn’t matter if it’s boring.

I’m talking to you Seafall.

Always, on this point, it’s you, Seafall.

(stands over the cliffside looking down at the lava bellowing at Seafall) YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE

98. Rollercoaster moments

Automated game sections are actually totally fine, if they’re a chance for players to watch something they did unfold. Programmed games (Lords of Xidit, a lot of trump games) are a very obvious example of this. But know what does it best? Galaxy Trucker. Galaxy Trucker is one mass of impossible frantic decisions, then you put what you made onto a ghost train and let it leap out and spook you

99. Connect Your Work To Audiences

Don’t presume on audiences. You may load your game with things to try and connect it to a market but if they don’t see it, who cares? You could make Gay Cuddlepile Furry Mayhem that comes with a free handjob from Accelo and if nobody knows where to get it, they won’t buy it.

This is and has been my hardest problem. Right now, every single thing I’ve tried to get people interested in my games has failed except standing in front of them and showing them the games at conventions.

100. Scale Of Numbers

Big numbers don’t make a game more mature or serious. Bigger numbers and bigger bounds on math mostly only matters for distance. A games may have a total score start at 0 and reach 150 but if players are only ever 2-5 points away from each other, what’s the point?

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #9: 81-90

81. Find Where You Have To Limit Players

In RPGs, players are using your system to create and express. The more tightly you limit that, the more you cut off their options. A DM of ours, @ExManus is fond of the phrase ‘your thematics are your own. ‘ and it’s proven absolutely invaluable. Do you have the right mechanical interactions that make sense? Then fuckin’ wonderful. I don’t care if you call it Nature Magic or Fae Soul.

In RPG design, consider what restrictions are necessary to make the game work. Some games have very strict, regimented settings, such as military ones. But more creative, expressive settings benefit from letting players come up with their own explanations for things. Look at where you’re using a theme when you should be using a rule, and when you’re trying to treat theme as if it is rule.

82. Knockouts Aren’t Always Bad

Knockouts – where you remove a player from the game somehow – are seen poorly, especially amongst the Euro-gaming, victory-point counting gamer crowd, but they serve the valuable purpose of freeing people from a game they can’t win any more. If you think being knocked out of a game early sucks, try being stuck playing a game you’re completely unable to win for the full duration

83. TERM: Victory Point Salad.

Some games let you do a bunch of things to accumulate ‘victory points’ and the game just checks the count of them. These games are honestly kind of best for representing big complex economic systems where things are all of dubious total value, and goals are sort of there for players to pursue individually? But a better way to follow this is using a Victory Point Salad design is best for games where you have a lot of different systems and want to give players things they can avoid.

84. TERM: Victory Point

Call them something other than Victory Points, I mean come the fuck on, VP is the most thematically dead term by now.

85. Examine your Base Assumptions

When we code symbols in games we bring a raftload of assumptions. Maybe reconsider them and open other spaces. Bats, wolves and rats are typically ‘bad’, but bears often have a nobility to them as if they’re not all just eating the same idiots.

86. Content Vs System

Games can be broken into Content and System. Some games need a lot of System and comparatively little Content (D&D, frex). Some games are system light and compensate with an enormous volume of content (Billionaire Banshee, Elevator Pitch). If you make a lot of one, you can make less of the other. Note can; that’s not to say it’s a simple 1:1 divvy.

87. Don’t Follow Fads For Fads’ Sake

I’ll use real-time play as an example but the principle holds. Real Time is the latest thing to try doing with card games, and it’s not a bad place to go but it’s also got a big problem: Many people drawn to card games are doing so because they don’t want real-time decision making. They want a turn-based pace. So there’s a quantity of board gamers who react to games like Captain Sonar as if you’re asking them to ride a rollercoaster that’s on fire

Remember, there are some people who want games to give them reliable components. Some folk wanna shuffle up some cards and maybe make a ninja dude fight someone.

88. The Easy Seat

In team games it is 100% okay to design team roles whose job is Be Boring But Useful. Some players don’t want the stressful decisions. Don’t make it essential – don’t make it so some player has to have the dull role? But let someone who wants to take an easy job get it.

89. Players Have Material Needs

Respect your players, but do so wholly. Recognise they need breaks, have other interests, have limited space and money. If I could give up on half the content of Kalash-Tar in exchange for fitting it in the Resistance box I’d take that fucking deal

90. Build Skeletons To Know How Things Run

Try and make a deck builder, a bidding game, and a hidden role game, at least just in concept space versions. If you can explain the basic rules of how those three types of games work, well and coherently, even if you never make one for real, good.

This isn’t even vaguely hard, as it is; there are tons of examples you can look at, and it’s not like boiling Resistance down to its bones is hard.

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #8: 71-80

71. Remix Is Meaningful

You can get a good place to start with ‘Game X, But For-‘ like ‘Twilight Imperium For People With Fulltime Jobs. ‘ Resistance has a lot in common with Mafia/Werewolf, for example, with ‘Mafia, for small groups and no administrator’

72. Making Roguelikes Is Pretty Hard

You can fake procedural generation with cards but you have less customisation. It makes the game more bland to allow the pieces to fit. You will get better mileage out of telling players to create/explain things than make cards that fit together perfectly well.

73. Ensure Players Don’t Check Out

If you can, design so players do things/care about things on other players’ turns. Just watching for strategic reasons isn’t enough. MTG’s counterspells/instants are kind of the worst base version of this but at least it’s only one player’s turn (usually). Dead of Winter’s crossroads system is REALLY GOOD for this, as is Tales of the Arabian Nights’ involvement of other players as semi-DM

74. Props And Doohickeys

Do not underestimate the value of a doohickey. Players like things like crowns, fingerguns, or ridiculous titles. Resistance is very good but replace the spies with ‘covert bears’ and you change the tone in a way that can be very appealing. Games can also do this within their space, of a sudden out-of-context ‘what the heck’ kind of thing to stand out in the player’s mind: Spyfall has something of this. There’s one scenario where one character can just be a cat and has to ask questions as if they’re a cat

75. Moments of Theatre

Never underestimate the value of theatrical moments. Texas Hold ‘Em has a MAGICAL moment when players reveal their cards: It’s great. You can hide cards under other cards. You can make the moment a card flips a hammer blow. You can make players have to count down to act. HMS Dolores, btw, is REALLY good for this, with its one-two-three OH GOD WHAT JUST HAPPENED round resolution

76. It’s Okay To Be Indulgent

You’re not going to hurt your chances by making shit indulgent to what you like. If the game works and is solid, the indulgent elements will appeal to people like you and usually rarely repel people who don’t care

77. Reach Outside Of The Game For Components

Don’t underestimate the value of other components. Dog Eat Dog LITERALLY makes a player’s income into a game mechanic component (and uses it excellently).

78. The Work Abyss

Miniature war games are the MMO of indie development. You open that box you are committing to making one thing forever until you die. Or, more realistically, not completing the project and spending a lot of money on the failure. And don’t give me ‘well this miniature thing on kickstarter made a million bucks’ that’s not indie. And they’re mostly selling the ITEMS.

79. Limiting Scope In-Play

If you give players 100 options and let them play with 5 of them, consider making them swap them around. Like, imagine Charades, except once the first round’s done, people randomly get one of the first round options, and can’t repeat gestures. Players will often watch a player trying to convey secret information and think ‘I COULD DO THAT BETTER. ‘ So make ’em.

80. Listen To Women

Listen to women. Seriously. Just, like, you’re listening to me rn, listen to women more. There is so much coding bricked up in gaming and tabletop right now that guys like me don’t even realise is hostile.

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #7: 61-70

61. Pay People For Shit.

Let me restate that: Pay People For Shit.


My game release schedule is slow because I have to workaround art absence because I can’t afford to pay artists up front for pro schedules. What art I have is either given with promise of future payment or as gifts. In both cases, those are charities.




I can’t afford lots of art so my projects don’t get to use a lot of art. That’s the fuckin’ price of doing business. Don’t ask for free shit

62. Ease Of Purchase Matters

Booklet games and ebook games are easier for people to try on a whim than card games. DOG BEAR outsells EVERYTHING I have. I think in part, this is because these games are easy and cheap to get – if you’re interested, it costs you five bucks to get it, and you get it right away. Most of my card games never sell copies online.

63. Don’t Treat Cards As Sanctified

If you do print-on-demand you can include cards that are designed to be cut up to make tokens for currency or standups.

64. Clash of Warrior Knightses

We have a lot of games about medieval warriors clashing. Feel free to make them if you want, but it’s a well-served space.

65. Hand Size

Giving players a hand of more than six or so cards can get awkward. Just like, fanning/handling that many cards is a decently big #

66. Hands Holding

Players tend (not always) to fan out cards top to bottom, right to left, showing left corners to themselves. So if you want to put easy-reference information on cards, putting it in that left corner makes it quicker to see

67. To Orthogonal Or Not

Roughly half of players recognise ‘straight line’ includes diagonals, roughly half don’t. I have no solution for this. Just be clear.

68. Tracking Variables Technique

You can track a variable on two cards, sliding up and down, ala :

I got this idea from an old version of Sushi Go, and it’s VERY USEFUL for personal information tracking. Spares people using paper.

69. Nice.

69.5. Setup Matters

The more of a pain in the ass your game is to set up the less likely people are to play it twice.

Bad Setup: Zombie 15, Dominion

Good Setup: Captain Sonar, Poker

70. Failure States Of Setup

Jesus christ, 70? Oh okay, anyway, If setting up is part of the game, you need to control it to make it interesting and not slow.


If your game is basically a pachinko machine you kick players into, and it can just fart-out and fail, speed is your friend.

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #6: 51-60

51. Test The Mental Load

Interrupt a playtest and take a five minute break. How hard is it for the game to resume? What information got lost? The longer the game you make takes to play, the more likely people need to interrupt it for food, toilet breaks, phone calls. If your game collapses when people stop looking at it, too much of the process of the game is stuck in the players’ heads.

52. Test The Soundprint

Try to avoid game text that’ll accidentally make players say something rude or annoying aloud or often. MTG has a problem where ‘counter’ and ‘counter’ mean two different things in two different context and this cuts off design space. Similarly right now a game in development is being reworked because I don’t want players to say ‘my [character] is triggered by that’

53. Borders and Boundaries 1

You have less space than you think. Everything needs some margins, some padding between it and the things it’s near.

54. Borders and Boundaries 2

You have more space than you think. Printed material has a HUGE resolution, so you can cram in lots of pixels.

55. Flooping The Pig

Players using game language is only a problem if your game language sounds like ass spoken aloud. In RPGs this is a goddamn scourge. If you name your mechanics and use good game language, players talking ‘gamey’ should SOUND NATURAL.

56. Diversify Your Knowledge Base

Learning about how things work, things that aren’t games, gives you tools for designing games. Three things I’d recommend are traffic, voting systems and rudimentary linguistics, which all have given me interesting starts.

57. Constructive Space

Players love building things! Let them assemble a ship out of parts, build a deck, organise staff. Cards are good for this. I have a half dozen different game ideas that are just trying to give players different tiled things they can put together that they think are cool and neat.

58. Dice Pools

Dice pool games are super cool but add a challenge to the materiality of design. Custom dice are very tricky to distribute easily. Gamecrafter can do custom dice, custom faced dice, but consider that custom etched dice are like $6 each there.

59. Looking for Gateways

I use DriveThruCards because there’s almost no up-front costs and I personally have felt very cared for by the administration. They’re actually non ideal – they’re located in America and their postal rates reflect that. But Brian has been unfailingly helpful. DTC however, do not Do Your Marketing For You.

60. Stir It And Stump It

This is more a personal failing than actual advice, but: I don’t talk about my games nearly enough, at all, ever. There were people following me in December this year who had no idea I made games. Advertising my shit is hard and I’m not good at it. Be good at it. Get good at it.

So far I have yet to have anyone ever tell me I’m obnoxious about talking about my games. I am always afraid it’ll happen. Always. But it so far hasn’t. People can tune out of my content if they want to, so respect that agency and don’t stress too much about hiding what you’re doing.

2016’s Lessons Of Gaming #5: 41-50

41. Building For An Eruption

You’ll see this in games like Werewolf but moreso in games like Mysterium, where players will suddenly be allowed to talk openly about things they do, and they will explode. All WHY THE FUCK DID YOU DO THAT ON THAT TURN, WHAT THE FUCKIN— This is basically the best and I love designing things that cause this. It’s a catharsis from a mechanic. You can do this with mechanics, and they tend to be beautiful moments. It’s better in cooperative games; in competitive, it might be seen as bluffing.

42. Shuffling sucks

I mean, I like it, but every time you ask players to shuffle they all have to wait for the slowest shuffler. So don’t design a game where players need to shuffle every turn. If you do, make sure it’s a small stack. And shuffling 100+ cards? Fuck off.

43. Hands Are Not Universal

Your game will be played by people with one hand. Maybe they’re holding something. Maybe they only have one hand. Consider that.

44. Cards are material objects

You can literally throw them around. Manual dexterity games are games too. You have that option. That said, don’t make manual dexterity a ringer in an otherwise non-manual game. That works like olives in ice cream.

45. Your friends are part of who you are

Designing games thinking about them will help you empathise with different perspectives.

46. “I’ve Got A Great Idea!”

Is it ‘an edgier Cards Against Humanity?’

Fuck off.

47. Modular Mathematical Models

Cards are dice with memory. Can you replace some of your cards with a die? Can you replace a die with cards? Imagine a game of monopoly where you start with 6 movement cards and have to choose what order to move your 6, your 1. Imagine a war game where you use a handful of cards and choose when you roll well or badly. Oh wait, that exists, it’s called Malifeaux.

48. Modding is making.

There’s a bunch of academic study on this point but the long and short is ‘making mods is making games.’ Don’t sell yourself short for working within a framework that offers you advantages even as it offers you limitations. Alternate modes of Scrabble, Cluedo, Monopoly, Uno, any of that stuff is a place to start making games.

49. Ideas From Bad Jokes

Puns are SURPRISINGLY USEFUL for keeping people remembering game information, or expressing the core of a game idea. Murder Most Fowl is my favourite example, but it’s hardly alone. It also has proven really useful for explaining itself when I talk to customers; they just get it when I say it’s  game about birders committing murders. If your game explains itself quickly you get people playing quicker.

50. Know Your Monsters

Some games are what I call ‘art monsters.’ They will use as much art as you give them. Games like Star Realms, MTG, Arkham. When dealing with an art monster, you need to make a judgment call and say ‘no, you’ve fuckin’ had enough, you monster fuck.’ Some games need a ton of writing work, and will just endlessly eat more and more text you give them. Some games need endlessly intricate systems, too.

The important thing is to recognise that some projects need something to tell them to stop. You can put down those limits.