Board game design, Learning

Introduction

What can I trade for an additional turn?!
What can I trade for an additional turn?!
In a previous post I wrote about “resources” as part of a series on in-game economics. Of course something isn’t just written and then “done”. The piece got me thinking further, so I thought I’d share a bit more with you.

In this post I want to go into the “temporal” aspect of resources.

Resources are transient

One important insight I had was that all resources (in board-games) are transient, meaning that at some point they will be gone.

For things like wood and stone, which you “spend” to build say a building, this is pretty clear. Once you’ve used a given wood card or token, you cannot use it again until you somehow produce more wood.

There are however many resources within games which seem to be permanent: A city you build in Catan, the spaces on the board of Monopoly. And within the game they most certainly can be.

But that’s the thing: Games end!

And that means that everything within your board-game has a limited lifetime.

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Board game design, Learning

An early version of "Voluntarios"
An early version of “Voluntarios”
This blog is to learn about game design. And writing about it most certainly helps. But doing it helps even more!

In fact, I’ve been “doing” it for a few months now. The most progress I’ve made with “Voluntarios”, a game where you try to do as much good as possible by working in a voluntary organization.

The game has been under development for a few months now and in that time has gone through numerous iterations. And though it works, there is always space for improvement!

One of the lessons of game design I’ve already learned is that you can’t do it all on your own. I’ve been staring myself blind at Voluntarios and it’s gotten to be very difficult to look at it with a fresh eye. So I need some help!

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Board game design

Introduction

A foray into “balancing a board-game using excel” turned into an exploration of “in-game economics”. This is the second post in the series. The first is about “resources” and the ideas presented there are used in this post; reading it before continuing here might be a good idea.

In this post I want to take the concept of “resources” one step further and look at how resources relate to each other, taking a look at cost and value within the economics of board-games.

Let’s start by taking a look at real world economics.

Real world economics

Lots of economy!
Lots of economy!
Most people won’t be able to tell you exactly what “economics” is, but most will have an idea that it has something (or a lot!) to do with money.

In modern times they would be right. But money did not always make the world go round.

During the agricultural revolution life was fairly simple. You sowed your fields, harvested what came up, raised some animals and ate most of what you produced. If you had some left you could barter that with your neighbors: My grain for your sheep (is this starting to sound like Catan yet?). People traded resources.

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Board game design, In-game economics

Introduction

Being unable to find anything on “using spreadsheets to balance a board-game”, I decided to dig into the subject myself. I started writing and quickly found that it spawned a whole lot of other subjects that were important to get to a final conclusion. These all loosely fell under the heading of “in-game economics”. Why not go into all of that? The result is a series of posts on the subject, of which this is the first.

Resources

More resources. I need more!
More resources. I need more!

We all have some idea of what “resources” mean in a game setting. They are the wood and stone and sheep and other “raw materials” that allow you to get to the more important stuff.

And as a first approximation that is correct. But there are many more resources in a board game. In this blog post I’d like to delve into the concept of “resources”, to get a better understanding of what they are and what they can do.

First order resources – raw materials

”I’ll give you a sheep and a wood for your two stone!”

Nowhere does the idea of resources become more clear than in a game of Catan: With some lucky dice throwing you get stuff which you can then use to build something that helps you to win the game!

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Learning, Personal, This blog

An early version of "Voluntarios", the game I've put most effort into
An early version of “Voluntarios”, the game I’ve put most effort into
It was 2005 when I left university and eagerly threw myself into this strange thing they called a “job”. And where I went from having no money and lots of time to do fun stuff, I went to decent money and little time for the good things in life.

One job led to another and while the money slowly got better, the time didn’t really.

Ten years passed, in which I learned a lot of things and had a great time. But as the years added up, there was a growing feeling of: “Is this it?”

So by the end of 2015 I decided to quit what I was doing and to pursue something more worthwhile: I would be a board-game designer!

I had been playing games for the better part of my life, so that part of it I had down. But the other side, the actually creating something from scratch? Not a clue!

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