So why all this game design stuff lately?
Little more than a year ago, I purchased Forbidden Island at a game shop. Why? I don’t know. I was in a geeky mood, I was comfortable with the price range, seemed simple enough to play, the packaging looked like metal heaven…
This was my first tabletop game purchase. I know it’s not Dungeons and Dragons or anything, but it was the first time I bought an “in-depth” game. You know, with strategy and figurines and stuff. Before that, my purchases were strictly Connect Four. I really like me some Connect Four.
I wasn’t sure if I bought a dud, to be honest. I just new I could afford it. Luckily, it turned out to be one of the greatest games ever. A story of adventure on a doomed island, complete with treasures, exotic locales, and approximately a billion ways to lose. But in a good way.
Look at that. I just used the word story to describe a board game. But Forbidden Island had everything I was looking for in a great tale. And then I started thinking about all the stories I had written, and how those would play out as games.
It was about that time I received the latest issue of Game Informer in the mail. This particular issue had an interview with four indie game designers. Yes, it was mostly geared towards video games, but one of the designers said something that really resonated with me.
Whether it’s a video game, board game, or card game you’re working on–just finish it. Make it and finish it.
Or something to that effect. I drank in every word of that interview. That night, between waiting tables, I outlined my first card game. The next day I made index card mockups of all the cards. I spent the next several days making designs and learning Photoshop.
A couple weeks later, Darwin’s Moths arrived at my door in all its glossy, laminated glory.
I dunno. Maybe I was in need of a new passion. Maybe I was just bored. But somehow designing games just clicked. I wanted to do it. They say writers write to fill a gap in literature, because something they would want to read is missing. I think that holds true with designing games. Especially true. Because there’s a lot of wiggle room for skill and strategy. For example, I love the depth of story involved in Magic the Gathering, but a lot of it is so daunting and overwhelming, I rarely bring myself to seek out a match. Also $$$$$$$$.
So there must be some layer between casual board game and deck-building super strategy roleplay. And I want to find it. Granted Moths might be looking like a one-hit wonder at the moment. But between Gen Con updates and my buddy Kickstarting his tabletop game about superheroes, the spark is coming back.
It has begun.