For the past year or so I have been messing around with designing board games. My first game, Tribal Conflict, is getting serious enough that I have created a decent looking prototype through The Game Crafter. The goal is to eventually launch a Kickstarter to help cover the costs of an initial print run. After that, who knows? Hopefully by that point I have other games in the works, but that is all a big unknown at this stage.
Anyway, things look like they are getting more serious now. Game design is still a project on the side, but it is one that I enjoy. And I have to admit that producing a finished product is a nice feeling – even though I have not fully reached that point yet.
The Journey So Far
My name is Elgar Storm. I am a software engineer by day and a game designer on the side. I studied Computer Science at the University of Otago. Since then I have worked in a number of jobs as a programmer, honing the rudimentary skills I picked up at university. I enjoy the process and challenge of helping to create meaningful applications. But, like many people, I do not wish to restrict my skills to the workplace, and so I have dabbled in a variety of side projects.
While I was at university I took a paper on game design. Since that time I have played around with digital game design to various degrees, including writing up a tutorial for Unity (see http://www.stormtek.geek.nz/rts_tutorial). Board games are interesting, but I never seriously considered designing one. I program computers, after all, so why would I bother with something physical?
Personally I enjoy playing games. I especially enjoy those that involve a reasonable amount of strategy / thought. When I was younger I thrashed Risk, spending countless hours playing it – often solo, but with others as well. Through the process of growing older I have had exposure to a much wider variety of games. What annoys me now about the core mechanics of Risk is the heavily luck driven element. It is possible to play well at a strategic level but still end up destroyed, which tends to leave a sour taste in the back of my mouth.
About eighteen months ago I had the thought “How can I reuse the core of my Risk set, since I have no real intention of playing it much any more?” I messed around with tweaking the mechanics, but nothing seemed to work. In fact, it revealed how closely bound the concepts of combat and reinforcements are within Risk. As much as I might dislike it, the design underneath is rather solid. So I pushed the thought to the back of my mind and carried on with life.
My board game design journey started properly at the start of last year when a relatively well formed idea for a board game popped into my head. More accurately, my brain informed me that it had finally come up with a viable solution to the idle question I had posed months earlier. The answer to that question was the core of what is now Tribal Conflict.
Since that idea first emerged I have been immersing myself in the physical aspects of game design. Cards, components from other games, hex tiles, dice – my workspace is littered with them. I have learnt the value of iteration and play testing, of rough drafts and prototypes. Over the coming months I will expand on some of these areas.
Where To From Here?
This blog, along with the associated website and social media accounts, represents the first major step towards making something official happen with this hobby of mine. The goal here is to start to writing up a collection of thoughts I have had (and continue to have) around the whole game design space – particularly in relation to board games. I will do my best to keep these thoughts short and sharp, but I can’t make any promises. Hopefully some of it is at least interesting or inspiring.
I look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.