Archive for March, 2009

One page of Rules

March 28, 2009

I’ve written before about how it’s important to communicate your ideas quickly and as simply as possible, but then it was general advice, nothing specific. There was nothing to aim for and measure against.

This time I want to see commitment to something useful. Games are often too complicated to be fun. Focus on achieving simplicity by forcing yourself into a constraint. Reduce the space you have to work with and great things can be done when designing in these limitations.

Write the rules for a game in one page of A4. They can be shorter if you want, but no more. Stick to at least font size 10, 12 is better. Force yourself to be clear and concise.

I’m thinking of ideas that can be encapsulated fully within a few hundred words and a couple of pictures, why don’t you try the same, and see where it takes you?


March 6, 2009

No one will play your games if they don’t know about them.

You need to advertise them.

The quickest, easiest and cheapest way of doing this is via the web. You need a website, and it needs to link to things. Once you’ve got a website that tells people about your games, you need to help them find it.

Be search engine friendly, upload a site map to Google and make sure that you follow all of the rules. Most of all, make sure to have lots of good content, there’s nothing that gets more traffic than great content.

Consider the various text advertising services, especially adwords. It’s only worth doing this if you’ve got something on your site that can make you money, never spend money on advertising unless you plan to earn it back (and then some).

You’ll notice that Google features a lot, and that’s deliberate. If your website is in the top page for a Google search, you’ll get more traffic. Focus your efforts, pick a small area you can dominate, rather than trying to be strong in many. Seth Godin has more thoughts on this, and other ways to successfully market things.

Aim to show people how great you are, and do it in an honest and non-pushy way. Help them find you, but never trick them or mislead. This will help you build an audience and share you games, which should always be the final goal of any advertising you do.

Synergy and Degeneracy

March 3, 2009

Synergy is important in game design. The pieces nned to fit together and interact well. Taking an action in one section of the game should make it easier to progress in another.

Synergy between the parts of the game allows this improvement to occur, it lets you plan your strategy and have control over what you are doing, and what you want to do.

Degeneracy is the evil twin of synergy, it’s synergy dialled to 11. Things work together so well that they can’t be beaten by other methods, and there’s no reason to not play the degenerate strategy, as it so superior it will win.

You can design in synergy, but it’s almost impossible to exclude degeneracy, especially as a game becomes more complex, or involves more pieces.

Your playtesters are the people that will find the degeneracy. Get someone who likes poking and pushing until they break things, and they will find the bad. They’ll take the “Protection from Paper” and twin it with a rock.

Pick your playtesters well and the degeneracy will be found, so people get to play all of the fun strategies you’ve designed in, not just the one that wins.