This week is the Board Game Design Virtual Summit 2020. This is a totally online summit on board game design and publishing and is hosted by Boardgamedesigncourse.com. All interviews are hosted by game designer Joe Slack. I listened to three of the interviews and found them very informative and really interesting about game design.
You can join the Summit here.
Today is Day 1 of the virtual has three interesting interviews on game design. Peter Hayward talks about play testing. Daryl Andrews talk about working the conventions. Eric Slauson discuss designing social and party games with high player count.
Peter Hayward, a prolific board game designer with games like Ninjitsu, Lady and the Tiger, and Dracula's Feast.
They discussed the importance of play testing a board game. Play testing is a process of getting your prototype of your game to be tested by board game players. The idea is to develop the game to see what works and what doesn't work during a session. Players would share feedback during the session and afterwards.
To be a better designer, you should learn to be a good play tester and play test other people's games. You understand more if you play test and give feedback to other people's games. You should give back if you want to people to play test your game.
He discussed how he can tell if players like or dislike a game in the first few minutes by their expressions. He is fine if the play test ends within the first few minutes if the game is not being enjoyed by the play testers. Play testing is important and you don't want to waste time. You should provide an out of a game that is not working out. Then you could play test any other game.
They discussed about doing changes of the game on fly during the play test. If a game or an aspect of game is broken, you could make a change and test right there. However the danger is making so many changes that completely changes the game and causes more problems. A good designer would take feedback on some possible changes to the game to fix a broken aspect.
These are only some of the good points on the interview and you can listen to the interview for more.
The next interview was with Daryl Andrews, the freelance board game designer of Sagrada and Sinister Six who spoke about designing a game with an IP (intellectual property). He worked with popular licenses like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Back to the Future, Oregon Trail and more.
He published many games quickly and described it as luck. But it is more creating his own luck. He worked the conventions networking with publishers and other designers. And was able to pitch his games with many different publishers. He did it by working hard.
He described IP game as making a player experience with the sandbox of some other world. Like making game with the characters and elements of the world of Spider-Man.
He said he is able to design games for different IP with his reputation as an established and published designer. It is a process that is different from project to project. He said he designed a heist game and had pitched to a publisher after much play testing. It didn't work out and he shelved it.
Later Spin Masters needed an IP game about Marvel villains plotting to do jobs and contacted him. They needed a quick turnaround and didn't want to start from scratch. He told them he had this heist game and sent them all the electronic files and rules. They liked it and asked him to redesign the game with their Marvel IP.
Designing a licensed game has many restrictions because he is working with the license holders who knows their demographic but also they don't allow to use all their intellectual properties like weapons or characters in a particular game. And when he worked the Oregon Trail game, Target was involved since it was going to be sold there.
He shared many more stories with creating games with popular IPs. Very interesting if you're a fan of an IP and want to get into game design.
And the last interview of the day is with Eric Slauson who is a teacher by day and a board game designer in all other times he is not teaching. They discuss designing social and party games with high player count.
He played alot of Cards against Humanity and felt it got very repetitive after a while and that some cards were overpowered and made it easier to win.
He was inspired by playing light gateway games that end under an hour as well as other party games. He is more about having fun and want to avoid a game becoming "samey" after a while.
He was tasked by a publisher to design a game that was educational about science and be a light party game for a large group of students. He came up with Nerd Words with matching science words using clues.
He designed Tattoo Stories where people draws a tattoo based on cards selected by the client. The client judges the tattoo.
He designs games based on fun and making people laugh. He mentions a game he designed he thinks is hilarious and present it to a group, but it falls flat or not as funny as he thought it would be. Then he had to rework it.
He has a couple challenges when play testing a party game. He said it can be challenging to find a reliable group of play testers. Many are not willing to act silly in a middle of a play hall where everyone else is playing. Or they may not be a demographic that are interested in party games and only prefer strategic games. And humor is hard where the gamers may not get the joke or the jokes just to connect with them.
All three interviews were very interesting. I took more from the play testing interview and IP interviews. I am not much of a party gamer, but the interview was fun and creative.