Making A Game #3 | The Real Step One: Learning To Make A Game

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The first thing that became apparent as I was researching what it takes to launch a successful game was that my knowledge of games, specific mechanics, what makes games fun and the general process was simply not deep enough.

If having a 7 year old list filled with board game ideas is the tinder, then knowing what it takes to make a game is the kindling. You need that and the ignition source of effort to start your fire.

So where do you start? well first you need to know what you actually need to know, how are you going to make a game if you don’t even know what you don’t know about making a game? you might as well be throwing your ideas into the void!

Building an Idea Of What You Don’t Know.

Before you even worry about worker placement, dice mechanics, pictures, art, you need to go out there and change your mindset.

You are making a game, who makes games? Game Designers. Game developers. Artists.

Get out there and look at what these people are doing, get amongst Facebook groups, forums like Boardgamegeek, Reddit, Twitter, Youtube channels, anything with:

  • Other Game Makers
  • Game reviewers

Once you start reading project updates, hearing what players did and did not like about games and of course the issues and roadblocks in creator journeys, you will build up a massive amount of invaluable second hand knowledge to lean on when you really hit the ground running on your idea.

One review channel I love is Shut Up & Sit Down;

Try to go into your review watching session with intent to learn what the reviewer did & did not like about a game, especially when reviewers use vague descriptions like “It felt slow” or “there was little player interaction” and think about what mechanics and systems in the game would contribute to that.

You don’t need to write these down (though you’re welcome to!) its more just about retraining your brain to think about game design rather than entertainment when you throw on a boardgame review.

This mindset switch is sort of like a cheat code to unlocking your potential to learn, the human mind processes about 36GB of data every day just from random things you hear in a youtube video or see on reddit etc.

By retraining your brain in this way you put the passive knowledge absorption features of your brain to work on developing your understanding of games and game design.

The Process Itself

  1. Inspiration
  2. Brainstorming
  3. Market research
  4. First Prototype
  5. Consider constraints
  6. Internal playtesting
  7. Local playtesting
  8. Write rules
  9. Blind playtesting
  10. Decide it’s finished!

Obviously I didn’t make this process up, I’m making my first game and I’m still only in phase 4 but this is something I’m learning from.

It should give you a bit of an idea of the things you should be thinking about, are their any stages that you hadn’t thought about? (be awesome if you left a comment I would love to chat about it!)

I’m going to take the time to write an article about each of these steps and my experience with them, what I did, what I learned and how I was feeling afterwards but in the mean time, you should go check out what the expert who developed this process has to say:

I hope that gives you a bit of an idea how to take that second step, figuring out what you don’t know you don’t know, and sets you on the path for learning and building your game design skill set.

Next time I’ll be getting into step one, Inspiration and talking more about the ways you can find inspiration and expand your knowledge base so when it comes to crunch time you give yourself the best opportunity for success.

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