I wanted to take a little bit of time to chronicle my current project work, but, first I should explain how I got started with game design.
I have been working on my first game design project this last month. I am attempting to create a card game which I am calling “Healers & Tanks,” until I think of a better title anyway.
Deciding to take this stab into game design has been a long time coming. I work with a company (loose usage of the word “company”) of game designers who primarily focus on mobile games. mediaCrab. That’s what we call ourselves. Despite my interest I have been all but useless when it comes to helping design a game. For one thing, I haven’t had a ton of ideas for what a mobile game should be. Part of that problem is that mobile gaming hasn’t every really appealed to me. I will play a mobile game from time to time, in fact, I get in on reviewing a new one about once a month. So, as far as the company goes I have been sort of sitting on the sidelines. No game ideas, nothing to contribute at all. I don’t really want to come up with an idea for a mobile game, I probably wouldn’t want to even test my own game, I just… don’t care that much about mobile games. There, I said it. I don’t like sitting by myself playing a game on a tiny screen, I don’t find them fun or well designed very often.
I keep coming to the realization that beyond all other things, I am a social gamer. It shouldn’t surprise me, I am a social person, I always have been. When I am having fun I like to be in a group. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not the life of the party type, I am not even really the party type. I like small groups, I like 1 on 1 time with people up to maybe a group of 5 or 6. That said, when I started playing board games I noticed I was sitting at a table, eating, drinking and playing with people. Gaming socially and enjoying the hell out of it. Not to mention, board games have a wonderful simplicity to them. Forget about 1-tap touch screen mechanics, try placing tiles, moving wooden cubes, the simplicity is wonderful.
That enjoyment got me thinking. If I am going to be part of a group of game designers, why not design something I really enjoy playing. I have been working towards becoming proficient in the world of board and card games ever since. Yes, I realize I haven’t played that many games. So far my experience is pretty minimal. However, I am quickly attempting to expand all of my tabletop horizons by playing games, reviewing the games I play with consideration based on what makes them successful. I have been reaching out to other game designers to start understanding how the world of game design works. I have also been reading blogs and books on the subject just to get my head in the game as quickly as I can. It’s a big task to undertake and I realize there are people who have been doing this for a long time, or at least playing board games for a long time. So, who do I think I am for thinking I can be a game designer?
Game design where it relates to me as web designer
I am a web designer/developer in my usual day to day life. That requires me to take an amount of information and organize it into a website. I need to consider the user and how they might experience the content and how I can get them to the sites goals. I need to consider look and feel, keeping things feeling like the brand. I also need to consider where the site needs to be able to grow to contain new features and updates. A lot of this is User Experience Design, something I have studied heavily in relationship to the web. The other part is strict documentation and considering all parts that make the site work. In web design I tend to over organize the code, in game design I am taking those skills to over organizing the mechanics, features and card or piece types. I also am no stranger to doing math to make a site work and games are no different. The math is more related to probability, but, working math in is no surprise to me after years of building websites.
Game design where it related to me as a creative writer/film maker
I have spent a lot of my professional life trying to explain how a creative writing/film/art major from a liberal arts college in Minneapolis got into web design/development. I had been doing a little web design throughout most of my life. There are plenty of similarities for a creative person who wants to create experiences for people; be it through watching videos, exploring a website or reading a short story. Game design follows right along. Games are another creative medium meant to engage people. They require interaction and have rules and ultimately provide an experience — a feeling. I have been writing, making videos and websites from a pretty young age, and rather than feel daunted that game design is a completely new medium to me, I feel my experience in these other areas is only going to benefit what I can do working on a new medium — one I am coming to love very rapidly.
That’s all for now. I will give an update on my progress on Healers & Tanks. For the time being I will say this much. I have been inspired here by MMO’s I have played and based a lot of the mechanics I am imagining on a combination of things from D&D to Small World to Bang! It is going to be a very simple game to start and I am excited to start prototyping soon. Stay tuned for more updates.