This standing-room-only panel on Sunday afternoon in the Hilton with Darwin Bromley and Bill Fawcett focused on some of the tips and tricks of designing a successful board game from inception to publishing.
These two forefathers of board gaming talked of their company Mayfair Games and numerous projects they worked on. There were almost a dozen board games, including several Charles Roberts Award (gaming’s Emmy) winners, such as Empire Builder and Sanctuary.
One of the first, and probably most important, tips was to keep it playable. There is nothing more frustrating than attempting a new game that is too complicated to understand or too easy to finish. You don’t need complicated mathematical formulas on how to role die to make such-and-such happen. Players do want to think and solve. No one wants to feel stupid.
Another great tip was to have players that are resting (not currently in play) do something tied with the game. Being bored kills the desire to play. This also makes all players feel continually connected. It’s one thing to “play” a game. It is more enjoyable to be a “part of the world” of the game.
Make sure your product is producible at a reasonable price when the deadline approaches. Your game may be fantastic, but if it costs too much to make the pieces, no one can afford it. You also do not want to be in a situation where your product deadline cannot be met as promised to the public.
One thing to definitely remember: “It’s hard to wear two hats in this industry.” Be either creative and design or be a publisher and put the game out there for the masses. It’s hard (and confusing) to wear such diverse hats and be successful.
Designing board games is rewarding on many levels. It is an artistic outlet for the designer and family/bonding time for others. It seems to be a win-win situation for all.