Game Design Epiphany – Take out the Theme!

I am going to pop in here with some game design epiphanies from time to time. Most likely it will simply be a short paragraph or two describing the epiphany that I had, and then, ideally, it will spark some discussion.

I had a game idea percolating for a long time. I decided yesterday that I would make it a simple card game instead of the massive board game that I had initially envisioned. That in and of itself was truly an epiphany and got me from concept into actual design… really, in my Google Docs folder I moved it from the Brainstorming folder it was in to its own game folder!

However, that isn’t the epiphany that I wanted to write about today. As I sat down to design the cards for this game, I got hung up on the theme. I was trying to come up for names of rooms and names of components and resources, and in the end I didn’t need to. Even though the idea for this game was born from a theme, it can be boiled down to letters or numbers alone. I have cards that require resources. I have  cards that create resources. Those resources don’t need names, they can just be “A” through “E”.

This early in the design process all you should be doing is testing the desired systems to ensure they aren’t broken. Theme, characters, resources and the like can all wait until you  are ready to play-test with a wider audience.

2 thoughts on “Game Design Epiphany – Take out the Theme!

    • I agree. Just like a Magic draft, you can’t be married to your first pick.

      In this case it’s just a matter of being too early in the process to spend the time necessary to fill in the theme, especially if the mechanics can be tested without it.


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