Daily Game Design Practice: Week of 10/02/2017

I’ve filled up my days with contract board game testing and convention gigs (Geek Girl Con!) in addition to my regular work and game design, so the upcoming weeks are going to be a little tight. But I’m sticking to my design schedule, and I’d love to have you join in.

Info for getting started with a daily game design practice can be found here.

Daily practice prompts for this week:

  • Life from the machine. Today we’re doing an art exercise about making things look like people. Why? Well, if you look around, you’ll find that an unusually high proportion of games involve all sorts of items made to look like humans. Anthropomorphize away! Give veggies, tools, writing implements, etc. human features. Bonus points for venturing into the uncanny valley.
  • Minor combat. The better you understand the human drive to compete and to succeed, the better you’ll be able to design games based around competition (or to find non-competitive desires you can tap into). Once again, we’re going to play a game that involves competing — whether it’s at a casual board game night or at a digital game tournament with sweet prizes at stake.
  • Mechanical translation. Many popular games evolved because designers let their imaginations run rampant with “what if” questions mashing up the themes, mechanics, characters, art style, etc. of two or more games. Today, choose a favorite real time strategy game. What would it look like if it was an episodic story-driven walking simulator? Write a few sentences or sketch some diagrams.
  • Play the “what does my game remind you of” game. Share a few short sentences describing your game with friends and ask what other games they’re reminded of. The answers might surprise you. Note: this can be a frustrating exercise if one or more people get your game “wrong,” so be patient with them and with yourself.
  • Publication process. Whether you’re designing games in physical space or digital space (or somewhere in between), there is a system involved in getting those games out into the world. Distribution could be as easy as packaging your game into an executable file and emailing the download link to a friend, or as complicated as planning out a multi-year launch. Today, think of a place where you could distribute your game, and take the first step towards figuring out how that place works. For example, if you want to print a card game using Game Crafter, create an account and click through the options under the Publishing menu. Or, if you’re making a digital game, create an account and click on the Publish a Game button. You don’t need to publish today — even this short practice will make you better prepared when launch day comes.
  • Artistic appreciation. It’s hard to put a finger on exactly what “art” means. Experts and amateurs alike have argued the subject from the day art was first defined. Today, find and admire something that is artistically pleasing to you. Think about and document why exactly it appeals to you.
  • Another game in the wall. Every new game played can help to expand your game design horizons. Pick a game — any game — from your digital or physical “Wall of Shame” (aka stockpile of unplayed games). Don’t own any unplayed games? Host or join a game night where you can share in the game bounty with friends or acquaintances.

Game design is in the air, proliferating like the mini pumpkins spreading throughout my apartment. I’ll be working alongside you during your practice-follow on Twitter or Instagram. And hit me up if you have questions or want to share your progress!