Designing a board game is no small feat! Understanding the interplay of mechanics, rules, and theme takes a lot of practice.
For that reason, this compilation of articles will break down board game design and development into all its component parts. I’m not interested in complex jargon or big names in board games. My focus is purely on teaching you, through specific examples, the concepts you must understand to make a board game.
I stumbled into this industry with vague dreams and a desire to make some cash. I’d like to save you the trouble I had when I started making board games.
Board game development is everything that makes a game – game design, product development, marketing, promotion, crowdfunding, fulfillment, and sales.
In game development, sometimes you can say exactly what you mean – such as in the rule book. But mostly, your game needs to be “felt” more than “learned.”
Self-publishing board games can kill the magic of game development for you, depending on what drew you to it in the first place. So should you self-publish?
Let’s say I’m a new board game dev. Hardly know a thing about making games. I ask you how long it’ll take to publish my first game. What would you tell me?
Play testing is time-consuming and it’s really easy to run out of people to test with. You need to make every single play test productive and worthwhile.
Lots of people make board games. Most people quit. You don’t have to be one of them. Time management skills make a HUGE difference!
The weird feeling of selling stems from selling bad stuff or selling to the wrong people. You have to come to peace with it to ride the Hype Machine.
Rules provide directions on how to execute activities within a board game. They explain, limit, and clarify so our game mechanics work.
Writing good board game rules boils down to learning the art of instruction and communication. Write the rules you’d want to read!
Telling stories is one of the most essentially human instincts. Whether or not we mean to, we tell stories through games.
Storytelling is a human instinct. Whether or not we mean to, we tell stories through games. Embrace storytelling no matter how thematic your game is.
Board games are more than just what’s in the box. They’re the marketing, the advertising, and the footwork of the game developers who made them.
Tokens you can’t tell apart by touch, tiny text, random placement of game symbols, poor contrast, paper money…all of these can make games less accessible.
This is one of the hardest categories for a modern designer game to do well within – how do you make a game cognitively accessible experience.
When under-represented groups look at a shelf of board games and see only white men staring back at them, it makes them think “is this for me?”
It’s easy to forget your own rules for a living, breathing project! Once a game is released, though, the rule book is both for teaching and for reference.
Choose the right materials, understand the basics of board game manufacturing, and legal and distribution requirements… Let’s make game specs!
Asking for art can be one of the most daunting parts of the game development process. So let’s talk to a real board game artist to see how to do it right!
I will usually start my search on Deviant art in the Job forums. There are many great undiscovered artists there, and those artists definitely deserve a chance to prove themselves. I will also use another website called Artstation.
Artists are very important to creating a board game. Making sure they are happy and understand the needs of your project is critical to your game’s success.
You will have to print 1,000 copies or more if you go with offset printing. That means finding a great board game printer is absolutely necessary!
Whether you are printing review copies, looking to test your game with better parts, or simply see your ideas come to life in a beautiful way, ordering print-on-demand samples can be really handy.