So You Want To Make A Game? Chapter 1 – In The Beginning

Hi there.

You’ve probably seen me floating around here on ATGN. I’m Dylan, Web Designer and Marketing Coordinator by day, amateur game designer and ubergeek by night.

Dylan Shearer Profile

That’s me, partially zombified šŸ˜€

After sitting on a game idea that I developed on and off for over a year, just a few short months ago, I decided to throw caution to the wind and go for it, attempting to fully develop, play test, publish, market and sell this gem, all on my little lonesome.

And that’s why you’re seeing this. I’m sure you have a great idea for a game that you want to create so Toby thought it would be a great idea for me to document the path I’m walking and show the ATGN readers just how much goes into a game, and what hurdles you might face as a developer, particularly as an independent.

Needless to say, this task isn’t going to be easy. There’s not a lot of money in tabletop game design, not in Australia anyway, but dammit, I’m gonna Martin Luther King Jr this thing, cause “I have a dream…”

Let’s go back to the beginning of all this…

I’ve flirted with game design before. I’ve always tried to understand why I enjoyed playing games so much. I’d pull them apart, discover the base mechanics and the desire systems behind them. Nothing was ever ‘official’ though. I don’t hold a degree in game design. The nearest I’ve gotten to official tuition is talking to a few friends that teach it at the tertiary college I went to for Creative Media. But like many regular game/dungeon masters, I’ve home-brewed a few house rules (one of which I was stoked to find out was nearly spot-on to the official update regarding it… points to Dylan!) and even tried putting together a miniature game from scratch (hint: it was a mess… but I WILL be revisiting it in the future).

I’ll be honest, the miniatures game was an abject failure. But I’ve learnt from my mistakes (and I’ve learnt to love that phrase too). Complexity is not the best place to start when you’re designing games. You have to start simple. And that’s where I got the idea for my first ‘official’ game. A card game calledĀ Arena: Warriors of the Sand.

A:Wots Concept

Art Concept – Let the games begin!!

A:WotS came out of my desire to use simple mechanics to create a deep game; a game where more emphasis is put on the players than how the game itself works. In it, players use a set resource (in this case,Ā income) to buy gladiators, slaves and equipment and then face off in an arena, earning glory points if they are the last one standing. There’s a few more aspects that work together to modify it slightly, but the thing I (and a lot of my play testers) enjoy about this game is the deck of action cards, which can be used to either help yourself, or hinder your opponents. I’ll explain how the game works in a later article so for now, that’s all you’ll get.

But at its heart, the game is part risk management, part gambling, and it all takes just 45 minutes to play.

I think that covers it for this week. Next time, I’ll cover the initial design phase I went through. This whole So You Want To Make A Game?Ā series will follow initial design, testing, art, production, marketing, selling, everything I need to do to pay for my next game’s production… and yes, I have another 3 planned (not including expansions and re-skins for A:WotS).

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