5 Top Tips For Designing Your Own Game
I was spending a lazy September Saturday afternoon at the flat of my dear friend Charlie, one of the very first guests on my The Floor is Lava podcast. Just like me, he loves making up games, and a number of his games have appeared on the pages of The Floor is Lava (the book, this time). Where’s Voldemort is my particular favourite of his, and judging by the number of readers who now report to playing that game too, I’m definitely not alone.
Anyway, we’d almost finished our nachos, as one tends to do, when Charlie suggested we test out his latest game. It’s a hybrid of Scrabble and Texas Hold’em, with a simple set of rules and massive replay value, and it’s intensely satisfying. We played until we were all bankrupt and Charlie had, without much fanfare, collected all of our chips without really losing a hand. It was incredible.
The game works great. It needs a bit of refinement (don’t we all?) but that’s part of the thrilling process of creating a game. On holiday this year I began creating a card game that involves vocabulary and…folding…and after a dozen plays-through all I can say is that it’s really, really not good. Despite that, I think some day it might be amazing. It needs time, and balancing, and it needs to be played by a range of people, each of whom will think about the rules differently and try different tactics.
I honestly think this process is more exciting than actually playing a game. I love the fluid nature of a set of rules that aren’t cooked yet, the idea that together with your opponents, you’re discovering what makes the game fun, testing its limits, blotting out methods where the game could be ‘solved’ and gently coercing future players to lead themselves into exciting situations.