Are you sitting on the new Dominion or Pandemic? Are you unsure of how to get your brilliant idea out of your head and into gamers’ hearts and minds? You’re not alone. Many of us have had flashes of brilliance that slowly faded when faced with obstacles. Designing a new board game is no different. The first step to success is to vow to learn from the pros – those creative, determined guys who wouldn’t take no for an answer and who followed through on their unique visions.
Tom Lehmann – Designer of Race for the Galaxy.
Race for the Galaxy’s designer Tom Lehmann may appear to have become an overnight celebrity, but his story tells of ordinary guts and perseverance – and a great game idea of course. He started out by investing in self-publishing a series of games in the mid 1990’s, and followed this up by working as a freelancer, which helped him become better known in the industry. The people that mattered were more prepared to listen to someone they knew, and by attending conferences and conventions, he increased his chances of meeting just the right publisher for his great game design.
Z-Man Games picked up his idea and made his dream a reality. Lehmann followed up on RFTG’s success by designing expansion packs for Pandemic; The Gathering Storm and Rebel vs Imperium. His advice for any budding game designer is simple. Follow your passion. Enthusiasm for your own game is what may get you over the line with publishers.
The rules of a game are also more important initially than the graphics, as how the game plays rather than how the game looks, w
ill make or break its success. It has to be FUN from the word go. The testing phase will give you valuable insights into what’s working and what isn’t. Lehmann says that often you don’t really understand what the game’s actually about, until it’s been played many, many times. And NEVER underestimate or discard testers’ feedback.
The criteria for successful game design
Trial and error. Bravely risking all. Acting wisely on criticism. Setting high standards. Self belief. These things will all stand you in good stead on your game design journey. But first, you must get the idea out of your head and into a prototype! You must make it real. Talking to the trailblazers that have gone before will also help get you motivated. You now have an opportunity to meet the great Tom Lehmann himself! He’s guest of honour at GameStorm 12, a Strategic Game Convention at the Hilton Vancouver Washington from March 25th – March 28th, 2010. But be quick. Pre-registrations close on March 18th at 11.59PM PST.