001 – Welcome to the Nerdlab

In Episode 1 of the Nerdlab, I will today present my vision for this podcast and introduce the game I am currently developing. In addition to that I will talk a little bit about the importance of having a clearly defined vision and why I think you should have one for your game as well.

The Idea behind this podcast

The podcast will be used to share all of my successes and failures during the development process of my game.
In addition we will also examine one topic more closely in each Podcast episode. Exemplary topics could be mechanics like turn order, resource systems or combat systems. But also topics like card design, finding artists, marketing or preparing a kickstarter campaign could be topics for the future.
To analyse these topics, we will be looking at existing card games and board games and take a deeper look at their core mechanics, which we can then can use as inspiration in our games. The task of this podcast is to talk about the skills and tools every game designer needs.

Think Big

I think a lot of aspiring game designers dream of a very large and complex card or board game when they start out. In my case, this dream was about an RPG-inspired card game, roughly speaking. Wouldn’t it be cool to have D&D as a card game that plays like Magic the Gathering but over several sessions? I think a lot of game designers start at a similar point like this. But then you hear again and again:

  • You should start small!
  • You need to make a simple game to get to know the process before you can make a complex game!
  • The first few games you develop will be flopping anyway so don’t spend too much time on them.

Since I have never been good at listening to what Common Sense is, I have decided to disagree and ignore all the previously mentioned advice.
I don’t want to develop an plain vanilla game just for the sake of developing it. I want an RPG-like card game. And yes it may be more complex. And I my encounter additional obstacles. But I am ready to accept the difficulties and commit myself to the game. Because I am convinced that exceptional projects in general start with a dream or vision and not with small designs that develop over time. A quote that I’ve read years ago but resonated with me ever since is:

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”

I am aware that my game and the idea will change in the course of development and it already has. But I still want to start with a big vision and see where it takes me. But this is only my take and I don’t blame anyone if he wants to start out with an easy design. However, I think a Vision and a written Vision Statement is very important for every Game.

How to create a simple Vision Statement for your Game

For me, a vision statement is a clear written statement of what you expect your game to be once it is finished. A strong vision can help you to make intelligent decisions during your project and It will also help you to clarify what the goals of the project are and prioritizes the goals of the project in order to keep your focus on the important things.
It may seem like a waste of time, but I’ve found spending some time up front to clarify what you want to make will later carry you through the entire design phase of a project. If you don’t understand exactly what you are making, you can run into a lot of problems late in the game which will then cause a lot of delays. This is something I have experienced in my IT-projects at work over and over again.
I also think it is very important to write down your vision statement and not only shape it in your mind. Once you have written it down you should shorten it as much as possible until you have only one to two sentences left as your core vision. This will help you to be able to clearly articulate and explain your idea to others.
I know there are many ways and tutorials on how to write a Vision Statement, but for me the following four easy questions have been very useful as a starting point.

  • What is the theme of your game?
  • What are the core components of your game and what do they represent?
  • What is the core gameplay experience for the players?
  • What is your key difference compared to competitors? (Or in other words: What is your competitive advantage)

First of all I started to create bullet points for every question and then I created short one sentence statements from it.

The Vision Statement for my Game:

What is the theme of your game?

In my game each player will choose a character from a diverse variety of classes to explore a medieval fantasy world inspired by Forgotten Realms full of mysterious magic, dangerous creatures and exciting adventures that has a profound background story to create a unique RPG-like depth and atmosphere.

What are the core components of your game and what do they represent?

My game will use cards as main component and tokens as a supporting tool to represent all game mechanics such as character skills, enemies, NPCs or objects and create an RPG flavour through an intensive use of legacy game mechanics.

What is the core gameplay experience for the players?

The Gameplay will ask players to solve multi facetted encounters with a variety of decision points though truly co-operative gameplay that combines combat and non-combat challenges for a variety of possible resolutions.

What is your key difference compared to competitors?

The game creates a very high player involvement due to deep character progression and engaging encounters by using legacy mechanics on cards like never used before allowing the players to heavily customize their character to suit their preferred playstyle.

My Vision Statement in one sentence

My game is a co-operative fantasy adventure card game with multi-facetted encounter designs creating for an rpg-like atmosphere and deep character progression by using legacy mechanics.

Closing

If you are interested in keeping up to date with the development of my game, or if you are interested in all the resources I use to develop my game and produce this podcast then the following is definitely something for you.
Once a week, I send out a short email with the best content on game design that I found on the Interwebs this week. In the mail you’ll also find an excerpt from my personal design diary, and look behind the scenes. Maybe even with some pictures of early prototypes.
If you are interested or if you have any other feedback just send me a short mail and I will keep you up to date. It would make me incredibly happy to get in touch with you.

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