Design Lesson 1: Inspiration for Mechanisms

Design Log Lesson 1: Inspiration for Mechanisms - 7/30/20

As I wrap up the production of my first game I can't help but think about how it all began and the inspiration behind why I started on the journey in the first place. To me, the start of any creative process is inspiration. For game design, the first question you should ask yourself is: what is inspiring you to create this game? It’s really a simple question as there are lots of games that have already been created. It is much easier to enjoy a game that already exists rather than to create one from scratch. So why create?

If the answer to that question is for the money, then I hope you are ready for a long road. Most game design and publishing companies don’t last very long and aren’t very profitable. However, if you are like me and just enjoy the creative process then finding that inspiration to create a game is key.

When I created Queen Bee I had three games that inspired the mechanisms that I used. All of these games I have really enjoyed but also had something that I particularly didn't care for. These games are:

  1. Chess

  • Mechanism I kept: One single valuable piece (King/Queen Bee). Once that piece is eliminated then you are eliminated. What better way to trigger an ending condition than by seeking out/protecting a single piece?

  • Mechanism I left behind: Heavy strategy. Chess is the granddaddy of strategy games. The better player always (almost) wins. I feel that works well for chess but I wanted Queen Bee to have a little bit of luck mixed in so that it would be more accessible to kids and new players.

  1. Risk

      • Mechanism I kept: Entire domination! In Risk, you have to take over the whole world to win. I like that concept, especially how Risk ties it in with the use of moving armies around. Moving pieces around a board is very entertaining to me.

      • Mechanisms I left behind: Length and player elimination. My two biggest beefs with Risk is the amount of time that it takes for the game to end and early player elimination. I felt that there had to be a better way to have the same feeling of moving armies around without a game taking hours or even days to complete. I also didn’t like how someone could be eliminated from the game early while others continued to play.

  2. Dice Throne (one of the first games I backed on Kickstarter)

      • Mechanism I kept: Dice AND card combat. I absolutely loved the combat mechanism that Dice Throne has with the combination of dice rolls and card play. I thought that was very innovative as I had never experienced that in a game before.

      • Mechanisms I left behind: Health and combat point dials. I thoroughly enjoy Dice Throne. The biggest frustration I have had with the game is remembering to move the dials in one direction or the next. I also have found it frustrating when I couldn’t play a card because I didn’t have enough combat points. Since “luck of the draw” dictates what cards you get, I felt that cards should be more usable than how Dice Throne had it.

I have enjoyed playing all three of the games above. I also really enjoyed taking the aspects that I like most about the games and combining them to make a game that I feel works incredibly well and creates a fantastic experience for my target audience. I really enjoy how the game design hobby allows you to find lots of creative mechanisms that you enjoy and then combine them into something that works incredibly well. Game design is an extremely rewarding experience but it is important to find the inspiration that you need to create something amazing.