Board Game Design 101: Game Foundations | Ben Panter | Skillshare

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Board Game Design 101: Game Foundations

teacher avatar Ben Panter, Alternative Photography & Game Making

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (1h)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Supplies

    • 3. Philosophical Question

    • 4. Generating and Capturing Ideas

    • 5. Game Idea Worksheet

    • 6. Game Foundations Worksheet

    • 7. Bonus Example Game

    • 8. Where to Go From Here?

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About This Class

You Can Make Your Own Game!

In this introductory class, you will learn the first steps of creating your own tabletop game, including idea generation and capturing, as well as figuring out the fundamentals of what you want your game to be. In order to do this, there are 2 free worksheets to download to help you follow along with the class. At the end of this class, you'll have a method for capturing ideas, you'll pick one idea you want to move forward with and you'll write down all the essential foundations of your idea; giving you a solid platform from which you can continue developing your game. 

This class is perfect for anyone who's thought about making their own tabletop game but doesn't know where to start or for someone who's looking to improve their process of game design. REPEAT: This class is aimed at beginners who are looking for a method to start actually making their game.

This is the first class in a series that will take you all the way from writing down ideas through actually printing your game.

What this class is not:

  • This is not an "idea to publication" guide for experienced game-makers.
  • This is not about getting your game published or even playtesting.
  • This is not an introduction to game theory.

This class is about:

  • Helping newer game designers (or people wanting to start designing) answer the core questions that every game idea needs answered before it can be turned into an actual game.
  • Inspiring anyone to try making a game of their own through using these step-by-step worksheets.
  • Helping people experience game-making as a worthwhile hobby in and of itself.


There are two free downloads of worksheets for this class under the "Class Project" tab. Those worksheets are taken from my book, The Game Maker's Journal. If you are interested in purchasing the full book through Amazon, you can buy it here. The journal provides a step-by-step guide for the whole game-making process.


Looking for a more hands on class that helps you design a game? Then you should check out my class that is a Finish This Game project, where I give you the skeleton of a game and then walk through what you need to change or update in order to make the game your own. This class is great for newer designers that need more practice actually finishing games so they can level up their design skills. Check it out here!

Meet Your Teacher

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Ben Panter

Alternative Photography & Game Making


My name is Ben Panter and I am an artist, professor and game-maker. My art is photography based and I enjoy experimenting with and combining new and old media. I've been honored to have several artist residencies through the National Park System over the past few years, including Rocky Mountain National Park and Acadia National Park.

I've also been designing board games for about a decade now. Like many in the field, I started out very casually, but have more recently committed to creating a more steady flow of games. I especially believe in helping others enjoy game design as a hobby unto itself, and through my classes on skillshare I hope to make it accessible for more people.

You can view more of my photography work on my website,, and follow me on Instagr... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hello. My name is Ben Tainer. I'm an artist, professor and game designer. This class is called board Game Design 101 game Foundations, and it's designed for anyone who is just interested in learning more about what the board game design process looks like. Uh, if you've tried making a board game design and failed, or if you've made one or two and you just want to improve your process so that you can consistently make great games, this class is really for you. About 10 years ago, I started my process of making games on probably like many of you. When I started, I was not very good at it. Um, often I would come up with a really cool idea or what I thought was cool, and I would make the pieces turn it into some type of game that I would play by myself often. And then I would get stuck. All right, I didn't know how to finish a game. I could come up with ideas, but beyond that, it was kind of shot in the dark on. And so over the years, I've really improved my process of taking an idea and then finally turned that into something that I can continually develop and turn into a finished game. So this class is all about taking those early ideas and laying the foundation so that you can continue to develop them and turn them into something great and fun to play at the end . That early on process of figuring out how to make games and failing a lot of times can be really frustrating. And that's what I want to help you avoid. Avoid that frustration of early game design. And so this class is really, ah, step by step process of taking someone from just coming up with an idea for a game, through laying those essential foundations to the point where you can really move forward with a game design having a solid basis for making decisions moving forward. And this is a part of the process that's easy to overlook. That's easy to miss. So I want to make sure you're in on that secret. At the end of this class, you're gonna have three things. Number one, you're gonna have a system for capturing ideas. Number two, you're going to pick one of those ideas to develop further into a game Number three, you're gonna have written down all the foundations for your game. So you have a solid direction of where to go from here. So we're going to start walking through this process step by step together. In the next video, we're going to talk about the supplies, some of the downloads that are available as a part of this class, and then we're gonna jump right in to making your game possible, so let's go. 2. Supplies: Welcome back. This is the second video in the class, and in this video, we're gonna talk about the supplies that are needed for this class, mainly the downloads. Now, there are two downloads for this class. They're gonna help you work through this process step by step. The 1st 1 is the ideas page on. This is simply a sheet that's gonna help you capture ideas in a meaningful way to draw out some of those details that will help us later on in the process. On the second download is the foundations page on. This is part of the process that is going to help you write down and all those essential details that are you deciding what type of game you want to make, and we'll get into the details of why that helps a little further down the line. And there's one thing we need to bring, and that is your ideas. Now, this video kind of assumes that you've been thinking about game design before that you've been thinking of ideas that you want to make. And so if you have those already perfect, bring those to the class. We're going to be kind of narrowing it down to ones that you think you should actually make . But if you haven't really thought of an idea before, then that's great to weaken, start from scratch. We're gonna be talking about idea generation as a part of this class, and so we'll be working through from both of those angles if you already have an idea you want to work on or if you're coming to this from scratch. Uh, and I also wanted to tell you that both of these worksheets, as well as some others, are available in my book, The Game Makers Journal. This is something I published recently. It's available through Amazon, and essentially, it is a step by step process that's walking through how you go about making a game. Now. It's not gonna do it for you. You're gonna have to put in a lot of the work yourself. But like any good journal, it lets you write down all of your questions, all of your ideas in one place, and it's kind of a guide. It's taking you through that process and helping you make sure you're thinking about your game the way you want it to be. I hope it's a really helpful resource for you. You can order it online, but the two worksheets we need for this class are free to download, and they're coming straight out of the book, so you can kind of get a free preview of what that looks like. So that's all we have for supplies to worksheets and one idea from you. In this next video, we're going to look at a philosophical question that I think is worth asking, so join me there and we'll move on to the next step. 3. Philosophical Question: Hi and welcome back to this third video in the class in this class. I want tough through a philosophical question that I think is worth asking for. Anyone who's starting out in game design on that question is, should I make my own game? It's a simple question, really, of just saying, Is it worth the time? Is it worth the effort? Does anyone else need to see this game that I'm making? Ah, and maybe this is something you've never thought of before. Or maybe you have. It's the type of question that I think often people struggle with when they had a hard point in their design process, and they just feel like, Is this even worth it? Am I doing something that's worthwhile? Is it worth continuing and pushing through those hard bets? So let me talk about three things that are responses to this question, and you might think of some others of your own. But these Air three that have been helpful to me. So the first area this question hits is really a question of there. So many games out on the world already, and we are at kind of a golden age of board game design because it's way more accessible for people to be designing and printing their own. So there's a lot of games out there. Thousands of games. Does the world really need your game added into the mix? Is it going to be any good when it's stacked against all these other games that you probably already love? Here's where I've landed in response to that type of question, and that is yes, there are tons of fantastic games that are designed, well known, making money, and there's gonna be thousands of games that come out that are adding to that list. But it's not your game, right. It is not the specific perspective of theme and mechanics that you alone are able to come up with. And there's something valuable in and of itself in that prospect that you can make this thing, not someone else. So how that's answering the question is yes, you should make your game. You should make sure you're not making someone else's game right, that you are answering all these questions for yourself, not what you think someone else would answer. The second thing to consider of whether or not you should make this game is you probably shouldn't go in this as a money making venture now that you might have read this before if you've researched game, design it all. But this is not necessarily an overly lucrative business unless you get something that is selling a 1,000,000 copies. This is something that ends up being a side job for the vast majority of people. Now, of course, there's full time designers. There's full time publishers. There's lots of different areas in the industry that you can get into, but when you're starting, you're starting small. You have no name, no reputation. People don't know what you're capable of or the quality of game you're making. And so going into it, saying this is gonna be my full time gig from scratch is gonna be is gonna make your life a lot more difficult than it needs to be. But if you go into the mindset saying this is something I'm doing for fun and maybe I'll make some money, maybe I won't buy the experience is what makes it worth it to me. Then you're set up for success. And third, I really view game making as a fun hobbyist activity all on its own, in the same way that playing games is a fun hobbyist activity. Making games can fill that same role in your life. That the process of making something with your own two hands, that creative problem solving that's required in order to make something unique and have something that works both mechanically and thematically, hitting on all levels and making something that's unique to you. That is on a theme that you love. And this kind of connects to the whole idea of people getting into game design in order to make money. If you were doing that, you're adding an extra level of stress and requirements on what your game is gonna be like . That don't necessarily make it a more fun game. They might make it more mass produce herbal. They make make it more sellable on the shelf of Target or a local board game store, but they're not necessarily making it more fun. And what I'm primarily interested in is helping you make a game that is fun for you and your family and friends to play after that. If you make a great game that your friends and family can't get enough of and they share it with their friends and they share it with their friends. You're going to start making a name for yourself just through making an awesome fun game. So those are my three responses to that question of should you make your game? Yes. You should make your game because it is your game, your very own creation that's unique from everything else to Yes, as long as you're not in it for the money and last, you should enjoy this as a hobby unto itself. This is not a means to an end. This is a creative past time that you can enjoy today. So my answer is yes, of course you should make your game. And in the next video, we're gonna talk about how you go about generating ideas and capturing ideas so that you can start making your awesome So let's jump in 4. Generating and Capturing Ideas: Okay. Welcome back to this next video in the Siris. In this video, we're gonna talk about idea, generation and idea capturing. I'm convinced that there are thousands of fantastic games that never get played simply because someone came up with a great idea and never wrote it down. So my number one rule to people starting out with game design is right. Your ideas down. Um, you might be familiar with this scenario, right? You're getting ready for bed. You lay your head down in a pillow and out of nowhere, some idea pops in your mind whether it's some cool theme that you haven't seen explored before or mechanic something going together, something that is a game idea. And then you think All right, I'm already in bed. I'm just gonna sleep on it, and I'm sure I'll come back to it later. And then the next morning, you think What was that idea? And so you spend some time thinking about it, and you think Well, if it was really that great of an idea, I would remember it. So it must not be that great idea. And that's the end of it. So my number one rule is write it down because you never know what you're gonna forget. It always feels like you'll never forget these great ideas that you have, and then they're gone. They're lost to the mist of memory. So make sure you're writing your ideas down, and you might be thinking, Well, where am I supposed to write this down? Many people write it down on a scrap piece of paper, or they have a notebook that they try to write it down. And it seems like there's no perfect solution to this, and and I don't really think there is a perfect solution, but there might be some better solutions. And I'm a fan of having two ways of capturing your game ideas. Number one is digital. The fact that most of us carry our smartphones around with us everywhere means that if you have a digital way to capture ideas that you are always able to jot something down, no matter where you are, whether it's at lunch break or at night right before bed and you can make sure that you capture those ideas. I have my preference of using the app called Trail Oh, which is kind of, Ah, digital workflow organization app, and I use that in other areas of my my life, so I'd recommend it as just a great app to use and organize thoughts. You can kind of track where you are and process of things, but that's not necessarily the right answer. It's great for writing down quick notes if you're a user of something like Evernote or even just the notes app native to your phone. Um, those would, of course, work really well is something like Google. Keep would work very well. Also, what I'm saying is, you need tohave your one go to spot for digital idea, capturing something that could be organized, something that maybe could be viewed on your smartphone or on a desktop computer. And something that is easy to put info into, whether that's typing something, recording voice notes, maybe even taking a picture. All those things are great requirements, but they're sometimes when you're trying to work out an idea, just write down your initial thoughts and you need to draw something on, and I know that drawing has come a long way on a smartphone, but there's still a little bit different than pencil on paper and personally, I prefer pencil on paper over drawing on my iPhone. So I would also recommend having a go to paper spot for writing down some of your ideas in . Generally, my workflow looks like this. I come up with an idea, and I just something down quickly in my app, and I write it down to get all the things that are going through my mind just down in one spot. And then I read it over, and if it feels like there's something there, then I move that idea over to paper. Ah, and what that allows me to do is kind of reworked, reorganized those thoughts I initially sketched down and rewrite it out on paper. T clarify my thoughts and as well. That gives me some space to sketch some ideas on the side, whether it's what the board would look like or what the components would look like. All kinds of things are useful to sketch down at that moment. Now you have a idea capturing worksheet. And so what I would suggest for you to do is to maybe make 10 or so copies of that staple it together, make your own little booklet out of that ideas, capturing worksheet and start writing down your ideas on paper on that worksheet, um, and again capture it first digitally and then move it over to paper to kind of work through those ideas a little bit more. Every time you're writing it down, you have an opportunity to clarify what is it that is really essential to this idea or what makes us a really cool idea? So one question you might be having is, what if I don't have any ideas? What if I don't have anything to write down to steal line from writing instruction? My advice would be to write what you know or, in the case of game designs, to design what you know. That means take inspiration from your daily life. So if you're working in a cubicle office job, then maybe there's something there that you can design a game around. Or maybe it's another passion or hobby that you have that you think could be explored through game. We'll be talking about themes a little bit later on, but themes can be worked and reconsidered as we go, but often to me, it's helpful to think of a theme early on, and so you might find inspiration in your every day life. And I'll tell you, starting that way makes your life a little bit easier in one way. If you pick a theme from some specific historical instance that you don't really know anything about, it's gonna be a lot of work to research, to be reading, to be finding out more. Um, and that's gonna be a significant part of your design process. But if you pick something that you're you already know really well because it's an interest of yours or because you deal with it on a daily basis, a lot of that homework aspect of coming up with a design is gonna already be done for you. So designing what you know is a way to really speed up your process and also be taking inspiration from your daily life and beyond taking inspiration from your everyday life. If you are interested in trying to generate more board game ideas, there's really two things I would recommend. One. There are some fantastic board game podcasts out there. I'm gonna have them linked below in the class notes just because I really think it's worth listening to some of these now. Some of them are just talking about, uh, the board game industry, those not necessarily so helpful, but other ones are interviewing game designers. They're talking about kind of the ins and outs of actually making games, and so those can be helpful for generating ideas. There's at least one podcast I'm aware of. That is about game generation. They're talking about a word and then thinking about how you could make an idea off of just the inspiration of that word on. So that's a great way just to make sure the wheels are constantly turning of how you could make your own design really well in the last thing I would say if you're wondering about how to get more ideas for your own board games is to play more games, right play games you've never played before. You're going to see new mechanics, new modes of player interaction, new themes, things that are really gonna kind of expand your repertoire of what a game can be. Some libraries have board game lending areas in them, which is really great. Sometimes your friendly local board game shop will be, ah, able to rent out board games. So you're not having to dump tons of money on just trying out a game one or two times, but in any way possible that you can. You should play more games. Ah, you're gonna expand your dictionary of what a game can possibly be. And that's going to help you A generate great ideas on. And it could even start from the simple fact of play a game, say, what's your favorite part? What would you change? And that could be enough to start generating an idea right there. And another question you might have is, well, what do I need to have in order to be considered an idea? And I would say there's almost nothing too little to be considered an idea. Um, I have digital entries in in my trailer app that are only titles. I just came up with a title that seemed really cool, kind of connected to a theme, maybe, And I wrote it down because I know I would forget it. Other times it's just a mechanic. You know what if I do? If there's cars that'll multi use and when I play it. This happens. So I'm writing down just a mechanic idea or other times when I come up with the theme when I find something that piques some curiosity that I've been reading about and eso it could be that now my strongest ideas are ones that are able to combine a few of those elements right that I'm combining theme or gameplay aspects or mechanics or what I want the game to feel like as I'm playing it. All those things are helpful in your ideas. But if you just have one aspect, I still say Write it down. Otherwise you're gonna forget it. You're gonna have have to stress out over remembering what the details were that you were thinking about, and it's better just to write it down. Now, once we move on to the actual game idea worksheet, we're gonna drawl out as many of those details as we can so that we get a fuller picture of what this idea was all about. Once we get a better picture of what it's all about, then we can move through the process of saying well, which game idea should I move into further development on That's a tougher question, but we're gonna work through it together. So in her next video, we're going to walk step by, step through that game idea worksheet and make sure that we're capturing the right kind of ideas and giving ourself enough information where we can decide which game you should move forward so we'll see the next video. 5. Game Idea Worksheet: Hi and welcome back in this video, we're going to talk about step by step, walking through writing down your ideas on the game idea worksheet as well was talking about how do you narrow it down to pick the one game toe work on? And so before we get into the how to write things down, step by step, I want to talk about that kind of philosophy of mine, that really you should only be working on one game at a time on. There's lots of people that might argue with me on that, and that's fine there. Process is good for them. But my recommendation to you would be to pick one game and try to develop that all the way through to a finished game on. I really have, Ah, simple reason for that, and that is focus. There have been times when I've been working on, you know, 45 games at a time, and I feel like I'm making very little progress in any one of them. I'm taking baby steps and it can get really frustrating. It feels like you're not moving anywhere, not making any progress, and so if I nerd it down and saying, Well, this is a game that either I'm most excited about at the moment or this is the game that I feel like I'm making the most progress on, and I'm just gonna focus on that one. But all my design resource is in on that one. Then I'm going to make much bigger steps and reach completion much faster, which is more encouraging. And it helps me feel more positive and get better results as I'm working through this process. So that is my recommendation to you, even though you might have 2030 game ideas, uh, that you should really pick one and focus on that. I think that with the greatest salt work in a way that makes sense to you. But that would be my recommendation for anyone. Starting out eso you're gonna take your game idea worksheet, which is gonna look a lot like this and again. Remember, this is coming from the book, the gamemakers journal, which I published its available on Amazon. And this is just gonna walk a step by step through those pages so that we get a really good idea capture. And that's important. Now you might already have the framework laid out in a digital version. If you're working in an app, which is fine, but we want to make sure we come and write it down to kind of find tune that idea, get all the details we can so we can move forward with which game should you actually be developing so you can see the worksheet is broken down into two sections, which means it's an area to capture two ideas, but we'll just work through one. The first section is where you're writing down on title now. It's a little early to be titling your creation, but I always find it helpful to give my projects a working title. If it's something that the idea can latch onto your no way committed to this long term, this doesn't need to be the final name of the game, obviously, but this is just something that when you're thinking through your game, it gives it an association, and I found that really helpful. You might think of it kind of like a code name in a way, right? It's your initial reaction of as you're making this idea. This is how you're gonna talk about it because if you don't have a name for it, it's kind of hard to talk about. If you can't talk about it, it's hard to work through these ideas with other people on DSO. Having some type of working title or the name of the game written down is, ah, helpful spot on. And if you don't have any ideas on that to start with, just start with practical, just descriptive. And if there's already a game out there with the same name, that's fine. It doesn't have to stay like this. We can change it later on. But we just need to write something that this idea can latch on to the next section. Very open ended, right? This is your idea. So write down what it is you have so far, and at this point you're writing down just the broad concepts. You know, what does it look like to play this game? What is this game about? In terms of the story, it's telling, or what is it about? From a theme standpoint, all these things are really helpful to be writing down, and you want as much detail as you can at the same time. There's a reason I only made the box this big, and that is because this is not the time to fully develop all the ideas. Just give me the bullet point versions of all these things that you're writing down on. Def. You're writing it down from your digital notes. You know this is a time to edit. You can write things down. Think well, you know, it could make more sense if I wrote it this way, or I like this idea better. This is a time where you can be updating and editing. That's fine, Um, and so you just want to be writing down ideas in a way that if you were to read it to someone, they would kind of have a clear picture of where you're headed. The next section is mechanics. Now you might have written down some of these in the ah ideas area, and that's fine. But this is a specific spot to write down one of the main mechanics in this game. You know, if it's something like Candy Land, you're just drawling and moving. That's fine. But in other games there's multiple overlapping mechanics that you're writing down, whether it's tile placement or hand management or drafting or dice rolling. All these things get used and the more complex of a game you're making, the more of those mechanics you have going on. And so it's a good idea to list out the ones you can see in your game already in your game idea. Which ones do you already know about that you'd want included, And some of them might be essential for game play. Some of them might just be, because you like them. You want to include them. That's fine. But it's good to write them down. No, uh, the next section is the pieces, right? The components of the game and this might seem very premature, right? This is your just writing down the idea. Why do you need to know how many cards there's gonna be, or how many boards or player mats or pieces? People's all those types of things? Why do you need to know that the reason I have you write this down is because it's very helpful in determining the scale of the game, right? You start thinking well, I want you know, 20 cards per player on this theme, and then another 15 for this purpose. You start realizing this is a game that's going to require, you know, 300 cards and there's a bunch of, um, you know, components, whether they're cubes or meatballs or custom pieces. All this type of stuff can add into your realization of, like, how much work is this idea really going to take to pull off another that you don't want it to take a lot of work? But it's good to be able to judge that ahead of time, and writing down the components as you see them right now is a helpful way of evaluating how much work this game is going to be. And by extension, how long is this game going to take to finish on? And then the last section we have right down at the bottom here we have sort of your evaluation of the idea. We've written down your idea, the mechanics title, the components list, and now you have to say, Well, am I still interested in this game? Is their interest in this idea and so you're evaluating it from 1 to 5 in four areas. Um, 1st 1 Ease right. How easy. Would it be for me to make this game? Ah, one would mean there's a ton of different components it would require, you know, custom miniatures and things like that. This is going to require a lot of work. Vs five means this is 18 card game. I feel like I have the main structure of what happens already figured out. And now it's just, you know, fine tuning some balancing and coming up with good artwork, right? That would be pretty easy to put together the excellent would be excitement. How excited are you on a scale of 1 to 51 being Ah, it's a good idea. I'm gonna write it down, but I'm gonna save it for later, cause I kind of already lost interest. And number five is I really think this is the next great thing. I want to work on this mawr, to see where this idea goes on and try to be brutally honest with yourself. Is this game still going to hold interest with me in another month as I, as I have continued working on this or do I already feel like something about it is not quite the right fit for me. You have to be honest with yourself in this evaluation completeness. Basically, how fully formed of an idea is this And for this you're looking back at all three of those sections, the idea, mechanics and the pieces. And you're saying, you know, does that feel like this is a game that could exist? Or do I feel like I have part of a game that's going to need, ah, lot of fine tuning, a lot more work? And again, that's fine. But you want to know that going in saying this is about half of a game I have an idea for and I'm gonna have to figure out the other half as I go unless we have uniqueness. Um, and this again, it should not be a deal breaker if your answer is one. If your answer is one, you say it's basically like this game. Except for this one little switcher. There's one little change, right? As long as you have something that you can make it your own, that's fine. Uh, and honestly, that makes it easier because some of those mechanics some of the ways the players interact , and the the ah pieces. Interact has already been figured out by someone else. So that could be a great way to start on on some of your first games. If you answer this as a five, that it is really, really unique. In fact, I've never seen it done. I'm not even sure it's possible. That's gonna require more work from you. So now we're moving on to How do you select your one game to work on? And so we just put in the work of analyzing it across those four key areas. And now I can't really answer this for you, unfortunately, But I do have another recommendation and my recommendation is start small. Start easy. I remember with the very first or game design I came up with. I thought it was an incredible idea. I made some, like custom shape map tiles. I had all these pieces, all these different, uh, kinds of units that were being used. It was like a war theme kind of strategic go crossover with, like, a memoir 44 type game, right? It was really cool. Then I got into it, and I realized there's a lot of complexity here between unique movements that are allowed between unique powers that I'm trying to balance different factions that I'm trying to make unique. There was just a ton of layers of information to have to balance, and I think those air great games to make we certainly depending on the type of game or you are you might love playing that game. But you might not love designing that game, at least not until you're good at designing. And you have to be honest with yourself. When you're starting out on your first few game designs and say, I'm just not that good at it yet, right? You need practice. You need to get a few games under your belt. So my recommendation to early designers is make an easy game for select one of your ideas that is high on the ease. Maybe a little bit lower on uniqueness makes something that you know you can finish in a relatively short amount of time. Now that game, honestly might be a little bit lower on your excitement level, right? You might not have evaluated as much of excitement, but to me it's more important to get 234 even five games under your belt that are finished , playable, fun games and then you Congar oh, back to your ideas and say, You know, this game is still kind of holding my imagination and it's gonna take a lot of work, but it's worth it. And now that I have some experience in finishing games, I know what I like. I know the difficult parts and I can move forward, and I really think I can make this more complex game. But if you try to make a really your kind of Holy Grail game as your first game, there are tons of designers that have gotten held up and just end up hitting a brick wall. They can't go any further because there's so much complexity that they haven't worked through before. And it's just too much for an early designer. So I would recommend pick a small, easy game that you know you can finish first and check that and a few others off your list before moving on to a more complex game. Look at your list of games and decide which ones are the right balance of something that I know I can accomplish that are interesting, that are kind of fully formed ideas and something that I really want to move forward with and have a completed game designed at the end. Look at your answer so far and come up with one game you're going to move forward with. Then we can move on to the next section, which is writing down the Game foundation. So I'll see in the next video where we start talking about that work. 6. Game Foundations Worksheet: All right. Welcome back in this video, we're going to talk about the foundations worksheet that you should have already downloaded in the last video we talked through. How to and analyze your ideas. What we need to write down how you look at which one you're gonna select. And at this point, you should have one selected that you want to move forward with. And just to reiterate, you really need to pick one. Don't try to move forward with five because you can't decide. Pick one. And that's what we're gonna working on for this next part of the process. Um, And for this foundations worksheet. This is what I often find people skip over not because they're trying to rush necessarily, but just because they don't know that this is going to help them in the long run. This is one of those things that it feels like. Maybe you're putting in time to something that isn't necessarily gonna pay off. It feels like maybe time would be better spent doing something else. But doing the work in this game foundations worksheet is going to keep you from getting stuck later on. Ah, you may have had this feeling before. Ah, in one of your other game designs already. Where you're moving along, you're designing things, things air flowing. And then you hit a point. You had a question that you can't find the answer to and you get stuck. You can't move forward because you don't know what the game is anymore, right? You kind of lose your bearings. And so this foundations worksheet is intended to help give you a sense of what this game really is. This is kind of your your ah north point on the compass that if you get stuck or if you're trying to answer questions, this is what helps be the tiebreaker. This is what helps answer those questions in a simple way that lets you keep moving forward in the game design and keeps your game from changing beyond what you want it to change into . So this foundations worksheet is going to be referencing your ideas, worksheet and expanding on those ideas and drawing out some more of them. Uh, so that again, this is kind of a fully formed picture of what you want your game to be like, and you're gonna hear me talk about that a lot. What do you want it to be like? Often I find people are designed games and it changes over time and it turns into something else, and that can lead to great results. But it could also end up meaning that you designed a game you did not intend to design. And so hopefully this process helps. You know what type of game you want to make. So the top of the sheet, you have the working title. And again, this is not the final title. You don't have to be finished with that. But this is giving you something that you can talk about your game in the context stuff. So write down what you would call it if you had the name it right this instant. And we can always go back and change that as we go. Ah, and if all else fails, just name it practically on, and that actually rolls right into the next section, which is, uh, other word associations. Right? So this is a time where you can just be kind of brainstorming, writing down ideas of, like what? Things exist around the context of this game, whether it's a theme, theme idea or word that you're throwing together or something related to your working title that you wrote down just and it years throwing out words and hoping that they're gonna help generate more ideas, both in terms of what your game is about the narrative or story of your game, as well as thinking about your title. So rate down those other associations. And as you're working through this this game, you might think of other words that are connected to it, and you should just write them down as well again. You have to assume you're going to forget things that you think are so obvious right now, so make sure you're writing them down in the next section. I have a couple of things that are easy to skip over but again are very important to a successful game. And that is the emotional experience and the game style. So the emotional experience is all about how do you want players to feel as they play it on , and this is gonna be vastly different, depending on the kind of game you're making right. If you're making a party game, you're gonna have people feeling much different than if they're playing a game. That's all about bluffing and deception. They're gonna be completely different emotional experiences. And so think about as you've written down your description as you've written down your idea . How is that going to make people feel as they're playing it? And is that what you want? Where you can also just describe what kind of emotional experience do you want people tohave? And then, as we're making decisions further on down the line, you can be making decisions in that context of saying, How do I get them to feel more tense? If that's the word you want them to be? Or how do I get them toe laugh more because I want this to be a funny, lighthearted experience. These are all important things to decide ahead of time and then for the game style again. Is this something where you want people up and moving around? I recently watched a video of Ah, Happy salmon, which is a ridiculous party type of game where people are making funny hand gestures and running around the table and working together. It's an awesome active game, or do you want this to be like an all day slog of risk where people are intensely hovering over the board and they're seeing which countries they can capture and how they can outsmart opponents. And it's this. There's a lot of, like inner dialogue and working on again. What type of game experience or game style do you want this to be? Do you want this to be a Euro game? Do you want this to be, um, you know, an abstract strategy game? All these things are important to write down to make the game that you want to make. The next section is your overview game description. Ah, and this is where you're taking your original idea and trying to once again edit it so that it is getting mawr fleshed out more, more full picture, a more full picture of what your game is really about. So you can begin designing things like what? So you can begin talking about things like, what does a player do on their turn? What is a character in the game trying to do? How does someone win the game? Um, all these aspects of the game that as you're thinking about it, you can you can start writing them down. I know I want a quick disclaimer here. This is not the finished version of your game. There's still a lot of work to put in, so this should be fairly. This should be a fairly quick process. Isn't that something where you're stressing over every detail, your writing down the game? As it stands now, you can always come back and edit things later. Or as you're working through future worksheets, you can be updating those ideas so they they make sense in the context of your game as it gets developed. But we just want to write down kind of your quick perspectives. And so, with this overview, you want to just describe what the game would look like right now, as your idea stands and you can see, I've left quite a bit of room here because I do want you to be as descriptive as possible, describing the atmosphere, how you want people to play the game, what you want, the winning conditions to be. All these things are an important part of the game making experience, and so you should be writing them down right down the type of game you want to make and describe what that game looks like in this section. The next section I just have titled How You Picture This Game and You're writing down to Things You're Writing Down. This game is unique because what and people would enjoy playing this game? Because what? And sometimes I confined these questions really difficult to answer because you start thinking about well, of all the people I know, what types of games to they enjoy. How is this game really unique? Or what types of games do they really like playing? And you start in a way, you can easily start doubting whether or not this game is worth making. But really, you just need to answer these questions again in terms of your game, your preference, what game are you going to make? And so this game is unique because I want a pair, a highly strategic ordered game with a lighthearted, laughter inducing, um, kind of feel to the game right? That would be what would make it unique if you were trying to put those together. What is it that makes this a little bit different than other games you've played and you don't have to say this is different than any game that's ever existed. But what is unique to this experience that makes it, um, your game. So you're answering the question. What is unique to you? What is unique about this game? It doesn't have to be unique from every other game, but what makes this game stand out? What makes it shine? What would people talk about after they played this game on? And then people would enjoy playing this game again, depending on the person. That answer is gonna be a lot different, but you're answering kind of for your ideal audience. People would enjoy this game because X. Y Z and you can focus on a lot of different aspects, whether it's innovative mechanics, fun theme, kind of the emotional or the gameplay experiences really fun player interaction. There's lots of different ways you can do it, but again try to be as specific as possible in order to make sure down the line we're making the game you want to make. The next section is other games with similarities. Ah, and really, this is just giving you your research list. If you come up with games that you think have the same mechanic, the same feel, the same theme. Those were great games to make sure that you go out and play, play them to see what they do well, what they don't do well, what you can improve on and to be building on your experience as a game designer. It's helpful to play games, so make sure you're doing that as a part of your homework. For making this game in The last section of this worksheet is this game will be on. This is just very simply kind of a Ah little chart that you get to fill out and you're deciding the kind of game you are trying to make on. So I'll just read through a few examples. There's short or long, right? Do you want your game to be over quickly, or do you want to take a long time? Uh, do you want it to focus more on luck or strategy? Do you want it to be easy or challenging right? You can think about that in terms of even the rules. Do you want the rules to be explained quickly, or do you want to have a thick rulebook that people have to really slogged through. Do you want to be simple or complex? Active, stationary? All these things are worth deciding ahead of time to again. Make sure as you're making decisions later on, or as you hear feedback from other people who play test your game that you're putting it into the context of this is the game I'm trying to make. Does that feedback or does that experience makes sense within what I'm trying to do? It's easy to get derailed, is easy to get discouraged. And so having this pre decided of what you're trying to make is really, really helpful. So now where we've worked through what all of these sections mean, I want you to take, you know, half an hour, work through this as best as you can, and then stand back and look at it. Look at what you've written down as what your game is so far, a Zay said before. This is not something that should take you hours. This should be relatively click because this is just giving you your foundation that you can then jump forward from. This is not the game. This is still kind of expanding your idea of the game. This is your foundation of the game, and from here, you should have a really solid platform to move forward. Okay, In a way, doing this worksheet is a way of picking your target, right? You've picked where you're trying to go, and now everything you're doing is pushing towards that. And here are a couple things that this worksheet should help you deal with some problems that designers often deal with that hopefully you won't have to as much. One would be designed block, right. You reach a point, and you just don't know what to do any further. Well, then you should be able to jump back into your original idea. Look through these elements that you've just laid out and say, Well, what parts of your game are in line with this foundations and which one? Which one's are getting a little bit off base? Which ones aren't fitting in as well and thinking through your theme a little bit more looking at these brainstorming words that you've come up with an associations and think. Is it something that I need to add something I need to subtract to make sure I continue making the game I wanted to make originally. And the second thing that should help you avoid is getting derailed. It is so easy for a designer to get off track with a design due to the feedback they're getting due to just the what? They're hearing their experience of the game. And so this worksheet of foundations should help you stay on track. You picked your target. You're saying this is what I want to make. And then you can make all your decisions inside that confidence on your next video, we're gonna talk about what you should have now and where you should go from here. 7. Bonus Example Game: hi there, and welcome back. This is actually a bonus video I decided to include in order to help you out a little bit more. I know a lot of the instructions I've been talking about with the the ideas, worksheet and the foundations. Worksheet can feel a little abstract, and in some cases, that's by necessity, right? Because I don't know what game you're trying to design, and so it's hard to very be very specific. But I wanted to do my best to give you some concrete examples. And so I wanted to walk through this process of me filling out these worksheets with a game that I'm currently working on and just a reminder, you know, these worksheets you are free to download from the class in your hopefully falling along and doing that. But if you want a little bit more of an in depth experience and just have it all inside one package, you can order my book, the gamemakers journal off Amazon and, ah, you know, that's another great way to move forward with your game design. Well, eso let's go ahead and jumping jump into what, um, I did for my game. The game that I'm gonna be talking about. I have currently titled paint Rollers. It's a rolling right game and I'll tell you about my whole process first. I did capture the idea digitally. In fact, I have it right here. Let me just pull it up. And I used trail. Oh, and right here I have all of my things and right here I have color rolling. Right? And I have the very first description I had of this game. Okay? And you know it. I just wrote down the idea that I had not very specific. The players roll multicolor dice, use color combos to decide what color slice to write in in a color wheel on. And then I wrote down a bunch of questions. Are players able to use dice that at the previous player used? Are there different kinds of dice, as in different, uh, you know, D 60 80 10 type of thing? Are there other objectives these air? Just questions I had as I wrote down the initial idea that I knew I would have to answer. So that was the digital capture of the idea. Um, and then, you know, I come over to paper, and I start writing it down a little more. And so on the ideas worksheet I have that filled out for this game as well on and, uh, what we have here, right? Title paint rollers. I don't I'm not sold that. That's definitely going to be it. But with a lot of rolling right games, there's puns in the title. And so that works well for that category of game eso paint rollers. Um, and the idea, very simply, is a role in right game, uh, where we fill in a color wheel, Um, and then you use paints that you filled in in order to complete paintings in sets on soon the mechanics I've already described to you. There's definitely a role in right idea if you're familiar with those games where you roll the dice and then you are able to write down based on the results, Um, and then there is also, I believe, going to be card set collection. So as someone completes a painting, that painting is on a card, and so they collect it and they're trying to collect inset, so sets that go together. So this would be the two main mechanics in this game. The next section pieces, um, they would need to be paper pads, right, because it's a rolling right, and so you would need, like, disposable copies of this game. Basically, I'm thinking there would be nine Dice, three each and red, yellow and blue because this is a color mixing type of game. I think that's a really cool idea. Um, and then there would just be a deck of cards with the paintings. And another kind of cool idea that I wrote down here is, what if one side was black and white and one side is color. So when you're seeing the options there black and white, but then when you actually paint the painting, when you finish it, you flip it over, and so you have the color full color painting in front of you. That's something that doesn't necessarily affect gameplay, but I just think it's a cool idea from a design perspective. So I wrote it down. I'm that goes with the pieces. Or you could write that down in the idea area to again. It's really open to how big of an idea you have, how much you need to write down here, Um, and then just a little grading scale at the bottom. He's, You know, I would rate that a three or four. Um, just because I know it's a smaller scale game, but at the same time, there's gonna be a lot of numbers balancing that needs to happen. Excitement. Five. I just feel like this is something that feels like a game that already exists to a degree with the ideas that I've had. So I'm excited about that. The completeness I have a for because I feel like it's a fully it's really ah, fairly, um, fully formed idea in my mind on. So I just need to start putting numbers and themes to things on. Then uniqueness. Three. You know, it's a roll right game. It's probably not the most unique idea. I haven't seen anyone doing that with a color wheel, so hopefully that adds a little bit of uniqueness. But, um, you know, it's another rolling right, very popular right now, and but still I think it's worth completing. All right, so that was the ideas worksheet. Very simple, but again, I want to reiterate that every time I write this down. It's helpful, and I improved my idea of what the game is going to be. So when I wrote it down first digitally on my phone, that was the first version. And then I transferred that into this ideas worksheet, and that was a second version. And I'm kind of editing each time, and it really helps me narrow my idea down to what I wanted to be on. Then we have the foundations worksheet right where we're deciding what we want this game to be like Working title. I have paint rollers, Um, and then other words I wrote down Art Artist, New York City Studio Gallery Paint Brush, Abstract Expressionism Pop are up Art, minimalism, all kinds of art movements I could have in there. But these are just things that maybe they'll come into play in the title or the description , or just the theme world that I end up coming up with for this game. The emotional experience. One. Since it's a rolling right game, there is a certain amount of luck so and that's can be an exhilarating thing to feel like, Oh, I just got a lucky roll so that's part of it. luck of the role, but then paired with an efficient use of the colors right that you're using the dice that you've got well on. But I think there's the excitement of a good role, Um, as well as the reward of like having your plan come to fruition, right that you saw a painting that you wanted complete, and you're able to get those colors in order to get it. And then what I really like And what I hope for in this game is toe have a dramatic reveal of points at the end. So it's something where you really don't know who's in the lead until the final points are tallied. That would certainly be a part of the emotional experience for the game style. The It's a rolling right game, which we've already talked about with a large dice pool. A lot of rolled rights have a few less nice than this, so there's a lot of dice on Ben set collection for optimal points. That's the style of game. This is something that would be easy to introduce someone who doesn't play a lot of games just because I think it's fairly straightforward what you're trying to do and then the overview game description, right, The big idea of what the game is right now. I'll just read this to you. Players roll red, yellow and blue dice the mix of 12 colors on their color wheel. They use those colors to make paintings. Paintings will be in several varieties and styles to score points by sets at the end of the game. That's it in a nut show on. And if I can make that happen, I'll be really happy the next page. How do you picture this game? Uh, and again, this is about you deciding what kind of game this will be. So this game is unique. One. It's set in the art world. There are certainly other games that are set in the art world, but not a ton. So I'm interested in that since I have ah, degree and art. Also, I think it's unique filling in color real since the coloring already exists. I think that's an interesting thing, that it's a really object, and but I were using that as the foundation for a rolling right game. So those are the two main things. I'm focusing on people would enjoy playing this game because one, because you're actually learning how to mix colors. If you're mixing together those three colors and different varieties, you're learning how to make the 12 colors of the color wheel, and that's fairly elementary. But I still think it's fun that there's a There's a realism to the effects of the game. And also, I think, just because there's a lot of different ways to score points, since there's varieties of paintings and and styles of paintings and and different paints you have. So I'm trying. I'm going to try to have a lot of different ways to score points, and so it can feel exhilarating, kind of, regardless of the technique that you're trying to do the next one other games with similar ideas. Uh, you know, really, just about any role in right could go in here where you are transferring rolled dice to a paper where you are writing things down. Nothing comes to the top of my mind right now, But as I play more, Rolling writes, maybe I'll find something that's kind of similar, and then this game will be, um, I would definitely say this game will be on the shorter side in terms of luck and strategy . That's probably right down the middle. The dice rolls are definitely going to matter, but you need to make the best use of them. So that would be right in the middle, easy and challenging. I wanted to be pushed more towards the easy side. I want this to be accessible, and I wanted to be able to play fairly quickly, simple and complex. I want a gameplay to be simple, but I kind of want to scoring to be a little bit complex toe hide the end results until the very end, active or stationary. This is definitely a stationary game, interactive or solitary. This is one where right now I'm picturing it mostly solitary. You're not affecting other people's boards or mixing paints for them. There might be some dice sharing. So Maurin the solitary side, but not completely on that kid. Friendly or grownups. You know, I would like this to be accessible, to know an eight plus year old, so not four kids, but not something that's complex enough that they wouldn't be able to play it light hearted or serious, definitely on the lighthearted site. Um, in terms of the theme, it's fairly light and, uh, something that hopefully people just have fun with and then friendly or cut through. So there is a little bit where you can be, uh, probably rolling, trying to make colors that would exclude some colors from your opponents. So that would be a little bit cut through. And potentially you could, uh, you know, take a painting that someone else is trying to store a paint for, So that would be a little bit cutthroat as well, but not too much. You know, you're mostly in your own world trying to do your own thing. So I would say that somewhere, probably right near the middle as well, maybe slightly more in the cutthroat side than not. Um, So I have my, you know, game map. If you will spread out, I kind of know what I wanted to be. And now I can move forward. So you're hearing me work through all of these questions for my own game? Idea has helped you think about how you need to ask and answer them yourself. So we'll see in the next 8. Where to Go From Here?: Okay. Welcome to this last video in this game. Design 101 class on. We're gonna talk about what you should have at this point. You should've filled out to work sheets. The 1st 1 talking about your ideas. And hopefully you're starting. Teoh have a book of ideas that you can pick from in terms of which game are you going to develop Further? Which one are you gonna focus on? Second, you should have filled out the foundations worksheet. So you picked one game from your ideas and moved it over into the foundation's worksheet and filled out all that extra information where you are picking what target you want to hit with this game. What kind of game do you want to make? And so now you just have the rest of the design process, right? Easy. Well, no, it's not easy. And so that's why this is just part one of a series of videos I'm gonna be making walking you through my process. And what I think is a very step by step process of making a game. A couple of classes that are coming up are going to be focused on inter of design, which means working through the steps to make a game. And how do you work through them? Kind of in a cycle so that you can end up at a finished fund playable game. So that's one that's coming up soon, and another one is talking about play testing and prototyping. Okay, this is the process of playing your game idea to the point where you can figure out problems, figure out what you need to fix and help, and the process of actually making the pieces. How good of a prototype do you need to make for each step? Each stage of this process, all those types of things will be in that class. Ah, and so what would I suggest that you do now you have these two worksheets. My quick answer to that would be You should try two player game as soon as you possibly can . Which means you're gonna be making a quick prototype. You're gonna be jotting down the pieces that you have so far and play through it yourself that together with this foundation sheet that you have filled out, should give you kind of the direction you're going. And so as you play the game with your quickie prototype, you can see Well, this is not working or this part is really cool. I like that. I want to focus on ITM or this part Aiken, drop out of the game because it's not really important to the experience. So you have to just start playing your game with what you have so far. That's the quick version, the long version we're gonna cover in the next class. And I hope you can make it to that one. I really enjoyed this in the project for this class. I really want you to share a picture of your worksheets so you can share the ideas that you generated and wrote down and, you know, right down the description of your game, Show us and tell us what type of game you're trying to make. And I'd love to give feedback if you have any questions of ideas or just practical things you're wondering, as you are continuing to make this game. Thanks so much for joining me. Make sure you like this class. Follow me on skill share so that you get notified whenever I publish new content. And I really look forward to seeing the games you make