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"Devling Into Game Design" Topic

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1,190 hits since 26 Oct 2012
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Rodrick Campbell Sponsoring Member of TMP Fezian26 Oct 2012 8:36 a.m. PST

Sooner or later it had to happen. Designing my own game has been on my mind for many years. Ideas have been sitting in the composter and are now ready to be used to plant some seeds.

The blog link is for the first of hopefully many posts about my experience designing and actually completing a game. I welcome suggestions or critique throughout the process.


The first post is just a bit of blather with general goals and criteria to be met.

MajorB26 Oct 2012 9:59 a.m. PST

1) Simple, generic, universal game mechanics.
2) RPG-lite, but expandable to skirmish and mass combat.
3) Adaptable to most historical periods and genres.
4) Easy to use campaign system with good depth.
5) Easy to learn.
6) Fast playing.

Been trying to achieve almost exactly that for well nigh 30 years. In the end I gave up and decided to use 7TV

Why re-invent the wheel?

Having said all that, good luck with your project!

RudyNelson26 Oct 2012 11:21 a.m. PST

I am not at all surprised by the desire to game design. The intelligence level of people in our hobby has always lent itself to people able to construct their own systems and mechanics to support them. It has always been a factor about wargaming in both miniatures and on boardgames.

Today unless you have the contacts, you need to have as one of your goals "Self-gratification at being able to design" rather than making money.

doc mcb Inactive Member26 Oct 2012 11:25 a.m. PST

Yes, I still very much enjoy playing, but enjoy designing rules even more, and now find world creation the most satisfying.

OSchmidt Inactive Member26 Oct 2012 1:37 p.m. PST

Dear Roderick

Congratulations! You made it! In the end a lot of people just get fed up with the "Rules of the Moment" and start designing their own. It's as it should be like back in 1952 When Jack Scruby in "All About Wargames" said that "every model general designs his own rules."

You'll get lots of adive from everyone.Most of it will be well intentioned but just won't work. My own design criteria is quite different, but very simple.

12 pages max, single sapced, both sides, 12 point Times Roman Bold. Everything has to fit in that including diagrams, tables, cover art, examples and design notes. If you can't fit it into that, get out the red pencil and start chopping.

Anyway if you want help in this sort of thing to get down to the sort of thing I am talking aobut above, you should check out "Society of Daisy" a group dedicated to Imagi-Nations and Imagination, humor in wargames, and the free exchange of ideas. The members help each other in game design all the time. It's also a lot of fun and friends.
We also publish our own Newsletter "Saxe N' Violets (print only which frequently contains complete games and sets of rules or lots of ideas for them.

Personal logo Ed the Two Hour Wargames guy Sponsoring Member of TMP26 Oct 2012 1:46 p.m. PST

Welcome to the Dark Side. We have cookies.

MajorB26 Oct 2012 1:51 p.m. PST


If you are really interested in game design you should take a look here at the back issues of "The Nugget":

Wargame Developments has been in existence for over 30 years and its members are all game designers. Why not join?

Rodrick Campbell Sponsoring Member of TMP Fezian26 Oct 2012 2:03 p.m. PST

Thanks for the links, guys. I'll check them out.

doc mcb Inactive Member26 Oct 2012 2:19 p.m. PST

Hey Rod, is "devling" like "delving" except for being morally suspect?

Rodrick Campbell Sponsoring Member of TMP Fezian31 Oct 2012 2:11 p.m. PST

Indeed, it is, Doc. :)

onmilitarymatters Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Nov 2012 2:14 p.m. PST

Russ Lockwood here, at OMM as my power and internet are still out here in NJ…

Advice would be: Keep in mind why you wanted to design in the first place, and then be prepared to discard much of what you are considering as you balance 'realism' with 'playability.'

All rules have their quirks, and all gamers have their likes and dislikes. I designed Snappy Nappy because I wanted to have huge, multi-player Napoleonic battles and 'campaigns in a day' that would emphasize movement and fluidity. Not that grind-'em-out shoulder-to-shoulder troops across the entire table is a bad thing, but I wanted to push flanks and simulate the grand movements that tactical games would not allow you to do, and map games that always bogged down and ended prematurely.

To me, movement is the key to a good game…but that's me, and that's reflected in the design and mechanisms.

Plug -- You should also consider visiting:

Wally Simon's Secrets of Wargame Design Overview

This offers sample chapters, table of contents, etc from the booklet I edited called Wally Simon's Secrets of Wargame Design: A Tabletop Toolkit of Ideas, Analysis, and Rule Mechanics. You may or may not agree with Simon's likes and dislikes, and not everything he wrote was wargaming gold, but he has so many nuggets buried within his 25 years worth writing. To me, selecting the best was difficult, but I stuffed the booklet full of ideas, concepts, and rules mechanics covering wargaming action across all eras. They offer provocative wit, wisdom, and imagination to help you tweak an existing set of rules or create your own rules to make a better wargame. $19 USD from

Double Plug -- Vol 1 did so well, I brought out Volume 2 (just published for Fall-In): More Secrets of Wargame Design. Many stopped by the OMM booth and said how much they enjoyed Vol 1 and bought Vol 2 (also $19 USD).

In any case, as I continue to fine tune my next 'Snappy' rule set, I flick through Wally's work for inspiration (and sometimes just entertainment).

Stay with it. It takes years to design and playtest through a good rules set that plays well.

Russ Lockwood

KenofYork19 Nov 2012 5:52 p.m. PST

Good luck Rodrick.
If you remember sharing a table with me at Fall-In during the snow storm we talked about rules and such.
I say pillage the best ideas from all the games you ever played! Make a hybrid that takes the best of all and melts it into one savory bowl of soup.

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