Making Tabletop Games

Seems like many, self included, are modding or coming up with new games or ideas. I made this thread to share work, and also ask for help, or whatev.

My trend seems to be that I get a fundamental idea. Then I write the actual rules. But then when it comes to actual details, I stop. For example, if I was making Puerto Rico, I would write all the rules about buying buildings, but stop short of coming up with the powers and costs of all of the actual buildings themselves.

That being said, I have been working on the “setup the game game” on my iPad during all the time at work that I’m not working. This game has only a minimal amount of the kind of detail work that I normally stop at. It could theoretically be eliminated entirely if players are to be trusted (they aren’t).

I’m going to post here soon.

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For those who want to “talk shop” Unpub 8 is happening the weekend before pax East, I will be going to play test and network feel free to let me know if you want to come too.

It’s the best event I have been at in where designers legit take stock into their designs and gleam lessons to improve board games.

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I’ll go when I actually have a game or games in physical format that are worth someone’s time to playtest.

I will say that is a good metric to have but not a requirement.

I know it’s not a requirement to go. But it is a requirement to make it worth vacation days and a trip to fucking Baltimore.

Fair point. 15 characters.

Fun fact: outside of the context of Otakon, I have never been to Baltimore.

I went to the aquarium once in high school.

I’ll keep my Impulse nonsense confined to its own thread.

Scott, you are definitely a font of ideas and mechanics, so I’m curious as to why you fall apart at follow-through.

Is it that you don’t really know where to start? You have this ruleset, but you don’t want to assign numbers to things because they might break?

I know that when I do experimental research and have an array of options in front of me, I start by arbitrarily picking an option and rolling with it.

Maybe that kind of mindset would help you get over that hurdle?

It’s not that they might break. It’s that it’s a pain in the ass. The rules just come out of my brain automatically. As soon as I have to expend any actual effort, that’s the end of the line.

Well OK, that’s a whole different obstacle.

I keep thinking about ways to implement your 4X game, but the Impulse stuff is still higher in the brainspace.

I take my concepts to largely complete rules for an MVP, but then I never bother showing them to anyone or playtesting. I probably have four “complete” games that I never documented sufficiently to do anything with.

Yeah, I’m sort of hesitating to trot things out to actually playtest now, at least playtesting with others anyhow. Part of it is schedule, but part of it is definitely a bit of hesitation because I dislike having too many voices and sorting through too much feedback.

Probably going to focus on reassembling our game night, and from there finding a core playtest group that gives consistently quality feedback.

I have a storytelling game I dreamed up a while back, but never got around to playtesting. Maybe some day.

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From what I remember of unpub, it’s the same con-center.

My only idea was one I came up with when I was 10 or so and came up with a loose set of rules that turned Clue into a Battle Royale style game. Thinking about it now it still seems like a cool idea but I don’t think it would be popular and was basically a D6 based battle system. I didn’t know about tabletop RPGs at the time.

I think the hard part is accepting the fact that your first game is going to be shit, for some reason, no matter what you do. But also accepting that unless you go through the experience of putting out shit despite your best efforts, you won’t learn the lessons needed to produce gold.

I don’t think so. Thanks to you jerks, I have a clever method of avoiding putting out any shit.

Any game I make I will obviously have to pressure people to playtest. That’s how it works.

But one day after a playtest people are going to actively WANT to play the game. Hey Scott, can we play that prototype game again?

That’s when we know we found the gold.

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If RPGs count I had a couple things published while I was still in late highschool and early college. Never a fully original game though. Modules and set pieces. Most of them were actually pretty bad, and I’m not sure if anyone else ever actually played them.

I played some playtest game at Pax at one point, and it was… mechanically fine… with decent art pieces… but was at the end of the day pretty boring. Also the creator talked me out of the move I wanted to make by telling me that was a good move and I felt like that’s just kinda not how you should get playtest data, so I did something else.

Had a friend that had a playtest game but they were way too focused on theme and it was both boring and mechanically nonsensical… and they couldn’t take any criticism.


OK, we got a first draft of rules and also sketches of “Setup: The Game”

TL;DR: You and your friends hate setting up the game. It’s the worst part! So now, setting up IS the game.

You get a card that tells you a particular thing that will score you points. Then you all take turns setting up the game. You can add a board to the game, put a piece on a board, or move a piece. All kinds of pieces from cubes to adventure minis to dice. All the pieces! Each board has unique rules about placing and moving pieces on it. All the pieces and spaces on boards have colors, numbers, etc. The colors, numbers, adjacencies, of pieces and spaces are what you are trying to arrange to match what is on your scoring card.

When certain conditions on boards are met, those boards are locked and they can’t be touched anymore. When enough boards are locked (done setting up), the game ends and you see who has the most points.

The adobe sharing link isn’t working that well, so try this:

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I’m really feelin’ this. And I’m thinkin’ it can be prototyped in very high quality by just canabalizing a bunch of other games. Like I think I have a Monopoly Jr. somewhere that my young self lost most of the pieces for so we could use that as the classic board. If someone in their travels acquires a full set and a box to put them in, you have enough right there to run a test game and begin finding degenerate strategies.


House board. Board that looks like a house where you move freely from room to room trying to put all the correct pieces into the correct room. Get the butler in the kitchen with the banana peel and the candlestick holder?

Standardize the pieces. The game should contain n pieces of each colour and each piece should be distinct. So each colour gets a car, a little movey thing from sorry, different colour hockey puck pieces, etc etc,

Miniatures? Maybe, it’s a thought. I may start keeping an eye out for game boards and a box to put them all in.