Scott’s Toy Box: Create Your Own Game
This month in the Toy Box I decided to do something a bit different. As I was looking around online I ran across a website called The Game Crafter. Through The Game Crafter, I was able to create my own personalized board game, and you can too!
Thegamecrafter.com sells self published games and game crafting supplies. They offer a variety of game pieces and parts that can be bought independently so you can create the exact game you want. They also sell blank cards and tiles in many different sizes. For those of you who are computer savvy and know how to work Photoshop, you can prepare files and upload them to thegamecrafter.com and they will print out a copy of your game. Prices vary depending on the number of parts and which parts you get, but the system is easy to understand and it’s easy to see which part is costing you the most in case you want to remove it. Now that you know where to get the parts for your own game, let’s talk about the kinds of games there are and how to create your own.
When starting out, I suggest buying the pieces and a number of blank cards or tiles; basically anything you think you’ll need for your game and then use sharpies to write on them. This will help if you’re not sure what kind of game you want to create. Thegamecrafter.com has a template for writing directions that is excellent for getting you to think about what is needed for your game and I highly recommend using it when creating your game. You might already have a favorite game and you might just want to personalize it. For example you could take Clue and make it your Family’s Clue and have your sister be the murderer in the living room with your family pet or take the game of Apples to Apples and make cards based around your life with people you know, places you’ve been, and things you love. But if you want to make something more original then here are some things to think about when creating a game.
In general, games always have a goal and obstacles that get in the way of achieving that goal. The differences in games come from the types of games, like card games and board games, and the ways to play them, like cooperative or competitive. Card games are games that just use cards and their goals are typically to get rid of all the cards in your hand or collect a certain set of cards. Typically the barriers in card games are cards that add more cards to your hand or not having enough sets of cards for all players to have a set. Board games have a board that you play on and use pawns, dice, and/or cards to play with. Some boards are stationary and the same every time like Clue and Monopoly but some games allow you to create the board like Settlers of Catan. Board games can have a wide variety of goals like racing from start to finish, accumulating the most number of points, and defeating all your opponents. Barriers for board games will be based off the goals so barriers for my examples would be a card that makes you go backwards, a number when rolled with dice causes you to loose that number of points, and your opponents having special abilities that you have to overcome with your dice rolls or your cards to beat them.
You also need to think about if the players play against each other (competitive) or with one another to defeat the game itself (cooperative). Most games are competitive and the challenge comes from other players where in cooperative games the challenge comes from how difficult it is to win the game. If you’d like to look into cooperative games check out Castle Panic, Pandemic, and Treasure Island which I wrote about a couple of columns ago.
Remember it’s best to start simple then add rules or exceptions to the game as you see fit. It’s also fun to play a couple of rounds of a game you created to see what works and what doesn’t.
M. Scott Anderson lives in Jackson and is already trying to come up with a new game.