Stella’s Rule of Game Design

Actually I set my own rule of Game design.

Rule#1: Play as many games as possible

Before I ever even think about inventing my own game, I decided to play as many existing games as I can work into my schedule. There are many important reasons for this.

1) It’s fun. It’s called having a life, and everyone should do that.

2) I can’t begin to come up with a cool new idea for a game unless I have a working knowledge of the state of the industry. An awful lot of people have gone before me, and what might seem new and original to me has probably already been done. It’s like any art form – if you want to write music, you must first develop your musical tastes, and study the works of the masters who’ve gone before you.

Rule #2: Gratify Myself

I believe most important critic should always be myself.

– need to play the game more than anyone else in the world; if I don’t enjoy the experience of playing my own game, again and again and again, then I’ve got problems; You can’t expect anyone else to like your game if you yourself don’t want to play it every chance you get.

Rule #3: Keep the Rules Short

Anyone who’s tried to teach me a new game knows that if the rules briefing goes on too long, I’ll start saying “Enough Rules, Let’s Play!” I consider the worst part of gaming to be that tedious phase at the beginning where you have to explain everything, so the sooner we can get started, the better.

What should I do?

– Try to structure the game so that play can begin quickly, with rules that aren’t required until later being introduced as needed.

– Keeping the ruleset short and sweet does more than provide for a fast startup; Seek to eliminate every unnecessary rule.

* More rules = more to explain = more to remember = more to argue about.

– Consider the need for each rule I add and see if I can’t solve the problem another way, by refining an existing rule, say, instead of adding a new one.

Rule #4: Keep It Exciting

Anyone who’s played Monopoly knows that the only thing worse than being eliminated from the game is NOT being eliminated when you have no chance of making a comeback.

Rule #5: Don’t Forget to Play

Captain James T. Kirk, who once said “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”

At the most fundamental level, “play” has nothing to do with the competitive nature of most games. As kids, “going outside to play” was all about doing whatever you wanted, not trying to “win.” Sometimes the most important form of play, whether by a kid or an adult, is the simple act of messing about with something.

Rule #7: Game Pieces Should be Beautiful

I can’t stand to play with ugly game pieces any more than I could live in a house without art on the walls or wearing clothing of just one color.

The “game pieces” is meant to include all components, be they ordinary cards or fancy schmancy player tokens.

Rule #9: Know Your Audience

Remember always that different folks have different tastes and nothing will please everyone.

What should I do?

1) Consider the types of gamers who might be drawn to your game

2) figure out whose interests you most wish to cater to

3) tailor your game to suit those tastes.

Rule #10: Keep Working Until I Hear These 3 Magic Words: “Let’s Play Again!”

The ultimate test of a game’s worth occurs as soon as the game ends: if the players genuinely and unhesitatingly want to play more, I’ve got a winner. If not, then need to go back into my game design cave and tinker with my design some more.

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