2013-03-21

Making a game in 15 minutes

Making a Race-To-The-End Game

You have probably played a lot of these; the object is to get your token from one area of a game board to another. Common examples include Candyland, Chutes & Ladders, and Parcheesi. They are one of the easiest games to design.

Take out a pencil and paper, and:
  1. Draw some kind of path. It can be straight or curved. All it takes is drawing a line. Now divide the path into spaces.
  2. Come up with a theme or objective. In a Race-To-The-End game, you are either running towards something or running away from something. Why do the players need to get from one end of the path to the other? How are the players represented in the game (what type of game piece)? What is their goal?
  3. You need a set of rules to allow the players to travel from space to space. How do you move? The simplest way, which you’re probably familiar with, is to roll a die on your turn and move that many spaces forward. You also need to decide exactly how the game ends: do you have to land on the final space by exact count, or does the game end as soon as a player reaches or passes it?
  4. You now have something that has all the elements of a game, although it is missing one element common to many games: conflict. Games tend to be more interesting if you can affect your opponents, either by helping them or harming them. Think of ways to interact with your opponents. Does something happen when you land on the same space as them? Are there spaces you land on that let you do things to your opponents, such as move them forward or back? Can you move your opponents through other means on your turn (such as if you roll a certain result on the die)? Add at least one way to modify the standing of your opponents when it is your turn.
  5. Congratulations; you have just made a game.  Now, get your materials and 1 - 3 friends and play it.