Tapping into your inspirations throughout the design and development process is critical. Your inspirations influence the games we design, they are sources for new ideas, and they serve to motivate us when the work seems slow, tedious, or endless. When you lack direction or motivation, go back to what inspires you.
Like many kids, my childhood was spent playing all kinds of games with my friends. Dungeons & Dragons, Super Mario Kart, Megaman, Final Fantasy, Magic the Gathering, Pokemon, etc etc etc. These games have shaped me not only as a gamer, but also as a designer and even how I like to spend my time. To this day, nothing excites me more than to get together with my friends and play games. Similarly, playing these games motivate me to work on my own game.
After getting into board games after college and playing them for a few years, my mind built this ideal board game experience that I just had to fulfill; my Holy Grail. It would be fantasy, somewhat reminiscent of D&D… have a deep narrative… be cooperative. (Now before you point me to the D&D Adventure Board Games, let me say while I love and own those games, they still miss the deep narrative I was seeking, among other differences.) After reading numerous game reviews, watching gameplay videos, and scouring the internet for my ideal board game, nothing seemed to meet my overly-specific needs. It didn’t take long before I realized no game ever would my dream. So why not design it? Three years ago, The King’s Legion concept board game was born.
I’d like to share a little about The King’s Legion, so you can see how my inspirations are seen in my game.
- TKL is a story-driven, adventure board game where each player assumes the role of a new recruit in The King’s Legion. The King’s Legion is an elite task force under the king’s direction that performs small-unit military operations.
- The game tells a story, and my friend Ray Heikens is the story’s author. The story will be 8-10 chapters long, and every game session players will read and play through a single chapter. This is meant to give it the campaign-style, immersive story experience.
- The game includes a Story Book, which not only contains the story’s narrative, but also gameplay setup, objectives, and rules specific to that chapter.
- The game starts out with new recruits investigating an undead uprising at the small village of Goldsliver.
- You can read Chapter One of the Story Book here: TKL Story Book – Chapter 1
Now I don’t want to sound like I’m designing the ideal board game; I’m not. I’m not even designing the ideal fantasy, adventure board game. I’m simply designing a board game that brings a unique experience that would be fun to me. My theory, though, is that since I’m only one of millions of board gamers (don’t quote me on that), if I would find it an exciting board game, so would a handful of other gamers.
Our inspirations are meant to be a tool for us game designers to use. We go through ebbs and flows of work ethic, creativity, and productivity. These qualities are necessary for game design, and so when we lack one (or all) of these qualities, we can often revisit our inspirations to give us a little push. If I’m bored or struggling to be productive, sometimes putting on headphones and cranking up my favorite band DragonForce pumps me up and inspires me to be productive.
So what are your inspirations? Why did you initially want to design a board game?
Your inspirations may not be a specific game or a nostalgic experience. Maybe you are inspired by a game designer you look up to. Maybe you are inspired by your favorite book. Maybe playing games with your children inspires you. Whatever your inspirations, keep them close and use them to your advantage.
So be aware of your inspirations! They may inspire new ideas for your game, or they may give you energy when you otherwise lack it.