Monday, July 19, 2010

Fun - the key ingredient.

A great post by Brett over at on one of the big pitfalls with game design.  The resulting game has to be fun, regardless of how cool or innovative the rest of your stuff is.  Fun is even more important than all that.  I was reminded of this while playing LCR with a group of friends recently.  From a design perspective, the game is, well, totally lame.  You roll dice and move chips around, and it's all totally luck-based and meaningless.  But it was fun.

The other thing I'd add is, what you think will make it fun is often not what makes it fun, and when you play your game, you shouldn't ignore what people are enjoying.  This happened to me with Cult - the thing people like the most is not the carefully designed game structure, the multiple strategies you can pursue, or the variety of special action cards.  The thing they like is the titles and realms, which are just silly, and don't actually impact the game much at all.  But if they can be "Flurb, Blood-Spattered Pain Warden, God of the Small Intestine," they love it, much more than anything I actually did in terms of design.  People even switch one meaningless title to get to a funnier meaningless title, all the time, even though it has precisely zero impact on the game, and yet they laugh hard while doing it.

What's the lesson here?  Brett's gotten to most of it, but I think you also need to think of the game not just in strategic terms, but also in social terms.  LCR is fun because you play it with other people, and the outcome is unknown, and there's not a ton of thinking - it taps into the core strengths of gambling, and allows you to be social while you play.  Cult is apparently fun (at least to some players) because some of the cards are funny, not because of the game itself.

Follow the fun.


  1. Follow the fun. This is a fantastic motto for designing.

  2. Yes, and easy to lose sight of when you're trying to be all game-design-artsy, as I sometimes do (mostly accidentally, I hope).