RAD for Boardgames

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RAD for Boardgames

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Category : Game Development

My undergrad was in programming back in the early 2000s, and we only covered the most basic methodologies (waterfall) and tools (vi/notepad).  RAD wasn’t covered, and Agile wasn’t a thing then, but I always believed in small iterations and rapid prototyping.  I carried these ideas over into developing games, and they allow me to design games as quickly as I can come up with them.

My game development toolkit allows me to go all the way to beta (blind playtesting) without having to purchase anything from companies like Gamecrafter, having to hire artists, or anything like that.  My kit includes:

  • A nice but inexpensive laser printer (not inkjet).  Not only do the printouts look much more professional than an inkjet printer, but the ink doesn’t dry out.  Mine is a Brother.  I did the math and it’ll pay for itself after printing less than a ream of paper when compared to printing at FedEx Office.
  • I have some cheap paper (for surveys and prototypes), glossy paper (for beta copies), and cardstock (for printing playmats for beta copies).
  • I print out the cards on cheap paper, cut them up with my guillotine paper cutter, and insert them into card sleeves with a (cheapest possible) playing card for rigidity.  They’re a little thick and slippery and hard to shuffle, but they get the job done. I use the 7 Wonders sleeves from Mayday Games (MDG-7106), which perfectly fit a poker card and a couple sheets of paper.
  • For software, I only really use MS Office and Photoshop (which thanks to my student discount are pretty cheap).  Handouts, rulebooks, surveys, etc are all designed in Word.  Playmats and cards are alphaed in Publisher (or sometimes Excel) and then remade in Photoshop for beta.  I keep files in OneDrive so that they can be shared later, in separate folders for each iteration.
  • I also keep a stash of 1cm cubes, stacking counters, pawns, dice, etc on hand.  These can all be found super cheap on Amazon in the educational toys area.

With this toolkit, I can get the first prototype of a game like Evil Genius (title will likely change) built in an afternoon, even though it has 120 cards and 6 playmats.  And I can make changes based on playtesting feedback usually in less than an hour.


What are your methods for prototyping your games?

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