Scent of a Gamer

From the computer to the tabletop, this is all about games. Updated each week-end.

Game Design at PAX AUS

IMG_1587At PAX Aus I was able to attend the seminar of games design, and I was glad I did. At the time, I had to concede the finals of a Magic: the Gathering draft, grab my things, and run off to the venue right before the doors opened. As such, I was standing about five metres behind the back row of seats, so maybe twenty metres away from the participants. This made it difficult to hear, but I made notes on my daughter’s iPod Touch (which I borrowed for the week-end), and have remembered to share them with you now.

Designing the Game

There are three elements to every game: mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics. Your mechanics will determine how your game plays, what the rules are. The dynamics are the interactions between players in your games, what tensions is the game creating? What chances for alliances between players? The aesthetics are the look and feel of the game. Similar mechanics will fell different to players if you have a pirate theme, steampunk theme, or science fiction theme. There is no one right aspect to start with in games design. Each of the panel members (all of whom have designed and published games commercially) had started with each of the three for one game or another.

Printing the Game

This was where my ears were training to hear. There are a lot of printing and manufacturing services available to you, accessible online. The consensus was to ignore domestic options (Australia) as there would typically be 6-10 times more expensive and of dubious quality to boot. was the most repeated URL to check out. Also mentioned were Drivethruprinting and Joyland. This is very much a ‘horses for courses’ issue and you will want to examine several potential suppliers and methods before finding the one that best suits your game.

Marketing the Game

Project Wonderful was considered to be the best web advertising method to use. Board Game Geek (surprise!) was mentioned as being both expensive and effective, since your audience is ready made. People click on BGG ads a lot, and you will pay accordingly. Another option with Board Game Geek is their Geek Store, which you can stock with promos for your game. Again this was seen as an effective way to raise awareness of your game.  Kicktraq was not mentioned in the panel but it seems like a good site to advertise on if you find yourself going the crowdfunding route, especially with Kickstarter now open to projects in Australia and New Zealand.

Advertising aside, the print and play option was considered by all the panel to be a good idea. Letting people download the rules and a quick and dirty version of your game to fool around with was seen primarily as a tool to drive awareness and sales, not to lose sales to the cheapskates.


Game Salute was the place mentioned for distribution. I got the impression this could have been the subject of an entirely separate panel.

The Result

My attendance at this panel has led directly to the decision to take the plunge and start deigning my own games, beginning with the miniatures game that is currently being covered in the Design Time series. Another update on that is coming soon! One aspect that was not covered, or at least I didn’t hear it, was the subject of getting artwork for the game. It would have been nice to have some URLs to share with you, but perhaps you could share some with me?

This panel was informative and inspiring, so I hope my summary has a similar effect.

4 comments on “Game Design at PAX AUS

  1. daggerandbrush
    January 9, 2014


    I found your blog via the Warseer forum, where you presented some of your Bones minis. Very informative article on game design with good links. The Buy-In section is also very useful and good to give new players an idea what they need to start. Would be cool if you would add some historical rulesets as well (well SAGA is kind of historical).


    • davekay
      January 9, 2014

      Thanks for the comments! One reason why there aren’t more historical games listed is that many of them don’t have clear entry points and starter forces. SAGA is a real front-runner in that regard. That said, if you have any in mind to add let me know and I’ll be happy to search them out.


      • daggerandbrush
        January 9, 2014

        Hi Dave, thank you for your reply. As an advocate of Field of Glory this would be something to add, as it seem fairly widely distributed amongst ancient and medieval gamers. Connected to it is the DBx family. DBA has quite a couple of producers catering to it with starter armies, for instance Corvus Belli and Xyston. Normally those provide you with an army with all options for DBA, while DBMM is a version of the same ruleset but with much bigger armies.

        With Field of Glory a 600p army list is sufficient to start out, we also play tournaments here in this format. 800AP is the standard army size. You could have a look at Madaxeman for some army lists if you want to get a feel for how many miniatures you would need. In my 800 AP Carthaginian army I have around 160 15mm minis, with options more like 200.

        Another one to add could be Song of Blades and Heroes. I think one really doesn’t need more than 10 minis per side and the rulebook is cheap, too.


      • davekay
        January 9, 2014

        Cool, thanks I will look into both those games


Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on December 14, 2013 by in Crowdfunding, Events, Game Design, Tabletop and tagged , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: