How We Design Games

McKay Anderson
October 26, 2021
What are some things that Backfire Games values in its design process?

This post will act largely as an overview of Backfire Games, this blog, and some of our strategy and philosophy when it comes to board games. We will likely update or change this post from time to time as we find ourselves a little more and develop some more concrete tenets. First things first, thank you for being here! We have no idea who exactly this is for, but we want to share our knowledge and love of Board Games with the world and that is why we decided to create a blog section for our website! Blogs are not a small amount of work, and we wrestled with the idea for a while whether it was worth it for us. At the end of the day we came to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if it is worth it for us. We have knowledge and experience that might be of value to others in the community and we want to share that. More good games in more places is what we strive for and if more ideas are shared and improved upon then we can only improve and encourage growth in the industry.

Design at Backfire Games

It is a hard thing to pin down design philosophy into a single post, but I am going to try to give you a taste of what it involves. Games have an interesting history and we have seen a bit of a revolution in the last decade. No longer are we bound to moving along a path at the mercy of a die roll. The possibilities are endless and wild! We want to celebrate this and build games that are engaging and unique. That being said, it is sad to see so many games stay in the hobby gamer category. We are very interested in bringing some of these mechanics to more mainstream groups. Catan did a great job of making dice rolls more about probability and odds and less about movements. Ticket to Ride did a great job of making set collection more visual and applied it in a different way. While we may design the occasional game that is geared toward a deep hobby gamer, we want to make games that are easy to bring people into the hobby.

We don't want to stick to just gateway games per se, but we do want to make sure that our games can be played pretty easily with almost anyone. I have long stood by the concept that any issue in a game can be fixed by another rule, but not every issue should be. Complex rule systems are either the symptom of a poorly designed game, or an extremely complex one. Too often I fear it is the former. Elegant rule sets that present interesting gameplay decisions without a manual to consult are what we aim for. Rules that feel intuitive once you know the story of the game are definitely favored.

Design For Emotion

I think we have all played games that really got our blood pumping. We love how games can really bring up poignant emotions whether it is for the actual gameplay or between the people playing the game. Most of our games work to bring emotion to the surface. We chose the name Backfire Game Studio because we know that emotions are volatile and it is really easy to vacillate between a good emotion and a bad one. Pushing us to understand and confront emotion is one thing a board game does better than most. It is in this tipping point that we strive to design, which is why our goals to make people feel good and build meaningful relationships can sometimes backfire!

What to Expect

In the upcoming blog posts you can expect to find literature based around the way our company runs, design, kickstarter advice, developing art, and more. We will try to keep all of the posts here valuable and insightful into our experience as a company. There is so much knowledge (good and bad) on the internet and we really hope this end up being a good place for people to come and discuss, learn about, and design better games. There may even be an occasional game review of something that really impressed us!

Feel free to comment or contact us directly if you have a question and we will likely turn it into a blog post for the world to read. Thank you for taking the time!

Do you have any questions or would you like to add to the conversation? Please submit below!
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