Designer Dave Eng tackles the need to consider game retheming in the seventh entry of the Air Sloop design journal.
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After incorporating some notes from the original pitch to Pandasaurus I had to begin asking myself the question “is this too complicated?” I had originally set out to make this pickup and deliver game about sailing ships moving up and down the Hudson. It’s since evolved past that into something that doesn’t look like ships at all…
Then my friend Fred Cabrera indicated that a new theme could be in order. When pressed for a new theme he said that not many games incorporate air ships or hot air balloons. So that’s when I began to consider putting the entire game up in the air as a concept that could be used to market it.
Still, there was the question if including the trading posts; picking up goods from one card; flipping the card over; and then letting other players trade there was too complicated. I had originally set out to make this game that incorporated theme – but now there were other competing priorities that were pulling me in other directions.
Where was I supposed to go? What was I supposed to do?
I kept thinking about something that another designer shared with me one time: “It’s easy to make a complicated game. You can always add things. It’s much harder to make a simple game. There is only so much you can remove before it stops working.”
About The Designer
Dave Eng EdD, Principal is an intellectual and creative educator, designer, and researcher who combines games, theory, and technology. Dave has played games for most of his life. As a result he studies game design, creates games, and teaches others how to use games for education and learning. Find out more at www.davengdesign.com
Fun Fact: Dave has been seasick in every time zone.
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