Game design needs more than a good idea

Mankind has enjoyed games for thousands of years, from the earliest ones featuring stones or bones being thrown onto a “board” drawn in the sand, through to the modern video and board games, some of which, such as chess, have also been around for many hundreds of years. But what is it that makes some games a resounding success, whilst others just don’t make it?

Essential features for successful games

Whatever the genre – video games or board games, there are a number of essential features that will encourage players to return time and time again:

  • The game has to be fun to play.
  • The rules shouldn’t be too complicated, but the game itself should offer a challenge and a way of progressing as a player becomes more skilled or experienced.
  • Ideally, it shouldn’t take too long to play, as people generally have just two or three hours at a time. If it takes longer, for instance many video games can take thirty or forty hours to complete, then it is helpful if there are definite stages that can be achieved before having a break.

Board game illustration

Board game illustrations should be attractive, with clearly delineated routes for moves. It is also important to consider the overall effect, including the size and shape of the board and how it fits into the box, the appearance of the box itself and the playing pieces.

Indigoextra has considerable experience of board game illustration and design, so understands the importance of creating pieces that are attractive, but easy to handle and move around the board.  The element of fun is always important, perhaps through the use of a range of “command” cards, which introduce an element of surprise, frustration or reward into the moves.
Board games can be very diverse, from the relatively simple ones such as Ludo or Snakes and Ladders, to fairly complex games that involve role-playing, quests to achieve, puzzles or riddles to solve, or careful strategy.  The common theme, apart from beautiful board game illustrations, is that they are FUN!

Video game design

If you look at the credits for any of the popular modern video games, you will notice that there are probably hundreds of people involved in the overall video game design.  These will include:

  • Graphic designers;
  • Animation specialists;
  • Script writers;
  • Composers;
  • Actors representing the different characters;
  • Musicians;
  • Directors and producers;
  • Continuity professionals;
  • Technical experts of many kinds;
  • Language experts and translators;

to list just a few. The credits are, in fact, very similar to those for a major movie production and each member of the team has an important part to play if the video game is to be a success.

There are several different types of video game, from educational children’s games, to strategy and role playing fantasies, empire building, space battles war and action games. Video game design is a growing multi-million pound industry and the most successful games regularly introduce updates, with new worlds to discover, different challenges or additional characters, weapons or spaceships.  There is an immense graphic design element in making these video games visually realistic and beautiful, for the enjoyment of the players.

One of the more recent developments has been the introduction of online multi-player games, where participants can team up to make alliances, or challenge real people who have taken other roles in the game.  There are millions of people world-wide who enjoy playing this type of video game, many of which are free to play, on computers, laptops, tablets or even phones. The technical achievement of enabling this genre to succeed is incredible, including having simultaneous translations into several different languages.

Successful board and video game design definitely need more than a good idea!


Video game illustration

Video game illustration work in progress.

Designing board game playing pieces

Playing pieces for a board game designed by Indigoextra.

A selection of board games

A selection of board games Indigoextra has designed.

French abstract artist pages on Segmation

Indigoextra have recently worked with Segmation, a mobile paint-by-numbers gaming company to redesign their interface and modernize their website.