How to Build a Game #63 Another Reason to Play Finished Games

Does the situation sound familiar? Just starting to work an idea, you have the concept laid out and you have the experience you want built into your game and not you have to apply the math required so your game can function. What ranges do I use for different mechanics? What kind of numbers can I use that will make sense? What is the value of one resource compared to another? What kind of distributions can I use for different items in the game?

I used to run into this problem all the time. I had no idea what values I should use to build out the stats our games required. When we were starting out, we would sliog our way through the math and just make the game work through testing and sometime hope. Over the course of time and spending more time playing published games, we started to notice that we could use the “established numbers” in published games as starting points for the games we were working on.

Published games, when thought about as a whole, are great for providing a range of plausible numbers for various aspects of game design. How many things can my team produce in one turn? How powerful should my character be? What kind of damage is too high for one spell?

Combining these questions with the answers that have been provided by the games we play is a great way to provide an easy starting point for the games we are working on. These numbers don’t have to be the numbers we finish with because what we want to do as early as possible to make sure that the game concept works and we need some numbers in place in order to test the concept.

Are there any specific games you have used in this manner to help you get a prototype started?

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If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at

If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.

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