First Time Game Design – Part 1

I have an “amazing game idea” that people are going to love. I know I’m not the first person to think that about the game they want to make. I also know that my amazing game idea is just that, an idea. An idea is nothing. Everyone has ideas about a game they would love to see. It’s taking that idea from that first initial spark and giving it structure, rules, a prototype, and hopefully something actually playable that is the real challenge. Most amazing ideas don’t make it past those first couple of steps.

Everything I have read about game design tells me one thing; it is hard and sometimes feels hopeless. I know I’m going to get stuck and have to rework or sometimes eliminate things that I feel are crucial to the game. I’m also going to have a rush of excitement when a new idea strikes that works exactly as I hope. I’m not there yet though. Right now I’m working on taking my game from that idea to a rough draft of the rules as I figurine out how everything can maybe fit together. This is my first time doing this

What I plan to do here is record my progress as I try and turn my “amazing game idea” in to something functional and maybe someday in to something amazing. This first post will be about the game concept, some inspirations, and what challenges I can already see cropping up.


My working title for the game is Galactic Council. That’s right, another space game. Galactic Council is a team based space game for 4, 6, or 8 players. The pitch is this – Each player team represents a race populating a galaxy that has recently developed the technology to travel faster than the speed of light. Doing so is seen as a sort of interstellar coming-of-age, and each race is invited to become a member of the Galactic Council. New members of the council don’t receive the same respect as the more influential races, and each of the new races strives to gain a premier position and be viewed as a dominant power in the galaxy. To do so, one player of each team plays the new member of council, influencing other races in the galaxy to pass laws that they have sponsored, negotiating trade deals, and setting the resource budget for their upcoming turns. The second player on the team plays a military general. They are trying to expand their race’s territory across the galaxy, harvest resources, trade, and fight against anyone that stands in their way.

Essentially Galactic Council is two games played side-by-side at the table. One player is playing a negotiation euro-type game, while the other is playing a “dudes on a map” style game full of combat and player interaction. At the beginning and end of each full turn, the team members have a dossier that they will exchange that contains basic plans/intents, resources, and some cards. Then the military players and council players will play their parts of the game simultaneously. The actions of the military player will effect the opinions of some influential alien races that will have a direct effect on how they interact with the council player. After a set number of turns, the player that has become the most influential of the new races will win the game.


Unit Generation – In the game Kemet, you lose your units often. The game is designed this way and losing a battle is not a significant roadblock. As long as you have the resources, generating new units is quick and doesn’t slow you down much.

Resources/Trading – The military player won’t only have to battle to be successful. I also want them to give the opportunity to mine resources and trade as well. I like the sandbox nature of Xia: Legends of a Drift System and would like the game to have a somewhat open feel for the military player traversing the galaxy.

Tech Tree – Another aspect of Kemet that I like are the technology tiles. It is a simple system that is easy to understand. It has its drawbacks as well but I’d like to find a similarly simple way to have technologies available to players. One of my least favorite aspects of many games is navigating a complex tech tree.

Politics – The politics cards are one of my favorite aspects of Twilight Imperium. I want to create a system that is equally engaging but works well with fewer players. The team aspect of the game means that any political gameplay will only ever be 2-4 players, so I’ll have to find a way for the NPC alien races to interact as well.


There are several things that I see as potential issues already with this game that I will have to design around.

Round Length – Because two games are essentially running side-by-side, I will want to make sure that the council players’ and military players’ full rounds are of a similar length. I really want to avoid having a group of players waiting for their counterparts to finish for any significant period of time.

Player requirements – The fact that this is a team game means there are pretty specific team requirements. Right now my thoughts are this will be for 4, 6, or 8 players. Those specific player counts will make this more difficult to playtest and to play often in general.

Teaching the game – Based on the way this works in my head, the  two teams are basically playing totally different games. This means that in order to play the game for the first time, a group will have to sit through two different rules explanations, which may be a terrible thing. Being aware of this will hopefully allow me to either find a way to teach this in an engaging way or design the game in a way that I can avoid this being tedious.


So that is what is I hope the first of many “designer diaries” if you could call it that. This is an idea that has been rolling around in my head for a couple of years and I hope to finally take a real shot at making it in to something.