27: Unique

27: Unique

What do you think is necessary for a game to stand out from the crowd? How does this influence your designs?



What a game needs to stand out for me is it’s gotta have some kind of hook, whether it’s the Potion Explosion marble dispenser, the push-your-luck Dragon in Clank!, or the stories unfolding in Near and Far; something that draws players to the table again and again. For Lanterns, the hook was benefiting your opponents based on spatial happenstance, and now more and more I’m designing games with a hook in mind very early on in the design process.

Christopher Chung

I don’t think that a game does have to be unique to ‘stand out from the crowd’, but rather it has to be designed with the target audience and the ‘user experience’ in mind. If these two variables align then the game you are designing should be a great success, however you might measure it.

Sam Illingworth

Innovation and a niche. The market is clogged, cult of the new is flagging from fatigue – innovation is driving buzz. I always try to innovate in my designs, to find that little twist that clicks and your brain happily hums ‘ohhhhhh’.

Adrienne Ezell

If only I knew! Paradoxically, I don’t always try to design original games, but I always try to have that little thing that makes it stand out – most times unsuccessfully.

Bruno Faidutti

What a game needs to stand out for me is it’s gotta have some kind of hook…something that draws players to the table again and again. — Christopher Chung

Too much innovation can be a trap. If you take a tried and true mechanism and add a novel theme or vice versa, you might design something that gamers find simultaneously comfortable enough that it’s not scary yet different enough that it spark interest. If you take a novel theme AND a novel mechanic and smash them together, you run the risk of being inaccessible to many players. Today, games need to look great on the table, be quick to learn, not overstay their welcome but have options to expand and things to think about after the game is over.

Sen-Foong Lim

It needs a ‘hook’ – ideally a number of hooks. These can be visual (table presence), tactile (nifty bits), ergonomic (think the gears in Tzolk’in), scope (Gloomhaven!), thematic, or mechanical (The Mind was divisive, but it’s hard to deny that no one had done it before. Or this can be something simpler, like the pure engine-building in Splendor).

Without hooks, you’re not dead in the water, but it’s going to be an uphill struggle. Just make sure your hooks are justified, else there will be backlash.

Peter C. Hayward

Honestly? Nothing. I’ve seen wonderfully clever games go unnoticed while bland rehashes of old mechanics light-up the awards and sales charts. The market is so overwhelmed with releases now, it’s surely down to luck? The real gems will usually find their way to the upper echelons but seriously, it’s a crap shoot. Just design games you think are brilliant and hope your publisher manages to get the release right!

Chris Marling

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