How to make your game “just work”.

Card GamesGameplay TutorialsMechanicsTheory

The moment your game mechanics all click into place your game becomes a wonderful growing snowball. Over the past couple days I took a break from my penguin prototype and started working on a physical card game. 

It was rough. 

We tried about 6 different versions of it until it got somewhere interesting… and then it started to get traction.

The process went like this:

1. Idea in shower, scribbled down immediately.

2. Paper Prototype (index cards)

3. Test version 1 (didn’t work / wasn’t fun)

4. Test version 2 (didn’t work / wasn’t fun)

5. Test version 3 (didn’t work / wasn’t fun)

6. Test version 4 (didn’t work / wasn’t fun)

7. Test version 5 (didn’t work / wasn’t fun).

8. Take a break, stop coming up with my own ideas and play the game as if it were an already established game.

I think trying the gameplay out as if it were similar to an existing game really helped solidify what works in card games. And there is no reason why you couldn’t do this with your Construct or Game Maker prototypes either! Find a game you admire, use your own little spins, and play it until it can become something completely new and different. (This does not mean copy or steal!)

9. Test version 6 (started working / was somewhat fun) Snowball +1

10. Test version 7 ( really working / needed more variation) Snowball + 2

11. Sleep

12. Wakeup and buy artwork to make test version 8. 

When we finally nailed the mechanics, I wanted it to feel real. I wanted to see if it could feasibly work as a game, so I paid for artwork and got immediate ideas! (I went to and found what I was looking for in minutes).

Snowball +10

I realize that paying for artwork is not in everyone’s budget, but it helped snowball ideas quickly, sinceseeing things on index cards with no artwork and bad handwriting was frustrating and un-motivating.

Making the prototype with artwork the day after having the idea definitely felt pre-mature. It was funny though, because out of all of my previous prototypes, that I put days of thought into, I never felt the need to give them artwork. Or, make them feel real.

In fact, after I put all the art together, I went to my local print shop and printed paper cards! Snowball +100 

When the game works, it works, and you will know when it does because it will feel like it all magically put itself together.

I believe that every game has this ability if you can unlock it.

I think that’s why “keeping the scope small” is becoming a common piece of advice. When you force your game into a tiny box, the magic of your game comes from adding things to the box without breaking it.

Let me know if this guide helped you! I hope it does, and that you find it a little bit easier making your game going forward.