It takes a lot of work and research to make your own card game. In the past several years of working on this project with my husband I have noticed that is can be very difficult to find the resources necessary to make your own card game. I have also found many helpful resources that may be able to help you as well.
Why make a game in the first place
Step 1: Create a concept
- Start simple: Complex card games can be a big success but the time and effort to create and implement takes much longer. It makes sense to start out simple before getting in over your head. Think about the games you have liked to play in the past. Did extremely time intensive, hard to understand rules ruin any of your experiences. Think of simple games that kept you interested and were easy to learn. In my experience on our first game attempt and on the Karacterz card game. We tended to start out too complex and weed out unnecessary items later. The current game is much more streamlined, functional and easy to learn for even novice gamers. Our first game attempt was quickly halted when we had a growing list of problems and a lack of solutions. Even good game concepts can take time and sometimes a new approach is needed to find a successful way to implement an idea into your own card game.
- Keep good notes: I cannot stress this point enough. Sometimes even ideas that seem bad at the time will have their place when the game reaches a different stage. All brainstorming and busy work is important even if it doesn’t lead to results at the present moment. The Karacterz card game has had many revisions and many ideas that seemed foolish early on are becoming closer to a reality. It can also be important to keep notes so that you have proof of the work and effort you have put into your game. If someone were to steal the idea you have been working on for years it would dishearten you. However, having documented evidence of your dedication can be used in court to protect your ideas at times.
- Playtest as soon as you can: One of the biggest problems with games is not making sure it works properly. Playtesting is a great way to hone in on the flaws of your game and find out if the concept will really work. Before you even playtest with others you have to do a ton of the work on your own or with a small group. You don’t want peoples very first impression being negative and ruining all the time and effort you put into the game. Plus the function of the game is one of the most important aspects. Even if everything else is perfect (artwork, layout, rule book, etc.. ) Don’t push yourself onto the next step before you are ready or you may have a lot of back tracking to do and a lot of wasted effort. This isn’t the funnest portion of making games but it is necessary and can be done with graph paper, cards printed on normal paper, dice, coins and whatever is around the house. Use your imagination for items that you will need for the final product.
Step 2: STUDY and REFINE
- Read up on Game Design: While there might be some areas where you can get buy without a general understanding of game design. If you are serious about your idea it doesn’t hurt to spend extra time learning more about game mechanics, presentation, targeting a certain culture or demographic, psychology of different kinds of gamers, Luck vs. Strategy, etc… Above are some personal recommendations. I have bought and read through the art of game design book. I have also taken advantage of Amazon.com to use the book preview to start studying before deciding whether to buy a book.
- If you think it is good, try again later:It is easy to get in a rut and think all your ideas are the best. Sometimes it is best to switch tasks for long periods of time so when you come back to that part you can view it with a fresh mind. Grammar errors, bad mechanics, missing words can all be easy to over look if you have spent a lot of time looking at the same thing. Read the text aloud will also help you catch these kinds of mistakes.
Step 3: Prototype
- Start Small Most people are really anxious and want to put their product onto store shelves immediately but really it isn’t that simple. Ordering cards is very expensive and permanent. Meaning that if you run a large 1000+ games laden with spelling, grammar or other mistakes you will feel like a fool and have a game that in all likelihood won’t be taken seriously with these defects.
- Get backers/ Create interest: Now that your game is done that doesn’t mean you can relax. Most likely you have only a very small circle of people who even know your game exists and the rest of the world is willing to remain completely ignorant to your game no matter how good it is. At this point you either need to hire someone to market your game, make a deal with a publisher/distributor to sell your game for you (for a price of course), sell your game idea outright to a company or make your own following over time. There are many options to chose from and these options only become available when you have a complete and presentable game. Almost no one is going to care if you have a great concept but nothing to show for it and it will waste your time and the time of potential clients if your product isn’t ready.
- The Gamecrafter is a great site for making professional versions of your game on a small scale. It won’t be the most profitable to sell but it can at least give you a good idea how the product will look and give you great templates to start the process of making your cards. It can also be used as a prototype maker so you can take your product to a potential investor.Here is a video about using the template to create your own cards.
This video talks about the drift associated with printing cards and how to make your cards look their best.
Another great site is Board Game Geek which is an online forum site that discusses everything from playing games to making games. Search the forums and you may find some very valuable information about a game you already play or one you want to make.
Starting your own business can be difficult so some sites that help include SCORE Nonprofit which connects business volunteers with small business owners or potential entrepreneurs to mentor them in conducting their own business.