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Today I have a list of 10 common mistakes of new and aspiring game designers for you. The goal of this list is to make you aware of these mistakes and hopefully help you to avoid them. I have been guilty of most of those mistakes myself, unfortunately.

My top 10 list of Common Mistakes of new Game Designers

10. Not original

  • Clone of an existing game
  • I can make that better experience
  • It’s not unique (dominion in deckbuilding games) (uniqueness sells) 
  • Be inspired but don’t copy directly from other games
  • Make sure to match the mechanics and the theme

9. Overcomplicating concepts because they think they need to make it unique 

  • Too many components (multiple tools of randomness (cards, dice, bag) 
  • Takes too long
  • It is not elegant, but clunky
  • Not every part of your game needs to be completely unique. So it is ok to use mechanics that have been proven to be effective in other games. 

8. Only working on one game 

  • Tunnel vision 
  • You get too attached to it and it gets harder to let things go
  • Not all ideas have to go into one game (streamline your game)
  • Thinking about different problems can broaden your horizon
  • Stop fitting everything you can imagine into your design
  • As a result, you level up as a game designer
  • → Create a list of mechanics you really want to use in the future
  • → Create some kind of backlog of keywords and mechanics you want to explore in future expansions of your game.

7. Not fun

  • Lacks replayability
  • Only one strategy (that wins way too often) (either not balanced or not diverse enough)
  • feels like solving a math problem
  • working on a spreadsheet
  • Doesn’t let the players make interesting choices or decisions ( not enough options for the players) (it must be a meaningful choice)

6. Not focussing on the interplay between mechanics and theme

  • Most people I have seen are either good at creating a cool theme or in creating very good mechanics. 
  • but what you want is theme and mechanism to go hand in hand. Don’t start with one and add the other on top of it. Let the two things work in tandem. Start with one, put the other one on top, but then go back and rework the first part again.  
  • This can be valuable input of a publisher during the development stage of your game

5. Investing in art too early 

  • Money and Time
  • Some designers think they can do everything themselves 

4. Adding instead of cutting

  • Most beginning designers try to solve a problem by adding new stuff. 
  • Getting in love with a mechanic
  • Hard to kill a baby they have been working on
  • More often than not the right way of solving a problem is to get rid of it. 

3. Ignoring the market 

  • They do no Market Research
  • Do the research (play other games) 
  • Otherwise, you will make the same mistakes that have been done in the past. Look at the market. Learn which kind of games are successful and why?
  • Not willing to playtest other players games 
  • Not Researching publishers (being unprepared if the publishers fit to the game) 
  • Expectations ( you only make something like 5% of the wholesaler price)
  • Ignoring Marketability 
    • No mass appeal (theme is too specific)
    • Chasing Trends (Everyone hopped on the deck builder market, A legacy game)

2. Losing focus on the core of the game

  • What do you want players to feel when they play the game
  • What makes the game fun? 
  • What is the core engagement of the game? 
  • Ask yourself three questions
    • What emotions do I want the players to feel? 
    • What’s the primary decision players are making in your game? Core decision? 
    •  What is the most important mechanic in your game? 

1. Not getting the right feedback

  • Designing the game alone 
  • Not getting it early enough
    • Fear someone is stealing your idea
    • No one is stealing your idea. Not happening. 
  • Not listening to it
  • Not playtesting enough
  • PLaytesting only with the same group of people
  • Not doing blind playtesting 
  • Listen to playtesters, but filter their personal opinions. Not all the feedback needs to end up in your product.