Finding the right theme

July 05, 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA As I stated in an earlier post, I recently started working on a new game idea that I am very excited about. It's a logistical game of producing resources and moving them around, upgrading them into more valuable goods that increase your money and point income. It's based on a genre of factory video games and is very factory-esque, but I just can't bring myself to make and actual factory-themed game. It would bore me to tears. Currently, the game is instead themed very similar to Forge War. Raw resources are metals, which you then upgrade into ingots and then various pieces of arms and armor. I'm not really happy with it, though, because it is almost too similar to Forge War. Am I like Uwe Rosenberg, except that instead of making farming games over and over, I make games about forging weapons? Is that a bad thing? Right now I'm just sort of letting the theme lie as it may, but it does inform game design decisions, and I'm sort of heading toward a position where, if I am going to change it, it would be much easier to change it sooner rather than later. What I am inclined to do is keep the forging theme, but actually steer it more towards Gloomhaven. Every game I make now is an opportunity to continue to build the world of Gloomhaven, and I can't see a good reason to not take that opportunity. If I have the chance to flesh out the story of a metal-rich patch of wilderness stuck between Gloomhaven and three other cities all eager to exploit its riches, why not? The theme will certainly end up more rich than the generic fantasy of Forge War or whatever boring factory alternative. However, I do also struggle with what to name such a game. I know it's not really a pressing problem, but if I'm going to make a bunch of Gloomhaven spin-off games, do they all need "Gloomhaven" in the title? As a sub-title? It feels cumbersome. And what if it occurs outside of Gloomhaven in the larger world? Does it even make sense to label it as a "Gloomhaven" game? I don't know. Maybe I should have thought of this a long time ago when I was originally naming Gloomhaven. Too late to change things now, though! I'll just have to think on it some more. I think the story of this new game can fit in the world of Gloomhaven, even though it's an economic Euro. I just hope that people can accept other types of games to come out of the setting that have nothing to do with dungeon crawling and tactical combat. I really want to explore this new world every chance I get.


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