As I mentioned in the introduction post, before I started design on Overflow, I wrote out several design goals. One of the pieces of advice I heard from other game designers (both video game and tabletop), was that many first projects are overly complex and can jam up a first-time game designer. Heck, even some seasoned veterans probably struggle with keeping things simple too.
The thing is, even though I knew this piece of advice, the game I originally designed before Overflow was too complex and had too many rules.
I kept getting tripped up in its intricacies and boundaries. I thought these were helping me but were actually too large for me to really pinpoint good ideas. I eventually scrapped the idea and that led me to the first Overflow design goal; simple, less rules.
I think it’s important that I lay out some context too since it might beg the question, “simpler than what?” or, “less rules than what?”
Here’s a shortlist of great games that are more complex and have more rules than Overflow:
- Settlers of Catan
- Cosmic Encounter
- Puzzle Strike
Now, here’s a list of great games that are either as simple or even simpler than Overflow, with equal or less rules:
- Escape: Curse of the Temple
- Apples to Apples
- Cards Against Humanity
Overflow is in the middle of these two lists. It of course has a rulebook, but can easily be taught by an experienced player from memory, without ever referencing the rulebook. I drew a line in the ground and never allowed myself to cross it.