Overflow Design Goals: Simple, less rules

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:

  • Zombicide
  • Settlers of Catan
  • Cosmic Encounter
  • Puzzle Strike
  • Pathfinder

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
  • Boom-O
  • Bang!
  • Apples to Apples
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Dixit

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.

-PT

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