In my 6 years in this industry I’ve learnt a lot about game design and I can tell you this, game design is pretty similar to cooking; you need to understand the basics, constantly try new things, try to replicate things you loved, create your own stuff, get feedback from people.
Game design is more about practice than patterns, there are some “rules” like keeping things as simple as possible but you can bend them with enough experience. There are no rules or patterns set in stone because each game needs it’s own flavor to stand out from the crowd, that you can’t achieve if you follow a pattern or formula, what you are doing there is following someone else’s recipe to create a particular dish, but believe me, even if you follow the recipe exactly as the book says you’ll end up with something subpar from the original no matter how hard you try.
The best way to learn about game design, at least from my point of view, is by creating table top games. The best example I can give to support my claim is when you try to modify an existing game like Monopoly:
- Remove a dice: The game becomes too slow and the last turn player will lose pretty quickly.
- Add a dice: Everybody will have too much money from the start because getting to the start will be fairly easy, also the first part of the game becomes absurdly unpredictable, it will last waaaaay longer usual.
- Remove a property from the board, play as if that property wouldn’t exist (jump it): I don’t want to spoil this because the end result is actually pretty hilarious I suggest you try that out but here’s the outcome: one of the players will start building hotels waaaay sooner than normal, the player will become some sort of boss, this isn’t always the case since someone else can buy the other property but the game will start to move around those particular properties which is also hilarious.
- Remove one safe spot: The people that own the properties on that lane have a seriously increased chance to win.
- Half the money from the start: This is just plain boring.
You get the point, each thing is perfectly design to make the game fun, if you modify something the game turns into something completely different, that’s why making board games is so hard and that’s why you’ll learn a lot from designing one.
If you want to try this I really suggest you modify a game like UNO, no matter how you modify that game the result ends up being pretty fun. A simply rule that makes the game hilarious is to skip the next player after a Reverse card is used.