I start 98% of our games with the mechanics first. I have tried to make games with the theme first but I find that making mechanics fit to a theme is more painful than finding a theme that fits a mechanic. Part if that could be the way Aidan and I work, it could also be my feelings that the worst that could happen to a developed mechanic that never finds a theme is the mechanic sits in storage waiting for the right theme to come along. We still have an asset at the end of the process. If we fail to find a mechanic for the theme, the opposite is true, there is nothing left over at the end of the brainstorming session.
For this project, I knew I wanted to go with a bad guy theme. I did spend a little time thinking about potential good guy themes but the idea that you don’t know who you are working for lends itself to the bad guy side. I did not want to do fantasy or sci-fi with this because those are overdone themes and we already have a couple projects in that space. With all of these “limitations” I ended up with robbers in the city stealing things for other bad guys. This may not be the theme we finish with, but it makes the most sense. Also, everything that I want to do with the game, at this point in time, fits within a universe of robbers and bad guys doing what they do in a city.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at email@example.com
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.