Jon, Dirk and David finally get around to talking about theme, mechanics and how the intersection of the two relates to ‘fun’. What are each? What happens when you favor one over the other? Can you flat out OMIT one? And what are some examples in the games our panelists have actually worked?
An eternal struggle in the field of game design is the role of theme (sci-fi, fall of the Roman Empire, Lord of the Rings) and mechanics (worker placement, turn-based, equipment slots).
In my mind your goal isn’t so much to balance the two, but to incorporate the best of both. My rule of thumb is that theme should serve as the ultimate guide for what does or does not belong in a game, but theme always needs to take a back seat to good mechanics. Everyone has their own unique approach though, and it was great seeing Dirk and David’s perspective on this.