I'm not all that much of a board game guy, but every time I read about board game design, I feel like it's a field that's quite a bit more... sophisticated? than RPG design. I'm not sure that's the right word, but just looking at, for example, this thread on board game design from the Something Awful forums
, it seems like board game designers have more and more varied tools and techniques, and more sophisticated metrics for evaluating games.
So, what can RPGs learn from board games?
I'm sure other people around here can offer better insights than me (hence the thread), but here are a couple that come to mind:
One big one that's been on my mind a lot, especially since I started working on a card game of my own
, is how RPGs by and large avoid using much of anything in the way of components, when those things just aren't all that hard to buy or even make, especially in terms of prototypes for playtesting. There was a bit of a learning curve, but at this point slapping basic card designs together and printing them up on cardstock at home has gotten downright routine for me. (Though making multiple iterations of a game that has over 300 cards will do that to you.)
Board games also seem to have do a much better job of creating an overall experience. Some of that undoubtedly comes from the nature of the different mediums, but the better board games nonetheless seem to have more thought put into them about the overall learning experience, from taking the shrink wrap off the box to mastering the game. I see a lot more talk about learning curves and strategic depth in board games, and when I look at D&D4e for example, I see a well-designed game with mediocre presentation, a text that doesn't really know how to go about teaching you the game it contains.