Stefan’s journey in game design has been nothing short of exceptional. Hailing from Supercell, the creative force behind hits like Hay Day and Clash of Clans, Stefan’s career has defied genre boundaries. As a Game Designer on the Clash Royale team at Supercell, Stefan immerses himself in every facet of game design. His primary focus revolves around gameplay balancing, crafting the intricate game economy, and shaping the game’s systems to perfection. With a passion for creating unforgettable gaming experiences, Stefan Engblom brings his unique insights and expertise to the table. Join us for an awesome discussion with Stefan Engblom on this episode of Think Like A Game Designer.

“Whether you are a player, or a Dungeon Master, you are a game designer. You are partially responsible for the experience that’s happening at the table.”

In this episode, we kick things off by delving into Seftan’s origin story, a journey shared by many designers who discover their creative inspiration within beloved games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering. We talk about how innovating within existing games, whether through rule adjustments or the introduction of new components, is a great way to get started without having to design an entirely new game.

“I wanted to organize an event because I love it. I love games.”

In this episode, Stefan, founder of the Finnish Board Game Society, emphasizes the significance of building a community for aspiring game designers. Joining or creating such a community provides invaluable support for your game design endeavors, notably through enhanced gameplay experiences and crucial playtesting sessions with like-minded enthusiasts. Stefan shares advice on building a local community, such as organizing small events in community spaces. He also highlights the opportunities that can emerge from these gatherings and the communities they foster.

“We scale gradually as confidence grows.”

A portion of this episode is dedicated to the monumental task of crafting billion-dollar games. We begin by examining the developmental phases, from a small group’s initial concept to the formation of dedicated teams and even departments solely focused on the game’s realization. Stefan provides insights into the intricacies of this process, covering topics ranging from the hiring process and asset development to the various stages of growth and rigorous playtesting.

Games developed on such a massive scale often require a minimum viable revenue threshold to justify their continued development. One of the most thought-provoking dilemmas in this process revolves around deciding whether to halt the development of a game that players might adore but won’t generate sufficient revenue to sustain itself within the context of a company like Supercell. Stefan delves into the emotional rollercoaster of grappling with making a decision like this or having it made for you. He sheds light on the intricate process of evaluating the metrics and key indicators that play a crucial role in making decisions of such magnitude.

“It has to feel good. Ultimately it’s about the player experience.”

Next, we delve into two pivotal aspects of large-scale games: incentives to keep players engaged and effective monetization strategies.

Beginning with incentives, Stefan offers fascinating insights into the meticulous design principles that integrate games seamlessly into players’ daily routines. He illustrates this concept using the example of Clash Royale’s chest timers, with an eight-hour timer strategically aligned to coincide with players’ bedtime, ensuring a nice piece of treasure when they return to the game when they wake.

When it comes to monetization, finding the right balance is crucial. The overlap of incentivizing gameplay and generating revenue is a delicate issue. Consider the example of timed chests: some may perceive them as a way to encourage players to spend money to open them immediately, while others see them as a means to allow players to take a break and step away from the game. Managing player engagement is essential to prevent burnout, and well-structured gameplay sessions enhance the overall experience. Simultaneously, it provides an avenue for those who are inclined to support the game through monetization options.