Free Association

Posted in Making Magic on February 5, 2004

By Mark Rosewater

Working in R&D since '95, Mark became Magic head designer in '03. His hobbies: spending time with family, writing about Magic in all mediums, and creating short bios.

One of the most common pitfalls people make when trying to be creative is the tendency to want to avoid what has been done before. (Stupid right brain.) Obsessed with being “out of the box”, they shun perfectly good ideas. Being creative is not about being different, it's about finding optimal solutions to your problems. And sometimes that means using a tool that's been sitting in your toolbox.

Take Mirrodin, for example. During design, I gave the Mirrodin design team the homework of writing a list of every artifact ever printed in Magic that they ever thought was cool. Once we had the lists, we compiled them and then began looking for inspirations. Some cards were used as repeats. Others were slightly tweaked. Still others were stripped down and completely redesigned. And a few were used as jumping points for completely different cards.

The point is that in design there are a lot of advantages to using something old. For starters, the card is already known by the public. To some older players it will stir nostalgia. For the newer players it will represent a connection to the history of the past. And as the card has already spent time being played, the designers will have a much better understanding of how the card ticks and what it's capable of.

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