What I learned when I copied another game.

I broke down and bought a copy of Scythe by Stonemaier Games. I’ve played it all of 4 times now, and 3 of those times I played solo. I can’t get that stupid game out of my head. I’m obsessed with it. So obsessed in fact, that I decided to make a new board game that is highly influenced by it. By the way, did I mention how much I like Scythe?

A previous post of mine was a setting entitled Liberty Boys, wherein I felt led to create a setting for a game in the Revolutionary War era after obsessing over the TV Show Turn (I’m obsessive, sue me!). But, after I discovered Scythe, I realized that I must, absolutely must, create a board game set in the American Revolution. A weeks long mental samurai fight ensued as I hashed out a prototype that I will be bringing with me to MenCon this coming weekend (8/4 – 8/6). I’ll let you know how it goes.

I’m an indie game developer, so my stuff relies heavily on thegamecrafter.com, which means I’m limited to what they have on the shelf when it comes to making my games. More often than not, this limitation is good and helps me make tough decisions. My recommendation for any of you would-be game designers is to put constraints on your projects. This will help you to cut out wasteful things and give you a tighter product in the end.

Put constraints on your projects. This will help you to cut out wasteful things and give you a tighter product.

Playtesting your game solo is something you should do a lot of. And when you’re done doing it, do it some more. There is a very cool board game simulator that lets you add and test your own games for free called Tabletopia. Once you catch on to the interface, it’s pretty easy to put a digital copy of your game online where you not only test it yourself but spin up a room and invite friends to help you out. This was the first time I’ve done this and it was so worth it.

Playtesting your game solo is something you should do a lot of. And when you’re done doing it, do it some more.

I’m not sure how well Tabletopia, or any online simulator, will work for blind playtesting, but I surely couldn’t hurt. I’ve been terrible at blind playtesting my games, and the few times I’ve done it I’ve received some very valuable feedback. Don’t fall victim to the “I’m too shy to show off my stuff” or the “It’s super secret so I don’t want anyone to see it till it’s done” syndromes. Either one of these attitudes are OK for the hobbyist, but if you really want to get into making great games you need to get over shy or proud self and let people tear your games apart. All growth comes from pain and your games will be better…strong…faster.

Don’t fall victim to the “I’m too shy to show off my stuff” or the “It’s super secret so I don’t want anyone to see it till it’s done” syndromes.

Here are a few snapshots into my brain as I worked through the process of bringing another game to life:

Liberty Boys Prototype Board

Liberty Boys Prototype Board

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