DESIGNER DIARY: Introduction

I’ve been planning to start this Designer Diary for quite some time, and was hoping to have some good news before doing so, but will leave you in suspense for now!

A month or so ago, I was invited to demo/pitch my boardgame, Agents in Time — this is a game that had a reasonably quick development history that started back in March 2017…

CUE: Eerie, weird, syntho-timewarp music to simulate travelling back in time… ending in a Countdown-esque DA-DA DA-DA, DADA-DA-DUM…


Two of my regular gaming colleagues wanted to gauge my opinion on their brilliant idea for a boardgame, and arrived a little earlier than usual for our weekly gaming session at Travelling Man, York…

Their eyes ablaze, they had broad grins plastered across their faces and seemed full of beans… crowding around me, they fumbled in their bags, emptied their pockets, and started throwing scraps of paper onto the table: amongst all the copious scribbled notes and half-hearted attempt at a world map was the germ of an excellent idea…

Ahhh… but not so fast, we don’t want to be spoiling things just yet, so let’s back up a little and talk about what designing a game might actually mean for some people…

 

Recently, a chap called Joe Slack started a series on boardgamegeek.com (BGG) called The Board Game Designer’s Guide — Taking Your Game From Idea to Ideal and I thought I’d follow along since my original plan was to write something similar, although for this series, I’ll be concentrating mainly on my own design(s), of course!

Several questions are put forward in that article asking why anyone would want to create a game or be a game designer, and I figured I’d share my answers with you (and expand a little on them) before moving things on with future posts…

Are you creating a new game for the fun of it?
Pretty much, and for the challenge of putting together something that ‘works’ for other people and in a gaming context.

I play games a lot, have a regular local gaming group with which to play and meet with, and am well aware this is a fortunate position to be in compared to some gamers. I appreciate my gaming friends all the more because of it, and am pretty sure they appreciate the fact that I’m generally not very good at many games, which always puts them in an advantageous position before we even start playing!

Are you designing it for the challenge?
Most of the time, although to be fair, it’s usually an idea/concept first, and then I start to feel it’s something I have to somehow ‘make’ into a real thing…

I think this ‘need’ to turn an idea into something altogether more solid is a powerful driving force and motivator for me, and keeps me going in the face of adversity even when everything else is screaming “No! Give it up!”
There is a time and place to give up on gaming projects, and although I may take slightly longer to reach that point, I like to think I do recognise when it’s worth chucking in the towel, or at least putting things on the back-burner. Thankfully, I haven’t reached that stage very often, which suggests I’m doing something right, and the majority of players and playtesters do seem to enjoy their experience with my ideas/concepts!

Are you getting into board game design to make money?
Well, that would definitely be nice, but I’d be happy just to work on that side of things full or part-time and get a reasonable working wage out of it. I like this stuff (esp. the design side of it), and am pretty good at it, too.

As I get older —and arguably, mellow with age— I’m also becoming a lot more selfish: if I’m going to do a job and get paid for it, I should really try and ensure it’s something I enjoy doing, before it becomes too late to be a viable or practical life choice.

Are you looking at this as a possible new career?
To be honest, yes — throwing modesty aside, I’m good at this sort of thing, and am supremely confident I will get something published soon enough, whether via self-publication, Kickstarter, or working alongside a games publisher.

The more I think about it, the more I believe this to be a viable option, and something I really ought to be getting a move on with, before it does become too late and my mind starts to go completely…

Do you just love the hobby and want to get more involved in the board game community?
Partly. I’ve started to do this by publishing reviews and such-like. [But] I do believe there is such a thing as ‘board game overload’, though, and this can happen quite easily, so the odd break away is usually welcome.

I am definitely a lover of games, and having had an interest in them since I was very young (roleplaying games, mainly), and having designed many over the years (incl. Play-By-Mail games: some with more success than others), I can categorically say that yes, I love this hobby, and yes, I would like to contribute and get involved a bit more — this is one of the reasons I am more actively involved in BGG, have started writing reviews for Counter Magazine Online, and believe that designing games could well be my dream job and/or final career path…

So, why are you designing a board game?
Well, actually, I’m designing at least 4 or 5 different ones at the moment.

One of them is called Agents in Time, and pretty much just needs a publisher (and nearly had one until yesterday!) — it’s been extensively play tested, and is pretty much ‘ready to go’. Another, called Roman Trader, just needs an overhaul and will be ready for more extensive playtesting soon. I also have a P’n’P (Print’n’Play) football game in the works —which you can link to here to see for yourself: Minty’s Bootiful Football Game— and there are at least 3 other games I’m working on, all of which have a tangible ‘form’, if not all the mechanics in place just yet… Finding new ideas is never a problem, pulling them into something cohesive is another story entirely!

AiT_1.png

And there endeth this Introduction…

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