Greg's Design Blog

A collection of posts by game designer Gregory Carslaw, including mirrors of all of his blogs maintained for particular projects. A complete index of posts can be found here:
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Yesterday I had a conversation concerning manufacturers, there are a few we could use and they have different strengths and weaknesses. Not knowing how many games we'll manage to sell is a big factor here, as some manufacturers insist on minimum print runs in the thousands, while others can produce smaller batches. I'd like to commit to a manufacturer before starting the kickstarter, so that we can let people know who'll be producing the product and be able to show the quality of components that people will be getting. On the other hand it's a much sounder business decision to kickstart first and then make the decision based on how many backers we get. One suggestion floated was to use a readily available sample during the campaign and upgrade it later if there were enough backers to support it. I found I had a fairly extreme reaction to that.

Reflecting on why I felt this way, I think that somewhere I've developed a touch of romanticism. Generally my thinking tends towards modern schools of thought, I don't think that "artificial" is a synonym for "bad", I'm comfortable with the notion of us playing with genetic code to fight disease or grow more food for everyone; sometimes I even look forward to the day that we can cast off our weak meat shells for shiny robot bodies. Socially I side with the progressives, we should be doing more to fight the old prejudices and hatreds running through our society, I celebrated France passing their gay marriage law the other day. I'm interested in discussions about our future and like games as an exploration of that, even when they make me uncomfortable.

So finding that something in the back of my brain is running on some antiquated concept of honour is kind of weird for me, but there it is. I love lying and treachery in the context of games because generally I try everything I can to avoid it in real life. I'm strongly against any sort of attempt to deceive a person about what they'll get for their money and am willing to suffer personally to ensure that I deliver on my promises (something that I think is best achieved by not making unwise promises.) I'm not a stupid person and it's very clear to me that our culture as a whole doesn't really embrace these ideas any more, at best it's quaint but more commonly it's naive.

Still, I wouldn't be me if I didn't analyse situations and try things. I think it's important to reflect on things like this, failing to do so would just lead to me rejecting the idea out of hand. Understanding that my objection is rooted in a core of me feeling that it's dishonourable to do anything that could wind up being misleading lets me modulate the approach. In reality very few people will be put out by changing to a different manufacturing method which means that they get more stuff, my issue isn't with the action so much as how it's presented. I feel it's important to say "This is what we expect to offer, but it might turn out to be somewhat different." rather than making changes later on. I suspect that a kickstater audience is used to things not turning up exactly as planned, as it's not a place for projects that are completely finished, but I'd still prefer a relationship of explicit honesty with our future backers.

Not so much on game design today, but I hope you've enjoyed having a read anyway. I'd like to encourage you to think a little on the ideas I'm batting around here and our shared culture. I think we'd all be in better shape if people devoted just a little time to thinking about what sort of world they're contributing to and what they'd like to build. I'd be interested to hear what people think about this sort of topic, is honour dead? Should we be trying to bring it back into the public consciousness? Is it a bad idea, a way to be inflexible in the face of a rapidly changing world?

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