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Subject: My game design cycle rss

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Nate
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I just realized that I follow a cyclic pattern when it comes to my game design work.

It goes like this...
1. Ideas (for lots of different games)
2. Prototype (just one game)
3. Playtest
4. Prototype
5. Playtest
6. Prototype
7. Playtest goes horribly wrong.
8. Denial/Guilt/Bargaining/Acceptance
9. GOTO 1.

That's all I had to say.
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George P.E., PMP, DM
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So you have yet to break out of that loop?
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Nate
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GeorgeMo wrote:
So you have yet to break out of that loop?


Nope.
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Rob Harper
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I heard someone somewhere talking about the trajectory of developing a game. Sorry I can't remember who it was. I have a feeling it was a guest on the Meeple Syrup show. Anyway, the idea is that (successfully) designing/developing a game goes through six distinct stages, something along the lines of...

1. My game is awesome!

2. My game has a few issues.

3. My game is useless.

4. I am useless.

5. My game is fixable.

6. My game is awesome!

I think that the real challenge is being able to push through stages 3 and 4 as your belief in the project (and yourself) is crumbling. Not easy.
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Brendan Riley
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Given that summer is the period when I have more free time and winter is an unending slog of work and work and work squeezed in between family, my cycle now tends to be:

1. Idea for a game
2. sketch out that idea in a document.
3. dump to "ideas" folder on google drive.
4. Get back to work.
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Dan Cichoracki

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kungfugeek wrote:
I just realized that I follow a cyclic pattern when it comes to my game design work.

It goes like this...
1. Ideas (for lots of different games)
2. Prototype (just one game)
3. Playtest
4. Prototype
5. Playtest
6. Prototype
7. Playtest goes horribly wrong.
8. Denial/Guilt/Bargaining/Acceptance
9. GOTO 1.

That's all I had to say.


Next time you get to stage 7 or 8, contact me.
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polyobsessive wrote:
I heard someone somewhere talking about the trajectory of developing a game. Sorry I can't remember who it was. I have a feeling it was a guest on the Meeple Syrup show. Anyway, the idea is that (successfully) designing/developing a game goes through six distinct stages, something along the lines of...

1. My game is awesome!

2. My game has a few issues.

3. My game is useless.

4. I am useless.

5. My game is fixable.

6. My game is awesome!

I think that the real challenge is being able to push through stages 3 and 4 as your belief in the project (and yourself) is crumbling. Not easy.


Wow -- steps 3 and 4. Yeah that's what usually stops me dead on a game. I thought it was just me!
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Clay Francisco
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Just wanted to chime in on point 8. In my experience, initial playtests ALWAYS go horribly wrong. that's why you do them by yourself at first to weed out any of the craziness before showing the friends.

I created this PvP duel game where there was a weird infinite loop between 2 of the decks because of their mechanics. one deck had a card that negated damage and the other had a card that was an instant kill. When played against other decks they worked fine. the "either or" scenario worked fine. but when I tried them together it was horrible!!! like "OMG why the hell didn't you see this do you even know what you're doing?" horrible. I found this out by solo-playing the game dozens of times before showing it to people (and making constant tweaks the whole way).

I think this is where the whole "kill your babies" part comes into play in design. during the initial playtests you have to be willing to make drastic and sometimes bizarre changes and just give them a go. They won't all work. Most will fail. Hard.

I'm just sayin' don't get discouraged. I think we all feel that way sometimes! plow through to victory!



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Nate
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SewnOnShadow wrote:
Just wanted to chime in on point 8. In my experience, initial playtests ALWAYS go horribly wrong. that's why you do them by yourself at first to weed out any of the craziness before showing the friends.

Oh, yeah. I consider solo-playtesting almost to be part of Prototyping, so I didn't call it out in my list. But yes, I always get as many solo playtests as I can in before showing my games.
SewnOnShadow wrote:

I'm just sayin' don't get discouraged. I think we all feel that way sometimes! plow through to victory!

Thanks for the encouragement!
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Kyle Carter
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The post above me kind of hit this, but part 7 and 8 is when it distinguishes you from a real game designer, to a kid who is playing at game design but won't put forth the effort to do it in the end. I am saying this because I am 24 and for 6 years people my age have done this and are a joke, or freaking horrible.

Beyond that, part 7 and 8 can be an option if the game is truly a terrible lost cause. I am almost done I think with a game that started out as a failure in every regaurd. Took to long, to obtous rules, and basically needed to be remade. I am almost done with it.

In other words, part 7 is what makes real designers from wanabes. You have to push through 7 again and again. It will suck, and good lord you will feel aweful, but it is that masochistic love that you need to get a game made.

That being said sometimes you do have to just srap it, but that is more near stage 1 or 2.

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nat tact
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polyobsessive wrote:
I heard someone somewhere talking about the trajectory of developing a game. Sorry I can't remember who it was. I have a feeling it was a guest on the Meeple Syrup show. Anyway, the idea is that (successfully) designing/developing a game goes through six distinct stages, something along the lines of...

1. My game is awesome!

2. My game has a few issues.

3. My game is useless.

4. I am useless.

5. My game is fixable.

6. My game is awesome!

I think that the real challenge is being able to push through stages 3 and 4 as your belief in the project (and yourself) is crumbling. Not easy.


This is truth!
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Scott Westgard
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1. Come up with a great idea
2. Do tons of work creating a prototype
3. Sell the idea for a small price to a friend who publishes it
4. Friend (who is no longer such a friend) makes hundreds of thousands of dollars.
5. Cry
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Louis Manning
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When it goes wrong, discuss it with a friend. They'll help you get around whatever roadblocks have appeared because they have a different set of experiences to draw on to solve problems and a different viewpoint from you.

I've found that there is no concept which can't be successfully implemented as long as you're only attached to the concept.

So be prepared for the game to mutate wildly into something you didn't expect at the start; only reject ideas that are against the original concept.

Friends are your support network - every time you're getting too close to the design they'll help you take a step back and re-evaluate.

Oh yeah, and have fun with it. That is the one thing that will kill any concept - the lack of the joy of creation.

Good luck!
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Jeremy Peet
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Maybe it should go something like this...


1. Ideas (for lots of different games) Choose one game to focus on
2. Prototype (just one game) Quick and dirty, placeholder art only
3. Playtest
4. Playtest
5. Playtest
6. Playtest
7. Playtest
8. Honest observation of the game, take notes
9. Remove things that don't work, add things that might
10. Tweak prototype if needed, type out rules
10. Playtest
10. Playtest
11. Playtest
12. Playtest
13. Playtest
14. Go to 8&9 if needed, maybe upgrade art a little
15. More play testing
16. Let someone else play it beside you
17. Take notes, make tweaks
18. Playtest...
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A. B. West
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I just don't have that many game ideas and am always impressed by those who do. I have like 5-6 ideas that I stew for years at a time. I give love to one for a period of weeks and then if it doesn't catch, I go to another one.

I also really over do my prototypes because I really just love designing the cards and board. Lots of fun for me. After several tests, it does get laborious to make a prototype, but that's just part of the process. I also don't agree with so many that say 'just make a quick and dirty prototype' mainly because I can do so much more, but also because playing a game has *alot* to do with the components. So I think it's important to get close to what a component will really look like as soon as possible in design and testing.

But what I really want to say is I design for the love of design. Yes, the reward of having people play and love your game is wonderful, but I think I design just to design. It's a hobby and artistic pursuit for me. So I don't get too caught up in critical feedback. Not to say this doesn't hurt at times (it does) or surprise me (it does - and I can't tell you the number of time I thought my design was perfect and it clearly wasn't). But for me, I'm at a place where feedback is filtered a bit. I'm now looking for specific things to understand about the game, not a general impression. I think that's a better way to approach having a game tested by others. Ask yourself what you want to have *tested* and focus your attention on that specifically. That might lift you out of being depressed by someone saying they don't like your game. Also it's good to remember that *no* game is loved by everyone. Even the most popular games on BGG have legions of detractors. Focus instead on what *type* of gamers you would expect to like your game. If those are in your test group, then listen to them. If others are in your test group, then go back to the focus on what you're testing - the mechanic or component or whatever.
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Jeremy Peet
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adamw wrote:

I also really over do my prototypes because I really just love designing the cards and board. Lots of fun for me. After several tests, it does get laborious to make a prototype, but that's just part of the process. I also don't agree with so many that say 'just make a quick and dirty prototype' mainly because I can do so much more, but also because playing a game has *alot* to do with the components. So I think it's important to get close to what a component will really look like as soon as possible in design and testing.


I have found that if you are going to invest the time into a game that actually works then spending energy on how the game looks early on is a huge misuse of time. The key with a quick and dirty prototype is to create a working model of the game that you can get to the table as quick as possible. By making a fast prototype you can get to the nitty gritty of the mechanics so it can be an actual game in less time. Designs change drastically as you work through them so to allow the changes to occur you have to be somewhat free of the art. If you worry about the look early on it may actually hamper the process of making the game as good as it can be.

I completely understand about wanting to make a great looking prototype and enjoying that process. Working on the art and making a great looking game is absolutely fun, no one should deny themselves of that if they have the artistic inclination. I have direct experience regarding this and working on the look of my deigns is something I really look forward to. However, I have learned that if you want to make a game with solid mechanics and art in the shortest amount of time as possible you need to be patient with the art for a while. To me working efficiently means that I have increased time available to work on more projects.



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Jeremy Peet
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NoodleArtist wrote:

4. Friend (who is no longer such a friend) makes hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Wow! What game is it?
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Germflinger wrote:
I have found that if you are going to invest the time into a game that actually works then spending energy on how the game looks early on is a huge misuse of time.

Well we can only agree to disagree. I only repeat that a game is more than mechanics. Being a tactile and visual experience, the components *are* part of the game and one should at least design their prototype to convey this. As for efficiency, it isn't my chief concern. What one person considers a misuse of time another might say is the most enjoyable aspect. Different strokes and all that.
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adamw wrote:
Germflinger wrote:
I have found that if you are going to invest the time into a game that actually works then spending energy on how the game looks early on is a huge misuse of time.

Well we can only agree to disagree. I only repeat that a game is more than mechanics. Being a tactile and visual experience, the components *are* part of the game and one should at least design their prototype to convey this. As for efficiency, it isn't my chief concern. What one person considers a misuse of time another might say is the most enjoyable aspect. Different strokes and all that.


As long as we're all happy and having fun it's all good!
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Germflinger wrote:
NoodleArtist wrote:

4. Friend (who is no longer such a friend) makes hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Hundreds of thousands of dollars? Wow! What game is it?

Monopoly
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Charles Ward
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I'm enjoying this thread a lot.

1. Have a fun idea.
2. Spend 2-3 months developing it intensively.
3. Get bored of it and stop, or...
4. Spend 2-3 months making copies, and trying it out.
5. Get bored of it and stop, or...
6. Get some art to make it attractive for play testers.
7. Send it off for blind play testing.
8. Feed in the feedback and redesign the game.
9. Send it off to print after a few proofreading sessions.
10. Switch off the designer engine, turn on the sales and marketing machine, and crank it up!

10 never happens laugh And 3 and 5 happen all the time. All the time. Well, except this one time.
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polyobsessive wrote:
I heard someone somewhere talking about the trajectory of developing a game. Sorry I can't remember who it was. I have a feeling it was a guest on the Meeple Syrup show. Anyway, the idea is that (successfully) designing/developing a game goes through six distinct stages, something along the lines of...

1. My game is awesome!

2. My game has a few issues.

3. My game is useless.

4. I am useless.

5. My game is fixable.

6. My game is awesome!

I think that the real challenge is being able to push through stages 3 and 4 as your belief in the project (and yourself) is crumbling. Not easy.


Needed to hear this, thank you!
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Sergey Kudria
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I definitely second the playtesting with friends part. Very often your prototype is actually much better than you think, you're just burned out from having worked on it so much. Doing a playtest with friends, and seeing people actually enjoying your game, I found to be a HUGE boost to morale and motivation (even if I have to go in and redesign a bunch of things).
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Kadmir wrote:
I definitely second the playtesting with friends part. Very often your prototype is actually much better than you think, you're just burned out from having worked on it so much. Doing a playtest with friends, and seeing people actually enjoying your game, I found to be a HUGE boost to morale and motivation (even if I have to go in and redesign a bunch of things).


True story. I had given up on a game after a nasty playtest revealed problems that I thought were unsolvable. A few months later I got feedback from a different playtest group that I thought I'd never hear from (long story). They actually liked it, and gave a ton of useful feedback. Now, I'm working on it again and have a serious revision that's will be ready to post soon.
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Rob Harper
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Kadmir wrote:
Very often your prototype is actually much better than you think,


...or much worse. The difficulty (okay, one of the difficulties) when you are close in to a project is being able to objectively assess how well it is going.

If I feel that a game is going really well and is definitely on the right tracks, I try to remember to step back and think, "Okay, what am I missing? What is the big flaw that I can't see?" So far I have always found one, but I guess if I didn't, I think I'd want to find a playtester or two who can find the problems for me.

HOWEVER

If I am feeling really down on a design, the thing to try to do is step back and think, "Okay, what actually does work here? What parts are original, or interesting, or make people laugh?" If I can find at least something positive, then that can both give a little morale boost and a focus for what to build the game around. If I can't see anything, he supportive friends can be invaluable here.

In practice, mind, what I often do is shelf the game for a while and work on one of my other games instead. Sometimes I think of what to do with the "failing" game later, and sometimes it just stays shelved.

I'm not quite sure where I went with that... I guess the point is that I am always seeing problems, and I have better ways to deal with biases that crop up when things appear to be going well than when they go badly. Having multiple games on the go seems to be my real safety system though as I get neither too invested or too dragged down by any one project.
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