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Subject: From Artist to Designer ~ My story in Games rss

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Alisha Volkman
United States
Minnesota
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I want to start out by saying that I am not here to brag, but hopefully to inspire other women who love games to go for their dreams and put out something they love!

My name is Alisha Volkman, I have been an artist most of my life, and discovered that doing art for board games is awesome. I love to play them, and being able to design how they look was something I found intriguing. I stumbled upon a site called www.thegamecrafter.com, where I found other people who love board games meeple. Sure, I may have been one of few other women on the site, but I was welcomed in with open arms modest.

While hanging out with an awesome community of game designers I entered a few game contests, and designed a few silly games. I even ran a few small kickstarters on my own. Even though they were not the greatest, and I was ill prepared, I learned a ton from them. That was in 2013, and since then I have learned a ton.

On my journey, like anyone, I made mistakes, pushed beyond my means, and even published a few games that could of used months more of testing. I think it is important to make mistakes as we always seem to learn from them, and learn from them I did!

A learning contest started on The Game Crafter several months ago, and I thought to myself, what kind of thing could I teach. This is where my two passions, art and games merged into one. I made a game called Underlings of Underwing, a game where you create dragon eggs using color theory, and hatch them into awesome dragons. The game went over well at Protospiels and I got a ton of great feedback from other awesome designers like Tank and DPS games, which is a married couple team of designers.

I ended up taking first place in the learning contest and subsequently, the group that was sponsoring the contest, The Pericles Group http://practomime.com/, took my game on to publish it. I was slightly sad when they decided to re-skin the game, but I understood that their change would improve it for their market/audience.

After a long story of protospiel testings and a lot of balancing. The game is now going to Kickstarter on August 25th 2016. This will be my first Kickstarter that I am not directly running, as well as my first published game. I am proud of myself, and humbled to think of all the things I could do from here on. I owe a lot to friends and family who believed in me, and the great communities here and on The Game Crafter.

If you have any doubts in yourself when it comes to women and gaming, you heard it here, we can do it! laugh

Thanks for reading, modest I would love to hear your journeys in the world of Board games! Your hits and misses, your achievements and learning experiences. Even if you just want to say hi.
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Jeremy Shelton
United States
Beaumont
Texas
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Alisha,
Kudos to you. Well done. My wife is not as much a gamer as I am, but she surprised me one day when said that she and I should design a game together. I have no experience at all in game design so I didn't even know how to respond. At first I thought it was just a passing fancy, but she consistently brings it up from time to time. My question for you is: where do we start? She definitely wants the game to be about the Oklahoma land rush, but that is all she has to work with right now. Any advice is greatly appreciated.
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"Compared to You, I'm just a nighlight, against the Blazing Son." --Jimmy Needham
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What a beautiful story! That is so exciting! I bet it was hard to let go of your baby and see them reskin it, but I do hope the KS campaign goes well. My 13 year old niece LOVES all things dragon, so I will have to keep my eye out for this one.

Thank you so much for posting this, and bringing a smile to my (and I'm sure many others reading this) face.
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Alisha Volkman
United States
Minnesota
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Thanks =D

I know everyone designs different, but I am more than happy to run you through my process and what I have been told a few other people do when designing game.

Having an Idea of what you want is a great start in itself. Next would be finding a mechanic that fits the theme. Sometime those just come to be first (before theme), but I know several people who start with a mechanic first.

I recommenced having you and your wife have a notebook and write down ideas for the game, sometimes I have pages of notes about things that would be cool to use/see and things that game needs. I know I may be doing something and have to scrounge for the notebook because I have an idea

Also, if you ever go to protospiels or other events with The Game Crafter, stock up on blank prototype material, else pen and paper are great. Grab parts from other games and try to play it. Usually this leads to more ideas and just repeat.

After a ton of iteration, I find that grabbing a friend (or Hubby) to give me another pair of eyes is super helpful, because sometimes we go blind to the errors of our game.

Be open to opinions and help (this was hard for me for sure) Communities like the chat system on The Game Crafter, and the Work in progress forums here are great for bouncing ideas off of people.

Also, I think the biggest thing I can say is have fun, and design a game you two WANT to play, because in the end, you will be playing it the most haha.

Hopefully I didn't ramble to much! Good Luck to you and your wife! Feel free to message me here or search me out in The Game Crafter chat (I basically live there) if you want someone to bounce ideas off of.
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Alisha Volkman
United States
Minnesota
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Thank you for the kind words! I am glad I was able to make you smile laugh
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