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Joseph Walsh
United States
Yorba Linda
California
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I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, but generally speaking, how long does the earliest process normally take for you?

I've (semi-)recently been toying with the thought of trying to design something, but I've had a billion ideas and that only seems to stall the process since they're ideas mostly unrelated to the current project.

How do you guys manage to stay so focused? I'm all over the place, haha.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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I, myself, always go from the theme first, and then shape mechanics around it.

Usually, things that you need to convert into a game flow already have an answers to what do you need to use and how. But, sometimes the straight forward way, an obvious way, is not the best, because it will lead you into copying things or making too similar things already done. If you manage to think outside those lines you usually come up with something decently innovative.

I put ideas on paper, then try to play the game in my mind, then if I can see that it works on some primal level, I go for the quick prototype. Through testing alone I refine it, and then make a prototype 1.0, which goes into further testing with groups of random ppl.

Sometime it takes a day because I am inspired and ideas come easily, sometimes it takes weeks. You never know. Human brain is a strange apparatus. :}

I do play a lot other games in the meantime. It really helps.
And don't use all ideas at once lol. You just gonna burn yourself up.
An elf shooting an arrow doesn't need to keep track of the wind, gravity pull and material fatigue. XD

Unless, you are making a game about archery competition in the fantasy kingdom.



Hmmm, let me write this down somewhere. I'm sure there's a game in it. XD
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Brian Compter
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Foxboro
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I keep a design notebook handy most of the time to jot down ideas, no matter how small or silly, and over time will convert the better of those ideas into a google drive folder.

From there I am content to let those ideas simmer. I will occasionally open up my idea doc and jot more notes, refine ideas, even sometimes write out complete rulebooks or make some simple diagrams of boards or cards.

The one thing that I love doing to help focus and force me to finish games is to do contests. TheGameCrafter runs a few each year and the deadline combined with the restrictions really forces you to refine your game making talents and come up with a near complete game by the end.
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Charles Ward
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Matsumoto
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ShiftyPowers57 wrote:
I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, but generally speaking, how long does the earliest process normally take for you?

I've (semi-)recently been toying with the thought of trying to design something, but I've had a billion ideas and that only seems to stall the process since they're ideas mostly unrelated to the current project.

How do you guys manage to stay so focused? I'm all over the place, haha.


Hey. Sounds great to me. Focused... that comes into its own when you have an idea you know will work, and you are up against a deadline. Until then, dance around, its all good.

How long does it typically take you to go from idea to playtesting? The sooner the better. It depends on the tolerance level of your friends/family.
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Rob Harper
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I'm absolutely unfocussed and all over the place most of the time. But there are moments of clarity, which I am slowly managing to make more frequent.

Most of my game ideas get either dumped or turned into a workable prototype within a day or two. The first prototypes are usually scrappy and need a lot of revision, but it means I can start seeing how the game behaves when it is a physical object -- and that is almost always very different to how it was when it was in my head.

So I usually get some solo playtesting done very quickly, but getting a game in front of other players often takes me weeks.

I also have a couple of ideas that I have been mulling over for a couple of years, and occasionally I add something to my notes on them, but I have no idea if I will be able to make them real. I'm almost certainly over-thinking them.
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Phillip Harpring
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I keep a google doc going with every little idea I've had for a game, and when I get inspired enough to try and flesh it out a bit, I start a new doc just for that game. I currently have four different game docs going in addition to the main one.

Whenever I have the time to sit and think about an idea, I'll re-read what I've put down previously and if something new comes to me I'll type a bit more into one of them.

As far as actually playtesting something goes, that's much more difficult for me. I rarely have the combination of energy and alone time to craft prototype components to fiddle around with.

I will echo that entering a contest or otherwise setting deadlines for yourself is great motivation to actually get things done. If you just want to have fun designing stuff as a thought exercise, take all the time you want, but if you want to see something complete that you and others can play, do it with a sense of urgency.
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michael brown
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SANDY
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It really depends for me - Sometimes I make a game in a week, sometimes I think about one for a year or more before starting in on it in earnest.
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JP Ginley
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in my case todate..more than three years together with playtesting all along the way. Idea(s) will change and game will improve with every playtest.
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Carl Qwerty
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I have two regular gaming groups, so USUALLY it is not that long before I get a prototype made and tested by one of those groups. However, my latest game, a WW2 game, has been on the shelf for almost a year and hasn't been tested yet. This is mainly because my one gaming group that likes war-themed games has been playing Axis & Allies Global 1940 for almost a year (meeting once every two months) before a game of it was finally finished.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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It varies widely.

Gem Rush went from first concept to playable prototype in a weekend. (Inspiration struck as I was driving home from work on Friday, and I sent my prototype files to be printed on Monday.)

On the other hand, I first had the idea for Hunt: The Unknown Quarry back in college and didn't make a prototype of it until about 5 years later. (Though I wasn't thinking about it continuously during that time, of course.)
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J C Lawrence
United States
Campbell
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ShiftyPowers57 wrote:
I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, but generally speaking, how long does the earliest process normally take for you?


Generally between 1 and 2 years.

Quote:
How do you guys manage to stay so focused?


I pick things I'm interested in and I track by a well-defined vision statement for the game that I don't deviate from. I'd better: development is going to take a handful of years as well.
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Michael Theiss
United States
College Station
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Yes, that is for JC. Most of do not stay focused so between 10-20 years.
That is if we keep at it.
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Cole Wehrle
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Austin
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I'm working on my third major project. In each case the time from idea to playtest has been about a year. Oh there are lots of tests during that year, but they are played out in models. Public testing is usually best for resolving ergonomic issues in the graphic design, the clarity of the rulebook, and, sometimes, game breaking strategies (though usually those can be sorted out yourself).
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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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paperemail wrote:
Yes, that is for JC. Most of do not stay focused so between 10-20 years.
That is if we keep at it.


Nahh, its not so bad. Figure a year or so mulling on the idea, then 2-5 years in development. Figure 3-7 years total with most things being in the middle. That's not such a long time.
 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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I get a new idea for a game everyday. Luckily, I learned how to slap myself and say: Nope.
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Rob Harper
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8Oj4N wrote:
I get a new idea for a game everyday. Luckily, I learned how to slap myself and say: Nope.


That's the skill I need to learn.
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Marty Lund
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ShiftyPowers57 wrote:
I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, but generally speaking, how long does the earliest process normally take for you?

I've (semi-)recently been toying with the thought of trying to design something, but I've had a billion ideas and that only seems to stall the process since they're ideas mostly unrelated to the current project.

How do you guys manage to stay so focused? I'm all over the place, haha.


I don't know the case for most people, but for me, I can have an idea go to play testing with friends and family in 2 weeks.... But that's if I'm like "Okay, I'm gonna make a game." And then I just sit down and do that pretty much straight.

But I can also have it take years. It really depends on how complicated the board game is, and how focused you are. Maybe also how much time you wanna spend
 
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Craig Stockwell
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ShiftyPowers57 wrote:
I'm sure it's a case-by-case thing, but generally speaking, how long does the earliest process normally take for you?

I've (semi-)recently been toying with the thought of trying to design something, but I've had a billion ideas and that only seems to stall the process since they're ideas mostly unrelated to the current project.

How do you guys manage to stay so focused? I'm all over the place, haha.

From first semi-formed idea to earliest playable prototype -- for me -- typically runs one to four weeks.

Focus/flow: I have one pocket-sized notebook I carry around all the time (and leave on my nightstand when I go to bed) for quick notes ... when I get serious about one, it gets its own pocket notebook.

I get out of the home/office once or twice weekly, go to a local coffee house or pub with pen and notebook, just working on ideas for prototypes -- no cards/pieces, just sorting out the game's flow, balance, tempo, tension points, etc. After a few of these thinking-only sessions that I start making cards, pooling dice, and sketching out a board (or tableau).

I keep a white board with a list of the games where I've made a physical prototype, what's next for that game, and which company or few I've identified to pitch it to (or when I did, and when I should ping them about it).

Hope that helps!
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A Deal with Death
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ShiftyPowers57 wrote:


How do you guys manage to stay so focused? I'm all over the place, haha.


Stop thinking and start doing. Everyone and their grandmother has a cool idea. Almost no one executes.

My philosophy is playtest as soon as possible. After you have a vague concept of the game get it to minimum play-testable level in the shortest amount of time. The way the game plays in your head and the way it plays in the real world will be different. Potentially much different. It doesn’t matter how well you thought it out.

Attempting to make something completely perfect from the theoretical void prior to testing is highly inefficient because you are designing based on incomplete knowledge, very incomplete knowledge. I largely blame modern schooling for this aversion to creating anything less than perfection on the first try. It’s the real world. You won’t get an F that haunts your GPA for the rest of the semester.

The first play test of a game is so instructive, eye-opening, and ego destroying it can hardly be overstated. You produce so many informational threads and solicit so many outside opinions to build from, that you will be kicking yourself for not having done it sooner. All that time you were designing from incomplete information you could have been anchoring your efforts to the myriad factors, metrics, and idiosyncrasies you saw in the real world.

Further I can almost guarantee you have a “brilliant” idea for an aspect of the game that you think is totally revelatory, you’ll stay up late, devote all sorts of mental time to thinking and refining and honing it, and your first play test you find its completely unfeasible and everyone hates it. More lost time.

Come from the mindset that your game will morph over time. Your first thoughts are just a game embryo but it needs to be exposed to its environment to develop and adapt properly to the cruel world of playtesting.

Think just as much as you need. Then do.
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Bojan Prakljacic
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ByDeadlyHands wrote:
[q="ShiftyPowers57"]



Attempting to make something completely perfect from the theoretical void prior to testing is highly inefficient because you are designing based on incomplete knowledge, very incomplete knowledge.


Well said.
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JP Ginley
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I second that. Playtesting creates design ideas..not the other way around.
And, for even more creativity playtest with different age groups if possible.
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Joseph Walsh
United States
Yorba Linda
California
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Loving the advice, folks. Much appreciated. Thanks for humoring this wannabe designer!
 
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Chiky Scares You
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for me it takes like one or two months to get everything ready to playtest, the problem is that my friends dont help playtesting :/
 
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