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Subject: I got a question. You got answers? I hope so. rss

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Chris Shreve
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I am continually coming up with random concepts for games I'd like to design, and I always end up fiddling with them, and coming up with what appear to be unique, effective, or fitting mechanics (sometimes a combination of the three), laying out a few sketches and rough idea layouts.

And then, I stop. I hit this wall, where I cannot figure out how to proceed with the process of design. For instance, take the restaurant game I had been fooling with for a few months. The setting consists of a restaurant (obviously), with the players being servers competing for tables and tips. I had pretty much had the entire system mapped out, with an intuitive colored time bar system for tracking numerous timers on one field. And then I couldn't go forward with it. Haven't touched it since.

I don't see it as a problem with me having no time or no dedication. I simply can't seem to move forward past the mechanics of a game, to the actual step of putting it all together.

So the question I mentioned earlier is, what the heck? What do I do? How do I get past this? Any advice from others with more success or experience in the craft would be intensely appreciated.
 
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Andrew Tullsen
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48 hour turnaround time for Prototypes!
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Gamegame

Check out this game. It is a free PnP game, and I suggest all game designers take a look at it. Just shuffle, pull the top 5, and see what you find. It has a lot of great ideas. You might be surprised.
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Rob Herman
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Make a prototype. Just simply seeing the physical pieces will probably give you some ideas. Then grab your group and give it a try. That will tell you if the game has potential and if so, where it lies; or whether you need to put that game on the back burner and try another idea.
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Tony Allen
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Shelve it for 3 to 6 months. I mean completely forget about it for that long. Don't allow yourself any stray thoughts about that particular game in any way. Write down the reunion date and plan on returning to it on a specific day in the future. Then at that time dedicate a full free day to pour into your baby all the pent up creativity that is inside you.

Also maybe it's time to stop the "software" stuff and concentrate on the "hardware" part of the game. Often the physical creation of it reveals hidden problems or confirms unsure mechanics that have plagued your mind. There's nothing like cardboard, stickers and markers to bring joy back into your project. The rules have to be totally integrated into the real stuff anyway, sooner or later. Get a working prototype that you can playtest by yourself first. Then hone it down to a point that you can bring it to local gamer friends to playtest.

This can be a very long process, so don't get discouraged by the passing of time. I like the idea of a restaurant game, maybe along the lines of "Diner Dash". Good luck.
 
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Alan Monroe
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I have the same problem with writing computer games/programs, and for me, lack of feedback/working in a vacuum is the main roadblock. One of the very few programs I consider "complete" was the result of having a tester that was never satisfied, and more importantly, kept pestering me relentlessly.
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Tom Hancock
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Blaming things on the playtesters is a well heeled game design tradition.

Seriously though, this happens to anyone doing anything creative from time to time. Get someone else's input on the game, or work on something different for a while.
 
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Scott Nelson
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Work on two projects at one time and eventually run the systems together for a full game instead of two incomplete games. Seriously, work on setting a theme and getting some prototypes made (very crude at first), but it gives me something to solo-test to breathe life into the idea. After that take it down to the flgs and find some testers - maybe just a couple of rounds they could commit. It might be enough to know if you feel it has legs or them legs got chopped off and it belongs on the "revision" shelf. Secondly, you are working one of the ways: theme first, mechanisms second. The other is the opposite, which is harder to find new ideas for a game without a theme to paste it to. The ideas should flow more easily if the theme exists, and they might just drop into your lap as you think about the theme and how things happen irl with the idea in the game.
 
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Chris Shreve
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Thank you for all the helpful advice, I really do appreciate it. When it comes to prototyping, though, I can never decide what to do first, how to take that first step. Any of you have any stories or experiences (good or bad)?
 
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August Larson
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omni_mech wrote:
Thank you for all the helpful advice, I really do appreciate it. When it comes to prototyping, though, I can never decide what to do first, how to take that first step. Any of you have any stories or experiences (good or bad)?


I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "what to do first". But if I'm understanding correctly, I'd recommend you catalog a list of the components you will need for your game. This would include the board, pawns/meeples(colors, how many, etc.), cards (different types of cards, i.e. event cards, inventory cards, etc), other tokens you need, etc. After you make a list, either mentally or written down, then you can really start! Either create/buy the pieces in an organized order, or just go at it in any order you like, if that's how you like to do things. Hope this helps!
 
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Eric Jome
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When you want to build a prototype, just buy some colored construction paper, glue, pens, and a scissors. Save up cardboard from cereal boxes over time and use it to build playing pieces; glue the colored construction paper on the cardboard and write on it whatever you need.

If you need cards, buy sleeves, use your old collectible trading card game cards for weight and slip little sheets of paper in the sleeve with them. Dice are everywhere; they even sell blanks if you want.

That's all there really is to prototyping. The same skills you learned in grade school art classes make wonderful prototypes.
 
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August Larson
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cosine wrote:
When you want to build a prototype, just buy some colored construction paper, glue, pens, and a scissors. Save up cardboard from cereal boxes over time and use it to build playing pieces; glue the colored construction paper on the cardboard and write on it whatever you need.

If you need cards, buy sleeves, use your old collectible trading card game cards for weight and slip little sheets of paper in the sleeve with them. Dice are everywhere; they even sell blanks if you want.

That's all there really is to prototyping. The same skills you learned in grade school art classes make wonderful prototypes.


Haha! How true! And where can I buy these blank dice? Are they just white cubes then? Are they not too slick, and therefore easy to write numeric values of my own or colors on them?
 
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Eric Jome
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colmustard21 wrote:
And where can I buy these blank dice? Are they just white cubes then? Are they not too slick, and therefore easy to write numeric values of my own or colors on them?


I think most game stores that sell any quantity of dice will likely have them. Frankly, you could probably use plain ole dice you have laying about if you need to. I think a lot of people put stickers on the sides instead of actually writing on them.

I am pretty old school myself; I just use regular old dice and make a reference table for translating the numbers to different meanings. I usually make a note that the reference table wouldn't be there and would be replaced by special dice if costs allow when discussing the game with playtesters.

Too many years of "A or B? Then 1, 2, 3 is A and 4, 5, 6 is B... roll."
 
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Alan Monroe
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colmustard21 wrote:
And where can I buy these blank dice?


Teacher's/Educational Supply stores sometimes have blank cards & dice.
 
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August Larson
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JavaJack wrote:
colmustard21 wrote:
And where can I buy these blank dice?


Teacher's/Educational Supply stores sometimes have blank cards & dice.


Awesome! I'll have to find one of these places! Thanks!
 
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Chris Shreve
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Fantastic. I guess I just needed a bit of direction. I think I am going to start putting together a rough prototype of my game, and see how it pans out. Again, thank you for your input. It has helped more than you might know.
 
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Tony Allen
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We're glad to help.

Keep us informed on how it goes.

Edit: Here's your first tip.
 
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Jeremy Holcomb
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I second the "just make a prototype" motion. In addition, I'd like to bring up production quality and highly recommend that you abandon any concern about the prototype looking 'pretty' and only care about it being easy to work with.

When I was first making prototypes I put to much effort into making nice looking parts. This is a bad idea, and even more so early in the process where whole game components/mechanics might go away.

Now I have a better idea what really needs to be done. Example: I have a game I'm working on that has a deck of cards and custom dice. The cards are just printouts in card sleaves...no art, no flavor text, just the game info. All the pretty stuff will come later. However, the dice are custom, and making custom dice instead of needing a Murphy chart has sped up playtesting quite a bit.

In short, put effort in where is will make playtesting faster. Worry about pretty when you have the game done (or don't bother, I get game submissions all the time that are ink on index cards, and I'm fine with that).
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Dylan Kirk
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Make a prototype!

And while you're thinking about that, you can take a look at this thread:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2397208

and then this thread for some ideas:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2966764

Peace, friend!
 
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