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Subject: What are your criteria for abandoning a design? rss

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Filip W.
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What makes you decide that a design is beyond saving and to abandon it? What do you look for that tells you whether a design is worth trying to save (i.e. working on it some more) or if it's gone as far as it can and it's time to abandon it?

What I'm asking is the flip side to the question "when do you know that your game is ready to publish".

EDIT:
bno70_1 wrote:
So the OP question might morph into "When do you put a game on hold?"

Good idea! How about it folks, when do you put a game on hold?
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Nate K
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I don't think I've ever abandoned any design. I have, however, put many things on the back burner, intending to return to them later. There are several reasons this has happened:

--I struggled to balance the game, and wanted to give it a rest and return with fresh eyes
--A shiny new idea came along that dazzled and distracted me
--The work became more daunting than I could really handle at the time without failing some college courses
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Gregorio Morales
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Me and my working partner have around 50 projects in hands. We don't decide on which one we should work. Somehow, the ideas do it for themselves.

So, we never ever abandon an idea. The just sleep a little if they decide so. If they don't show up now, maybe they will tomorrow. A theme, a mechanic, a whole game... you never know when it will claim its right to make it into a game.

However, the flip side to the question is very hard to answer. Basically, you have to test it a lot, with lots of different people, and blind testing if you can. One of the flags that tells you the game is good is that people have fun, and want to play more!

Even then, you can only think "maybe some publisher wants it" and start pitching the game to them. Even then, when a publisher says yes (a greaaat moment) just expect your game will get better in the publisher's hand. After all, they know what they do, and they will earn more money than you, so they will try hard

Hope it helps!
Gregorio
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John "Omega" Williams
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While I have yet to totally abandon a design. I have though put a few projects on hold when discovered someone else had put out allready a very simmilar product/idea. Usually put on hold while consider how to tweak the rules so as not to sound so simmilar. You *know* some git on the BGG will quip that you copied rules you never even heard of.

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Pete Belli
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Quote:
What are your criteria for abandoning a design?


#1 -- Ennui

#2 -- A reality check
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Isaac Shalev
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Either it stops being fun to work on, or just never reaches the point where it's fun to play, or I've stopped learning anything from it.

The thing is most of us probably have multiple ideas in different stages of development. I do sometimes actively kill a project, but usually the stuff that's not fun anymore and not teaching me anything about how to make things fun just dies the death of de-prioritization.
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Stoic Bird
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gmoralesor wrote:
So, we never ever abandon an idea. The just sleep a little if they decide so. If they don't show up now, maybe they will tomorrow. A theme, a mechanic, a whole game... you never know when it will claim its right to make it into a game.


This is really good advice. I've had more experience with creative writing than game design (though a bit in the latter), and I try to never throw out a story, even if it's mostly garbage - sometimes I can salvage a character, or a setting, or even lift some dialogue to improve a better story years later.

The design I've made the most progress on started out, briefly, as a deck building game (cause goodness knows we need another one of those right now...). That was a train wreck, but it turned out the basic idea worked pretty well with just "boring" regular draw decks.

I think it's probably mostly up to you. If you enjoy it and have some ideas for fixing the issues, go for it! If either of those aren't true at the moment, or if you have another design you'd rather work on, put it on the shelf and come back to it later, whether to resurrect the project or just to steal a mechanic or two.
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John Gibson
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pete belli wrote:
Quote:
What are your criteria for abandoning a design?


#1 -- Ennui

#2 -- A reality check


You’ve pretty well hit the nail on the head for me, Pete. I have about a dozen game designs in various stages of development and there are a few that will never go beyond the stage they are at now.

For example, I came up with a card game called Pyramid Blocker. It used a custom deck with 5 suits: Papyrus, Fire, Water, Scarab and Stone. Each suit has four cards: 1, 2, 3 and 4. The idea was to create a pyramid of cards, row by row, using the cards. The first row was sets of 4s, the second row was sets of 3s, etc.

I abandoned the idea after the draw a card/discard a card mechanic became too complicated when people no longer needed the 4s, etc.
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John Gibson
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VolcanoLotus wrote:
gmoralesor wrote:
So, we never ever abandon an idea. The just sleep a little if they decide so. If they don't show up now, maybe they will tomorrow. A theme, a mechanic, a whole game... you never know when it will claim its right to make it into a game.


This is really good advice. I've had more experience with creative writing than game design (though a bit in the latter), and I try to never throw out a story, even if it's mostly garbage - sometimes I can salvage a character, or a setting, or even lift some dialogue to improve a better story years later.

The design I've made the most progress on started out, briefly, as a deck building game (cause goodness knows we need another one of those right now...). That was a train wreck, but it turned out the basic idea worked pretty well with just "boring" regular draw decks.

I think it's probably mostly up to you. If you enjoy it and have some ideas for fixing the issues, go for it! If either of those aren't true at the moment, or if you have another design you'd rather work on, put it on the shelf and come back to it later, whether to resurrect the project or just to steal a mechanic or two.


That’s the great thing about living in the digital age, Jeremy. All of my game designs--and the novels and stories I work on as well—are all stored on computer and can be taken up again at a later date. They won’t go stale and I can make multiple versions, each focusing on different idea.
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oystein eker
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Very few are abandoned. Close to finish projects, but still not happy with it,are stored in the drawer. Often a new mechanic is invented, and I often steaL them, and modify my old designs.

Two games are abandoned. One is a kind of Die Macher with every idea thrown in (back in 1985). Think of ASL version of budget negotation and election.

The other is Black Ball. A kind of sci fi ball game, with too much components and real physics ball movement.
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Ben Pinchback
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So the OP question might morph into "When do you put a game on hold?"
For me it's when there's a serious gameplay flaw and I don't currently for whatever reason have the motivation to figure out a solution.
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Jeremy Peet
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Some designs fall together naturally and because of this are easier to develop. Game designs that seem to fight me repeatedly end up on the shelf either to help inspire other ideas or for spare parts.
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Paul Blake
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1. I lost the prototype, rules, and/or notes.
2. The logic of the game was fundamentally flawed, and initial playtests conclusively indicated that the game was completely unplayable.
3. The game's logic is sound (it doesn't "crash"), but the game's structure is too strange or chaotic to form meaningful strategic decisions AND I am unable to formulate any method of ordering the chaos without it becoming a completely different game.

Sadly, #1 and #2 are usually to blame.
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Joe Mucchiello
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I don't abandon anything creative (board games, books, rpgs books, songs I written) until they are available for purchase. And even then, I still sometimes want to reinvent them (esp. the songs).
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John "Omega" Williams
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One of my expansion books though way back was haulted dead in its tracks when one of the playtesters/illustrators for the book decided to claim one of the race designs was his own and started selling prints before the book was completed.

There was virtually nothing that could be done about it at the time and so the books been on hold for a long time now. Mostly due to my immense irk at what happened.

Worse though was a Dragon Storm project I had dropped alot of money into for new card art, etc. Then the !@#$%&ing Guild pulled a series of dirty stunts and then banned the project and the game designers did nothing to stop it. So I was forced to cut losses and pull out. That ones still a major sore point for me.
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David Boeren
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ender7 wrote:
Either it stops being fun to work on, or just never reaches the point where it's fun to play, or I've stopped learning anything from it.

The thing is most of us probably have multiple ideas in different stages of development. I do sometimes actively kill a project, but usually the stuff that's not fun anymore and not teaching me anything about how to make things fun just dies the death of de-prioritization.


Sounds about right to me. I doubt there are many people trying to design a game who have only one idea - most of us have trouble deciding which one(s) to work on. So if something's not working and it's not fun then shelf it and work on something else. Doesn't mean it's a total loss, even if you never get back to that project you may be able to steal the few good bits to reuse in another game later on.
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Jeremy Peet
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All creative ideas inform other creative ideas. As a designer you have to know that there will never be a shortage as long as your heart is in it...and that makes it much easier to let go of projects that may not be as fun or as complete as you think they should be.
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