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"Seven years and a million dollars"

Here's the kind of really sad story you can hear sometimes from novice designers. At one of the game design/game publishing seminars at GenCon, right at the end, someone raised his hand and said he and a group of friends had been working on a game for seven years, and it was a great game, and they had spent over seven years and a million dollars developing it including paying Marvel comic artists to do the art; and how could he get to talk to Fantasy Flight Games about it? The three panelists were taken aback – if I wrote in contemporary style I would say they were "stunned" – and said nothing for a moment.

Choosing a title for a game design book

My author copies of my book, “Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish", arrived today - it was printed a little early. I don't know when it will reach pre-order folks. .

So it's a good time for the following:

As with game titles, book titles are determined by the publisher, not by the author. All things marketing are the province of the publisher and the title is part of marketing. So the author or designer can suggest titles but he or she does not have the final say.

Being a good listener

Many years ago as I was part of the questioning panel in on a job interview for a computer support position, a candidate was asked a typical question: what are the three most important characteristics for this job and how do you rate in those characteristics? This first reply was “I’m a good listener”.

July 2012 Miscellany

Thoughts about some game-related topics that are not long enough for separate blog posts.

If you're into twitter, and game design, Reiner Knizia is worth following. Many of his tweets are attempts to encapsulate his experience.

I see that GenCon now charges a base price of $2 per event--but not for seminars


Commercially viable game designs versus personally satisfying designs

I go to a college game club during the academic year. Recently a couple of the college students have designed their own games and brought them to playtest at the club. One of these is the past president, now a graduate student, who’s been working on games for several years and so it wasn’t surprising. His game that’s a combination of deck building and lots of dice rolling is quite popular. The other is more of a surprise, a 19-year-old woman who had not seemed very serious about games, who’s full of life and enthusiasm about all kinds of things, yet who buckled down and designed games.

Six words about chance/randomness in games

According to tweetdeck, one of the trending:worldwide topics on twitter not so long ago was six word stories. In the past several months I've asked people to say six words about game design, programming, wargames, stories in games, casual games, innovation (and plagiarism) in games, and zombie games.

This time the challenge is this: say six (interesting or amusing) words about chance/randomness in games.

Game Rules are a Pain in the "Watukas"

Here is an example of how a simple misunderstanding in the rules can break a game.


An amazing number of teenagers dream of making games for a living, if my informal surveys at local schools and colleges can be expanded to the entire generation.

There are all kinds of individual delusions (see ), but I’m talking about the big dream: “I’m going to be famous (and rich) as a video game maker.”

A Eureka Moment about Training, Education, Puzzles, and Games

I was thinking about a time when my department head came to my game design class unannounced to evaluate my teaching, and I wasn’t “lecturing” to the students. They were working on game projects. (This was not an introductory class.) She seemed surprised that I wasn’t lecturing, but that may be because she typically taught introductory computer literacy style classes such as how to use Microsoft Office. Classes that teach use of specific office software can be taught more or less by rote: if you want to make something bold you highlight it and press control-B or click the Bold button. If you change margins you do thus and so. And so forth.

These intro software classes don’t have to be taught entirely by rote but commonly they are, complete with what I call “monkey books”.

Origins 2012–-“Diminished”

This is not a “convention report” per se, as I had no interest in the banquets and awards, nor in the special guests, nor (with few exceptions) in new games and announcements about games. The featured guests were media people--film and TV--rather than game people, though Wil Wheaton does a boardgame videocast (which I have not seen). The others were Felicia Day and Adrienne Wilkinson. There were only two game design guests of honor (Rob Schwalb and Jeff Tidball), quite a departure from days past, one artist (Sandra L. Garrity), and one author guest (Aaron Allston, formerly a D&D writer). SF author Timothy Zahn was scheduled to be around as well. In years past Reiner Knizia, Richard Garfield, and Jim Dunnigan have been guests of honor, but if people of such stature in game design were present I did not see or hear of them.

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by Dr. Radut