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The designs that haunt us

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Hedge-o-Matic
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I doubt I'm the only one here that finds myself strangely plagued by a small but ever-growing list of personal game designs that fit the following criteria:

-They are playable games, but are flawed in some way that is too subtle to readily fix.
-They are interesting theoretical designs, but have rarely if ever been played or play tested.
-They all continue to capture my attention, sometimes years after their initial conception. Spotting them among the hundreds of other rules sets on my computer will almost always win them a musing read-through.
-They often have more than one iteration, usually with wildly different styles and mechanics.
-They never seem to get closer to final status.

Surely I can't be the only one plagued by these "undead" games? Why do they persist? Why can't I just abandon them? What keeps me tinkering, when I've got so many other projects -far more successful and promising- to attend to?

CardboardAddict
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The designs that haunt us

On my computer I have a collection of game mechanisms. These I have copied from other games I designed but didn't finish. Now, when I start a new game I often start with the mechanism I used in some other game which was never finished. In that way, it's easy to bring back the best things of you old game and you do not have to think about the problems you had with it.

Nandalf
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Joined: 07/13/2009
The designs that haunt us

i actually wrote a list the other day of my game ideas... 37 different games, and thats not including the same game with different mechanics (each game has probably 3 off shoots that are slightly altered).

Ive actually made 3 game; and 2 were a great success, but needed to be worked on, the third was awful to be honest...

OutsideLime
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The designs that haunt us

We should institute the Acts of Vengeance of Board Game Design.

A while back in the Marvel Comics universe, there was a huge multi-title crossover story arc (Acts of Vengeance) where Loki, the God of Mischief, convinced several major villains to switch enemies, attacking heroes who weren't familiar with their weaknesses. The point being that the villains could share info about the heroes and attack them effectively without warning.

Now, I ain't no God of Mischief. (...and rest assured that while Loki had his own ulterior motives, I do not...)

But what if some of us game designers took some of our "undead" projects and swapped them? Acts of Vengeance against those projects that just won't co-operate? I know that many of us have tons of ideas that just aren't going to go anywhere because they are personal dead-ends, not because they're not good ideas. Maybe another designer could pick up one of those ideas and run with it....

anyone think this is a good idea, or have any suggestions on how to implement it?

~Josh

RAF
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Joined: 11/17/2008
The designs that haunt us

I've also come across this dilemna of what to do with those "reckless gremlins" who never seem to go away. What's important is learning to "breathe" with the process.

Sometimes we need to walk away from them for awhile and other times we need to invest more energy into them. The key is learning to find the rhythm of that game and/or parts of it. When the process seems not bear any fruit with what you're working with, it may be time to bury the "seeds" of what you have and let it germinate.

I once worked on a game for about 4 years and could not get to completion. As uncomfortable as it was, I realized that I may not finish it at all, so I had to live with it and move on. Some of the core logic was still viable, so I always kept the journals within reach. Several years later, I created a new game and actually utilized some of the logic from the other one, but in a new and interesting way. I somehow transformed what I had originally envisioned.

Journaling in this regard is key for you can see the cycles of inspiration and what keeps coming up.

Peace,

RAF

Nestalawe
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The designs that haunt us

OutsideLime wrote:

But what if some of us game designers took some of our "undead" projects and swapped them? Acts of Vengeance against those projects that just won't co-operate? I know that many of us have tons of ideas that just aren't going to go anywhere because they are personal dead-ends, not because they're not good ideas. Maybe another designer could pick up one of those ideas and run with it....

It would be quite interesting to be given a 'dead game' by someone and see what you could work it into. You would have to be given everything that has been developed for the game so far, along with a brief on how the game was envisioned, and then have Total Reign over what you did with it, as you wouldn't want to be too restrained.

I'd be into doing something like that, but it would have to be something the orginal designer is not Too attached too - no ones baby. Especially if I decide to add cannibals to the game...

Or you could do some sort of design swap, where two people exchanged game designs. But then also what would happen if the person made the game into a Beautiful Thing and sold it for millions?

RAF wrote:
Journaling in this regard is key for you can see the cycles of inspiration and what keeps coming up.

Yep, definately. Having a revision list of all the changes the game has gone through is well important in any game design. Helps you not go back over the same processes and also reminds you of why you chose to make certain changes.

Hedge-o-Matic
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The designs that haunt us

Swapping undead games is a great idea. See my new thread for ideas on implementation!

http://bgdf.com/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=3708

Also, in regards to keeping mechanics seperately, I think that's another good idea, though I don't personally do so. For me, the idea of detailing a mechanic without a game example would seem cumbersome, so I'd be interested in seeing how others do so. I do put down ideas for systems I haven't used yet, so I suppose it could be done. Do you lump mechanics by catagory? How do you organize it? What do you do with the "organ-doner" games they came from?

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
The designs that haunt us

I also have this problem. I probably have more than 20 board games ideas in design process, and few of them have successfully reach the step of prototype. The main reason are :

1- I am not in the mood to work on this project.
2- There is 1 piece missing to the puzzle that will make the game working and fun.
3- The game does not flow well, need to find a new approach
4- There is a bug, need to change the mechanics.

The best solution found this far :

1- Make it rest. This allow you to place your mind of something else and if you get a new idea, you can complete the game. I sometime forget some games that are currently in design. It proves that it definately rest in peace.

2- Share with other. This is what we somewhat do on this forum, we have a bug, we need some advice, we post a message. But sometimes, we cannot find what is the problem, this is why we can't make a post about it.

Now what I intended to do, someday, is to post in a complete set of the rules, concept, goals or ideas about a game as a journal entry as a "Rule Draft" for each of the dead games I have. Then maybe I can get some useful feed back to continue the development. Of course, there is the GDW but this is more work working games that need to be play tested, not dead games.

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