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“Your first ten games will suck"!

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larienna
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I am currently reading a book about game design (in general, so it includes video games) and one of the comments that surprised me but I that I somewhat agreed with was:

“Your first ten games will suck — so get them out of the way fast. ”

My first reaction was, "I don't want to make crappy games". My second was "I have some good ideas and I don't want to waste them because they are my 10 first games".

So my questions are are:

1. Do you believe that effectively, you 10 first games will suck?

2. Does these 10 games need to be published/released to be in the count?

3. How can we get them out of the way really fast?

Here are some solutions so far that could help get rid of the first 10 "bad games"

A. Make small games first: I generally try to my few good quality games, rather that lots of cheap games. Still there is a few of my games that cannot expand that much and must rely on at most 1 or 2 mechanics. If I develop these games first, and they end up being bad, it's not too much a waste of energy.

B. Design variants: Making variants for other games, which is something I currently do a lot, could be an idea to make errors on these design rather than in my games. It is also an opportunity to test mechanics that could be reused in other games. Still, it depends on the amount of changes the variant introduce. Changing a few rules, or almost changing completely the game is not the same.

C. Design free games: Make your first games for free. It might attract more people to play your game and give more feedback.

TimothyHeadwound
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Hmm...

Personally, I wouldn't take everything I read in a book like that at face value. Though it's true of any creative pursuit that the more you do it the better you get, the amount of practice/trial and error a person needs undoubtedly varies from one individual to the next. I don't think you should go thinking "my first 10 games, whatever I do with them, will be unavoidably crap". That's a pretty unhelpful way to go about things.

Dralius
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What book are you reading?

I’ve been making games for over 30 years if you count the games I made to play with friends and relatives when I was a kid. I bet more than 10 of them sucked by my current standard but they were fine for us then.

I think the author is trying to say that you need experience to make good games.

How much depends on how fast you learn. Making 10 crappy games quickly won’t necessarily teach you anything.

What book are you reading?

Redcap
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1. Do you believe that

1. Do you believe that effectively, you 10 first games will suck?
No, I don't. I think your first attempt at making a game will need some re-evaluation, playtesting, tweaking, ect.

2. Does these 10 games need to be published/released to be in the count?
Only the best quality games get published so that question doesn't make sense.

3. How can we get them out of the way really fast?
Self fullfilling prophecy. You think your first 10 games will suck so you pump out 10 games really fast in order to get rid of the "curse" and it turns out that since you pumped out the games really fast they do suck.

Now I am curious, did the book actually use the word "suck", if so I would generally stop reading the book because it sounds unprofessional and a waste of time.

I mean how useful is the statement "your first 10 tries will suck". What are they trying to teach you?

Nick Danger
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While I guess the suckiness

While I guess the suckiness of the game could be debated, my first attempt at game design was at least deemed good enough to be picked up and published by Z-man Games.

I would say it all depends on how much game playing background you have, and who the audience for the game is. In general, I agree with the previous posters in that I don't see the supposed helpfulness of the statement and it would make me disregard most of the other information put forth in this book.

Perhaps in the video game world it might be different in that your first few games might well be below par due more to lack of game programming skills than game design itself.

RTaylor
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self fulfilling

This strikes me as a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I mean, if you're racing through your first 10 games to get to the 'good ones', then they're sure to stink. But I don't think that's really what you should take from this. As with anything, hard work and practice make you better at game design. Your first design may end up being a great game, but it likely won't start out that way. I guess that it depends on when you stop designing a game as much as when you started!

scifiantihero
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It Depends . . .

. . . on the voice the author's using, and how he is conveying this message, but I wouldn't say there's anything unprofessional about it. I also agree with people who are saying to take this with a grain of salt.

The idea that one's first creative endeavors will not be their best is echoed in lots of books about creation (I've read quite a bit about writing). It's designed to ENCOURAGE people to keep trying, and to keep pushing the boundaries of their imagination, and to keep innovating. Taking it literally may, of course, have the opposite effect.

So, Don't. :)

Rick-Holzgrafe
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It's called "setting expectations."

It's called "setting expectations." The author is just warning you (in colorful, memorable language) that your first few designs are unlikely to set the world on fire; so don't be discouraged when that happens.

I agree that trying to hurry through ten games to "get to the good ones" isn't going to help. That's a little like saying you'll be in an average of two car crashes in your lifetime, and then going out and deliberately hitting a tree, twice, to get them over with.

I've heard it said that to be really good at anything, you need to spend about 10,000 hours doing it. This makes more sense to me than specifying some number of designs without any discussion of how complex those designs are, how many different mechanisms they use, how long you worked on improving them, and so on.

For the record, my first game design was playable but rather dull, and so was my second. I followed those with a couple of dozen designs that were unplayably awful. I've now reached the point where some of my designs are actually playable and fun, although I have yet to get any of them published.

Redcap
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10 out of 9 people are bad at

10 out of 9 people are bad at fraction and 65.734% of all statistics are made up :)

Can I ask what book it is by chance?

scifiantihero
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Hehe

Love the car crash example!

simpson
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Quote:It's called "setting

Quote:
It's called "setting expectations." The author is just warning you (in colorful, memorable language) that your first few designs are unlikely to set the world on fire; so don't be discouraged when that happens.

Agreed. I've heard this and varieties of the same statement in several fields.

People are used to their expectations and want to be naturally good the first time they attempt. When I teach basic drawing workshops its one of the first expectations I cover -- you WILL not be good the first time and if you are then I will kick out cause you are just wasting time.

Personally, my first game design sucked as the day is long. My second & third weren't bad but out of focus. Fourth I would play right now. But a big component to keep on trucking and making better designs was to expect NOT to be stellar the first go around. You just don't know everything you need to know. It would be like a baby trying to write a novel.

simpson

simpson
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Quote:3. How can we get them

Quote:
3. How can we get them out of the way really fast?

I do postmortem on game designs after play testing, which helps me learn a lot of where the failings are. Its easier to design the next game when you are aware of past pitfalls.

I also used to post-up game designs on here and BGG.com in segments called "Break My Game" where I took game designs that had fatal flaws in them, presented them, then let other designers sleuth for flaws. Our own Seth was killer for finding things tucked away in the designs.

Break My Game: Equilibrium
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/290441

Break My Game: personaHACK
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/285446

Doing this helped me be more critical of what I was designing. Play testing is great to see clogs in the game flow but players rarely can articulate what is "fun" in a game. Picking the brains of game designers however is worth its weight in gold.

simpson

InvisibleJon
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Just do it. =)

I'd rephrase the statement as: "The more you do, they better you'll get."

There are a lot of implications here:

1) You'll make better games. You'll expand your vocabulary of mechanics and your sense of game balance.
2) You'll get used to taking ideas to prototypes to finished games. You'll learn that you really can make games.
3) You'll find your "stride" - You'll work faster and more efficiently. You'll figure out what order of design and development operations works best in each given situation for you.
4) You'll get better at taking constructive and destructive criticism. Once you have more than a few games, you don't have as much of your ego bound up in each game.
5) You'll get better at recognizing a fruitless project and leaving it.

As stated by earlier replies: The way to get good is practice. Just do it.

Are your first 10 games guaranteed to stink? No.
Will they be as good as your 30th, 50th, or 100th game? Probably not.
Will you make stinkers after your first 10 games? Sure, that's part of creating stuff. Sometimes it's a hit, and sometimes it's a miss.

How do you get them out of the way really fast? Set a schedule for yourself. For example: "I will design, prototype, play test, and finish one game every month." I've heard that's pretty good practice if you stick with it for a year.

I think that "small" games are a great start. It's like writing short stories as practice before writing a novel.

Oh, and I don't think that the games have to be published to count. In fact, I think that'd be pretty sad. It's always sad when a bad game gets published. =( Of course, I have a pretty strong bias for web-released print-and-play games.

drewdane
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Actually, there's some truth to this.

I would kinda agree with this statement, and take it one step farther: All of your games are going to suck... Initially.
Unless you're some kind of game designing freak of nature, your games will be awful until you've put some time and sweat into them, gotten feedback from others, put more time and sweat into them, and then put in even more time and sweat! :)
We worked on 18EZ for quite some time, and had tweaked it to within inches of its life (we thought) before putting out the call for playtesters to come witness the fruit of our brilliance! Surely, there were a few small issues to correct, but the game was mostly complete...?
After sifting through the mountain of criticism, and finding most of it to be valid, we began the work of turning what we had into something worth playing. If one is willing to put in enough effort, the number 10 seems to be a bit arbitrary and silly.

Oh yeah, I'd also like to take issue with this:

Redcap wrote:
2. Does these 10 games need to be published/released to be in the count?
Only the best quality games get published so that question doesn't make sense.

I dunno... I bet I could point out several published games that flat-out suck.

ReneWiersma
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My first game sucked. My

My first game sucked. My second game got published. So, no, I don't agree with the statement.

However, I think what the author of that book is trying to say: don't get stuck trying to get your first design working over and over again. Don't get hung up on a single game idea. Do your best, and if the design just doesn't work, if it just doesn't come together, then give it up and try designing another game. Don't be afraid you'll only ever have one good idea for a game. If you really are destined to be a game designer you'll have plenty of good ideas over time (and even more bad ones, but that's OK too).

I also agree that it is a good idea to start out designing small games at first. This will teach you the basics of game design without wasting huge amounts of time.

larienna
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I am currently reading "The

I am currently reading "The art of game design: A book of lenses". Yes, I cited directly the text which appear in quotes in the original text. So it might have been said by somebody else. Right now I think it's a good book that covers a lot of territory and that also talks about creativity/brainstorming. I Read up 80 pages up to now, and I have not entered yet in the technical aspect of design.

Quote:
Do your best, and if the design just doesn't work, if it just doesn't come together, then give it up and try designing another game.

I am currently doing this a lot. I feels like none of my games are advancing but still forcing your game to advance, unless you are near the end, is not good either. So I generally put games aside a lot of times and most of the time I get good results because good ideas can come in afterward.

The only problem with this is that I have a bad memory and that even if I write everything down and try to get an up to date rulebook, I could end up losing some ideas I had before closing the design.

Quote:
"I will design, prototype, play test, and finish one game every month."

I don't like to work under pressure, but it's true that if you set a dead line to a task, you are more likely to finish it.

[quote]I've heard it said that to be really good at anything, you need to spend about 10,000 hours doing it. [/quote

Wow!, That much!. Ok, I'll start counting: It' has been 4 years at 52 weeks spending ...

Thank for the comments anyway.

metzgerism
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10 games

In some way, I agree with the quote:

When I was 4, I turned my living room into a pachinko-style marble game.
When I was 8, I made a game in day care where players ran around a track. Think Monopoly.
When I was 12, I turned a moving box into a two-level dungeon crawl.
When I was 16, I took a trip to DigiPen in Seattle and decided that I did NOT want to be a videogame designer, laying to rest about 8 years of hypothetical contemplation on the world's greatest next Mario game/Fighting game/Stealth action game/RPG. I started creating sports (this included joining my college's rugby team, if you can believe it and I also play australian football competitively now).

I made a new friend when I was 19 and we had three very viable games (two of them sports) by the time I was 21. Since then I have posted two not-so-great perfect information games on iggamecenter.com, and we continue to make games with a soccer ball and a wall whenever we find a new element.

I'm 23 now, and returning to the board game design vein (I still want to make the "next great field sport"). I'm just saying, I feel like I got my 10 sucky games out of the way early...and I still have sucky ideas.

You will get better over time. The moral of the quote is probably not to waste time thinking that one idea is going to be the lynchpin - hell, I think Knizia thinks of a different game to publish every week or so, and Teuber only ever hit the jackpot once (considering the multiple SdJ's, that's pretty nuts). Basically, if you want to design games, you have to design gameS.

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