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Can I be as interesting as I hope my games will be?

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mattehdeh
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Joined: 08/13/2017

Hi all,

Name is Matt. I'm from Central West NSW, Australia. Specifically a place called Bathurst, famous for the car races on Mt Panorama/Wahluu but it has a lot more going on than just that I assure you.

I have a degree in Communication specialising in Theatre and Media, a background in musical theatre, circus and physical theatre (dance and stuff) and I currently work as a circus and gymnastics coach as well as being a freelance performer and designer for theatrical events and festivals.

What brings me to game design? Well, I dabbled (a lot) with RPG Maker in my youth and ended up with easily over 30 concepts by the time I was 25 when I went to uni. I culled that list down to three that I just couldn't let go, and also kept a graphic novel/animation concept that I've been working on for over a decade now. I gave Unity a go last year but my PC needs a serious upgrade so that's on hold for a while too, hahaha.

I play DnD and DM for friends, and our local game shop hosts DnD, MTG and other table top game events all the time. I took a subject in Games Design in my third year but that was a silly decision given the work load required of our major works so I withdrew from it after a week but kept the textbook :D

Last year some friends and I were playing a DnD boardgame (Conquest of Nerath) when someone suggested a board game concept and I said, "Let's make it happen!"

So just under 12 months later I have a bunch of stuff ready to playtest and a friend willing to do some concept art and I guess I'm just following that dream I've always had as a kid to make interactive stories and experiences for people to enjoy and explore.

Cheers for having me, all the best to everyone, and I'll see you round for sure!

Peace out. Md

The Professor
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Joined: 10/25/2014
Welcome to BGDF!

Matt,

Glad you found your way out here. There are many different fora, so dive in and start reading from those, like you, who have a similar passion. If you've got a particular talent, please share it with the group. As a point of shared introduction, I had served as a proofreader/editor on a couple of games; moved to play-testing and providing more formal feedback a few years later; and most recently became a published game designer, now with two titles under my belt. I'll tell you this, it's a lot of work...some of it can be quite fun, but there are other parts which you'll need all of you passion to see you through to the other side.

Again, welcome and we look forward to sharing our experiences.

Cheers,
Joe

mattehdeh
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Joined: 08/13/2017
Nice to meet you!

Cheers Joe!

You have an awesome history in the industry! I hope one day I can rattle off something similar. :D

I'm definitely prepared for the hard work, but I'm also trying to be realistic about time frames and my other work loads.

At the moment I have given myself till the end of the year to have a round of playtesting done for three of the core mechanics: exploration, combat, and abilities. I've shifted self-set deadlines a few times and given myself room to be flexible so I don't burn out and give up. Getting a group of people together is the toughest challenge at the moment.

I want to have tested and refined the exploration mechanic by the end of September, then combat by end of October, then champion abilities by the end of December. A month should be enough for the first two and then I have 12 playable characters so 2 months for tweaking character balance is a rough guide and I'm happy to move that deadline if need be.

I'm in no rush just yet, but am getting antsy to start, hahaha.

Thanks for your warm welcome!

The Professor
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Joined: 10/25/2014
Review of the literature

Something I forgot to mention earlier...do your homework. My academic background is in history, international relations, and economics. To that end, you only begin to write on the subject matter once you know what came before you. Thus, you're probably not going to break new ground in the gaming industry vis-a-vis new mechanics. Even very good games such as Scythe and Gloomhaven use well-established mechanics, but in a new and fresh way. To that end, make sure you play a ton of games, especially in the space that you're trying to find a niche.

I'll use my own game, TAU CETI, as an example. When I joined the design team, the first thing I did was review BGG (a great resource for 75K different games; if you're not out there, you're doing yourself a disservice) for all space games, focusing on those with a 4X moniker. While more than three dozen titles came back from the search, I wasn't interested in the ones ranked below 5,000 or had convoluted systems. That left me with about a dozen games...very reasonable for me to begin further research.

From there, I got my hands on all of the rules and read them cover to cover. What did these games bring to the game space (no pun intended). How did the game/did the game involve combat, economics/trade, politics, etc? What makes Twilight Imperium (TI3) different from Eclipse? How does Space Empires 4X give the player a completely different feel from other games? Ask yourself questions about the existing games to better define what you want to do with your game. Again, research is vital, but so to is playing games. Reading about mountain climbing in no way gives you the same exhilaration as actually mountain climbing. To that end, you can't experience a game without playing it.

Case in point...Mars was and is a great theme for games in the 2016-2017 timeframe with nearly a half dozen titles hitting the shelves in an 18-month period. I'll pick on two for a moment. Terraforming Mars has a lot of love from a number of players and while I can appreciate what the game does (or at least tries to do), my experience left me with the sense that I was spending far too much time fiddling with cubes and not nearly enough time and energy on Mars. Contrast that with Martians: A Story of Civilization. In that game, I'm on Mars and if we don't provide our Colonists with enough food and oxygen; rid ourselves of disease; and perform the hard work of building the necessary facilities to sustain life...we will die. Wow! What a fundamentally different experience.

Which leads me to my last point. What is the experience you want your players to have. This has almost nothing to do with length of play, mechanics, components, or myriad other tangible aspects of your game. What do you want your players to feel while they're playing the game and after it ends? I"ll give you an example from my own experience. I've played TI3 more than two dozen times and without a doubt, I feel exhausted when it's over. An 8+ hour game will do that. Generally, however, the protracted length time was punctuated with the occasional raucous laughter as a Nebula completely destroyed someone's fleet or a long-awaited combat finally took place. But, generally, it's exhaustion. I don't think Christian Petersen set out to exhaust his players, but a game of that length will do that to them. Thus, start with the experience and build everything else on that experience. If a mechanic or component doesn't support or invest that experience...get rid of it.

In summary, conduct your research (review the literature); play many, many games, especially those in your genre/theme; and think hard about the experience you want to provide your players.

Cheers,
Joe

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