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5 replies [Last post]
Joined: 04/18/2009
Fall of Rome, Game board

I have a realy hard time to actualy sit down and make my game prototypes. I do not know why this is but it is somthing that erks me about it and I can not realy put my fingur on it. Anny one els got the same problem? Anny ideas on how to get "over" it?

Relexx's picture
Joined: 05/31/2010
Are you thinking too complex?

Are you thinking too complex? what do you really need to create the prototype? you don't need miniatures, you could use card/paper squares, with just the name and stats on it. Pictures are not that important either, especially if it is just for play testing.

SiddGames's picture
Joined: 08/02/2008
Buck Up

If you have grand designs, then perhaps as Relexx alludes to you are just intimidated by the scope of your project/prototype. You have to start somewhere -- print your current rules draft, then just go thru the component list or setup instructions and start making the bits.

It might also be that you need to just get down and dirty. Honestly, brainstorming and writing some rules and cards is fairly easy -- sitting down to prototype, playtest, rewrite, playtest, rewrite, playtest, rewrite, etc. is the hard work and the dirty work.

I think if you can get down and do it once or twice, you may get past your aversion to it. Proto + playtest will show you so much more than just the theorycraft version you have in your mind.

EDIT: I just saw in the other thread that you have many games, including submitted to a publisher. So you know how to proto and what it takes... you just don't enjoy that part of the process? or is it knowing that you'll probably have to redo some or all of a design that needs to change?

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
Opportunity Costs

I have found that I cannot put a precise timeframe on the brainstorming stage of a project. Sometimes it pops right into my head and I'm ready to write up a design. Sometimes, I only have a faint notion of 'this would be cool' but no formal direction for years. I personally find this stage to be the most frustrating and mentally stressful because more often than not, I do not find a design at the end of my search. It is easy then to feel like I've wasted my time. Though I know this is not the case later in retrospect, it is always hard to properly value the time spent here.

Once I have a clear idea though, I write it up in a digital document. Sketches, scribbles and amorphous ideas become an articulate, ordered and presentable piece of documentation. Oftentimes in the process of doing this, I encounter unanticipated issues that need to be addressed. And, sometimes this derails my efforts and I produce a half complete document that I never return to. This can be frustrating, but I find it less so than brainstorming because I gain pleasure from the articulation of my thought. So, even if I realize that the design is not workable, I still have something (incomplete) to show for it. This process usually takes me a couple of hours or so initially and small snit bits of time later as I revise and edit it. Only about half of my ideas make it from brainstorming to documentation.

Only about a quarter of those that make it to documentation make it to prototyping though. Sometimes, it's because I've come up with a design that I realize is not fun (even if it is sound)... other times, it is not yet complete. Sometimes its derivative. Other times, it doesn't have a market. There are a lot of reasons that games don't make it past the design document stage... but one of the principle reasons is opportunity cost. Unless I'm really convinced that the game is sound, fun and marketable, it is difficult to motivate myself to put the time and effort into a prototype.

Now granted, my idea of a prototype is probably a little higher quality than is necessary, but it represents at least a four fold increase in the time that it takes to design it. I have started to clock my recent prototypes, and the timing varies. On the low end, it took me twelve hours to properly research, design, layout, print and make presentable a simple card game. The brainstorming stage was very long but the write up took about two hours. On the high end, it took me about 50 to 60 hours to make just the files for the prototype for a multiplayer theme intense boardgame. But, the write up of the design doc took about 10 hours, so I knew it was going to be a high commitment of time. Even though it is still not ready to playtest (the spoiler list is incomplete) I could very clearly see the feasibility of it in the end... so I was/am willing to put in the time.

Of course, producing a game represents at least another four-fold commitment of time. What could be done by devoting my full time in a week will take a month or more of full time work to complete... and involve the efforts of a number of other people. So, at that point, the game better be not only sound, but fun and marketable.

Each increase along the way represents an opportunity cost. I could be doing something else, designing something else, living life more fully, etc... Since the increase in time is steep from the design to the prototype and the prototype to production, the end of each stage imposes a psychic burden that must be crossed in order to continue. I need to feel like this is really cool, potentially lucrative AND materially feasible... otherwise I psychologically move onto something else.

Prototyping, for me, is really where the rubber first meets the road and I need to know whether there's gas in the tank to continue. As I said, only about 1/4 of my designs make the cut there because I don't find them compelling enough. Sadly, but also true, only 1/4 of the prototypes make it then to production. But, at that point, it has more to do with whether _others_ also find it compelling enough. Fortunately, you don't need to guess much about that. You can see it on their faces immediately, if you're willing to look.

Momerath's picture
Joined: 01/16/2009
The beginning of all things are small.

I agree with Relexx that you may be overthinking the prototype, but in terms of rules and not necessarily components. Start with what you know the game is going to be about, and cast that problem in the most elemental sense possible. For instance, "it's about trading"; "it's about voting" or "it's about shooting stuff." Cut out anything extraneous that would be "really cool" but is too complicated and extraneous to your real problem. It's hard to curb your own creativity, but by simplifying the problem you have a starting point. Make a simple game, and add to it over time. It may become very complex over time, but by that point you'll have a handle on the complexity and won't be paralyzed by indecision.

Joined: 04/18/2009
My work process

I usualy get a idea for a game into my head, more often than not it seams this process is compleatly random. It can very from just a name for a game or a theem for it. Often also I have a general idea of one or more game mecanis that should fit nicly in the game. Or I have a feel for how I want the gameplay to unfold and what the players should be able to do in the game. Sometimes I even get "complet" games poping up in my head. Then I write this doen in my "game idea" document. This baby is at a wopping 23 pages at the moment. Then it sits there until I at some later point comes up with a "hey this is how it should work" moment. This part is usualy the most anoying part, this is becaus it seems this always hapends when I am about to go to sleep. So I have to go up, start the computer and so on al over again. It is ither that or trying to sleep with the fear that I might have forgotten this when I wake up in the morning.

After the game is mor or less compleated this way I make up a prototype for it. The last two games I have done have bin card games. So I have bin able to play them with siply altering a normal deck of cards. After I have played th egame severl times, and tweeking the rules a litle. I make up a new prototype a more flashy one. This usualy take a lot more time. For the last two cardgames this took about 30 hours for both of them. Then I print them at artscow, I have one game hopfully coming in tomorro, monday. This I do to be able to playtest the game in its final form, with the maximum number of players. And also to get feedback from the playtesters on the feeling of the game. Most prototypes do not give of the same feel as the final prodoct as you al know. So I try and make a nice prototype so I can get more correct feedback from the playtesters.

After this is done I usualy type up the rules. Untill now I have keept the rules in my head and the difrent versions in the computer. Also when I make the early prototype I usualy create a seperet file for the game and moves al things gamerelated in to it from the "game idea" document. Typing up the rules is realy tedius work. Al the spellchecking and translating. Do note it is just a "rules for.doc" so it is no rulebook at this moment. It often have "insert pictur of XXX here" in it but that is just for me.

When it comes to board games, I usualy spend a litle more time on the first prototype. In the two I have created I have used maps for the gameboard and I have spend maby 15 to 20 hours on creating them each.

Thank you al for youre thoughts on this subject.

I have crated a seperet thred where you can post youre own creation process.

I have included the game board for one of the games I made in the post. Aparently I could not ad more than one pictur. =S

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