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Designed for one, built for another.

6 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/16/2010


So my hope here is that others have experienced something similar and will be able to lend their thoughts on the topic. As always I really enjoy hearing the (often insightful) commentary of you folks.

To the issue! I have been working at a fairly steady pace (given schedule/personal obligations) on a very robust project. I have a massive amount of material completed as far as rules and even a great portion of the "physical" design of the game done. I eventually ran into an excellent resource for artwork and am now presented with a most interesting problem.

Now, I am a close student of logic and perfectly aware that "the most obvious answer is usually the correct one". Regardless of this logic I had hoped someone could offer me insight or resource to either ease my decision or offer a new path.

My product is based on a dystopian steam-punk theme. I love the theme and have (unfortunately) grown attached to it. Not only does the theme seem like a winner to me but some of the rule material has been slightly altered to better fit into said theme.

Unfortunately, all of the art resources I have available (more than enough to complete the project) are space themed. As in, pew pew, kill you with muh lazers, space. Now this isn't a problem as far as adaptation is concerned. I can write a new theme in absolutely no time, similarly, rules can be adapted. PERSONALLY I feel like the game won't have the same market impact with what I consider a "used" theme. This bring us full circle to my question.

Simple as it may sound: Should I consider just completing the project with available resources or "hold out" for some possibly non-existent "steam-punk" artwork. I should mention that the project could be finished in, literally, a few short months with current artwork. Waiting for artwork that does not yet exist means letting the game sit and collect dust until something presents (does that even happen?) itself.

I feel like I am betraying all of the hard work already done on the game by abandoning the old theme. If anyone is interested I could post the theme here, perhaps that would offer some insight into my conundrum.

Please, share, and thank you!

Horatio252's picture
Joined: 03/13/2011
How will you publish?

I think a really important aspect to how we answer is how you foresee publishing it. If you expect to sell this game to a publisher eventually, then you don't need art beyond some hand drawn sketches (watch out, QuestCCG is going to come over here and fight me for saying that :) . If you expect to self-publish, through kickstarter or otherwise, then you want your game to have the best chance it can on the market. I think Steampunk gives you a better chance than sci-fi (the board gaming world is still waiting for a great steampunk game.) If you are going the self-publishing route then you need original art which you can commission specifically for your game.

In sum, in my opinion, don't switch to sci-fi. Either you or a publisher will pay for art that fits your game. What you playtest with now matters very little, so keep the steampunk theme you have been working on.

Joined: 02/16/2010
A lack of choices



I appreciate your perspective on this and thank you for taking the time to read and address my post. Unfortunately I feel I have little choice in the matter. After consulting with a "brother" of mine, a very old and trusted ally, I expect the game will simply have to be released as is. He has been valuable, as he often is, by reminding me of yet unexplored possibilities. In light of this I will release a version of my work using a space theme. The Game Crafter should offer an acceptable platform for generating at least a small artistic fund.

To say that I feel dismayed, perhaps even a bit shorted by this choice is an understatement. But given my available options I feel it is the only viable choice available. I will accept the release of this project as a method of gaining funds in order to fulfill broader goals. I will however, not feel as though I have released the best possible product.

I am reminded of a short story I wrote and its life cycle; once passed through the hands of an editor. Seven pages of expressively written material cleaved down to a measly three after the editor was through. To say that the story was poorer for his editing would be an injustice to both the editor and the story itself. I can say, however, that it cut me deeply to so thoroughly unravel my own careful work in the name of page space. An unfortunate loss, but an acceptable casualty in the name of achieving higher goals.


Joined: 07/02/2012
Steam Punked

I wouldn't ditch the "Steam Punk" theme, because it is a very cool genre with so many possibilities. Who doesn't love a good Jules Verne story and setting? I wrote about 70 pages of a steam punk novel, but got busy with other projects. I plan on finishing it over the next year. Couldn't you use the same basic mechanics as the sci-fi game and just expand on your original idea?
But, I do agree with your "brother" that there is no reason to throw away so much time and effort on your sci-fi theme. If it's ready to go and be presented to the world, why trash it? What you may think is an overworked concept may appeal to more people than you think. I would proceed with the launch as is, see how the gaming public receives it, get some funds to release initial copies and in the meantime keep working on that steam punk game.

MarkKreitler's picture
Joined: 11/12/2008
Do that Voodoo (that you do so well...)

Hey Lof,

I'm with Voodoo and Horatio in that I'd hate to see you throw the baby out with the bathwater.

You don't mention the type of game, but if it's possible, why not extract the rules from the setting, then release the "Space Theme" as the first "Theme Pack"? Save the Steam Punk rules tweaks and release them when you build up enough resources to purchase the required art.

This also dovetails with Horatio's comments. If you abstract the system out, you can pitch to publishers and retrofit any art theme you want.

Joined: 02/16/2010
Of many minds, thank you.

So after taking input from all sides a I am pleased to speak of current work and positive direction.

I have not, yet, written a fun fluff story for the current project. I am a bit bitter about being forced into a compromise, however, I have not stopped moving forward. Because of the sweeping change to available material I have taken a brothers advice and resurrected an old project.

I am somewhat "let down" by forcing my favored work to the side but my excitement over the prospect of an art fund being generated by THIS work is a grand and welcome change from a previous sense of dismay and confusion.

Now to those of you that took the time to read my subject and offer such insightful posts. Thank you for not only offering intelligent commentary, but also, for taking on this issue with the same sense of priority and seriousness that I apply to it. In some ways I sometimes feel silly, handling game design under such a serious context. I feel very strongly that if I want to be the best designer I can be I must treat it seriously. My father once told me "I don't care if you decide to flip burgers for a living, just so long as you always strive to be the best at it."


Joined: 07/02/2012
Two Words

Two words:
Expansion Opportunity.

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