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Is it best to stick with one genre/style?

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Paul Ott
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Joined: 01/22/2018

So I've been doing hobby development for 5 years now. The first 4 years were mostly on a dungeon crawl, because that was what I was most familiar with as far as theme and mechanics. I realized toward the end that with some more work it could be really good, but a medium-heavy game with miniatures wasn't a great idea for a first kickstarter.

Since then I've since bounced around a few lighter designs: card game that can be played with a normal deck of cards, pattern matching social deduction party game, etc, and now I'm fiddling with an educational bath toy game that I can play with my kid. What I'm learning is that each one of these is very, very different. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to design around that genre and mechanic and audience. Because of the learning curve, my designs in a new area are mediocre at best.

In general, is it better to:

(1) Stick to one specific type of game to build a brand and an audience and develop deep design skills to make a really good game, or

(2) Keep exploring different types of games to broaden my understanding and add more tools to the toolbelt in hopes that one day I'll have a solid enough understanding to make a really good game?

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Keep exploring different types of games

If you explore more types of games, it will make you more versatile in terms of games that you have produced and make your experience more valuable to say a future employer (if your goal is to be employed in the field of Game Design or somewhere in the industry).

But that being said, IF you work on one (1) game and have many ideas around it... Well nothing stops you from exploring along this avenue either. If you have success and it is repeatable, well that is certainly an good accomplishment and can help in terms of "living the dream" (which varies from one person to another - but we can generally agree making an income from design, for example).

The idea about working on a Dungeon Crawler and then deciding not to make it a first project is not bad... But if your creative abilities let you design an interesting Dungeon Crawler ... Why not? From my experience, you will KNOW when you have a GOOD or GREAT game. If it's mediocre or boring and not FUN... Well that's a clear sign that you have not built the right "Dungeon Crawler" just YET! But nothing is stopping you from iterating and improving the design... Think about how to make it more "clever"! Or how to include a mechanic that boosts the level of strategy.

However again, making and publishing a smaller game is not a wrong idea either. It's good to learn from experience and if a smaller, simpler game is what you feel is your best way to learn what "Game Design" is all about... Well that could indeed be "your journey".

In a way, you're understanding what most other "Game Designers" face. In my case SURE, I would LOVE to "work on" Quest Adventure Cards(tm) - the 2nd Edition. But I don't have the finances to bring this project to life and there are many unknowns with this design which mean that I cannot afford to spend much time on it.

If you want to build a catalog of games much like Reiner Knizia who has made millions of dollars with his games, well you need to start SOMEWHERE. And if you feel a "Dungeon Crawler" is TOO BIG, that may be TRUE. Focus on some smaller games and see what you think is REALLY special and clever which could interest other gamers and encourage them to adopt your game.

It's not a single path to success... You have to realize your own finances, design challenges, scope of your project, people needed to bring it to life, etc. Because most "Game Designers" don't work alone... You'll probably work with an Artist/Illustrator, a Creative Writer, a Graphic Designer, a Developer, many Playtesters, etc.

So you need to be smart about your project and understanding how to bring it to LIFE!

Cheers and best of luck(!?) with your games.

Note: I say "luck" but what I mean is good planning, proper analysis, educating yourself to the avenues to publish, and generally all that goes into making a FUN and finished design...

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
Keep at it!

Paul Ott wrote:
So I've been doing hobby development for 5 years now. The first 4 years were mostly on a dungeon crawl... What I'm learning is that each one of these is very, very different. I spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to design around that genre and mechanic and audience. Because of the learning curve, my designs in a new area are mediocre at best.

If they are "mediocre" it's because you need to INVEST "more time" and thought to make another iteration with some innovating having more depth of strategy that your current design.

Best thing to do: shelve the design and work on something NEW.

Don't settle for "mediocre" designs... Keep polishing and refining the game until you have something INTERESTING. Trust me... When you HAVE SOMETHING GOOD... You will know it.

Cheers!

Paul Ott
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Joined: 01/22/2018
My dungeon crawler is a very

My dungeon crawler is a very good game. I took it to a few conventions and had overwhelmingly positive feedback, with one playtester telling me it was the best game he had ever played. Even so, I have a few tweaks in mind when I take it off the shelf.

The other designs are mediocre because I haven't put in the time like you say. I'm 100% in agreement.

This thread has been good for me to explore my goals. I did some soul searching the past few days. What I am after is this: I want to create one masterpiece over the next 20 years.

Two broad options that I see for that.

One would be try to become a full time board game designer, so I can become fully immersed in that domain and work on the more commercially risky games on the side.

The other is to continue what I'm doing for work and on the side focus solely on one specific genre/style to develop skills around that and build a brand/audience around that. This is probably what I will do.

Sound about right?

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
You need to keep-at-it!

Paul Ott wrote:
Sound about right?

It's a learning experience too... The better informed you are, the better you will have some level of success. But success is relative... Take for example Chris Mancini he created the dice game called "Scrambo". He had a successful Kickstarter (KS) which led to a deal to sell his game in all the Walmart store in the USA!

That came AFTER a small KS of 190 Backers for a Total of $10,000 USD.

So success can come from "repeat" efforts to TRY to get something into consumer hands. It's not always the FIRST (1st) attempt that brings you definite success.

But if you have something "GOOD", it's more than likely that gamers will WANT to play it. And so therefore, you have an audience you can BUILD upon!

evansmind244
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Joined: 04/09/2015
Community and Fans

You have created a game that one man said was his favorite of all time. SUCCESS!!!!!! I would focus on trying to create a fan base and community around your Dungeon Crawl and see if one Fan can turn into 2.........

Super-Tooned
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Joined: 07/10/2017
Both are good!

It's always good to explore different games and genres to get new ideas and learn more. It allows you, as a game designer, to be more creative with your game and to know what has been overdone or what people like. From there you can decide the direction you can go with your game.

Though, it's also good to stick to a genre you know a lot about. It gives you a sense of comfortablility. It also gives you direction for your game. In conclusion, both are good!

Jay103
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Joined: 01/23/2018
questccg wrote:Take for

questccg wrote:
Take for example Chris Mancini he created the dice game called "Scrambo". He had a successful Kickstarter (KS) which led to a deal to sell his game in all the Walmart store in the USA!

That deal went through? Sweet!

questccg
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Joined: 04/16/2011
They were discussing what stores could sell the game

Jay103 wrote:
That deal went through? Sweet!

I believe from the last post Chris wrote, they were discussing which stores the game could be sold at.

I think it was more that just "Walmart", I believe they were talking about "Target" too... And other american big box stores too... I have no clue if they were also targeting (Pun intended!?) FLGSs in the USA. I think it was just a play on large stores...

I will send him a message to see where they are at!

Cheers...

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