Simple piece of advice. Make the first game you design achievable.
I don’t think most designers get into design because they wanted to design a fun little abstract game. I think designers get inspired to try because they had a grand idea or they played a published game that inspired them. This is awesome, I want all those who are interested in design the try design. That is the main reason I do the blog and the podcast.
When a new designer starts out, they need to work on smaller achievable games. The reasons are many, but the main reason is that a small abstract game is easier to push through the game building process compared to the larger games. The first time you try to explain a game to a person you don’t know, you will trip up. Today, I had a playtest for a baseball game we are working on and we had a new person at the table. This person is my friend, I was not nervous, and I have played this game a half dozen times. I MADE UP MOST OF THE RULES TO THIS GAME!!!! I forgot how the game worked, I got lost in my own explanation. The previous 6 or so plays were all still building the game and we had design discussion of the game before we played. This time, we sat down and we played.
Take that example and think about what you would do if you were at a convention and you had to explain your epic game to a group of strangers. Sure you might not hiccup on the rules like I did, but are you sure you will get all the rules correct? You won’t. Will you have any experience about how to explain a game to people? I have almost a year of this under my belt and I still run into explanation hiccups.
I am getting too far away from the point but the previous example holds so I will not delete it from the post. The most important thing is, making your first game smaller and achievable gives you the best chance to get your first game to the design finish line. There is a lot of invaluable experience to be gained from the entire process and trying to get an epic through that process the first time is a danger zone of discouraging situations.
Even while you work on your epic game, make your little abstract at the same time. Your abstract will make its way through the process faster and you can learn a lesson from your abstract today and apply those lessons to your epic the next day. Help your larger games and future games be successful by starting out with games that are achievable and can act as a teacher.
If you have any comments or questions, leave a comment here or email Chris at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have made it this far, would you like to go a little farther? We have a regular Google hangout with other designers. We talk about the games we are working on and share helpful tips and ideas on how to make designing our game easier. We meetup every other Saturday. Either comment here or tweet me or email me and I will add you to the list and send you a link to the Google hangout.