10/5/12

Game Designer

Return guests of this blog may remember that I'm part of a local boardgaming group of some notoriety: The Greenville Mafia.  (See http://techsmiths.blogspot.com/2010/08/world-boardgaming-championships.html) We play weekly in our own condo (well, technically it's owned by four of our members) and cycle through a lot of games.

You can't play forever without having some ideas of your own.

I drove home after gaming one night with an idea for a game that I bounced off Hunter. After some back-and-forth, a completely different idea emerged, which I developed over the next week into what I called "MOVIE MAGNATE."

Players assume the role of movie studios, charged with producing films and then marketing them to the public, in competition with each other.

It took me another week or so to prototype the game. (Yes, everyone who has seen it in person correctly deduced I raided a copy of "Can't Stop!" for some of the components!) Cutting and gluing cards consumed more hours than I care to remember!

Four of my buddies were good enough to be Play-Test Dummies and sit down to a game while I sat by, doing double-duty as scorekeeper/banker and as note-taker for problems and improvement suggestions. Version 1 actually required a calculator to determine box office receipts... Even experienced gamers can be naive about what players might put up with!

Play-test #1 was really helpful in sharpening my pencil. Aside from the embarrassing mistake of completely forgetting to make one of the decks of cards, the game had too many fiddles, even aside from the calculator. I wrote up my notes that night, and then I refused to think about the game for a week.

By the time I returned to the drawing table, my subconscious had worked out solutions to the objections discovered by my Dummies. Er, Buddies. I re-wrote the rules, developed new charts (bye, bye, calculator!), and replaced half the cards with new, improved versions (groan!).

I had a harder time coercing four to sit down at the table next gaming night, but after suitable application of wheedling & cudgeling, I had a crew. And I'm pleased to report that Version 2 was much, MUCH better! Most of my notes from that session involved play-balance tweaks and optional rules for experienced players.

So, right now I'm in another down-week of mental fermentation, before I prepare Version 3. That one will get an acid test - my wife Brenda has scheduled a family game when we journey to Atlanta to visit Dear Daughter later this month!

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