31: Regrets

31: Regrets

What aspect of a past design do you regret the most? What did you learn from the experience?

 

 

The biggest mistake I have made in the past is to develop a game too far without playtesting it with other people; turns out what I thought was ground-breaking was in fact utterly boring! From then on I have tried hard to playtest any games very early on in the development phase – it has certainly helped to stop me wasting too much time on systems that just don’t work / are unappealing.

Sam Illingworth

I thought I was being so clever by making up different terms for “discard from hand” and “discard from play”, but it just means that players have to familiarise themselves with a bunch of terminology before playing what’s an otherwise learn-in-ten-seconds game.

Peter C. Hayward

I’m not sure about regret, but the aspect to past design that I’m most wary of is colour. Specifically, the colours of the rainbow and their order. I had a design where you could play tiles together if they were all touching on the rainbow. That is, you could play a yellow and a blue, if you also played a green. I had some really great experiences with that design, but I also had some players get super angry at the game, I think because they could never figure out the colour part, even with a reference card. It’s definitely made me not underestimate what might not be common knowledge.

Carla Kopp

I have tried hard to playtest any games very early on in the development phase – it has certainly helped to stop me wasting too much time on systems that just don’t work or are unappealing. — Sam Illingworth

Personally, its pitching games that weren’t as good as they could be. With so many games being signed up, and the process of seeing your design in print being intoxicating, it can become tempting to pitch multiple games even if some aren’t done. Problem is, with game turnover being so fast, relying on publishers to take it those final steps – in a way you’re happy with – is a big risk. That’s your reputation right there, as well as theirs. I’m no longer in a rush to pitch. If Essen goes by with no meetings, so be it – I’ll be back next year with better games.

Chris Marling

In Show & Tile, a game of Pictionary-meets-tangrams, playtesters often commented that it was really hard to work without any circles or curved pieces. However, because the game was inspired by our love of tangram puzzles, we didn’t listen, to our regret. We learned not to let our inspiration block and blind us as to where the fun is in our designs. Playtesters have a free, fresh perspective that should never be ignored.

Isaac Shalev

Expancity was a hobby project for me for years before I got it signed and started designing full-time. I’m glad it was the game I cut my teeth on because I think the process made me a better designer, but I spent far too much time caring about the graphic design and art of my prototypes. I wish I had spent less energy on the visuals and instead gotten it in front of blind playtesters and publishers sooner.

Alex Cutler

I’m no longer in a rush to pitch. If Essen goes by with no meetings, so be it – I’ll be back next year with better games. — Chris Marling

It’s not really a regret, but looking back to Holding On, I would perhaps modify the requirement that each Scenario’s Objective must be met in order to progress to the next chapter of the story. We really wanted to emphasise the idea that you’re dealing with someone in turmoil, but I know some players bounced off because some Scenarios were very tough indeed. So yeah, I wouldn’t necessarily make it simpler, but I’ve learned for a potential sequel that the story has to move on regardless of success or failure by the players.

Michael Fox

I designed a tableau-building card game where players built their own line for scoring; the twist was that a player could, instead, discard those cards to access powers: a tricky choice of points versus ability. The winner of a round kept their highest card, the second place their lowest: no need for extra components – just the 54 cards. I handed it over for development and it ballooned to include a board and four additional scoring categories: an over-engineered disaster. I should have gone with my original idea: always go with your gut because developers aren’t always right. Scandaroon.

Tony Boydell

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