Facing the cold, hard truth: The game you’ve been working on for a year and thought was 99% done isn’t fun enough. What do you do?
This is what I’m currently facing. The game is fun. It’s not as fun as I want it to be. I don’t want a list of 4 games I’d rather play to run through my mind when reaching for my game. I have solid quotes. I have a crowdfunding page nearly finished. I have release windows in mind. Do you know what the response to all this is? So what! I want to release the game I’ve dreamed of, not the game that’s just passably good enough to proceed with.
BGG members, publishers, and veteran game designers are quick to quell the fears of new designers by saying “ideas are easy, it’s the mechanics and polishing that are the hard part” about the possibility of having your idea “stolen”. This should be revered as gospel through all of the design process. The hard part is the last 10%.
The 10% is the hard work, the sweat, the mind-numbing rehashing of ideas, the tweaking of mechanics, the “if I look at this one more time I’m shelving the whole d@mn thing!” moments. The sad truth is you may be the only one that can fix it.
What do I mean? BGG has given me some great feedback. Play testers have given me some great feedback and positive reinforcement. However, and it’s a big “however”, they are just evaluating what is placed in front of them – in a vacuum if you will. This is exactly what you want if you are balancing mechanics, working out math, or trying to integrate flavor. Asking the question “what would make this more fun?” may lend you some “remove this card/race/resource” type answers. These might be all you need; you might get a complete game out of it that way. If you evaluate your game vs. others in the genre, others with the same theme, or the same mechanics – can it still stand up to scrutiny? Did they do it better?
I don’t think it’s a good practice to ask others to give you a unique hook for your game or to make it fun for you. It’s like walking into a mechanic shop and handing them a muffler and a tire and saying “make me a car.” You need to be the mechanic.
So here I am, tinkering away. Covered in grease up to my elbows, (time to drop the car metaphor?) I’ve lost countless hours of sleep over the last two weeks picking this thing apart. Then finally I had a new idea. Back to testing! I hope this works. If not, I think I might shelve it for the time it takes to prototype out another fleshed out idea. If it does work? Well then I have to change 10 info graphics, my crowdfunding page top to bottom, the board size – which changes the box size, which necessitates new quotes, new shipping quotes, more than half my rule book. Hopefully if you have to make a change you aren’t this far along. What can I say? I thought I was done. *laugh* I thought I was done.
Don’t be scared to hold out for the game you dreamed of. If will not be easy. It just won’t. It will be worth it. I’m 90% sure.
How do you handle games that work but need to “find the fun”?