quick cautions

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quick cautions
« on: August 28, 2010, 11:14:36 AM »
I've been designing games on forums for almost 10 years now, and I need to warn you: no game was ever designed on a forum. Forums are great for brainstorming and getting some feedback, but the real design work happens when you're by yourself, late at night or in the shower or staring grimly at a half-written text file.

Accordingly, here's my caution.

Designers: don't get attached to what you or anyone has said in your forum. It's probably not what you're going to do, in the end. It's just talk.

Fans: don't get attached to what you or anyone - even the designer! - has said in a hack forum. It's probably not what the game's going to do in the end. It's just talk.

There's a cycle I've observed, over and over: first there's lots of forum activity, then it falls quiet, then there's lots of forum activity, then it falls quiet again. The quiet phase is when the designer's actually working, and the forum is a distraction to the designer's work.

Fans: if you post in a forum during a quiet phase, and the designer ignores you, it's probably because the designer's working. When a forum goes quiet, it probably doesn't mean that the designer needs something to kickstart her interest, it probably means that she's doing the real design work she needs to do.

And finally.

Everyone: the usual outcome of real design work is an abandoned game. Only rarely is the outcome of real design work a finished game.

The best thing you can do is relax, work hard, and let the process do its thing.

Good luck!

Re: quick cautions
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2010, 02:42:10 PM »
Can I add? I'm going to. Nuke this or move it if it's not fitting.

(Disclaimer: I've never finished a game to the point of wide publication. I have finished plenty of hacks and games used just for my playgroup and had a ton of fun!)

First, I want to direct people to a recent thread on Jonathan Walton's blog, since I greatly agree with it: http://thouandone.wordpress.com/2010/07/27/a-few-recent-thoughts-on-design/

But beyond that,
Designers: Try to play your game! Grab some friends or recruit your fans online (via Skype or group chat or something) and play the thing in whatever state it's in. I'm sure you'll learn something near-every time you actually play it that'll help advance your design.

Fans: You, too, if the designer's made enough info publicly available, try to run it. Try to keep notes and feedback about it to get back to the designer about how the rules and advice and so on were actually used (or not used) at the table.

So, just my 2c.