Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Analog Games: Rapid Prototyping at BoardGameJam (The PostMortem)

Personally, there's quiet a few interesting post mortem notes that I think is worthwhile to share:

The Good:

  • Splitting off to work on an isolated idea - As selfish as it sounds, boardgame mechanics are so closely tied together and condense that having too many cooks in the kitchen can spoil the broth. Somewhere in the middle of the development process, it seems to me that having a more singular voice in the direction seemed to work well.
  • Having a group of people to quickly bounce ideas off of - In contrast to the point above, it was just as important to be able to bounce ideas quickly off someone at any given point: The fuel mechanic and the grid size were definitely solutions I would not have landed on in the first try.
  • Test, test, test... - I was budgeting the entire Sunday for testing, and while that fell a bit short, I was still able to get more than two rounds of testing in, which help kick out some of the more obvious problems in the first go.

The Bad:

  • Time crunch - Not knowing the exact amount of time I had to work on the game was a major downside.  On both days, instead of the planned closing time, the buildings would close before hand, and making my initial planned schedule "pretty off".
  • Not fluent in boardgame design language - While I've played my share of boardgames now, it really still feels like I'm barely scraping the surface of what's out there.  It's that much harder to explore a certain playstyle or genre if I've only seen the best two games that represents the genre.

The Ugly:

  • Euro-style games are hard in a jam - These games are hard to demo, hard to play within a 15 minute session, and even harder to make/balance in a matter of two days.  I'm not saying I'm going to stay away from this style of game next time, but yeah.  It's hard.

So yeah, that's a wrap for boardgames for now.  Maybe I'll be back next year with a more polished game.  Thanks to Michael, Doug, Duy, Jason and Jon for that weekend of panic-y fun. For more info, check out http://www.boardgamejam.com.

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