Back For More: Advice on Slaying

Chris Watts participated in NaGa DeMon last year, and is back again in 2012 to strike another mighty blow at the demon! He has carefully prepared for his battle this year, and this is what he has learnt…

I didn’t win at NaGaDeMon last year.  My little board game (and I’m writing this from a hobby board game designer perspective), Soul Survivors, suffered from my attempts to squeeze the mechanics of every single game I’d ever played into it.  For fans of role and move, card drafting, area control, pick up and deliver modular dice fests it was a WINNER.  But everyone else taking part just looked confused.

But taking part is the point, right?  NaGaDeMon is as much about motivation as it is about inspiration.  It’s about stopping daydreaming about designing a board game and getting out the scalpel and fashioning one.  My problem was that, in my enthusiasm, and despite having read a ton of advice to the contrary, I managed to overload the game with ideas while simultaneously and resoundingly sucking all the joy out of it.

So my first NaGaDeMon was about learning and that really suited me.  Here’s a bit of what I learnt for any budding NaGaDeMon-ers…

  • Find a good way to capture your ideas (I use evernote.com).  Take photos of prototypes. Write down notes.  Scribble down bits of rules as you go along.  It all helps keep you focused.  On that…
  • Be focused.  Think of a simple idea and test that first before you go adding lots of whistles, bells and warp-drive stutter crottocks.
  • Be iterative.  Get an idea, test it over an ale, refine the idea, add to it, have another ale, test the idea again, forget what you were supposed to be doing, have another ale.  Get rolling and refine.
  • You’ll have lots of ideas. Focus on using those that fit best and file the rest for your next game.
  • Don’t jump into making it look pretty.  There’s no point and no time to be making whizzo looking cards for a game mechanic that doesn’t work when you test it.  Playtest first – then work on the aesthetics.

I didn’t win NaGaDeMon last year.  But I did succeed. (See what I did there?)  For me it’s all about getting ideas out there, being creative and sharing the joy.  If you end up with a game that is fun for people to play with you, all the better. Enjoy!

For this year, I’ve kept the name Soul Survivors ‘cos I like it, but am designing a completely different game.  My blog is at: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blog/1869.

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