Monday, August 17

Produce / Consume

As I'm sure most of you are aware, the title is a reference to Race for the Galaxy, one of my favourite games and one which I've played exactly 150 times according to BoardGameGeek.

There's a sliding scale of producery-consumerness (a technical term, check out the Big Five personality traits) on which, I'm assuming, most people sit slightly nearer the Consumer end than the Producer end. Some people are happiest reading a great book, or watching a great film or shopping for new clothes. Some people however are happiest when making things, whether knitting cardigans for babies (thanks Mum!), writing novels or painting.

It turns out I'm definitely towards the producer end of that scale. By day I'm a computer programmer, and I love that I can type words and bend a computer to my will, creating programs and apps that are useful, interesting, attractive or just fun. By night, I'm just as bad. Historically it's been writing (bits of!) computer games, painting miniatures, designing worlds and stories as a DM and obviously designing board games.

It struck me this week that probably the bit I enjoy most about game designing is actually the graphic design. Working with a very limited set of artistic skills to make prototypes or hand-made games that are attractive, or at least functionally well designed. Don't get me wrong, I also enjoy trying to wrestle in my head with the game design to design something that's fun to play and there's something zen-like about cranking out well-made hand-made games, each one lovingly hand-crafted but done well. And the end result is satisfying too, when you hear from a gamer who has played one of your games and really enjoys it. I'm not a great game designer, so it's rare enough that I hear from a gamer who loves one of my games, but when it does it brings a smile to my face every time - I've brought pleasure to another human being, often someone I've never met (and probably never will). That's pretty cool.

Why this philosophical train of thought? I've been agonising over whether or not to do a hand-made run of Zombology for a couple of months now, after bravely/foolishly committing to doing it at the beginning of the year. The concerns that have given me most trouble are not having enough time to get to the conventions I need to attend to drum up sales and whether there's still a market for hand-made games now that everyone can make a professional run of a game they've thought of through KickStarter.

I've asked the question in a couple of places and the advice seems to be that I should embrace KickStarter and do what I plan through there. Assuming I was successful on KickStarter, most or all of the games would be pre-sold so convention attendance would be less critical, so that could be a plus point to going that way. Anyway, Im not leaning toward KickStarter, despite my earlier antipathy towards it. I'm flighty like that.

In other news, I've got some feedback from a couple of playtest groups. Both of them only played it three player (the weakest I think). The other Playtest UK group played it a couple of times, and didn't seem overly enamoured. In the second game they tried changing a couple of rules. They did however provide really good feedback which I need to go through and learn from. The other group had played it before (about a year ago) and really liked this new version, playing it eight times (though still only three player). They suggested a rules clarification that I'll have to make shortly.

This week is mostly about trains. I hope to make some good progress on the Zombology art upgrades on my way to and from my quarterly hospital visit to Sheffield on Wednesday.

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