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Diary of a First-Time Designer – #15 Ch-ch-ch-ch-Challenges

First-Time Designer Issue 15

Join me on my continuing multi-part series as Martin and I attempt to turn our jumble of half-conceived brain sparks into our first fully functioning board game.

Part 15 – Ch-ch-ch-ch-challenges

Following my, somewhat board game focused, holiday I entered a period of change. My contract concluded with my employer and I was moving on to something different. I’m not very good with change but I had a plan to work for my company part-time while looking for another job that would further support my income.

My plan was to provide myself with one day a week to work on LAST STAND, but that somewhat relied on Martin to be available at points when I needed his input. He was also facing a career change via voluntary redundancy, though; it was unclear when this would take place. I’m sure he was ready to leap at the chance as he had openly voiced how much he disliked his job. For all intents and purposes he just seemed to feel the role was unfulfilling and unnecessarily difficult which had a tendency to affect his moods.

I had been listening to a lot of Jordan Peterson, a clinical psychologist and lecturer, on various podcasts and YouTube videos. He talked about how essential it was to feel a sense of purpose in your life. He focused mainly on men and argued that leading a life that had little in the way of meaning contributed to the rise in male suicide. I’m not suggesting Martin is at risk of this but I did see our little endeavour as a possible path for him into something more in line with his passion. I doubt it quite provides us with a sense of purpose now but maybe there is some potential in the future. Sometimes you have to just try things but it takes time in a sort of ‘short term investment, long term gain’ way

Time is a funny thing, though. I would often claim to be busy when people ask me how I am. I mean, busy is usually what you would apply to work and family life as both can take you away from your hobbies and interests. However, if I was to answer truthfully it would be more like “Yeah, I’m good. Every week I’m managing to find time to binge watch about 16 hours of Netflix and about five hours of the UFC, while trying to fit in 14 hours of tabletop gaming. I’m also working on my game, writing a blog and applying for another job”.

I think many people can relate to somewhat depending on these interests to take us away from the stresses of life but I have also experienced times when they take priority and this is not a good thing. I have noticed that I am skirting this at the moment and I’m doing things to make sure I don’t revert to old far, so good.

It was about two months before Martin and I spoke in any depth about the LAST STAND, but we had previously agreed it would be a shame to lose momentum. In a way, this kept us motivated; knowing how much work we had put in so far. It always remained a possibility that we would just give up and move on with our lives but there was something about the investment of time already that prevented us from entertaining the idea.

I definitely felt we were compelled to continue and when we finally managed to make time, it was good to pick up where we left off after our Expo and community play-tests. Based on the useful feedback we received, we implemented a system that got players invested in the game at a faster rate. This involved creating a Titan body part market, introducing the dice manipulation system earlier and integrating a travel system. We always knew we needed to reduce the length of the game and these changes would have a small impact on this. We wondered if reducing the amount of enemies while having them attack at a faster rate would also assist with this.

I enjoyed this part of design and it was an interesting process play-testing LAST STAND: noting the outcome then developing solutions to make the game better. Sometimes fixes were quite practical and some impacted on other parts of the game to a larger degree but we were yet to ‘break’ it.

It was good to get back into the swing of things and it felt like we were about to enter a new period of design and testing.

Next time in the First-Time Designer series – Cyclic Powers