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Diary of a First-Time Designer – #4 Creating a Monster

First-Time Designer Issue Four - Creating a Monster

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 Four - Creating a Monster

I’ve seen prototypes before. Handycon founder Paul Harris’s Scrumpy had laminated cards with high quality art and interesting symbols. At the time, it appeared to me near-complete and I wondered how on earth Paul did it.

Our prototype…was not like Paul’s.

Along with maths, I lack any artistic ability and did my best to scrawl the world map ‘board’ on a sheet of flip chart paper. It might as well have been Planet Blobby but I accepted it didn’t need to be perfect. I got a fairly monstrous paper cut as I fought to flatten the curled-up canvas. That’s the ‘blood’ part ticked off the list I thought to myself. Presumably ‘sweat’ and ‘tears’ were to come.

I added the worker placement spots and used Word to create the Jaeger body part cards and Kaiju information. We salvaged components from our games (thanks Viticulture!) and found some unused deck boxes a friend gave me a month ago (cheers Paul!).

We had both heard of The White Box design kit and it was momentarily tempting but we figured most gamers would be able to cannibalise their collections. After all, we had a combined stash of over 300 games (75% Martin’s!). Thankfully we didn’t need to involve a 3D printer as we felt the components were quite simple; cards and counters mostly.

Finally I printed and cut up the card information and slipped them into Mayday sleeves bolstered by the Vampire: The Eternal Struggle Collectable Card Game – after I blew the dust of eons off.

Like a doting Father, I put our sleeping proto-baby down for the night; nestled in his comfy box-file. I looked forward to playing with him and his other Daddy tomorrow. The following evening Martin and I threw ourselves into our first play-test. It was cool to actually play our obviously basic game but we were on our way!

Afterwards, we discussed what had occurred and concluded there were a lot of holes in the game. I realised Kaijukazi was nowhere near as complete as I’d thought. Our general conclusions were: not enough worker placements spots, too much disposable income and there wasn’t enough of a threat to the board.

It started to dawn on us that this would be a balancing nightmare. If the Kaiju were too strong, the game would be too harsh and not enjoyable. If they were too weak, there wouldn’t be a sufficient enough threat or peril to unite the players. We decided to worry about that later and not to get too disheartened. Surely all games start like this. On the plus side, an idea of itself emerged that we liked which was a way of incentivising the building your Jaeger to a certain type (land, air or sea). We figured this could manifest as a set collection system and we worked on it during the week.

Ultimately, we found the experience quite fun and enlightening. Martin’s enthusiastic text the next day suggested he was enjoying the experience too. It felt like another step forward and I particularly enjoyed the sense of improving on the previous incarnation. Surely this whole process was about making the game better each time, right?

We wondered how others had negotiated their way through the whole process so we decided to tap up a few friends who, in our eyes, had ‘made it’.

Next time in the First-Time Designer series – Names and Faces