Diary of a First-Time Designer – #1 Theory Test

Diary of a First-Time Designer - Issue One Theory Test

According to the Research and Markets website, analysts forecast that the global board games market will grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 29.15% during the period 2017-2021.…and you thought you were already spending too much on your hobby!

With such a crowded market, populated by such big names, why would anyone want to attempt to publish a game? With the odds even lower on publishing a successful game, why even try? Well, I thought, others have. Why not me?

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

Part One - Theory Test

I never planned to be a board game designer. Come to think of it, I never really set out to be any of the job-roles I ended up doing. I just, kind of, went with my instincts.

I’m convinced, as gamers, we all have an idea (or 10) rolling around in our heads. So, one day, I was simply driving home from work when the idea hit me: a worker placement game where you build a giant robot, that you use to defend the world against attacking monsters.

I wanted a game where you place a worker and invest in the building of something that you use in the game, as opposed to the ‘place workers, get things then dispose of those things for points’ approach I’d seen many times before. As much as I enjoy worker placement games like Lords of Waterdeep and Champions of Midgard, there often seemed to be a rather callous approach to the core mechanics; you get your warriors, you send them off on a quest and they (presumably) die to give you victory points.

I liked the idea of investing in something and forming a sense of connection to an ‘engine’. Viticulture does this well for me and I feel it encourages players to take ownership of their blossoming vineyard.

My half-an-hour drive filled my head with an abundance of ideas. I wanted to get home as soon as I could so I could pour all of my thoughts into, what ultimately became an eight-page Word document. I imagined a movie montage showing a frantic writer, hopped up on stimulants, rapidly banging away on his typewriter - panicked that if he didn’t type fast enough, the ideas would slip away from him.

I decided the working title would be ‘Kaijukazi’. It was literally just a place-holder for, what I hoped would eventually be, a catchy, striking and less clumsy board game moniker. Kaiju are, as I’m sure many of you are aware, giant monsters most commonly associated with Japanese science fiction movies. They are now more likely to have become more mainstream as a result of the Pacific Rim movies. I imagined my game to have some similarities to the theme but more on THAT in a future article.

I decided players would be responsible for a region of the world (roughly continents) which has its own Worker Placement Spots (WPS). The game would be semi co-op to the extent that, if the monsters attack any regions and destroy the WPS, it’s game over. I thought it would be a unique idea that the players would defend the board itself.

On the same day, my old school friend Martin agreed to meet with me that evening to talk about the game. In the last year, he has become co-admin of the largest Facebook board game group in the country: Board Game Trading and Chat UK. The current membership stands at over 10,000 and at least 100 new members join each month.

It wasn’t a surprise to me that Martin was asked to be an admin. He is extremely knowledgeable about games and was the person that introduced me to this lovely hobby. My hope was that we would collaborate and, if able, he would get more involved in the design process.

I genuinely believe that Martin possesses huge untapped resources regarding game design. He understands the mechanics and systems of games like no one I know and I felt absolutely certain he was the right person to take this journey with.

Next time in the First-Time Designer series - Mods and Monsters (and Martin)!