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Diary of a First-Time Designer – #3 Community Service

First-Time Designer - Community Service

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 Three - Community Service

We all have our social media platforms. I believe my generation (I’m in my 40's) tend to lean towards Facebook and I am no different. In my view, we prefer social media to be a tool; something we access for information or entertainment. Perhaps we take the view that other platforms are to be avoided like needy and attention-starved children. But that might just be me.

So, we decided to draw on our lovely and supportive Facebook board game community. I posted on the Board Game Trading and Chat UK group, asking for advice while raising concerns around copyrighting. What are our rights when it comes to protecting our idea? What if someone steals the concept? We were universally reassured this was very unlikely.

The general consensus on the group was that people “couldn’t be arsed” to steal your idea. In other words it was too much work to try and piece together the game without the tremendous amount of background information that would be needed to support it...I still felt cautious though.

There was a decent amount of interest in reading about our progress so the idea of a blog formed in my mind. As a younger man, I did fancy myself as a bit of a writer (I came fourth in high school novel writing competition!). If I was going to post on my Facebook groups (as I initially thought) it needed to be short and concise. Nonetheless I started writing notes just in case; documenting our progress up until that point. As I write this a couple of months later, I’m relieved I did!

I liked the idea of sharing our experience with the community and I came to believe it would serve many purposes, including promoting a ‘you can do it too’ approach to others who were yet to pull the trigger. It would also act as a public record of our experience and provided an opportunity to garner feedback in all its lovely internet forms. I had a hope that it might serve the game in some way too, possibly building a bit of a profile on the way.

Getting back to the game, we looked at Level 7 Invasion’s board and researched how the enemies invade. We definitely wanted some sort of progressive movement as we felt it would build a sense of threat and foreboding which would then encourage players to pull together a defence.

We also researched the words Kaiju and Jaeger to see if they were owned in some way and it turns out they are fair game. Still, we didn’t want to skirt too close to Pacific Rim while remaining mindful that the movie didn’t hold the monopoly on the ‘robots smashing monsters’ genre.

We became aware of a new game in which "players acts as Pilots of powerful giant combat robots created with the sole purpose of saving humankind from extinction." Great! Might as well just pack up and go home then!

A closer inspection revealed that this game was very different from ours. It emphasised anime sagas and manga while having a completely different combat system. This was to be a fairly common experience in the coming months; initial panic when you hear about a similar game to yours in production followed by relief that they are very different.

This installed in us a sense of urgency. It was like, the longer we left it, the more likely it would be that a game like ours would enter production. We thought it might be time to move things up to DEFCON 4: Build a prototype.

Next time in the First-Time Designer series - Creating a Monster