So you have come up with a concept for a game. It might be a board game, card game or computer game – this article really applies to all of them! Do you spend the time and effort (which is extreme, believe me!) to develop this idea into a full-fledged game of the type that suits it?
The first thing that you wonder when you have a game idea should be “is this original?” What is it about your game that makes it different to the games that players will have seen before?
It could be something as simple as “He-man meets Cluedo with hilarious results!” (Actually, that is a brilliant idea, anyone who likes that idea and decides to make it, let me know!), or as complex as a brand new rules system no-one has ever thought of before.
Often, by focusing on one aspect of the game that you had in mind (“Easy to Learn”, for example), you can achieve enough originality to gain traction with players.
At the end of the day, though, if the game is just a copy of something that has already been done, people probably won’t be interested. And by “people”, I don’t just mean players…
Funding / Resourcing
Do you have the money or skills to make a prototype that will “wow” people? If not, you either need to obtain those skills (which will usually take years, I am sad to say) or find a business partner. Neither of these are easy options.
Particularly if it is a computer game you want to make, be aware of what it actually takes to make one – it is man-years of project time for the type of game you are probably thinking of. Realistically, you are not going to do that alone in your spare time.
You can get money through crowdfunding, yes, but I have written several blogs about this in the past – you need to have something to show backers that makes them excited about what you are trying to do… which means you need to have some kind of prototype. Also, crowdfunding is a lot harder than it looks, trust me. If you are going this route, find someone who knows about crowdfunding and get advice about it.
You think you have a good idea. You have or have found the necessary skills to create a playable prototype. It might not look 100% perfect but it is time to give the game a go with more than just immediate friends and family.
This is best done under your control, so I would recommend a convention. Sit back and let them play the game, if possible without participating, just observing. Don’t interfere if they get a rule wrong or struggle with a puzzle; make a note to look into that part of it and make it more specific or easier to understand.
Most important of all, get as much negative feedback as you can. People will tend to be nice, but good feedback really isn’t helpful. Ask questions that are as open as possible (not leading): rather than “Did you like Character X?”, “What did you think of Character X?” and so on. (Kudos to anyone who has a character called Character X in their game!).
Playtesting is a vital part of game development and I would always recommend you start as early as possible in the process.
There are a million things to think about when creating a game. I think the first 3 to think about are originality, funding and playtesting. Do you agree? If not, come and post on our Facebook page and tell me what you think!