The Board Game Design Course

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Game Design

Do You suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)?

Do you suffer from Shiny Object Syndrome (SOS)? You know, you see the latest toy or gadget, and you just have to have it (or at least try it out)?

Maybe this is the newest software or productivity tool.

Maybe it’s your newest game idea.

When it comes to tech, I don’t have this problem so much. But when it comes to game ideas, this is definitely something I suffer from.

Say you’re working on a game. You’ve been putting in a lot of time, playtesting, tweaking, and making it a little bit better every time you get it to the table. You’re really proud of what you’ve accomplished so far.

Then it hits you. A brand new, sparkling, shiny, amazing idea for another game.

Ideas are flying around like crazy and it seems like nearly a perfect game in your head. So, you push everything else aside and start working on this.

Everything is going great, until a few weeks (or maybe days, or even hours) later, when the most incredible game idea pops into your head.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s so easy to set aside a game you’re working on, especially if you run into a problem you don’t yet have a solution for. But if you continually move on to the next game before the last one has reached greatness, you run the risk of getting into this perpetual cycle.

It’s really easy to come up with a game idea and start playing around with it. What’s difficult is working through all the issues that are identified over multiple playtests, coming up with potential solutions to fix these problems, and constantly tweaking and playtesting your game to bring it to a point of greatness.

This is the line that separates tinkerers from game designers.

It’s okay to take a pause while working on a game.

It’s okay to have multiple games on the go at once.

Just make sure you are not shelving a game each time you run into a problem.

What I do to help keep myself on track when an amazing new game idea comes to mind (which happens far too often) is to first just capture that idea. I write down all the thoughts in my head about this game and add this to my list of game ideas.

Rather than putting aside my current games and starting to prototype something new, I simply document the new idea so that I have all the info I need to get started on it when I have time. That way I don’t have to rely in my memory (which can be unreliable at the best of times) to retrieve this information later.

What do you do when you have a new game idea, but you’re already involved in other projects? How do you keep yourself out of the endless cycle of starting but not finishing something new and interesting?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

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