I had a request asking about the process that I went thru to actually create the game.
First off I'll list a few things:
-1- Be sure you have time, however you spread it out, to devote to this. At least 10 hours/week,
-2- Be sure to have a few hundred dollars to blow. While you can make the pre-alpha pieces out of paper and bottle caps, you will eventually need to print an true Alpha copy and a few Beta copies to test and play with. Do as much as you can in the Pre-Alpha!
-3- Get Word and Excel (or the google equivalent) and any drawing program you choose. Your game should start its life here! Word processing makes it easy to organize your idea. Excel allows you to setup the cards (type, count ,verbiage) AND to do a cost analysis. The drawing program to ...well draw stuff. Learn how to use these via youtube.com if needed. When it come time to start getting the Alpha together, being able to cut-&-paste is HUGELY BENEFICIAL !!
“When it come time to start getting the Alpha together, being able to cut-&-paste is HUGELY BENEFICIAL !! -Mezz
Researching the Game
I spent a good chunk of time talking with Officers, asking questions, and reviewing some of the available material that is on the internet. Once I had a basis, I had to ween it down and merge it into the game.
Design and Layout...
Next up was design and layout. For this game I had a general idea about the size of the board and the general way it would play. Once I confirmed that I could get the board (six section folding) printed, I started the layout and design of the game and its pieces. There are a number of companies that print cards and where you can buy game pieces in almost any quantity. (I'll get this together in a later BLOG post for all the would-be designers out there). Don't forget the box too, its just as important.
I recommend using Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, these programs are amazing. Check with your local library to see if they have a machine you can use or pony up the ~$20 a month to crank out the artwork/design elements that you need. Make sure to use the templates from the printing company ( I learned that the hard way).
Play-testing, Play-testing, Play-testing...
This was arguably the worst part of creating the game --But it is also the most rewarding ! The first play thru was with my girlfriend and all the major issues jumped out. After about a week of revamping many of the numbers and one major mechanic change, we tried again and it was enjoyable. A few spelling changes and up next were my gaming buddies in a 6 player game, and it was a blast. A few minor changes, and many wording clarifications later, I had the beta ready for print. This was the costly part - getting copies of the game printed for the test groups.
Then it's a waiting game...
I have a friend at NASA that compared it to vehicle re-entry; during that time Ground-Control looses communication with space craft and all they can do is wait. You have sent the game counting on the wording of your instruction manual and the cards to do the job, meanwhile you are just stuck waiting for a response. It was the longest week I've had in a while. You also have to remember that the reason you do this is to make sure that when you launch it, that most users will have the intended experience.
One of the test groups is a group of Officers, and the report was a resounding "5 out of 5" for fun factor. It was the best news I had all week. Lastly, be sure to address each concern that the test groups come up with. Even if you are not going to change something, be able to address why a change was asked for, and be able to answer why you can not change it and for what reasons. Otherwise, FIX IT. The more play-testing the better.
Lasty, take it to market ! Kickstarter, GoFundMe, self-publish, etc., get it out there and hopefully its a hit !