Thursday, March 14, 2013


I wrote in an earlier post on why I design games, but recently I took a moment to think about what motivates me to work on a particular design over another one.  It’s true that most designers are never short of game ideas.  I have computer files and 3-ring binders full of them, but since my job (not as a game designer) and family take priority, I only have a limited amount of free time to work on them.  So how do I decide which one to develop further?

I think that a concept’s originality is what mainly drives me to block out all the other ideas and focus for a few weeks.  It could be a mechanism that I have not seen before, or it could be a theme that is particularly fascinating to me.  My latest game, Nieuw Amsterdam, kept me focused for some time due to its theme and my desire to do justice to it.

But I think that the most important motivation for me is the feedback I receive from others.  When playtesters react positively to a new game design, it is easy for me to get excited about it too.  And this does not stop when I find the right publisher. 

I just signed a contract, for example, for a design that I had not worked on for some time.  I had received negative feedback after pitching it to a publisher several years ago (although they made a quick judgement without ever playtesting it), and I decided to shelve it for awhile after that.  While I was getting my prototypes ready for Essen this year, however, I pulled it out again and included it with my portfolio.  It turned out to be my most-requested prototype from the publishers I visited (also from first impressions, without having played the game), and not long afterwards, I received a contract offer.  The publisher had some great ideas to improve the game, and now I’m motivated to help develop it further, knowing that it will soon be on the market.

On the other hand, another game design that I successfully pitched during Essen did not fare so well, and I received the two prototypes back that each publisher had tested. The game needed more development, they said. It wasn’t easy to read their criiticism at first, especially after I felt that I had given it my „all.“  But after playing the game again with my own group, I see where they are coming from and I now have some ideas on how to overhall the design.  I’m motivated to work on it again. When I get negative feedback, it's the challenge that motivates me.

It turns out that any kind of feedback can motivate me to focus on a design for a time, whether positive or negative.  It stems from the challenge to make the prototype better, and the belief that there is potential there.

And it is encouraging to know that, with a little more persistance, hard work and patience, I can get this game published too.  Experience has taught me that, and success is the best motivation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this nice articel. its good to see that other designers has the same problems like I.