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Commentary on Games Design

Carpe Ludus

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Seize the Game? My Latin was never that good. I was trying to be clever.

Today, we will talk about how to Get Stuff Done.

In game design it’s very easy to not bother. Very easy to decide it’s too big-a-challenge to take forward. So you end up meaning to, but not doing. The net result of this is that you never do anything and you always feel terrible. You can be so much more productive if only you know the secret.

The Secret

As a games designer you should:-

1. Find any vague shambolic deadline that you can

2. Set it in stone

3. Assume the mindset that you will be a lesser person for not achieving this goal

4. Get it done.

For example: I enjoy entering game design competitions because you really can’t lose if you adjust your mindset to the task in the right way. At worst you get a playable game prototyped that you can enjoy playing with the family and friends. If your game isn’t any good then it needs working on to fix, which should be enjoyable as a mind exercise. If it’s bad, well, then you’ve learned that it doesn’t work and that you should take the mechanisms apart and re-file them in your mental parts drawer for another time. It’s pretty-much win/win as long as you put your mind in the right frame.

This lovely little trick is really great, not just in competitions either:

  • If someone asks for a way to fix a game problem: post.
  • A solicitation for game ideas? Submit. Every time.
  • Suggestions for names? Give it a go!

How much time does that sort of stuff really take? And most fora you post on these days have a search function that allows you to review what you wrote many months later, even if you can recall only an inkling of what you were suggesting (and you never know when you might need to blow the dust off an idea). I like having goals to aim for and achieving ‘stuff’ no matter, really, how mundane. Earning one hour of goofing off on the internet after completing a list of tasks is so much better to me than ditching the tasks and spending the entire day doing nothing. I start feeling guilty.

The end result is that I always have a list of stuff to do and always have a game some way along it’s life cycle towards something happening with it (whatever that ‘next step’ watershed may be).  The reason this blog post is up later than I wanted it to be is because I was racing to make a card game submission deadline using a design that started life as an idea from a submission to a Board Game Design Showdown.

My Secret Confession

This blog post right here is an opportunity in itself. I am blogging here specifically to let you all know how I tackle getting things done, and moreover, to encourage my own personal thought about games design. By writing posts here, Sam and I put the pressure on each other to think and manipulate the science of games and games design. We are secretly fueling the engines of creativity and cardboard. That, in itself, is a great way to remove yourself from the mundane for a little while to consider something you love doing.

Your Mission

Write a list. Find a deadline. Set it in stone. Complete it. Fuel your passion. Speak to someone else – if for only a few minutes – about games design. Post. Submit. Think. Guess what it will lead to?


One thought on “Carpe Ludus

  1. Love the part about setting yourself up for a deadline. I too find that if I don’t have a target to hit, I won’t hit it. Over the years, I’ve certainly found myself involved in those win it or go home situations, usually involving something that I was passionate about it and just didn’t get that one part down. When stretched to my breaking point, I’ve found that I do some of my best work under pressure, this partly stems from cramming late at night for a test or starting and finishing a 5 page essay on the subject of laundry in the 18th century, something I knew nothing about at the time. I guess that I should set a deadline for setting a deadline for myself, when I get around to it.

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