A Week in the Life: I Made a List

The game design work of a regular guy with a full time job and a family with 3 small kids who designs games in some of his spare time

  • April 18, 2021 10:28 PM

I want to spend time most weeks talking about my design work both as an encouraging example of how someone challenged for spare time can make progress on game designs, and to offer some incidental insights into how I view the design process that could be interesting or helpful. I intend this to show how I break down my process into digestible nuggets of work that can be done between my job, family, and other responsibilities.

So here's what I worked on this week.

I mentioned last week that I needed to put together a list of all the stuff I need to get done so I can prioritize my work and stay ahead of schedule. I did that this week. With as many ongoing projects as I currently have, this is incredibly helpful. Here are some highlights that I often forget are mandatory for getting ready for conventions later on in the year.
  • Go to the DMV. My state has a new type of ID (called the NC REAL ID) required for boarding commercial flights if you don't have a passport. I was planning on getting mine last year, but covid prevented it. I cannot fly to conventions without first going to the DMV to update my state license.
  • Move my work vacation days. I already had my PTO booked for Gen Con, but then Gen Con rescheduled so I need to adjust my work schedule.

I have several parts of the process that are dependencies of other things, and my new list helps me put tasks in order so I get the right steps done at the right time. Here's an overview.
  1. Get all the digital files updated asap.
  2. Order stuff from The Game Crafter. I like the quality of their cards and I have some special cut pieces for Galaxy Alpha Team that they do well.
  3. While that's being printed and shipped, update rulebooks and info sheets.
  4. Make a list of publishers who I think would be interested in the games I have.
  5. In parallel I am trying to do some publicity for Top Pop, which is coming out soon. When I am fully vaccinated I want to meet with some local influencers to show off the game.
  6. Once I have physical prototypes in hand, I can put together overview videos to send to publishers along with info sheets.

This gives me a structure to organize my effort. Shortly after I put together this list, I started working on some of the more urgent items from it.

The first several playable version of Culmination were hand drawn on cards. I did that until I had confidence that the system works largely like I want. Since then I've been working on making a system to maintain and update cards easily using nanDECK. I finally finished setting up my spreadsheets and nanDECK files for each of the card types. All that remains before having a digitally existent deck of cards is to finish populating the spreadsheets. I've already done maybe half of this work too, so I consider that good progress toward the most pressing item on my list.

I printed a test version of a Galaxy Alpha Team player board that I recently tweaked. I slid cards under it like players do during a game, seeing if I have the dimensions correct to avoid cards pushing each other underneath the player board. It was a smidge too short, so apparently I have some imperfections in my ability to use rulers or add numbers together. But this is why we test things. I'll make the dimensions a little larger and then it should be good to go.

With my newly created list, I can have a more clear focus each week as I continue my work. I can already see at a glance what I'll be doing next.