A Week in the Life: Serious Icons and Computer Files

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

  • March 28, 2021 2:59 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.

A couple of weeks ago I made some notes for a new player board for Galaxy Alpha Team. This week I updated the player board file on my computer. Sometimes it takes while for things to move from my brain, to the paper, into the computer, through the printer, then onto the table. While I was making updates to the file, I made some usability adjustments too. The previous player boards I mocked up were too short. Because you tuck cards under both the top and bottom of your player board during the game, they were small enough that pushing a card under the top would push another card back out the bottom. I want the player boards to be as small as possible while still being functional so I took some measurements and adjusted the height as necessary. 

The rest of my design work this week was for my newest game, currently named Culmination. I spent time learning how to use nanDECK and got it configured so that all I have to do is update a spreadsheet to create a full deck of cards with icons. I haven't updated the spreadsheet yet; I'll save that for another week. Part of this setup included finding icons for the cards. I wanted 9 icons for various things in the game, and I spent a decent amount of time perusing the internet for icons and choosing the ones I want for my prototype. I don't usually spend so much design time on the computer. I prefer the hands-on physical part of design, but certain things are so much faster once automated.

This new design, Culmination, is a shift in tone from anything I've worked on previously. It's about when we reach a time in life where we look back at the things we've accomplished and what we've become, and what we gained and lost along the way. I'm aiming for a more poignant take and there aren't tons of games in that style, so I've been looking into some examples that try to evoke a solemn or serious mood. Part of my design time this week was seeking out games like this for research. I ended up finding a good deal on Holding On, so I picked it up.

So much digital design work this week. I hope to get back to the table soon.