A Week in the Life: Soda and the Future

A weekly summary of 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.

  • May 30, 2021 1:23 AM

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.

Last weekend Josh Mills and I had the opportunity to demo our upcoming game Top Pop at a local event. Matt Wolfe is a fantastic people connector and introduced us to Eric Martin, who hosts frequent game events in our area (and is a BGG News Editor). It's fun to get the game in front of new players. We had pre-release demo copies from the manufacturer, and this was the first time I've played with near-final components. We asked for thoughts from the players and over the past week I've been spending time working through the feedback about the player aids, rulebook, scorepad, and various graphical things. The core game system has been solid for a long time now, but even so it's fascinating how much other stuff needs to be taken into account to make sure the full experience is smooth and easy to understand and play. There is a substantial difference between a good game with sub-par player aids and the same game but with really useful player aids.

Months ago, I made a plan to attend 3 conventions this year. It was the same 3 conventions I intended to attend last year before they all got cancelled. I was going to Gen Con, Origins, and Pax Unplugged. After I made my plan this year, Gen Con moved to the same timeframe as Origins so I decided to skip Origins in favor of Gen Con. Then several large publishers backed out of Gen Con and that's put me back on the fence. I'm mostly interested in conventions for the opportunity to connect with publishers, designers, and other industry people that I haven't seen in a while. With the absence of some large companies, I'm trying to get a pulse on whether smaller publishers will copy them and back out, or if they will take advantage of the opportunity to actually get a booth at Gen Con now that there are fewer big names taking up so much space. I haven't decided whether I'm still planning to attend or not.

One of my alternatives to attending conventions to connect with publishers was to enter my designs into more contests. I had an epiphany and realized that conventions and contests are not mutually exclusive (seems like a no-brainer in retrospect), so now I plan to enter contests regardless of conventions. I've found a couple that I feel like I've got a good submission for. Bad Comet has a co-operative game contest and The Game Design Workshop has a contest that I think Poisoners' Soirée would be good for. As part of these contests I need to have a fully functional rulebook, so I've made another pass at my Galaxy Alpha Team rules to get them closer to contest ready. My next steps are to get images for the rulebook and make a pitch video. I'll continue tackling that this week.