Iterative Design

I’ll make it quick.

I’ve made a few things. Some projects I’m proud of. Others are just projects I cringe to look back on.

Here I’m going to talk process.

I make games in Microsoft Word, because I’m a design punk, not because I’m scared of my purchase of Affinity Publisher that stalks my Applications folder day and night… Never would’ve thought the use of any Microsoft product would be described as “rebellious” in any way. More like stubborn.

I make games quickly and cheaply.

I also don’t make things over 10 pages. Concision is often overlooked in the top, polished published RPGs of the day, so I’ve always figured I should capitalize on that. Also, page limits keeps me conscious of the reader’s time. Density and concision, density and concision.

So I often type these out on a laptop in Word.

And then my eyes hurt.

I can’t stand staring at a screen for two long.

So I do something a big publisher can’t do as easily: I print it. Printing the game gives me a fresh perspective. I throw it in my backpack and read it outside or at a cafe. My favorite part of this is the new mobility of the game. I can show a player, a fellow GM/designer, or any stranger I happen across. Bonus points if you corner them with your new game that you *have* to show them (I kid).

Having a product IN YOUR HANDS triggers those reward systems too. “This is a thing I have made. My efforts aren’t just floating in the nether.” This psychological feedback can keep you going.

Another benefit of printing is that you get to see as it would appear at your table or another GM’s table. Is the spacing right? Does the font read well? Is it all the right size? Questions that are easy to answer when it’s in front of you.

That’s how I make games. I write, I print, I edit, I bring it back to the computer with fresh eyes. Usually I’ve noticed some wording that needs to be altered or someone asked a question about the game that wasn’t addressed in the rules.

Catching msitakes before your content gets on the Internet is key. 😉

Fellow small-timers, heed my advice: print your games as part of the design process. Make it an iterative one.

Back and forth, push and pull.

2 thoughts on “Iterative Design

  1. I’ve gone one step further and started going back to writing and sketching by hand. Think I just crazed something analogue now all my game experiences are online. The only problem is then typing it all up afterwards…

    1. I’ve done that where I’ll make space for art and then doodle what art I think makes sense to be placed there. Then scrub for a look-alike on the internet.

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