Design Iterations #2: You have a wastebasket for a good reason, don’t be afraid to use it.

During the 2 hour train journey to London yesterday (for a talk by Keita Takahashi about his new playground, see previous post –  I wrote a two page description of my game design. It’s been bubbling away over the past two weeks of sketching and prototyping, so writing about it now was a fluid and concentrated experience. There were no grey areas or rhetorical questions or placeholders; just a full description of the game mechanic which felt robust and fun. I couldn’t wait to get back and get some work done on the prototype but first I had the enjoyable distraction by way of listening to some experts on the subject. 

Everything was fine until a discussion on gaming stereotypes came up, the talk naturally shifted to Katamari and NobyNobyBoy. Neither of which rely on gender specific paradigms. They also don’t rely on a narrative to push the game along – they do have some, but you could happily play the games without them.
When the time came for some Q&A the room went curiously quiet so I piped up to ask if “games need a story”, I had a strong feeling that Keita didn’t think so as he’d hinted that having fun is the point and I thought that perhaps you didn’t need anymore a reason to play than that. I added an example, in that I have great fun bursting bubble (blister) wrap, it’s enjoyable and entertaining and doesn’t need a story to entice me ( The main response was mixed at first but after a bit of uhming and ahing some agreement that they do not. But they are good for framing the world your creating and that their depth will be affected by it.

During the train journey home afterwards I also read this book ( on Videogame Marketing and PR. The book was recommended to me by a videogame marketing person who has worked on some big games such as GTA (I hope to drag him on here next as he’s currently marketing a new game) I really recommend downloading it now as it’s quite brilliant and totally free. It has some great advice on how your game and even it’s title can have a fundamental bearing on your ability to successfully market your game. It really is a great read and changed the way I thought about my game from the buyer’s point of view.
I had some issues about this that stemmed from my recent years working on business plans for funding pitches and this is something I can bring to the project that I think is useful. In order to successfully market my game I’m going to need some resources to do that and in order to get them I’m going to have get some money from people. The problem with asking people for money is that they usually want it back at some point. They also, rather annoyingly, want to know what they’re putting their money into and selling them on the concept of GlobalHyperMegaTechWars ZombieDomination a text based space opera was always going to be tricky.
So I then did this to my first design. It feels the right thing to do. Some of it can be used through the next iteration 🙂

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