I don’t want to have to work with artists, graphic designers, manufacturers, shipping companies, or distributors to get my game onto store shelves. I want to design games people enjoy playing; that’s it.
By the time GenCon 2014 rolled around, this opinion was starting to solidify. I had scheduled 2 meetings with publishers. My partner was doing all she could to promote our company and the games we were working on. We felt ready.
Unfortunately, I had to go up 2 days before my partner to meet with a publisher before the convention. I felt alone and scared. I’d just showed up in a strange city full of strange people and I had to go meet a stranger who could offer to publish my game. And I had to sell it to him.
I met the publisher and his staff at their hotel. As I walked into the hotel I could feel that deals
were already being made. They had me setup in a conference room and then explain the game. We chatted a bit as I finished setting up. They could tell I was nervous and were very kind. Because of that I was able to explain the game with a minimum of stumbling.
And then the publisher died 10 minutes into the game.
From there it was a 45 minute grind, and each minute was torture. It was an edge case. The result of insufficient playtesting. I needed to do more work. They provided me with constructive criticism and were generous and supportive, but I was heartbroken.
I was supposed to meet another publisher the next day and we had committed to playtest events throughout the con. I didn’t want to show the game to anyone. I was defeated. The game wasn’t ready. I was too embarrassed to even look at it. Then my partner showed up and rescued me.
My partner sensed that I was screwed up and offered to run the playtests before I could think to ask. I cancelled the meeting with the second publisher. I knew after the first meeting the game wasn’t ready. But the playtests were exactly what we needed.
Most people genuinely seemed to enjoy playing the game. We received a lot of positive feedback. But there was still that feeling that it wasn’t right. I started questioning myself. Why wasn’t enjoyment enough for me? What did I need to see to make me say: this game is good enough to keep going.
When we got back home I dismantled the game. I broke it down to parts and started over. It has now gone through so many changes, I can’t even call them iterations.
I tried a more conventional deckbuilding game. I tried a worker placement game called Kaiju: Giant Monster Movie. That showed some promise. Shortly after that it became a programmed movement game. I was desperate to make anything work, but ultimately I put it aside in frustration.
It took me awhile to find out what I really wanted. I wanted players to feel like they were giant monsters attacking each other and destroying a city. It filled my waking thoughts and kept me up at nights. I wanted player’s to have an experience. Kaiju was the first time I really thought about the player’s experience.
I’ve put a lot of projects to the side. It’s easy to put things to the side. It’s more difficult to pick them up again, but I did. And I have transformed Kaiju: Deck Deconstruction into something I’m proud of.
I’m also proud of myself for meeting with a publisher, and I look forward to meeting with many more in the future.
Hopefully some time in the next couple of weeks I’ll be able to post a video demo of Kaiju: Deck Destruction. I hope you’ll watch and see what’s become of my monster.
Recommended readings will become separate blog posts from now on. It will give me the opportunity to talk a little more about them.
Thanks for reading.
February, 2014 – Present