Game Design #4: Kaiju: Deck Destruction – Dragodan vs. Jormungand

All Cards45My goal since day one has been to get a game published, but I have no desire to be that publisher.

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.All Cards60

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.

All Cards19The game started and people seemed excited. There were these powers they could use and there were all these buildings they could destroy and they could attack each other.

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.

photo 2My 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.

photo 1Whatever it was, I didn’t get it at GenCon.

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.

IMG_0265I’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.

Status: Active
February, 2014 – Present

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3 thoughts on “Game Design #4: Kaiju: Deck Destruction – Dragodan vs. Jormungand

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