What confuses you most about board game development?

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Board game development is incredibly complex. To create a board game from start to finish, think of everything you have to do:

  • Come up with a board game idea and design a game around it.
  • Create rules and mechanics that help you express your idea in the best way possible.
  • Play-test the game until it feels right.
  • Find artists.
  • Create digital print files of your game.
  • Figure out manufacturing and fulfillment.
  • Figure out marketing and promotion.

Needless to say, this is extraordinarily complicated. I’ve covered this topic from different angles for the last three years and I’m amazed even still by my blind spots.

With that in mind, this blog exists to serve you. I want to create information that is necessary and useful for every struggling board game creator who happens to stumble across this blog.

I have just one question for you today, and I’d like for you to answer in this post’s comments. I’ll use your questions as inspiration for posts coming in April, May, and beyond!

What confuses you most about board game development?

20 thoughts on “What confuses you most about board game development?

  1. My greatest confusion lies within playtest/design iteration: When do you definitively know when to pivot your design by making a major change? What are practical ways to consider what kind of major changes is needed to enhance the game experience? In what ways does playtesting inform this decision?

    1. Hi Corry, thank you for the questions! These are good questions and ones which I think a lot of people have. Every game is unique and individual, so there is no specific answer as to *when* you know for certain you need to pivot. That said, I may very well call up some game dev friends and ask them about their experiences. We could be looking at case studies on this subject soon!

  2. Corry Damey basically took the words out of my mouth. I would expand by saying when you are in the early processes of iterating a major change, any recommendations on how to – when it is lacking in fun – differentiate between when the gameplay is objectively not fun, and the rough edges simply need to be smoothed out to reveal the fun.

    1. Thanks for expanding upon what Corry said, Graham! As you can imagine, this is a common question, so I think it’d be a good idea for me to reach out to others and ask them about their experiences!

  3. I guess for me as an amateur, it’s turning my ideas into reality, and finding people to work with. Having the confidence that what I’m developing is actually worth taking forward, finding people willing to playtest… I suppose I’m way behind where a lot of people are.

    1. It definitely takes guts to get started, matt, but you can do it! Turning ideas into reality becomes a lot easier over time, and really, the tough part is taking the plunge. It’s a bit like jumping into a pool that you know is cold.

      I’ll probably be writing about this very soon!

  4. I have 2 questions:
    1. How to play-test games: I live in India and the tabletop game culture is still only picking up here. Currently there are not a lot of playtesters available. Thus, I thought about creating an online demo. However, I wanted to know how you generate enough traction for the game to be attractive to online playtesters to join your sessions. Which platforms did you use to advertise and how much did it cost?

    2. How did you find the cheapest yet quality manufacturers? If they were all located in China, how did you incorporate the shipping costs and take care of all communication difficulties regarding box layout, minor size adjustments etc. on your components?

    Really love your blog overall and was a very good starting point for me to think about game development. Thanks !

    1. Hi Nikhilesh, glad you like the blog and thank you for the comments!

      Your questions are good ones, and there are so many posts I could write based on them. For example, I’m actually working with someone right now to put together a post on how to create beautiful Tabletop Sim demos. Could make an entirely new post about attracting online playtesters as well / running great livestreams.

      And of course, advertising and manufacturing costs, those are both way too complicated to explain in a comment, but my prior campaigns generated a ton of data. I might be pulling some of that soon and putting together some detailed reports to help you get a sense of how much game development costs!

  5. buyer audience. what you think and what may be reality is a moving target… how do you get a send of that audience in the future vs now?

  6. Managing “group think” and perception of a Kickstarter crowd. Some Kickstarters can become quite toxic in the comments while others are very very supportive.

  7. When you get results back from playtesting and think several of the suggestions might be a good addition or change to your game, is it best to try one suggestion at a time or can multiple changes be done at one time, e.g., changing player count and difficulty level.

    1. Hi Deb, I can answer this one right here! Generally speaking, I recommend applying one change at a time. The exception to the rule: when your game is broken or it’s really early. Then you can apply as many fixes as you need at once to continue.

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