Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Seeking Advice

(If you missed it, there's excellent discussion in the comments thread on my last post. Go on. I'll be here when you get back.)

I've got five games seriously bouncing around in my head right now. I want some advice from more seasoned designers -- what do you do when you have more active projects than you can possibly finish? How do you trim things down to size? How do you seperate the important from the merely cool?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not a more seasoned designer, Ben, but I write, and I can tell you that you can't tell what's cool and what's important before you sit down and put in some work.

For a story, I write the first and last chapters (or paragraphs, for a short story) before I do the rest, so that I know whether it's worth pursuing further.

I'm not sure what the analogues of the first and last chapter of a game are.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Troy_Costisick said...


Don't call me seasoned, but you and I are in similar positions. I've got a game I've been banging away at for two years now. I've got over 40 pages of typed notes plus 4 notebooks stuffed with ideas. However, at the same time I've got my three Ronny submissions I'm working on.

What I came to realize was that I could get my Ronny games done sooner than my game already in development. Therefore, it went to the back burner.

My advice (take it for what you will) is to focus first on what you can get done and into playtesting soonest, then while people play your game, work on the others.



8:33 PM  
Blogger xenopulse said...

I'm partially with Troy. I have two game designs (Beast Hunters plus one that I haven't talked about yet) and my novel in the works. Now, the novel takes priority simply because it's more important to me. But between the two games, I feel urged to finish the one that's already more advanced; get it done and out there, and then work out the less developed one.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Brennan Taylor said...

I had the exact same problem last summer, Ben. I had three projects I wanted to work on. I ended up taking the one that was closest to completion and focusing on that. I had to decide which one was most important to me, but the amount of effort required was also a factor.

11:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How do you seperate the important from the merely cool?"

If you're really having trouble telling, notice which one makes your friends happiest, and which one they hate the most. Those are the two most promising.

That's how I figure it, anyway.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Clinton R. Nixon said...


I'm a big disorganized dork, so my advice may be useless, but:

Just work on the one you're inspired to work on at any time. Sooner or later, one will get you more excited, and you'll do it. You'll probably cannibalize another for it. And lastly, you might get 50% through one and then do a different one. That's ok.

Just design for fun and something will end up emerging sooner or later. That's what I do, at least.

P.S. Only five?

2:43 AM  
Blogger Matt Snyder said...

Yeah, what Clinton said.

I'm going to fail at expressing this, but here goes:

It's not a matter of picking which one to focus on or publish or whatever. It's a matter deciding what YOU want to do as a designer. Are you a publisher first and foremost? Better pick one. Is that not top priority? Are you playing "jazz" with these creative ideas? Do that then.

Me? I'm somewhere in between those things, and probably not better organized that ol' Clinton claims he is.

2:49 AM  
Blogger Bankuei said...


Thanks for posting this question. I find myself exactly in the same situation right now.

3:20 AM  
Blogger Nathan P. said...

I kinda just bang away at whatever I'm interested in at the moment. Finally, something will hit critical mass and start to take over my mind. Sometimes it stops (thats happened a couple times in the last couple months), and I move on. Sometimes not.

Also, I count time spent thinking about what I'm working on as time spent actually writing. So, in that sense, I'm almost always working on something.

3:21 AM  
Blogger Ben said...

Hi Fred, Troy, Christian, Brennan, Vincent, Clinton, Nine Worlds Matt, Chris, and Nathan!

Thanks for the sympathy and the advice. I think I just need the balls to drop a project.


P.S. More than five total, of course. Five serious designs, with more than one cool element meshing.

7:03 AM  
Blogger Allen Varney said...

Go with the one that seems most commercial.

4:26 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

what do you do when you have more active projects than you can possibly finish?

Why, you start a blog for posting all the ideas you know you'll never get to.

At least, that's why we started Attacks of Opportunity...

6:14 AM  
Blogger thor said...

Issac Asimov used to keep three selectric typewriters in his office. When he would get stuck on one story he would switch typewriters untill he had the answer or he got stuck again. There is a lot of evidence that we think more about a problem when we are not focusing on it. So start all five and rip away at them till they stick then write up what you thought about the next one.

6:46 AM  

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