What's stopping you from finishing your game?

I had a bit of a revelation last night and that spurred on a question: What's stopping me from finishing Dark Days (my game)?
I've been sitting on it for months now, doing a little bit of work here and there but nothing solid. From discussions, I'm not the only one who never finishes his games and ends up with a folder with 10 half-done games and nothing to show for. So what's holding us back?

For me, it's mostly this notion that Dark Days only has one shot to get out there. It has to be perfect. There has to be an amount of gamers ready to buy the thing even before it's released. I must have an active blog, to gather said gamers and other people and sell them my game. It has to have the best art (that's why I've made 3 covers and commissioned a 4th), the best writing (which is why I've ''edited'' it 5 times) and the best rules. And so on.

No more I say! A single person can't create and publish a game and hope to achieve the same level of success as a whole company (like say...White Wolf). You can't gather a crowd of rabid fans with empty promises and you can't publish a game and expect it to sell 2000 copies just because you think it deserves it.

I'll be cutting down the content in Dark Days and putting together a playtest draft by January. I'll turn the 300 page mammoth to a 50-100 page game and I'll illustrate most of it myself. And then I'll publish it anyway I can.

What about you?
«1

Comments

  • For me it'a playtesters. Writing, editing, revising are easy for me. Getting a consistent play group willing to spend several sessions on an expiremental desing isn't.

    Peace,

    -Troy
  • Fair enough! What's stopping you from finding playtesters? What's your game about?
  • I playtest too much.

    I love playing with new players, studying how they play, recording results, and tweaking rules. The best ideas on paper don't survive actual play intact.

    I've run extensive usability tests for graphic design and websites professionally and probably enjoy it too much!
  • I'm committed to too many projects.

    The DSRPG was supposed to be finished by last gencon. Right after I was like "Holy crap! We need to finish this any way we can!" I won the DivNull lark, which means Blowback has to be finished in one year. I was about to finish writing my game for Two Games One Name and just had a fantastic playtest of Blowback that makes me want to revise the text. Harg!
  • 1. I get distracted by other projects too easily.

    2. I need to get better about making playtests happen, both getting my regular group together for such and finding outside playtesters.
  • Time and priorities. There just aren't enough hours in the day to adequately address everything important in my life, and right now I prioritize my grad school work, my girlfriend and personal downtime over other things. The time that I do have to spend on "game stuff" right now is pretty much devoted to upkeeping my current stuff and the occasional lark like Two Games One Name.

    Two things I've realized that helps me not stress about it, though:

    * In the words of Mr. Jared A. Sorensen, Good is the Enemy of Done. If it's Brilliant and never gets out there, that's worse than something that's Very Good and people have the chance to experience. Also, no matter how much playtesting is involved, you will always learn things about your game from it being out in the wild. Always.

    *It'll still be there. If I don't get my next game done by Christmas? Well, I can get it done by the summer. Not done by the summer? Next halloween. People will still be playing games. I'll still be here. It'll be ok. I have a secret project that I've been working on with a partner for almost two years now. Neither of us have a lot of time to spare. We originally were aiming for last Gen Con - hell, the design isn't even done yet. It's sure as hell not written. That's ok, it's gonna be a really good game, and it'll still be good in another two years.
  • Posted By: Nathan P.Time and priorities.
    ++
  • edited November 2009
    Playtesting. Finding french speaking players to play regular indies game in Montreal is kind of hard. Still, I have managed to find two gaming groups, one play once a week, the other play once by two weeks. Those two group have a playlist of like 10+ indies games they want to try and play. With all those indies games to try (they are legion! ;-), I dont see how one of my group would have some time to playtest something.

    This is a huge stoping force for me since I really prefer to work by trial and error and experimenting over alway working on a pure theoric level. I am often considering of dropping my projects and I regularly shelve them, but sadly I also alway get back to them. I think I should invest my energy in other activity where I dont depend on a group of people to work, like illustration artwork, graphic novels, etc.
  • Time. All of our R&D projects are basically waiting on enough playtest time to refine them from homebrew to real game. Then there will be an editing lag when we bottleneck the writing process at a single owner and we try to find the energy to actually type 20-100 thousand words. Finally there will be a lag due simply to release-terror, while we refine uselessly in order to avoid committing.
  • I really only work on my game projects when I feel motivated to do so, most often when I'm about to run them for some folks. When that's not happening, they just tend to sit around and no progress is made while I'm watching soccer, baking, or doing something else with my free time. This used to bother me a lot, since I felt like I was wasting valuable time by not "being productive." But now I feel like, uh, all of these things are part of my life, so I'm only wasting time if I'm doing stuff that I don't actually enjoy or consider valuable in the long run.
  • I suffer from manic depression.
    Nuff said.

    -Ash
  • I stop me from finishing my game. Far to much procrastination, and lack of time with school and work.

  • BTW, playtesting seems to be an issue for a lot of people (myself included), and this thread over on Story Games Praxis has what sound like some promising suggestions.
  • There is no way to make money at this.
  • Heya,
    Posted By: northerainFair enough! What's stopping you from finding playtesters? What's your game about?
    I live in rural Kentucky. The play group that I had going since 1996 finally grew old, got careers, and moved away. During those years I'd estimate 20 different people filtered through my group. But at some point, the well went dry. I'm still looking for a partner, but no luck so far.

    I have two games I'm currently looking to playtest. The first is called, "No Greater Love." It's my attempt to take a the types of issues and conflicts faced by the character's in Frank Miller's Sin City and force the players to address them through play. The second game ready to go is one born out of my current necessity. It's called "Solo." It's intended for one GM and one Player. It's a high-adventure heroic game intended to work with different plug-in modules to keep things fresh. I've actualyl playtested the mechanics for this game quite extensively for another design that didn't work out the way I wanted. So I have a basic idea that it'll work, but I've never played it with just one Player.

    I've noticed that the three main placed people get stuck are Completion of the First Draft, Playtesting, Massive Revision based on Playtesting. That's been my experience anyway.

    Peace,

    -Troy
  • I'm still exploring the games that are out there, I have a few scattered notes and an old few drafts but I right now I"m still really happy exploring rather than inventing brilliant designs.
  • I haven't put out Console:Sidearm because I want good artwork for it. I'm at the stage where I can do the writing and layout, but I have little artistic talent, and it would benefit from it so much.

    --Colin
  • If finding playtesters is really that much of a problem, you should probably do like Tony and Jackson and write one-player games. I mean, when you've finished your multi-player game, who are you going to play it with?
  • I suffer from the too many hats syndrome; which makes ME the reason why a game doesn't get finished. In the end it comes down to me spending so much time beign busy that nothing gets done.
  • I realized the other day that I have seven game design projects going on, many with other people. They are:

    • Xenon: Alien Science Fiction
    • A top secret thing — not sure exactly what form it will take, but I don't want to jinx it (that is, there are other people involved and I don't want to say anything until they're actually on board)
    • Diesel Sweeties. We wanted to have it done by last Gen Con, as Elizabeth said.
    • Salah-ad-Din. A boardgame by Ibrahim "Slash" Dahlstrom-Hakki, about becoming the Muslim prince to lead all others again the Crusaders
    • Burning Rubber (the working title). A game that has nothing to do with Burning Wheel. A strategy ralleycross/combat game, sorta doing what I wish Car Wars did. Lego cars, lots of crashes.
    • The Bliss Stage card game. Working with the designer to design the cards.
    • Wings of White, Sea of Green. A strategy game of 18th century naval pursuit off the coast of New England. Who knows where, or if, this one's gonna go. I just started chewing on it again the other day.

    And then chatting with Dave Evans of Hybrid Mind Studios at JiffyCon this last weekend, we sketched out:

    • Gold Farm. A game of joyless production of a fictional resource for the benefit of others. This might be really simple and I may produce this one really fast.
  • edited November 2009
    I find it hard to get my group to play anything other than "established" games and that realy boils down to D&D and WW for them... how I yearn for Houses of the Blooded or FATE anything...

    And I am the only doing it so I get burnt out from it with my other responsibilities
  • World of Warcraft.

    I started playing it for the first time a couple months ago and haven't touched the game I was working on since. At first it was just a distraction -- playing a new video game was fun, whereas working on my game was, well, work. But the more I played, the more I started reevaluating what I like and don't like about games in general. I came to the realization that the RPG I was working on wasn't really the kind of game I wanted to play anymore.

    Recently, I've started kicking around ideas for a lonely-fun solo game that incorporates things I've learned from WoW (specifically, the casual, solo questing style of WoW that I enjoy) along with player-generated setting stuff. Basically guided daydreaming with lots of dice rolling and a map you make up as you go along. But I'm a long way from turning that into an actual design.
  • Posted By: Ron HammackI came to the realization that the RPG I was working on wasn't really the kind of game I wanted toplayanymore.
    Word. That happens to me at least once a year.
  • There definitely appears to be a pattern. I can relate to most of this, like not having time or wanting to finetune, finetune, finetune.
    Playtesting is a really big problem it seems. For me, it's not only about getting the game playtested, but about actually playing my game, used as a driving force. The last big push I did on Dark Days was before summer, because I wanted to get as much done as soon as possible in order to play it with my group of old friends.
    On the other hand, I now have a working build and I can play it with my friends, so I don't feel the need to finish it. Bah.
  • Of those very few projects of mine that I could see carrying to publication, it's usually good art and money (enough to pay for good art, and then the problem of making that money back). Miniatures are even harder to get produced given my budget.
  • The thing that slows me down is the sheer amount of work involved. I've got a full time job that is pretty demanding and my wife is in grad school (again). The game business comes in third (or fourth and ocassionally fifth). Yesterday I watched the last Matrix movie rather than work on games (a poor choice).

    I do move forward though because I have a good quality - blind presistence. I'm certain it's mild OCD but it means I return to the project over and over and the small work adds up over time. Sometimes I fear failure, sometimes I fear success. After those two emotions pass I get back to work.

    The fun part is the writing and play testing. Production is less fun but I kind of like the feeling of accomplishment it gives. Getting the web page up and maintained is draining. Marketing is hard. At least I don't mind the accounting anymore.

    In the end I think the thing that stops most design work is our deciding to dedicate our lives to other things. Really making it a business is not what people want. There is nothing wrong with that but I understand why it makes stores look so ask ance at small companies. Being "real" is nothing more or less than remaining in business and being predictable. Until you know yourself that you are going to do this then why should the wider world pay attention. Unsupported games don't draw players - espeically fringe games.

    I'm personally going to push forward as best I can and let God sort it out. I'm just the grunt.

    Chris Engle
  • Since I had several people ask about Console:Sidearm in whispers:

    Sidearm is a game that fuses console RPGs and westerns. (Not western RPGs as in Ultima, Wizardry, etc., but westerns as in The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly.) Gameplay works through poker cards, characters go to 99th level as in many console RPGs, fights take place on a battlefield shaped like a revolver's cylinder, all sorts of stuff together. The Wild Arms series (especially 3) is the exemplar for Sidearm, in the same way that FF7 and ChronoTrigger were the exemplars for previous versions of Console. The anime Trigun is a pretty good example too.

    Those art styles are what would be ideal for the game. Anime-style art with western-style characters.
  • Time and, honestly, fear that it will suck.

    Now that I've identified my problems, it should be easy to take care of, right? I have a day job, am trying to help my wife get her home-based business to be more lucrative and am raising a young boy. My hands are full!

    But, my biggest problem is, and always has been, fear. I'm afraid that people will hate it, then all my effort was wasted. I'm slowly getting over it.
  • Posted By: DVUSBut, my biggest problem is, and always has been, fear. I'm afraid that people will hate it, then all my effort was wasted. I'm slowly getting over it.
    Trust me, you're much more likely to be ignored than hated. ^_^;
  • I wonder what it would be like without fear?

    "Without fear"

    Could be a good title.
  • My two biggest problems are lack of experience and lack of exposure.

    Lack of Experience: I have a hard time trying to determine when I need to keep working on something and when I need to compromise and call it good enough. I'll finally settle on one part of the game and then move on to the next thing which will often completely undo the first part. I'm finding myself starting over a lot.

    Lack of Exposure: I have only played (what most people consider) not very well designed games. My gaming group is inconsistent and traditional (we've only played D&D) so my exposure to games is limited. I really only know what I don't want in a game, but not exactly how to accomplish what I do want.
  • I was talking with John Harper and Sage last night and we were saying that the games that we've actually more-or-less finished had a playable draft written in a weekend.

    Sometimes, having a lot of time to think about and ponder stuff bogs you down in the details and you can't ultimately get anything knocked out. And the expression of your original concept is less pure because it's not written within the moment of conception, so you have time for your intentions to wander and change from their original course.

    So I think that would be my advice, really. If you want to finish your game, make a playable draft over the weekend. It's totally doable and then you'll have something to playtest and work from.
  • This
    Posted By: Neko Ewen1. I get distracted by other projects too easily.

    2. I need to get better about making playtests happen, both getting my regular group together for such and finding outside playtesters.
    plus this
    Posted By: Nathan P.Time and priorities. There just aren't enough hours in the day to adequately address everything important in my life
    = never finished.

    I have about six projects of my own, and at least that many collaborations or other people's projects that I want to participate in and I never find the time. Plus, I'm more than a little afraid to finish things and let them run free in the world.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonI was talking with John Harper and Sage last night and we were saying that the games that we've actually more-or-less finished had a playable draft written in a weekend.

    Sometimes, having a lot of time to think about and ponder stuff bogs you down in the details and you can't ultimately get anything knocked out. And the expression of your original concept is less pure because it's not written within the moment of conception, so you have time for your intentions to wander and change from their original course.

    So I think that would be my advice, really. If you want to finish your game, make a playable draft over the weekend. It's totally doable and then you'll have something to playtest and work from.

    I'd say that's really accurate. It definitely was the case with my game. It begun as something and is now something completely different. On the other hand, I do like that most of the stuff is well thought out, which is the beef I have with most games when I play them and go ''who the hell playtested this shit? This is unplayable.''
  • I've been working on Verge for years and years. I think I started on it about the time Bill started on Ganakagok, for reference. It's not finished because:

    * I don't believe the game is reliably fun to play.
    * I'm not that psyched about the game.
    * Publication isn't really a huge priority for me.
    * Life is pretty busy. Time and priorities.

    It's not finished, but it's published. You want to play Verge? The rules are all there on the web. Have at it.
  • As chronicled over in my praxis thread, I've been trying to find people to playtest my game with me over Skype. Are any of you who are blocked on playtesting interested in forming a Skype group to run playtests of each other's games? If a handful of us agree to work together we should have critical mass to get our games playtested.
  • My problems are difficulty in getting games playtested, and what I can only describe as game design A.D.D.

    I get easily distracted by other projects, and subsequently end up forgetting or losing interesting in the older projects.

    I also tend to suffer from "system indecisionitis"; I get sidetracked by the flashy new system/mechanics fad of the day and revise whatever game I'm working on with the fad mechanics. As a result, my projects often end up in sort of rules design limbo. Long before Jared Sorensen wrote InSpectres, I started a project of creating my own Ghostbusters-esque game; this was also before I lost interest in traditional gaming models. In the years on which I worked on that project, I flip-flopped between no less than 5 different systems, over the course of ten years. Then I discovered the wonder of hippie games, and the elegance of InSpectres; not long afterwards I gave up that long frustrating project for good. I have no regrets about letting go. The condition still afflicts me, but in slightly different ways; as I hash out one element of a game, I notice that another element doesn't work as well as desired with the new one, and so I revise the old element. I suspect that's not an uncommon occurence for a lot of designers; but I think I do it really often.

    I'm working hard to get past these challenges, and become a more effective designer. I've focused on one project exclusively for a while now; a while being since Game Chef 2009 started. The game I produced for GC09, titled Slow Burn, is now my big focus. I've got a new website for myself where I can announce my game design work, and also perform my design work since the site uses a wiki style backend. Slow Burn is the only project on my site, which is helping to maintain my focus.

    Getting things playtested still remains my number one challenge. Up here in Kitchener (Ontario, Canada), there are few players of story games. I was lucky enough to find Kit and Anna Kreider, who have been great to game with; I've been having a blast. I'm acquainted with a bunch of other gamers in the area, but they are all traditional gamers, and tend to be reluctant to try the non-traditional stuff. I'm going to have work on some of the suggestions in the finding playtesters thread over in Praxis to increase my playtesting opportunities.
  • I don't finish most of my games. Finishing a game is hard and it takes a long time.

    I've finish four games (Polaris, Bliss Stage, the Drifter's Escape, XXXXtreme STREET luge), in all. That's a pretty low number: probably at most a quarter of the games I produce to playtesting.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited November 2009
    Posted By: Ben LehmanI've finish four games (Polaris, Bliss Stage, the Drifter's Escape, XXXXtreme STREET luge), in all. That's a pretty low number: probably at most a quarter of the games I produce to playtesting.
    That makes me feel somewhat better about my track record for finishing games.
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonI was talking with John Harper and Sage last night and we were saying that the games that we've actually more-or-less finished had a playable draft written in a weekend.
    Writing a playable draft of the game is easy and fun. Taking that draft and making it into a finished game is hard work, with no clear payoff. So none of my games are finished.


    That and working evenings cuts into the time have available to play the games that I write. And not wanting to mess with the logistics of assembling a group fo players. And laziness. And lack of motivation. Lots of reasons, really.
  • edited November 2009
    I find I work poorly without external deadlines, and for the better part of a year dicked around with a lot of different designs that went unfinished- some because I couldn't get them to work the way I wanted, some because I realized they weren't that much fun to deal with over a large period of time, and some because I discovered another game that simply did it better.

    However, after finishing a few short games for design contests I realized that all I really needed to do was get some people to set some deadlines.

    So far I've been doing just that (by telling friends to harass me if I don't finish on time!) and it's been working pretty well. I just playtested the game I've been working on last week and it went over fairly well, and I've got some clear goals set, so hopefully I'll be able to meet them!
  • Beyond being a big slacker?

    For myself, part of it is just having a combination extremely niche interests, to the point where it's exceedingly hard to gather together experimental subjects.

    It doesn't make it any easier that at the end of the day, I'm probably really not looking at a game system in any meaningful sense, but some kind of mechanical recipe book promoting a particular sort of play culture.
  • I have been hating on Perfect for two years, because I made a critical error in my revisions... I revised out some of the stuff that made it interesting to me in the first place.
    Going back and reading AP reports, looking at early notes, piecing together what the game used to be... helped me realize what had been missing for a while.
    And so, what's stopping me: Nothing, anymore. But it was that I lost my magic, in the process of trying to refine it.

    For other projects:
    I like thinking about games more than playing games more than designing games more than refining games more than writing games.
  • ...also I spend far to much time on teh interwebs...le sigh
  • Posted By: Mr. Teapot
    Writing a playable draft of the game is easy and fun. Taking that draft and making it into a finished game is hard work, with no clear payoff. So none of my games are finished.
    Yes. I write lots of games, then play them with friends once or for a few sessions. I write games I want to play, and then I play them, and then have little incentive to continue to do the boring part of the work.

    I shall not let that stop the awesomeness that is Outlaws and Owlbears, though.
  • Posted By: ClintonI shall not let that stop the awesomeness that is Outlaws and Owlbears, though.
    You mean Badasses and Thieves.
  • I got a full-time, creative job, and suddenly all my creative energy went into that. Writing games after hours is a whole lot harder.
  • For Mature Audiences - I feel that it's done, barring perhaps an expansion on how Damage is apportioned. It lacks artwork (or permission to use the inspirational artwork, it being an Artists First submission) and probably another editorial pass. And layout, but I can do that easy-peasie. The main lack of motivation to Finish It: it's free, Creative Commons, and is already published online in a playable state. Any more work on it takes away from:

    GLASS - I think it's done, system-wise. But I need to playtest, and being a LARP,, that means a largish venue and a full game session for which I charge no fees. THAT adds up to Money. If I could get (a) a few full-weekend playtest and (b) a few folks just cranking out characters, trying to 'break' the system with min-max munchkinly tricks, then I could move on to full rules writing and examples and Templates with the confidence that I won't have to change some of the cost balances and, thus, search and recalculate umpty-dozen examples of an Ability whose cost has changed. Basically, if the system isn't solid, there's no point in expanding the rules yet.

    ASCII @HACK - This roguelike Story Now game is... in need of a major redesign, after one good (but woeful) playtest. I think I learned a lot about how to balance resource-driven tactcs and actual narration (though I don't have a "killer app" that mechanically encourages narration, like DitV dice and Trait invocations).

    Icehouse Games - Most are "playable-done" but could use either Variation rules or final tweaks to maximize the strategy. Others are "interesting ideas" that are far from fully baked (e.g. generic RPG using only Icehouse pyramids for all "stats," characters/monsters, and challenges). The rest are done as they'll ever be--some perfectly fine and playable, others more in the "game experiment" category that are fun for some folks and an utter waste of time for others.

    In closing... time and friends. I can make the former, but I have to pay for the latter (it would seem). Lacking the latter, I don't bother allocating the former. And around and around we go....
  • My problem? I've been struggling with mental illness since I disappeared from the Forge. Setting medication levels for anti-anxiety drugs is hard; either you can't stop from committing to insane stuff or you have no will to commit to anything. Now after tinkering for years, I hover around 'why bother' and 'today I'll try'.

    "Stab them in the Hope with your Ennui" is kinda poetic for me. Ennui is a good way to describe my problem.

    Even so, over the years, I've had the inspirations that finished Scattershot. I'm so out of practice now. Ennui and meeting people in meatspace don't mix, so I'm beginning to reach out for blind playtesters.

    Reading this thread makes me think that what a lot of us would benefit from would be something like a 'writing buddy'. Another person who you work with, not on your game, but on your progress. When George said, "What's stopping you from finding playtesters?" I heard exactly that kind of input. I would like to find someone who regularly grabs me by the ears and asks those ridiculously obvious questions. It shakes up one's thinking and makes the next step clear. It's like having a deadline that thinks. And I could ask just the same kind of questions from her. Since we share the hobby, we can both relate and learn what the process is to publish a game.

    Does anyone else think this would be something we could put together here on Story Games?

    Fang Langford
  • My problem is that the game has a big, fuzzily-defined problem that I don't know how to attack.
Sign In or Register to comment.