Geekway to the West has become something of a comforting ritual for me. This year was my fifth, and it is such a wonderful experience to drive down there, see all the friends I’ve made over the years, many of whom I only see once a year at Geekway, and play games with them until I collapse from exhaustion each evening.
So I got to play a lot of games, and a surprising number of them were pretty great. Plus the company was great, so, overall, I couldn’t really ask for a better experience. It is such a nice way to kick off convention season, and I am already looking forward to heading back next year.
So I took What We Found There to a couple conventions recently – namely LeiriaCon and RobbCon – and was able to play the game a few times with knowledgeable people and get some good feedback. From this, I think it has been progressing nicely.
The main things I was struggling with were twofold. One was that, in an overarching sense, the basic loop of the game felt a little basic. Collect resources and turn them in for points. In terms of a Euro game, it’s about as basic as you can get, especially for a worker placement game.
So I’ve been working on this “big box” expansion to Gloomhaven for a long time. I remember writing a post in November 2016 about spending a National Novel Writing month working on the story for it. That was quite a while ago.
I’ve also pined year after year that I wasn’t getting enough time to work on it. Conventions, business-related things – something always seems to get in the way. I’m no longer toiling away in a vacuum. There are lots of external forces to contend with.
I think any game designer will tell you that the most useful thing you can do when you first start designing a game is to get it to the table and start playing it. You can stare at spreadsheets and brainstorm documents forever, but until you actually experience the game in action, it will be incredibly hard to figure out what works and doesn’t work about it.
So, with that in mind, I took my initial concepts for What We Found There and set about making a basic prototype, and the most intensive part of this was making all the cards.
Running my own business was never something I wanted to do. When I put my first game on Kickstarter, it was largely just to challenge myself. I wanted to design a game and release it into the world.
In hindsight, it might have been better just to find a publisher for it. But also in hindsight, it eventually led me to where I am today, which is not a bad place to be. Except that I am running my own business, and I don’t really have the skills required to do that effectively.