#NaGaDeMon Update: Listen Up

The #NaGaDeMon truck rolls on, creative juices continue to boil away and my wee game gets closer to being finished. If you’re unaware of what NaGaDeMon is, here’s the deal: much like NaNoWriMo where people are given the challenge to write a 50,000 word first draft of novel from scratch, this is a month long task through the month of November where those who take part make a brand new game from the ground up. From the original concept to a finished working game in thirty days – and as I’ve found out, this is not as easy as you may think.

In my last update, I talked about the idea I had for a space exploration game involving a stack of double-sided hex tiles and a big ol’ pile of small plastic cylinders. The name of the game is Pocket Universe and players travel around the tiles, revealing more and more of the board as they move about, collecting resources and either stashing them back at their base for points or using them to perform special actions. Since that last post I’ve played it a lot and – in all honesty – reckon that it’s a pretty good game. Of course, I would say that. I’ve designed it. I’m proud of it. The trick is to get other people to try it out and let me know what they think.

Anyone who does anything vaguely creative has to learn one thing very early: how to accept criticism graciously and not let it upset you. Whether it’s writing, making music, painting or – yes – making games, you’ve got to be willing to listen to what people say about your creation. If they like it, great! It’s always lovely to hear them praise what you have made. What you also need to do is give as much time to those who have negative things to say about what you’ve made and, more importantly, act upon their advice. It’s fine to ignore the ones who just say “that’s crap” and offer nothing else, but if people have ideas? Listen.

You don’t have to act on everything but you should always consider what they have to say.

I actually managed to get the files for Pocket Universe out to ten different people and groups to playtest it for me, and the feedback has been great. Yes, it’s been splendid hearing from folks who’ve played it and enjoyed it… but what I’ve found even better is the reports I’ve had back from those who’ve played it and have suggested what can be done to improve the game experience. I want to make the best thing I can, a fun game that offers a level of challenge to all who play it. In particular, I’ve had some great assistance from Newcastle Gamers’ Gareth and Robert who frankly ripped my rules to shreds – but you know… that’s exactly what needs to happen.

Gareth printed out *all* the tiles on thick card stock. It looks... pretty awesome.

In my last update I mentioned that I’m not fantastic at rules. I need them to be looked at so I can go back and fix things, sew up holes, clarify points that need clearing up – nothing is perfect first time around. The game is still essentially the same but the rules are now so much better – streamlined, simplified and (best of all) not fussy. I still don’t think that they’re finished but it’s certainly getting much closer.

What I’ve also done is add a new element to the game, again under suggestion from playtesters. Each player now has a special ability that affects everyone else, such as taking over a wormhole so they can collect a toll from other users or upgrading the resources on a single planet. It just adds an extra level to the game that can give players an advantage – assuming that it’s used at the correct time. I’m still ironing out the kinks with it (especially with how they’re allocated at the start of play) but there’s still time. There’s still ten days left of #NaGaDeMon. I can do this.

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2 Comments

Filed under Design Diary

2 responses to “#NaGaDeMon Update: Listen Up

  1. Hi Michael,
    I like the design of Pocket Universe very much – makes me reminisce about Elite. However, on the pictures of the tiles it seems to me that some of the Fonts are hard to read due to a lack of contrast, eg. the “green base”.
    Why not print the background of the bases in their respective color and write “COLORNAME BASE” in black/white on them?

    • idlemichael

      Well, this is still an early build of the game, but yes – the green base in particular looks a bit duff! NaGaDeMon is all about making something that works, not making it perfect, and I’ve never been famous for making pretty things. However, getting a designer on board costs money and that’s not going to happen at the moment. In future though, who knows?

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