That lightning bolt

June 07, 2016

bolt Before yesterday, getting struck by that cliché creative lightning bolt had only happened to me once, when I suddenly had the idea for Forge War and started scribbling down rules in the middle of a physics meeting. Gloomhaven wasn't so much one big lightning bolt moments, but rather just many, many little moments. I had been thinking about the project for more than a year before it started to take shape in its current form. And even after that, there were lots of little innovations that made perfect sense and surprised me that I hadn't thought of the idea before. I can't really say whether having a game come to you all at once or slowly working on a game over many years is a more valid approach to game design. I think they are both equally valuable. But, in terms of motivation for working on a project, there is no clearer validation than having a beautiful, fully-formed idea suddenly come to you all at once. You can see it in your head, and you can say with confidence, "Yes, this is awesome and unique. I need to make this game." So, yeah, that sort of happened to me again yesterday, and it made me all giddy inside. I started pacing back and forth in my apartment, talking to myself out loud about various rules and the way things would work. My dog got a little freaked out. I don't know if it takes away from the power of the lightning bolt at all, but I can attribute both instances back to specific video games I had been playing. I've talked before about accepting inspiration from any source, and I don't think there's anything wrong with cribbing ideas from video games. There is a lot of amazing, innovative stuff going on in that industry. What is a little silly, though, is that both inspirations came from online Flash games. I like to play Flash games while I work because they don't take a lot of time. You can break up the monotony of what you are doing for a couple minutes, and then get back to work feeling fulfilled. If you try to break up the monotony by playing Fallout 4, well, then you end up losing an entire work day. I have grown a particular affinity for "Idle" games, which are designed to make you wait for progress of some kind over a long period of time. They are designed this way to encourage you to spend money to speed up the process, but I like them because I leave them on in the background, check in on them occasionally when I need a break, click on a couple things, be satisfied with my progress, and then go back to work. Don't worry, I'm not making an "Idle" board game. I don't...I'm not even sure...yeah. FI So, anyway, I was intrigued by the structure of this game Factory Idle. Don't worry, I'm not making a factory board game either. It just sort of created this small thread in my brain, and I started to pull, and then all this crazy stuff fell out in the shape of a lightning bolt. It was pretty great. I don't really want to go into too much more detail at this point. I mean, an idea is still just an idea. There is a lot of work ahead to make it into a real game, and we don't want to count our chickens and all that. I'm excited, though, about making a prototype and seeing if it works as well on the table as it does in my head. It most definitely won't the first time, but I'm excited about taking the development journey with this idea, and molding it into the game that I know it can be. And it couldn't have come at a better time, either, which is the weirdest thing. We are wrapping up pre-production on Gloomhaven and getting all the files sent to the printer. I was just about to dive back into another game design I've been working on for a while, but I wasn't super-fired-up about it. Now I'm all aflutter. And, sure, new ideas are always the most exciting. I was all aflutter about the other game ideas on the back-burner at some point as well, but none of them were lightning bolts. This new idea is clear and beautiful. I'm sure that I won't always feel that way about it, but the knowledge that this game needs to be made will see me through to the finish line. I am sure of that, as well.


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