I have been thinking about it more importantly in the last 6 months. I wanted to write this for quite some time, and it took me a lot of time to write it, so spoiler alert, it's pretty long. I'll try to get to the point to save some lines and try to not complain too much. I have decided to stop designing games, minus a few exceptions, for at least the next 4 years. This thread will explain the reasons behind I decided to stop, when I could decide to start again, and what are the alternatives to creating games. I'll try to structure this post to make is easier to read and allow you to skip the sections you are not interested.

Game design, a curse I wished I did not have

Everybody think you have a kind of gift when you tell them you design games, but in fact, it's a curse. It force your brain to constantly think about how to implement new game mechanics. Then when you have a solution, it refine the process to find better solutions. It never stops, because you are never done. The worst part is that the ideas comes in faster than I can produce them. For example, remember my "Deep Space Colonisation" real-time strategy colony management game I was supposed to make on Android, well it's designed at 80% ... on paper, but I have not programmed anything yet. And I need to implement the game to playtest and make further adjustments, but I can't. And that will always be the case, the design department will always work faster than the production department. That is very frustrating, because you can never see your creations come to life in time to keep your mind in focus. The other furstrating thing is that you can only keep 1% of your ideas because I'll never have the time to produce them all. So I have to select those who are the most promising, and sorting them out is a challenge in itself.

Why did I stop?

Now I cannot say that I did not like some aspects of game design. It's first kind of a puzzle in itself, so instead of just doing sudoku, you design a game. Second, it touch many aspects at the same time from math, to art and programming (in video games). As a jack of all trades, it's normal that I was attracted by it. It's just the production process that stall. This is the primary reason where I stopped, I just lack of time, and when I take a look at my backlog of games produced, I suck at producing games. I might also be on the verge of a burnout, and before the worse happens, I need to cut things off. As you have guessed, game design is not a priority. Also having the frustration of never progressing added stress and gave me the impression of having too many things to do.

Another important frustration is that all games are done, or on the edge of beign done. I cannot say I really have a unique idea that has never been explored before. Many times, it happens that when I play a new game, I found that: "This is very similar to an idea of mine". So even if I don't implement a game idea, it is eventually going to be implemented by somebody else who will probably have more resources than I have and will make a more beautiful and popular game than mine. So why bother putting years of effort in the first place, you just have to be patient and wait. If I make a game, I will have either to bring something unique to the industry or think that I am the only person who have the skill to do this game where everybody else failed. Else the production of the game would have to be really short so that it could worth investing the time.

Am I a game designer?

I have been discussing on forums about my frustrastration about game design and one thing people concluded is that you cannot just have ideas, you need to produce those ideas too. Which makes me wondered if I was actually a game designer? Did I really had any skills or talent to design games in the first place? After some discussion, it seems I have more skills at modifying existing games and reusing mechanics than creating new games. So restraining my design with this information in consideration could have helped. Else I might be better as a co-designer, playtester, etc. Many years ago, I tried to make a Zelda Classic quest and it was fun. I could use my skills to make adventures and mods instead of new games.

How could I re-use my skill?

I spent almost 15 years trying to design board games and video games with very few games in my catalog. Now, instead of feeling that I wasted 15 years of my time, I was wondering if I could re-use this experience for other purposes. I have been asking again on forums and a few interesting ideas came out. One of the criteria is that I generally have focus on an for 1-2 months, so anything that will take that much time to produce is welcomed. The most interesting idea was to become a game reviewer. Since I have little space, it would be a digital board game and video game reviewer. I could do it written, but it could probably be more interesting, and more work, to do it as a video. I would be like it to be a screencast, so you'll only hear my voice. I'll have to get some video editing skills first and try to get better in my oral english. I could probably do them in both english and french. Pod cast are also nice, but they might be harder to follow due to the lack of pictures, still there could be an audio only version.

Other things I could be doing is creating a computer programming blog specialised for video games. I will not be making games, but rather portion of games. For example, I could make a map generator, a password system, etc. I like making experiments when programming, and this could be a way of doing it. In the end, no games will be created, but it could help others to make games. If you want to read the user feed back on the forums, here are the thread:

Is there another way to use my game design skills than creating games?
Board Game Geek thread
Board Game Designer Forum thread

Will I ever do game design again?

I would need a lot of change in my life to start making games again. Some of them are more likely than other to happen. One of them is finishing school which I still have 4-5 years to go. After that I'll should have more free time, still I might also change job which will affect the time available I have. So it's very hard to predict what will happen. Else I would need to be hired by a game company and contribute my ideas that will be built by the staff. It is a possible solution, but in most video game companies, people work 80+ hours per days, and I don't have the health for that. Finally, I would need to be rich and pay people produce my ideas, again not likely to happen. Unfortunately, I cannot sell game ideas, and even if I could, I cannot garanty an idea will work before playtesting, therefore some production is required first. So in game making, design and production is intertwined.

If I do get back into game design, what will it be?

If I do game design again it will have to be small projects, with very low assets. For video games, one idea could be to make atari style games, but have more depth than games from that era. Another idea is to make mobile strategy games with a minimalist interface (what Koei did on the NES and SNES). If any of this works make some revenue, I could see if I could hire people on the net for the artwork and music. Still, there would need to be relatively small projects, I must be able to do 2-4 projects per year to get a personal satisfaction in doing so. Still, the competition is so fierce on Android, that I am not sure there is really a need for such games.

The exception: lifetime projects

Of course, there is always exceptions, and this is what I call lifetime projects. There will be 2 project, one that you already know "Wizardry Legacy" and a new one you are going to learn about soon "Wizard Civilization" (WizCiv). Since I am cursed, if I could channel my creative energy there, it will be less frustrating than not beign able to design anything. Having 2 projects is a good thing, because you can jump from a project to another according to my mood. Also the fact that they are both at different stage of development prevent having to do the same thing on both project. Which makes the job more enjoyable.

The other tiny project I could be working on is my stock market board game project which is very simple and advanced a lot in the development. I intend to make completely playable digital prototype to accelerate the playtesting. But one thing for sure, it's will be hard to play it with real people due to Covid, so I am not really in a hurry to work on it. Still, I would like to use Game Crafters once to make a game, and it will be this one.

What the hell is WizCiv?

As I have said before, if I work on a game, it will have to be something that I think nobody else will be able to do. It's also have to be something that I am a huge fan of, and that is obcure enough, else there will already be hundreds of clones on Android. WizCiv is actually a remake of master of magic. The objective is to create a game that is close to the original Master of Magic and to Civilization 5, like if MOM was based on Civ 5 instead of Civ 1. As you have seen on my board game designer's website, I tried a lot of attempts to make MOM board games and they all failed. My goal is not to implement those new designs as a video game, but rather make an adaption Master of Magic to the Civ 5 engine. And it my job to not diverge too much from both these games. I want to keep the same look and feel while fixing issues and adding new features.

Now, how I am going to do that when many other people failed. First of all, there is a free game called UnCiv available on Android. It a free minimalist civilization 5 reimplementation. It looks like an old DOS game, but it not, it's actually really civ 5. Since it open source, I now have way more flexibility than trying to mod a commercial video game. I tried modding Warlock in the past and the magic was very limited. This allows me to implement the mechanics the way I want it. Still, if I diverge too much from UnCiv, it will require more programming. So I don't want to do that too often.

Right now I have a private website that I use as a design document. It will contain all the rules and the data of the game. The website is currently not open because I don't want to feed false hope and I want to have enough meaningful content to read. I am still at the point of making the kingdom management work, but I already logged ideas in all domains. I might do some test program to verify certain game mechanics. For example, I could make a combat simulator to test unit duels. Also, as an open source game, I will have more chance to have support from the community for assets. One of my friend is already willing to do some map art. I have another artist I worked in the past that I could ask for help. When I am ready, I will fork the project and start implementing features to playtest the game for real. I will inform you here when the website opens and when the implementation get started. I will be open to feedback and criticism all this time, I really want to create a game that almost all MOM fans will love.

I hope the reading was not too long. If you have any questions or anything you want to talk about, just send me an e-mail.

Enjoy and have fun!

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