Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Mighty Thews - The Grind

I'm working now on layout and design for On Mighty Thews. It's coming along, but it's a long hard process where I'm having to teach myself how to do everything before I even get to the step of making design decisions and implimenting them. I'm getting pretty handy with Photoshop and my layout program now.

I've had some invaluable assistance from Joshua Newman and others at Joshua's design studio. Seriously I don't think this thing would have come together at all without that forum.

On the publishing front, I'm in discussions with Malcolm Craig about a deal to get the game printed with Contested Ground's help. Living in New Zealand makes it punishingly expensive and monumentally difficult to publish overseas, and I think Malcolm's help is gonna make publication possible.

At this stage the whole thing is pure grind. Enthusiasm and love of the game will only get you so far, and I think that dried up for me a while ago. Now I'm running on determination and guilt. I've spent money on this thing, so I'm gonna at least recoup those costs, or break myself trying. I still have faith that it's a good game, a great game even, and much better than it was when I started the publishing process. But the step between "game that's fun for me and my friends and that works fine when I run it" and "game that's reliably fun for people running the game straight out of the book, and that consistently contributes to fun play" was larger than I ever imagined.

I was always an advocate of publishing free games, and I think that worked well for me in the early stages of this design. The ability for the game to be done, and then to come back to it with fresh eyes having received some great external playtesting was invaluable. But I think for me at least the hurdle of taking this game from free on the internet to a thing people spend actual money on has driven me to make the game better than I ever thought it could be. It started as a thing I banged out in five minutes to give me and a friend something to do, and now I think it's a provocative, fun, and sometimes challenging game, with a few genuine innovations.

I think what gives me the drive to actually finish this thing is not my own enthusiasm, but the enthusiasm of others. I'm a productive writer. I've written maybe four or five games since the first draft of On Mighty Thews, but they're all mouldering in my hard drive. They've all helped me to improve as a designer, and been interesting experiments, but I doubt any of them will go firther than they already have. On Mighty Thews is the game I'm taking to completion, and that's fuelled by the enthusiastic contributions of the people who have played the game.


  1. This is great stuff, Simon. Anything you can share about your publication schedule? (I noticed on Collective Endeavour that Malc was pimping for another round of external playtests.)

  2. It's still pretty up in the air. Things I need to get done:

    Final design for cover and back
    More external playtesting to hone text
    More internal playtesting of some mechanics
    Sort out details of printing and distribution

    So not much? Hopefully the text won't change much after this round of playtesting.