Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Unpublished Prototype Review

My 2,700th game played since March of 2006 was an unpublished prototype and so it gets the honor of being a review of mine in the Every 100 Games Series.

The Excitement
Like many gamers I've dabbled in making my own games for a long time. I even won the county fair grand champion in 4H for the Do Your Own Thing category with my game Kingdoms, which was pretty much Axis & Allies, with some changes on a airbrushed and hinged piece of wood. I played a lot of games of it in Junior High and High School and still actually have it. 

Then fast forward to college and I try my hand at making a CCG type game, I can't remember the name, it had knights, took a ton of my time, I never played it with anyone, and it just sat there. But I was having a blast doing it. 

Now I'm on to another design called Den of Thieves, which is a quick filler type game, and have been playing it a lot with which is why I'm writing this review. It was my 2,700 game played and the game right before was Deer Season, a prototype of a friends. The point here is that there is just something exciting about creating a game and working on it with friends that are in the mood to create as well.

The Hit or Miss
Creating your own game is exciting, but what about playing others prototypes, that is where it can get sticky. Sometimes you find that hidden gem that you know one day is going to be the next big thing board gaming land, but if we're honest with ourselves, most of the time they won't be that good because well their still being worked on. Now, this still being worked on phase is pretty cool when it is your game, but it is less cool when it is someone elses. So this is where I've decided to make sure it's a compromise. You play my game, I'll be willing to play yours, both games get played and we both feel like we've made progress.

Don't Push It
Finally, the bad about unpublished prototypes. You get stuck in that stinker of a game and waste 2 hours of your life that you won't get back for a game that will likely never see the light of day again (I've done this with several of my own games throughout the years, I mean you don't see a designer badge here do ya?). Instead you could've been playing the perfectly balanced game of El Grande or enjoying some Warhammer Invasion. Instead though, you forced yourself or maybe it was your buddy who asked...begged you to spend those 2 hours, the only 2 hours away from kids, work, car repair, soccer games, and the in-laws you've had all week, to play a game written on index cards with blue ink and pizza smudges.

The world of unpublished prototypes is an unknown one, which I think is why it has such a draw for us gamers. I mean, after all, Twilight Struggle started somewhere.

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