Monday, September 14, 2009

Boardgame Geek - Or why I make games for me

I make games that I like to play.

That sounds like a simple statement but in reality it's not. With a lot of focus on marketability and the next big thing sometimes the fact that you can make games that you like to play. With a lot of people yelling at you about what they think makes a good game, you can forget to make games that you like to play.

I make games that I like to play.

I felt the need to say that because I was over at board game geek and I was reading the comments that people have left for games. Not for any of my games, Suitors has had ten comments about it for the past two years and it might seem like whining. This isn't whining, this is more getting at the point that I make games that I like to play and I don't see Suitors getting any more comments any time soon.

However, there are a lot of people on board game geek who seem to feel the need to comment on games that they patently won't like. As if this is some kind of badge of honour or something.

"I hated this type of game, but I played it anyway and now I'm going to complain about it."
"I hated this game so much that I'm going to play the sequel and then complain about it."
"I hated this game so much that if they come out with another expansion I'm going to give it a 1 without actually having played it."

I read this and all I do is shake my head. I don't really get that mentality. It's like saying you played a game that you hate just so you can complain about it to your friends, and that you're completely right that the game is horrible even if a lot of other people think that the game is great. Is life so horrible that you feel that you have to increase your misery so that you can complain about more things?

A review tells you what's both bad and good about a game. Usually this is also the case after you've played the game a variety of ways. Not just one way and then having given up on it. If I don't like a game, I'm willing to at least give it another shot. I'm also willing to look at the positives of a game because there's no game that is completely bad (even Munchkin, which I hate with the passion of a thousand suns but I can admit that is sells an experience that a lot of people are interested in and that's why it's popular).

Example. Flying Frog Productions has a Zombie game called "Last Night On Earth" which we played as a six player game and my experience with the game wasn't great. The production value is amazing, the pieces are great and the actual design is pretty good. Where it fell flat for me is that we always got stuck in the school, and each turn for the players consisted of the following steps.

1. I search
2. I grimace that the card I got sucked
3. I passed

And we did this, all of us, while the zombies got to do cool things and killed us dead. This happened twice.

Now this game might be better played if I wasn't exhausted and if it had less people involved. I bet this would be spectacular at 2 or even 4, but at 6 it didn't float my boat. What does that mean? I'd probably end up giving it a try with 4 or 2 people. That also means I'm not going to pass judgement on the game as a whole because I had one bad experience with it. Certainly I grumbled about it to friends, but I didn't post my "OMG BAD TIME HAD" on the internet and try to bring the game down for it. There's a difference between a conversation and something in type.

I know that felt like a digression into how to criticise things but I will bring it back to my point. The point is that the world is full of these people, who only seem to be happy when they're complaining about something. You can never make these people happy, so ultimately you should make things that you're happy with.

Make games that you like to play.

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