You Are Soliciting My Advice?

13 September 2018 | 30 Comments

One week ago, I posted an article titled, “I Am Soliciting Your Advice.” In it I talked about that we can all be more aware of how often we give unsolicited advice and ways–when invited–to give advice that people might actually hear. I ended the post with an open invitation for anyone to give me any type of advice.

I was blown away by the results. There are over 50 comments from various people on the post, and the advice was excellent. Some of it was instantly actionable, like the addition of “Blog” to the header at the top of this website.

Other advice is more long-term, philosophical advice that I’ve already read over and thought about multiple times. I’m sure I will return to it during contemplative moments in the future. Thank you so much!


Given the generosity of advice, expertise, and time I received through that post–and given that people solicit me privately for advice all the time, which I’m not available for–I thought I’d try something today. This post is directly inspired by Dorothy’s comment on last week’s article:

I’d welcome a blog post, where readers could ask you for advice on something not already answered in your posts…. It would be limited to requests for advice consisting of specific short answers, which would exclude the equivalent of consultations…something like, “If you had a consultation with me, what would you ask?”

I really like this idea, and I’d like to try it. Not just today, but on an ongoing basis–if you discover this post in 2028 and want to ask me for specific advice in the comments, I’ll get an alert on my moonbase hovercraft, and I’ll respond via my wireless telepathic implant.

A few disclaimers/guidelines:

  • Everything I say anywhere–especially on this blog–is my opinion. It’s one perspective. I have experience, but I’m not an expert. Please do not put you or your company at the whim of my advice alone.
  • I’ll respond to specific questions that don’t require research beyond simply reading your question. I wish I had time to look at your project page preview or your game prototype, but I don’t–I’m sorry about that.
  • Please only ask for advice if there is at least a chance that you can/will act on the feedback. I totally respect your choice to reject my ideas, but, for example, don’t ask me a question if you’ve already made up your mind on the answer. More about this here.
  • The comments are where your requests should be posted, not in a private message. Other people can benefit from your question if it’s asked publicly.

That’s it! The comments are open for your questions.


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30 Comments on “You Are Soliciting My Advice?

  1. Jamey,

    I hope that you’re still answering questions on this post. I will admit that I’m somewhat of a newcomer to the world of game design and Stonemaier games, but from what I’ve seen, you have a great community here. I watched a video on Scythe and it looks pretty cool. Also, I have always enjoyed board games. My friends and I are in the middle of a great series of Risk Legacy games right now.

    So here’s my plight: I’m a high school student in Northern Illinois in a business class. Most of the other teams are building more “typical” businesses, while my team and I are designing a board game. I’ve always been passionate about board games and when I had the chance to design one I jumped at the chance. I’ve had several ideas- this summer, I wrote the rules for my own game, though I never realized it into a prototype. In this business class, we are in teams of four or five and we spend the year creating a project before pitching to investors in June. Right now, we’re in the “design your product” phase.

    And that’s my problem. I’m having trouble designing my product. I mentioned before that I wrote the rules to a game but never acted on that. The rules I wrote depended heavily on completing a hidden objective to win. The problem was that I never quite figured out what these cards would be, and I never left myself room to have a mechanic which offered a meaningful way to win. So I was left with a shell of a game that I realized wasn’t actually fleshed out at all.

    Right now, we have an idea for a theme and a few core mechanics involving worker placement and an action allotment system (Pandemic-style). We have a picture for what the final product will look like, but we don’t know how to get there.

    To that end, my question for you is: What process can I use in designing a game (one that will hopefully be headed to Kickstarter)? Or, how do I turn an idea and a few core mechanics into a fully fleshed out game that’s ready for playtesting?


    1. Jack; Thanks for your comment! I’m exited that you’re playing Risk Legacy right now. It was a huge inspiration for me and eventually led me to design Charterstone.

      So, I don’t want to just send you to a series of links, but I highly suggest you read/watch your way through this series of links. It’s not too long and I think it’ll set you on the right path:

      But you took the time to ask this, so I’ll also give an answer here to complement the links: The first thing I would highly suggest you do given where you are in the process is to get the game to the table. Make a rough prototype with incomplete cards and rules, and just play it. Fill in the blanks as you go, and adjust as things don’t work. This will be highly invaluable in helping you get a feel for the game.

      Then iterate, making the prototype and the rules a little more robust each time. Focus on completing just barely enough of the game to play–like, if you envision someday having 20 different hidden objectives, but you’re playtesting with a total of 4 people, design 4 cards, not 20. Then design more when you think of more.

      I hope that helps! Now go read those articles. :)

  2. Hi Jamey, Thanks for taking the time to answer questions.

    A friend and I have put together a prototype for a miniatures car racing game that, after quite a bit of testing and refinement, feels really good. We’d like to start getting feedback on our design from those more experienced/more professional than ourselves or our local game group but, so far, one aspect of our design is presenting a roadblock.

    Central to the game is the geometry puzzle of how to steer and speed up/down without overlapping obstacles or other cars. While we’ve been play-testing, we’ve been using a hinged measuring stick from a popular Fantasy Flight game to communicate the way that we’d like to handle steering the cars around the track with the intention of ultimately pursuing our own component for doing so. My understanding was that it’s not uncommon to see borrowed pieces or art assets in a prototype, however all the external feedback we’ve received from submitting to Indy game festivals has been concerns about the borrowed component with very little feedback about the design. Our take away has been that while we lack the means to R&D a plastic component like the one we have been using, game festivals may not be the best forum to get the feedback we’re looking for.

    So with that in mind,
    1) Do you have any advice on where we might look for design feedback not only from the player perspective but also from those with publishing experience?

    2) As a publisher what level of polish/placeholder do you look for in components for a submitted game?

    3) As a designer, how might you handle a game that could require a significant investment to design a fairly central component and at what point would you consider making that investment?

    Thanks very much,

    1. Hi Tim, I might be able to give you at tip with regards to making your own seemingly unattainable components.

      Use cheap and easy to handle Polymer Clay. It’s like play-dough but it hardens almost like plastic. If you are not good at art then you might know someone old or young that is.

      Unlike clay it is very strong and durable. You can make a few this way or you could also just design it with polymer clay and use “Blue Stuff” and EpoPutty to make more identical copies. If you do a youtube search for “Blue stuff how to mould miniatures” you will find help.

    2. Tim: Thanks for your question, and I appreciate Gerald chiming in with a great answer.

      It’s great that you’ve been playtesting at festivals, and unfortunate that people there don’t seem to understand that prototypes are cobbled together from various components. I’m sorry about that.

      1. There are a few professional playtesting services that I’d recommend looking into. Some of these are considered “developers,” while others are talented people you can pay to playtest your game. There are some links here:

      2. For submitted games, I simply look for the game to be playable and intuitive. Unlike some of the playtesters you’ve encountered, I know the difference between a prototype and a final game. :)

      3. This is the hardest question. I love components that have an interesting hook. The tricky part is that I do need to be able to test the game with a close facsimile to the component (and not just me, but blind playtesters too). So for me, the investment in the component itself isn’t the issue–rather, it’s figuring out how to create/buy a version of that component so the game can be playtested in the first place. I think the one exception to what I just said about the investment is precision components with moving parts. Like, we once had a game submitted to us that required a catapult. I wasn’t confident that we could replicate something like that at scale. Now I think I feel a little more comfortable with it (largely due to my manufacturer), but it would still make me a little wary.

  3. Jamey-

    As our game goes over the 60 playtest mark, we have have continued to develop our game in a direction we, as designers and as players, enjoy. I understand others are not going to necessarily enjoy exactly what we do, however most indeed give us a tremendous amount of positive feedback, and we strive to listen to all feedback and create actionable items from them.

    So when you have a few testers who just think your game is either poorly designed or not fun, we struggle with finding actionable items to improve the game. I am certain (and maybe overconfident) if we make the game simpler, it could get those few playtesters on board. This is not the direction we want to go. I very much value the negative feedback more than the positive (no offense to any testers giving it) but struggle on what to do in these case. As a design company, we have some disagreements with having testers fill out surveys, is this a good way to get information from the outliers to create action items as we get towards the higher playtest numbers?


    1. Tony: Thanks for your question. I think it’s great that you have a specific vision for your game and that you’re also willing to listen to playtesters to figure out if that vision is being executed in the most fun, balanced, and interesting way.

      I should note that while I applaud repeated playtesting, unless you’re testing asymmetry, the quantity of the playtest doesn’t matter nearly as much as the quality of the playtest. Have you read my article about playtesters? I’ll link to it:

      Anyway, your question is about surveys. I absolutely think that survey feedback is helpful. Observing playtesters in action is great–you can learn a lot from it, especially on video (i.e., you’re not present to answer questions). But I always learn a lot from playtesters who want to process their thoughts before sharing them, as well as inputting data from the playtest so you can work out balance issues.

      I think the real key is asking the right questions for the survey. It helps to guide playtesters towards telling you what they’re finding frustrating, confusing, fun, etc and why they felt that way. Too often, playtesters try to provide solutions, but it’s the designer’s job to take the things that playtesters consistently find frustrating, confusing, boring, unfun, and broken and fix those things.

      If playtesters have been suggesting ways to make the game simpler, I would recommend that you get to the heart of their frustrations while staying true to your vision. Like, a playtester might say that they wish you could cut a mechanism to make the game simpler. But really, the issue might be that the mechanism isn’t intuitive or it was too complex for them to consider or the heuristic visuals of the game aren’t as clear as they could be for them to grok one additional mechanism.

      Good luck!

      1. Thanks Jamey, I did indeed read that article (been through most of the lessons, still quite a few to go through), unfortunately these are the cases that I didn’t have any input on the testers. I will be sure in the future to ask for as much detail about specific things that they found troubling. As we change things I usually look towards specific things I want to test, and might be tunneling too much on those details, thanks for the thorough response.

  4. 2 things, both short.

    1. Have you read Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini? And if so did it happen to inspire this advice exchange?

    2. Would using backer info from past campaigns to send them surprise non-kickstarter related materials, such as a Christmas card, be a bad idea? This is not a hypothetical but is something I have been wanting to do for a while.

    1. Zack: Thanks for your questions!

      1. Many years ago I read a book by Cialdini, but it wasn’t that book.

      2. It’s a neat idea, and I think 95% of it would go well. The 5% will include people who feel like their privacy has been violated because they received something they didn’t ask for, people whose addresses have changed and didn’t receive the card, and other circumstances like this.

      So is it worth delighting the 95% at the ire of the 5%? It depends on how many people you’re talking about. If the 5% is 5 people or 50 people, go for it. If it’s 500 people, it might be pretty annoying for you to deal with.

      By the way, if you know of a service that will send out a customized postcard to thousands of addresses uploaded by spreadsheet, please let me know.

      1. 1. It was probably “influence” that you read. But I’ve only read his newer book “Pre-Suasion” which ending chapter talked about the investment of giving and receiving advice and how it deepens your relationship with others. Not a bad book (8/10) but I can tell you that you are already doing a lot of what is in the book and will likely only reaffirm or be reminded of your core principles, which granted is sometimes what your need.

        2. Thank you for the advice. As referred to above, you have reaffirmed my initial feelings and I think I will go ahead with it. My total backers are more around that 50 people mark and I believe that if done sincerely and not as a sales gimmick that it will be well received.

        3. I will likely use Shutterfly, to send cards to my house to be signed, stuffed, & shipped by me. Not scalable but it does what I need to. If I do find the aforementioned mass mailing business, I will let promptly let you know.

  5. Hi Jamey, you have so much great advice on the website already that most of the things I thought about was already covered. But there is one. Thanks for this offer of advice, I’d love some advice.

    I’ve tried very hard, or even overtired to get the best first paragraph to describe my game on Kickstarter and the best 1 liner/tag-liner.

    Below I just mention paragraph 1. I have not included paragraphs 2 and 3.


    Version 1:
    A friendly-competitive stock market game set in an ancient world and illustrated in a Japanese wood-print style. A game for up to 5 players that can even be played solo against an AI opponent. To become the [GAME NAME] you must master the ancient art of banking, and gauge the uniquely generated yet semi-predictable stock market.


    Version 2:
    [_____ GAME NAME] is set in an ancient superstitious world and illustrated in a Japanese wood-block print style. A friendly-competitive worker placement game in which you become the world’s greatest stock market investor. Master the ancient art of banking by correctly gauging the trends of a unique stock market controlled by the game.

    (Player count moved to the 2nd paragraph)


    Version 3:
    (Same as Version 3 but with the last line changed)
    The game, not players, control a unique stock market. Based on knowledge and your logic you can guess forthcoming stock market trends, hopefully better than others.


    I don’t want it just to sound good, I want it to sound great. Do any of those sound great or does it need a version 4? Is there a better way to word the last sentence?

    The tagline I’m thinking of using is:
    “A fast paced ancient stock market, worker placement, game about superstitious bankers.”
    “Master the ancient arts of stock trading.”
    “A fast paced ancient stock market.”
    [something else]

    1. Gerald: Thanks for sharing these options! Here’s my choice for the first paragraph:

      “[_____ GAME NAME] is set in an ancient world and illustrated in a Japanese wood-block print style. It’s a friendly-competitive worker placement game in which you are one of the world’s greatest–and most superstitious–stock market investors. Master the ancient art of banking by correctly gauging the trends of a unique stock market.”

      (I personally don’t think the emphasis on how the stock market is controlled is important for the initial hook, but if you do, feel free to add “controlled by the game” at the end of the last sentence. Also, I’m assuming you note the player count somewhere at the top of the page? If not, it can go in this paragraph.)

      As for the tagline, how about, “A game about superstitious stock traders in ancient Japan.” (I think the hook here is “superstitious”. If the game isn’t actually set in ancient Japan, you could say “Japanese-inspired world”.)

      1. I love what you did with that paragraph especially the last sentence, “Master the ancient art of banking by correctly gauging the trends of a unique stock market.”

        I’m definitely using that! Thanks you! I’m so happy :) that last sentence gave me so much trouble. This is amazingly helpful!

        The tagline “superstitious stock traders in ancient Japan.” sounds great. But I might have to change it to “Japanese-inspired world” as you suggested. It is set on a prosperous Japanese island (Oki Island, the trading capital of the world), but the cultures of the bank you work for are not Japanese, only 1 bank is Japanese. The others are China, Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Although the game will look like it was made in Japan (Egyptian gods depicted in e-ukiyo etc). It’s almost impossible to get all that in a tiny tagline [other ancient cultures, Japanese style, superstitious, stock market], but I you did it with “Japanese-inspired world” as that hints it could be about other cultures too. Impressive use of words.

        Again, thank you so much!!! :) I’ve already updated the game’s website with this.

        1. I was so happy that I forgot to say I love “in which you are one of the world’s greatest–and most superstitious–stock market investors”
          That sounds much more engaging and professionally written.

          And how you cut off the end of the paragraph so it stops at stock makert makes such a big difference to renforein that it’s primarily about the stock market. Even 1 word can make all the difference.

  6. Hi Jamey, I’m interested to hear if there are any roadblocks or things that you think could be more efficient within the Design or Publishing process. Problems that you wonder why someone hasn’t already solved. This reason I ask is because I’m not specifically interested in the role of a designer or publisher but I do love board games and would like to find a niche to work in the industry. So wondering if there is a new service that could be offered, an existing service that could be better, or an information resource that could be created, etc. Thanks for everything you do. I love your brand and your products.

    1. John: Thanks for your question. It’s a good one, but also a tough one! You used the word “efficient,” which I think is a key word, because I think designing and producing a game could take significantly less time than it currently does (though creativity does take time). I’m just not exactly sure where in the process someone outside of that process could step in and significantly speed it up.

  7. Hi Jamey, I’m a huge fan of Scythe and have been reading your blog for a while, so I appreciate the chance to ask for advice on what, I believe, is an issue of critical importance to game design:

    How do you keep the cats off the table while you’re trying to work!?

    My cat spends 90% of her day asleep in the front window of my apartment, but the second I break out a game, either to play or design, she bolts to life and proceeds to jump up on the table, scattering tiles, cards, chits and tokens everywhere. Zehra and Kar have, unfortunately, been gnawed on quite a bit and will likely need replacing. The mechs and factions of Eastern Europa are no match for a six year old grey tabby.

    Designing is even worse. Trying to organize and arrange little bits of paper, tokens, trinkets and assorted design ephemera is often a futile cause lest I vigilantly keep my cat from jumping up on the table (and, as I’m sure you know, trying to keep a cat from jumping up onto anything is, well, Man Plans, Cat Laughs.)

    I wish I could shut the door when I set up a game but unfortunately I live in a very small apartment without that option. I’ve tried locking her in the bathroom, but… let’s just say she’s not a quiet fan of that.

    I’m only half-serious as this is kind of a more humorously annoying problem than a serious hinderance to my design efforts, but I just figured you’d be the guy to ask about the perpetual struggle between Cat and Board Game.

    1. Casimir: This is a great question! I can certainly relate to your situation. Just a few weeks ago, Biddy could not keep himself off of Freedom: The Underground Railroad. Honestly, I struggled to find a solution. I tried putting him the bedroom, but he really didn’t like that. I also tried distracting him with food or game boxes, but they were only momentary distractions. I didn’t try catnip, though, and I should have. Is there anything that your cat is more interested in than board games (when there’s a board game on the table)?

  8. Hi Jamey,
    First I just wanted say Scythe was the first game I ever backed on Kickstarter and had really introduced me into the world indie development and crowdfunding and all that goes into it, so thank you for that. It’s still one of my favorite games.

    A bit of background, I am a computer programmer and own my own website design business and for the past 6 or so years have been co-developing a game with my brother (also a programmer). The game is a fantasy tabletop rpg with a focus on strategic tactical combats. It started out as an experiment to mesh together a few existing rpgs we liked together but we came to realize the systems were incompatible and started rebuilding the idea from scratch to try and build something that would check off the boxes we felt were missing from the other systems.

    Over the years we’ve had a number of reworks and iterations on the game and are nearly to a point where I’d feel comfortable beta testing it with others. I’ve done a lot of internal testing and number crunching with my brother and a few close friends but haven’t shown it to any outside circles. I’ve done a little bit of promotion here and there on my website and on Facebook but for now it all seems secondary to actually developing and fine tuning the game. Looking down the road however, as development wraps up, it seems like there would be a real possibility towards using crowdfunding like Kickstarter to actually get it created.

    That was until I started looking into how much work really went into getting a game made. It seems like the development of a game is only half the work towards actually producing it. The amount of logistics and marketing required alone is daunting enough for me to not even want to try my hand at it. Then there are things like getting artwork created for it and I have no clue where to start with that. I had heard about differences between publishing a game and going through a publisher to have a game made and that sounded like that would be the route I’d want to consider when I get there but as I had mentioned a lot of this game thus far has only been tested internally.
    I am pretty sure somewhere you’d said something to the effect that it is important that, if you are going to make a game make sure people will want to play it. I honestly don’t know if this game is that. I imagine there are people out there who would play it and like it, I just don’t know if it’d have the kind of profitability to it that I’m sure a publisher is looking for. It started out as us just trying to make something we enjoyed. It’s grown by leaps and bounds since then and it wasn’t till the rise of crowdfunding that it felt like actually producing the game could be a possibility. So, I guess there are two parts to what I’m asking about,

    1) For someone like me novice to the publishing aspects of the gaming industry is it better to try and solicit a publisher or since the game may be too rules heavy for a majority of people out there would crowdfunding be the better route?
    2) Depending on the answer to #1 how would you start? For crowdfunding I have a few ideas namely finding an artist for artwork, a printer for the printing and then maybe an editor for layout, but the idea of going through a publisher was kind of a new concept to me and I am not even sure how you’d go about doing that for a rules heavy tactical role-playing game. Maybe get a few rule books printed send them out and see if the publisher can make sense of the rules?

    1. Mike: I’ve been really impressed with the first two comments on this post, and yours is just as great! Thanks for sharing this–the context is very helpful.

      1. Your first question is about how the rulebook can impact the marketability of a game. It’s great that you’re thinking about this, and I think it’s a valid concern no matter how the game is published. The key for any game is that it actually gets to the table, and a daunting, hard-to-remember ruleset can be a huge impediment for that. My recommendation would be to start there–see if you can find a way to make the rulebook significantly less daunting.

      The question about submitting to a publisher versus self-publishing is, in my opinion, a separate matter. If you just want to focus on game design, submit to a publisher. If you also want to run a business and do a lot of project management, self-publish.

      2. It sounds like you’re familiar with my blog, but if you decide to self-publish, I would start at the top of the page where I list all articles chronologically in the order of consideration/execution and work your way down.

      Whether you self-publish or plan to submit to a publisher, right now I would encourage you to share the game with other people and get their honest impressions. Some people may play the game, while others might just take a quick look at the rules and give you their thoughts. Both types of feedback will be helpful as you seek to make the game as marketable as possible–that will help you no matter how you proceed. Good luck!

  9. Ahoy there, Jamey,

    I believe 99% of the advice people are looking for are going to have the same general idea, but I will still, once again, fill up some space among your comments.

    My day job is a web developer (more than 15 years now…) and on the side I run a small movie/tv studio. I mostly write and direct, but since I started a company I run the day-to-day tasks as well. I keep trying to grow my company as a whole, but here comes the problem.

    My country is total shit. It’s developed more than any other country around us, but the laws, the organisation, the government is total shit, the healthcare is fancy, expensive and does nothing, my mother was left to die 8 months ago, because no one could bother. Lots of people outside the big cities live in poverty, so it’s … yeah, shit.

    We are up to speed with the world, but it only makes things worse. Our movie industry is fine, (a ton of Hollywood movies are filmed here, because we have 1 of the biggest and cheapest movie sets in Europe) but that’s it. No Disney, no Universal, no nothing… no Google, no Microsoft, no Fantasy Flight. The salary on my day job is 10 times the average outside the capital, but so what? Money. There is NO perspective, no goal to aim at, no way to develop yourself.

    So me and my girlfriend are huge board game fans and, of course, huge Stonemaier fans. Thanks to you I’ve grown to love the publishing industry and since I know more about (and I’ve played more) board games than all our FLGSs combined I see this as my only chance to do something on a global scale. But, of course, Kickstarter is unavailable here…

    Back in the day I’ve thought about game reviews or how-to-play-s, but – guess what – YouTube monetization was not available in BG until recently. Even it was, I’ve always thought that the competition is too good and too much for me to bother.

    So the question is… should I bother? Should I try finishing and publishing my game? Do a company based here even stand a chance starting? Film-making is useless outside the States. I’ve come to terms with that. But I’m still wondering if it is the same with the board game industry. Any advice on how should I approach my disadvantage?

    PS: When the T.I.M.E. comes, could you share some schematics on that moonbase hovercraft? :) Thanks.

    1. Max: Thanks for sharing this. This is intense! It’s interesting to read, because there’s both a sense of despair to your words and yet a strong desire for more/better.

      I’m sorry that the circumstances of your country have deflated your hope and hurt your family. That really sucks. I wish I could give you some advice to help in that area, but instead I have a question: Putting reality aside for a moment, what is your dream? What do you wish you could accomplish over the next 5-10 years if reality became shaped around your dream?

      I think you have an asset that you may not be aware of. From the inside, you probably perceive Bulgaria much different than the outside world, especially the US, where I would guess that the vast majority of people know very little about your country (including me). I think people here might view it as being an ancient place of mysteries and secrets. You can use that to your advantage in your game design.

      I honestly think that a creator anywhere in the world has the potential to succeed. It doesn’t mean everyone *could* or *should* succeed, but the potential is there. If you have something brilliant to share with the world, what’s the worst that could happen? You create something cool and no one cares? That would be disheartening, but at least then you tried.

      The other option is to design a game and submit it to other publishers. If it’s game design you’re interested in and you could entrust another publisher with your work, that might open up some possibilities.

      But overall, I think it all starts with my first question about your dream.

  10. When I think about the idea of creating a game, it’s very exciting! Soon after the excitement, the trepidation and real world practicalities rush in. A bit of back story first

    I majored in Painting at the Kansas City Art Institute. I rarely paint or even sketch anymore. My current job, I wouldn’t even classify as creative. What happened? Real world concerns are what happened. I thought about what life would be like if I tried to make a living on just selling my paintings and trying to get gallery shows. It wasn’t the life I wanted. It really came to not being financially feasible.

    A good amount of years after college I struggled to know what I wanted to do. I had some keywords that I looked for (creative problem solving, being able to work with a team and alone, always challenging, etc.) but nothing really had all of that. The art stopped and I told myself it was due to not having a space for creativity, but I’m not sure that’s true anymore. It was tough silencing the voices that said I should have done something more practical and taken art classes on the site.

    Fast forward to now, and thinking about designing a game. It’s fun to think about and imagine the possibilities of what kind of game I could design, but once again with the trepidation, practical voices, and a little fear of whatever I try and design not being good enough for what I want it to be. There is also a sense of being overwhelmed and not even knowing where to start in designing a game. This is what stops me from moving forward. This is almost the same thing that stopped me from painting.

    I know Ive said a lot and by default, the more I say the more there is to respond to. I’m also sure these inner feelings are similar to ones you’ve felt. So, what advice would you give me based on all that I wrote?

    1. Cody: Thanks for sharing this. I appreciate you going into such detail about your history and for sharing your fears and concerns.

      First, I want to say that in my opinion, it’s an asset for you to be practical. You aren’t throwing caution to the wind and putting everything at risk. I think that’s a good thing. I think practicality can particularly help you think about marketability when you create anything that is to be consumed by other people.

      I have a suggestion for two of your concerns, the sense of being overwhelmed and not knowing where to start. When you used to create art, how would you start? Maybe pencil and paper? With pencil and paper, the stakes are low and anything is possible. It’s my favorite part of game design for those reasons. There’s no pressure–at worst, you lose an hour of your time brainstorming something that never becomes a reality. Have you tried that? If not, are you willing to give it a try? Let me know how it goes.

    2. Cody, I know I’m just a random voice in the comments – but I can totally relate to what you wrote, and I wanted to echo and reinforce what Jamey said about just giving it a shot and starting with pencil and paper. I know that I struggle sometimes with thinking too far ahead and overwhelming myself with “what if” when none of that really matters, tomorrow really will take care of itself without us having to worry about it. That doesn’t mean that it’s magically solved for us, it means that we don’t even know if the things we’re overwhelming ourselves with will even be real concerns when we get there. I’ve struggled with the paralysis you described, and for me I think it all comes down to fear of failure. If I don’t try the thing, if I just think about it – then I can’t fail at it and I can continue to enjoy thinking about it. But that’s really hollow and unsatisfying. You get a lot more out of trying, even if you try and fail – you learn and grow and figure it out. Like Jamey said, just give it a try. Just solve the first thing, then work on the next thing and the next as you go. There are lots of design contests on line that you could jump into to give yourself a framework to start figuring out what you like. good luck!

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