Design Lesson 3: Artificial Deadlines

Design Lesson 3: Artificial Deadlines - 9/2/20

Designing a board game in my spare time was a very rewarding experience. It was also very stressful at times because of artificial deadlines that I set for myself that made me change the pace of the design process. Looking back on the design process now, I wish I would’ve kept better control over the pace of the design rather than trying to stick to artificial deadlines.

What is a healthy pace to develop a game? A lot of that depends on the demands that your time currently has. The more free time that you have, obviously, the more time you can spend developing a game but that doesn’t mean that it is more time that you must spend developing a game. I think committing too much time on a daily basis can become more stressful than it is worth. Designing a game should mostly be fun. If it is becoming not-fun, then you may be committing too much time to it. Remember to keep your loved ones as a top priority as well, because if you are spending too much time away from them then they won’t feel as loved as they should.

What is an artificial deadline? An artificial deadline is a deadline that you set for yourself that motivates you to get things done but also doesn't really have a consequence if you don't meet that deadline. When I developed Queen Bee I wore many hats. I was the lead-designer, I was the promoter for it online and at conventions, I handled the finances, I coordinated the manufacturing… to name a few. I did hire out some of the work, including the artwork and the sculpting of the miniatures. When working with people who are doing contract work for you it is okay to have expectations for when something will get done but it is also important to be flexible in those dates. Good contract work takes a while to create. Don’t feel like you need to rush anything. The art doesn’t “have to be done” any time. This is a passion project for you. Be flexible in your deadlines.

Another important deadline to be flexible with is your Kickstarter launch date. I made the mistake of telling family, friends and others a specific day that I was going to launch. The main mistake in doing that was that I stuck to that date. I wasn’t 100% ready on that date - but I had a mental commitment that I had to launch on that day. So what happened? My family and friends backed it, but other people didn’t trust a first time game designer that wasn’t 100% ready on the first day and my campaign failed. I eventually succeeded on the re-launch, but that was a result of fixing a lot of things that weren’t ready on my first launch because I stuck to the artificial deadlines I had set for myself. It’s okay to have delays. You will have lots of delays. Get used to it. The people that will be most understanding of that will be your family and friends that will support you regardless of the day you decide to launch. Don’t rush your launch, don’t rush your design process, otherwise you will likely have to do a re-launch after taking some battle wounds.