The development of Metro Maps is slowly but surely reaching the end. In the last week there have been no shocks or gaping holes in the rules. The designs have been refined and until production templates are produced there is very little else to be done there. Final quotes have been requested and I’ve put the numbers into the spreadsheet. As my last act before going live on Kickstarter I will start recording and editing the video for the Kickstarter campaign.
But is the game ready?
Well, Metro Maps survived play testing. It has been positively reviewed by those that have played the game. The problem at this stage is me. As the designer there are always things you want to do. At the back of my mind I still want to squeeze in a mechanic for a different type of route (something that would fundamentally change the game play). I want to squeeze pieces for an extra player into the box. I constantly think that I need an extra couple of pages for the instructions to make things extra clear. I have ideas for variants that could be played; which makes me think maybe I could create two instruction booklets, one for the main game one for variants and alternative rules. The list goes on.
This is where game designers really start to earn their keep. At this point the good game designers identify when to stop. The bad, keep adding. It’s something that I look out for when I look to back Kickstarters myself, has the designer got carried away and put so many rules, variants and extras into the game that it just becomes confused. Unfortunately it is something that I see a lot in RPG’s. A designer develops a system that is elegant and understandable and provides the basis for an excellent game. Then they start adding exceptions because they really want to include this particular mechanic. Then, it’s a hand full of extra rules just to re-balance the game. Then there are two development trees for two ways of playing. It’s a snow ball effect that has ruined perfectly good games.
The problem is, you become so invested in what you are trying to do that you stop listening to other people. My experience so far is that people will tell you when the game is good. You just have to listen. The difficulty is that you will also get suggestions and advice for ways to improve the game. This is good, it helps you think about your game in a different way. But it’s very easy to find your self back on the path of adding more and more until the game you spent so long refining is hidden under a rule book three inches thick. I don’t know if I have found my time to stop just yet, but I think I’m nearly there. Only time and a Kickstarter campaign will tell.
So when to stop? Set yourself a deadline, work towards it and listen to the people around you. Remember that all those great mechanics and ideas can always be saved and used in another game. Or an expansion. Or as an extra rule book that players can download from the website. Or… you get the idea.