So I’ve decided to create a board game

It was my New Years resolution. I’ve recently hit the median year of my fourth decade of life on this planet (that’s 35). I’d always thought I’d have some kind of product to cherish as my own and proudly share with the world by this point in time.

Alas, this hasn’t happened.

There’s been a few, obviously brilliant, ideas along the way but a finished product has never materialised. The Facebook games, media sites, honey, butter, honey-butter, heck even my portfolio url came about as a result of grand dreams of a social media platform. Each time I hit a major stumbling block that my motivation just couldn’t overcome.

So this time’s different?

Who knows? But this time I’m documenting and making my intentions a bit more public in the hope that it becomes a motivating factor in completing the uncharted task ahead. I’m also placing a lot less expectation on success (or am trying to) this time around. I’ve learnt plenty from my previous endeavours but they always started with grand dreams of world domination. This time my expectations are lower.

Get something out the door.

This time I’m taking things slowly and step-by-step. When i first had the idea I wanted something that wasn’t going to be too strenuous and I could do in my own time and without the pressure of failure. I basically just want something out the door.

The bonus with doing a board game is that it’s nothing overly technical and definitely not a new concept so help should be easy to procure. And the fact that, and here’s the bombshell, I’ve made one before!

You’ve already flipping made one?

Yes, and in fact I’ll making be the same game again — but better.

About 8 or 9 years ago I created a game that was a right hoot. Like most of my ideas it came about as a result of a sleepless night. The whole structure, rules and game-play were fully developed while staring at the inside of my eyelids, struggling through one part frustration at the lack of sleep and one part eagerly enthused at the game I was developing with my eyes closed.

To create it I pilfered parts from other board games and printed pieces off at work to bring home and cut. It was pre the time of my knowledge ofLean Methodology by about 3 years and looking back I’m fairly proud of the way I approached it.

Next was the fun part — User testing.

The game was great and those invited to play the initial version were delightfully positive about their experience.

There was one large problem — time. It took many more hours to play than my test-subject’s lifestyles acquiesced.

I’ll get more into detail about the game at a later point but, simply put, the beginning of each turn was a logistical nightmare of card-counting and sorting. Easily chewing into half the game-time.

Eureka! I’ve somewhat got it!

Fortunately i had the know-how to get digital on the problem. I produced myself a Flash app — yes, Flash was still a thing circa 2008.

It cut game time dramatically.

So more test games were enjoyed, rules were tweaked and not long after, the guinea pigs were requesting more game time. Success!

One huge problem though, can you guess it?

29 June 2007

This is the date that the first iPhone was released. By the end of the 2008 financial year there were only 13 million iPhones in circulation worldwide. Smart phones hadn’t really become mainstream, meaning the use of an app for a board game didn’t have a huge market.

My app was based on passing a laptop round the table for each player to update details before taking their turn. Not the most usable of experiences.

I gave up hope of the board game becoming viable. My wife and I departed for the other side of the world and so their was no room in our lives for such a game.

It was dismantled and mostly forgotten.

Here’s a little interlude… While sitting at my desk one day at BBC Worldwide I noticed this guy take a call outside our building. On his laptop.
I experienced pure joy in that moment.

1 January 2017

Skip forward to present day and at last count there are 1.91 billion smartphones in circulation — more than enough for an app to go along with a board game don’t you think? Obviously not a Flash one but something a bit more mobile friendly.

So I will be reconstructing rudimental versions of the board and pieces, attempting to recollect the rules and producing a mobile version of the app followed by rigorous user-testing.

The time is ripe!

Over the coming weeks and months I hope to layout the path ahead and catalogue each step of the journey so be sure to touch base. I’ll keep you posted.

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