The Future Starts Now

Much as the title sounds cyberpunkish (Cyberpunky? Cyberial?), I'm going to write about something more steampunkish this morning.

Waaait for it...
Brand New Game Designers
I attended a senior project presentation last night. Think of it as an optional thesis for high school students. This one was on Tabletop Games. I answered a few questions for the student in question and got a totally unexpected full-page thank you in the credits. W00t!

Several interesting points came out of the research side of it. All Board Games are Tabletop Games, but not all Tabletop Games are Board Games. Flavor and mechanics should cooperate and enhance each other. Wizards of the Coast released D&D in the '70s. (I didn't have the heart to correct him - he was on a roll.) Magic: the Gathering's Minotaur Abomination is literaly two minotaurs glued together. Fantasy Tabletop Games tend to offer choices before the game starts that impact how you play the game.

The project side caught my attention. He designed a tabletop card game called Phlogiston. From the brief overview, it sounds like the steampunk-flavored love child of Thunderstone, Magic: the Gathering, and a d20 RPG. A typical game runs about 90 minutes. It's very beta, and the card art consists of pencil sketches, but it's a complete game that's been actively playtested and edited since last autumn. I saw plenty of good things about this game, both in the card design and in the methodology used in development. Fun was a design goal, and it got baked into the design process.

Hopefully more people will do this.
Next Steps
He's going to do something with it at some point. He knows commissioning art can be expensive, and he doesn't want to release it without something better than pencil sketches on the cards. That may be the biggest delay, though I'd suggest releasing it sooner rather than later in hopes of getting some feedback and interest.

He's pragmatic about being a game designer. He's convinced he can't support himself on just game design, so he's still planning on going to college for something non-game-related. Part of me agrees and endorses this plan, but part of me wants him to jump in with both feet to make games for a year just to see what happens.

Related reading on G+: Games don’t have to be designed with the expectation that they will be played.

What About You?
How would you advise the next generation of game designers? What would you tell someone just getting out of high school with an almost-ready-to-release game on his hands? What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started?

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