You haven’t seen them all of them yet, but I’ve just finished up 21 designs. I felt that now would be a good time to look back on my work, see how it has been serving me and have a bit of a retrospective. The designs will return at their normally scheduled time next week, but today I want to talk about my progress.
Why Create 3 Bullet Designs?
I’d often read that the best way to improve at drawing was to draw something every day. This makes sense; if you want to become good at something, do it. I wondered to myself if the same could be applied to game design. So I set out to create a “game sketch” that I could use to improve my skills. These “sketches” needed to be both complete ideas you could pitch to someone, but also interesting springboards from which a full fledged game could form. I feel like from that standpoint, the 3 Bullet Designs have served me well. There are a lot of game ideas coming out of this project that I really feel like I would love to make a reality.
But the question I’ve been beginning to ask myself is, “Are these posts ‘designs’ or just ideas or concepts?” Is it helping me develop my design skill set? Am I learning from this exercise or am I just scribbling with different colors on a paper and calling it art? I know there are a lot of people out there with great ideas and I don’t claim to be “the best idea guy”. But that’s just the problem, just being an “idea guy” isn’t going to get me work. I need to show prowess of my design skills and understanding of systems and I’m not sure this fits that goal. A lot of the experience I need is not purely creating a design from a nothing (or in this case, a single word prompt), but understanding how to create specific experiences, expanding on these ideas and how they interact with players. I have been slowly trying to flesh out some of my favorite ideas, though I don’t have much to show for it yet. For now I’ll continue the project, though I’m thinking of starting a once a week series about developing one of the concepts I’ve particularly enjoyed from 3 Bullets and see if that helps me develop the more indepth skills I’m lacking.
But regardless of that, this project is still important to my mental health. I need scheduled “work” in my life. I know that without a schedule or structure, I very quickly dissolve into a blob of Youtube views. Working on this project has given me a small blog post to work on every morning. I create the title tiles every morning in addition to formatting and reviewing my work. And it has given me a creative outlet every afternoon when I create the next game design. It has also helped in staving off the dark thoughts that come with hundreds of rejection letters. Getting a job in the industry is tough, but I won’t let it dampen my resolve to create.
Things I learned
This format is very, very limiting. Sometimes I find myself cheating and either writing more than should be in one bullet or in other sections of the post. But that’s just part of the challenge, and also a way to keep the design open to change. Ultimately, I shouldn’t rely solely on just the bullets to convey the design. Everything that surrounds the bullets from the tone of the writing, the art used in the tile, the title, the medium, and especially the Moment of Excitement should be working together to paint a picture of the design of the game, building something that is more than just a few bullets.
Moment of Excitement
I’ve come to realize that I need to be more specific in the moments of excitement. This section should give the reader a clear understanding of how the game is played and why they should play the game. Just saying “You draw the right card!” does’t tell the reader much about how the game is played or why it is significant. The more vague the description, the less buy-in the reader is likely to have. To that end, I’ve adopted a storyteller/GM style Moment of Excitement. The section is narrated to the reader in second person, trying to immerse them in the situation and help them understand the emotion significance of the game. And if I do my job correctly, they will want to jump in and play the game for real!
If you’re still reading this, thank you for supporting me. I know it’s not much, I’m not a super star, I’m not a design guru, but I am trying to find my way. I hope you’re enjoying this project as much as I am and I’ll see you in the next design!