Since you’re reading this blog, I’m betting you have a game knocking around in your head. I want you to go prototype it, right now. Not later, not Sunday afternoon, not next week. Right now.
The fact is that some problems won’t be identified at the theory stage. It shouldn’t be so, but it is, every time. None of us are so good at envisioning how a game works that we can see all the permutations that will emerge during play.
So too, some really neat elements that deserve to be expanded on won’t be found just by thinking a game through. Fun is, in part, a matter of aesthetics and experience. It’s not easy to predict where people will find it.
You might be thinking that your game is too complicated to prototype. I guarantee you that it is not. Figure out what the bare minimum elements of the game are—the absolute fewest things you need to get through the simplest possible turn. Mock those up and start.
Is the game intended to be digital? That’s fine. Put together a paper version anyway. It’s faster, and easier to make changes. Code has a way of locking you in that 3” x 5” cards don’t.
Playtesting isn’t just important for refining a game. It’s important for discovering what the game is going to be in the first place. Build the prototype and start making progress.