- Filing system
- Game creation kit
By now, hopefully you’ve jumped into creating a game and you’ve loved it! You want to do more. Awesome! If you plan to do a lot more designing, this is the point where you may feel the first bit of this as being a “jobby” rather than a hobby. You’ve got to get organized. Personally, I like organizing. It makes me feel like I’m productive while preparing to become even more productive.
Get Your Filing System in Order
If you’re working with a computer at all (which you should at some point), you’re going to want to make sure you have your files and folders organized from the get go. I’m sure you already have thought of that, however, here are a few things I’ve found out along the way.
Create folders in anticipation of what may come. For example, while starting to first design Icon, I created a Koalatie Games folder, then an Icon folder within that. Most people may do that already if they are also keeping track of business forms and so forth. What I didn’t anticipate happening so quickly was coming up with ideas for other games. Since I already had an Icon folder within a general Koalatie folder, that was easy enough.
Things I didn’t anticipate was organizing my clipart folders. Since I started with one game, most of my clipart was within the Icon subfolders. However, as I started creating more games, I found that I should also have a general art folder for artwork that I could use across all games, such as icons for the numbers of players in a game, or an icon for a clock when I design the one-sheet and game box for any game.
Unfortunately, sometime in the near future I have to reorganize my computer files. If your game design ideas grow, you’ll probably have to do it too. Hopefully you can anticipate better than I did as to how you want your files to be organized and what may come in the future. You may even want to consider naming the different components of your games something very general so you can keep track. For example, in Center Stage, I have a group of cards called Opinion cards. They have also been called Judges cards, Movement cards, and so on. If I could go back again, I would just name it the most general thing that I could until I am near ready to go to print — Movement cards. That way, all my files match up when doing different iterations of the game.
Game Creation Kit
This is one that I find fun. It’s like you’re a kid, packing a backpack full of fun gadgets, toys, and things you need before you on an adventure — or to your friend’s house.
Your first game creation kit should have everything you need to help you create and enhance your current games. Everyone works differently, but here are a few staples that I’ve come across over the past year.
- Index cards (in my case I have the backs of Dice Masters cards)
- Different colored markers
- Dice, preferably even more than just 6-sided dice, and different colors
- Things you can use as counters (coins, poker chips, etc.)
- A ruler with both inches and centimeters
- A journal or small pad of paper to keep notes on during playtests
- Scotch tape
- Rubber bands (to separate stacks of currently used cards and things you may dump by the way side)
That’s a lot of junk. And this is just the very basic stuff. If you start working with making more complex prototypes with chipboard, you’re going to find you need a drawer or container just to keep your scrap chipboard in. That stuff can be expensive, and you never know when you’ll need it.
Either way, I try to keep it all in one drawer or box if I need it. The operative word is “try.” I have many drawers now, and one thing that I found very useful was this tool box. Many gamers use this box as it fits cards nicely. You can get it off Amazon, but if you have a Harbor Freight near you, the store has a coupon book that regularly offers these suckers for about $6.00 a pop.
Keep Track of Your Expenses
One way or the other, start saving the receipts for anything that is related to your new “jobby” and start doing the accounting on how much you’re spending. Even if, at this point, you’re not thinking of starting your own business, you still want to know what you’ve been spending. This hobby can get expensive. On the other hand, if you do decide to open a business, you’re now giving yourself a tax write-off! Keep in mind, however, the government will be watching you.
Personally, I keep everything on Excel or Google. I haven’t transitioned to QuickBooks or something similar, though I know I should check it out. Right now, I’m really feeling Google because on Google Drive, everything I’ve been doing is kind of at a place where it’s a one-stop-shop.
Come up with the basic categories that you need. Date, vendor, item, cost, and purpose. For example, 2/12/18, Staples, ream of paper, $2.99, paper for printing notes and prototypes. There you go! If you decide to start a business, you may want to get an accountant and categorize everything even more according to how they direct you to do it.
Overall, these are just examples of the basics you want to consider if you’re becoming serious about game designing. I’m sure you’ll come up with your own system that works for you. If you’re anything like me, it’ll still get out of hand and you’ll change things up from time to time. But you’ll be finding you’ll be doing that with your new creations as well.