BOARD GAME (Development 1)
Developing a board game is hard. I can't even imagine starting from scratch now at my age. I am extremely fortunate that I did all of the groundwork for this 25 years ago by pulling from AD&D, Hero Quest, NES RPGs and god knows what else. Even so, developing a board game, even from a good start, is hard. There's a whole lot of playing a half-broken game and seeing if you can fill the gaps. That said, it is also extremely rewarding because you can see the potential there in front of you, and you truly believe that the core of what you are doing is extremely good.
When I started out on BOARD GAME, I already had the legacy rules from my teenagehood and extremely vague memories of how I used to play. Those fuzzy memories don't always translate directly into something you can give to a stranger and have them make sense of it. First off, I clearly remember playing the game both on a Hero Quest board and sometimes just on the floor in my room. I remember using cube shaped gum erasers and empty cassette tape cases to build landscapes. Some of the rules even mention vague distances measured in tape case heights and units like "about 3 spaces." Those things are fine for lonely nerds; they don't work so well in the public market. So figuring out how to translate those homey touches into something resembling formal rules was step one.
My initial thought was to gather all of the parts (as much as possible) that I had when I was a kid and try to play the game exactly as I did all those years ago. Turns out, a complete-in-box Hero Quest will run you several hundred dollars unless you happen upon the right yard sale. I don't have that kind of time or that kind of money. Also, I don't have cassette tapes any more and do they even make those gum erasers these days? So it became increasingly clear that Plan A was going to take way more time and money than I had to spare for something that is, at least at this point, a hobby.
Plan B would require a little more innovation on my part, but would ultimately prove to be extremely helpful. Since the game was born of using whatever was on hand, I decided to go all the way back to basics. All I would need is something to stand in for the characters and a board to move them on. I already had basic rules to dictate how the rest played out. So after considering and rejecting a variety of possible materials, I settled on my son's LEGO mini-figures and a dry erase board. The dry erase board was perfect for drawing experimental game boards without having to commit to anything, and the mini-figs were great because they too were extremely customizable.
So I started out building some very basic characters and running them through some overly simplistic board layouts. This allowed me to move the characters around in space and work out the fundamentals of combat. From that point, I could truly begin to build...