November 14, 2009 1 Comment
It is a sad irony that deadlines are given to us so freely at work (where we want them least), and are in such short supply in the extracurricular activities where we need them most.
– Chris Baty, founder of National Novel Writing Month
So, I have been thinking about deadlines and goals lately. I said way back in my first “proper” post that one of the values of The Stockade was that it offered a deadline for your project. The ultimate deadline is GenCon Oz 2010, but we have so far left everything else up to you, like what you are going to have at GenCon Oz next year, and how you get there. It was my original intention to write a long-winded and possibly boring set of instructions about how to set short and long-term goals and work towards reaching them. Reason has since gripped me and instead I will say a few words about setting your goal and then point you to an interesting blog about setting and reaching game design goals.
What do you want to have ready for GenCon Oz 2010? A complete, professionally published game; an “ashcan” product; some playtest documents; a PDF product; or something else? The assumption is that everyone is working toward a complete, finished game but some of you may have a grand project that will require much longer to reach fruition, while others are doing projects that just aren’t compatible with this agenda (and will need to consider how you will share your computer game, music CD, freeform, etc).
Participating in NaNoWriMo this month, and helping friends and students attempt the task has opened my eyes to two really important needs when setting yourself goals.
1) The first is to ensure you have set suitably ambitious goals. Ambitious goals are important because you feel a sense of accomplishment when you complete them. There is no point setting yourself the goal of having a working prototype to playtest at GenCon 2010 if you know that your prototype will be ready before Christmas this year. Don’t aim for a photocopied booklet that you hand stapled when you can get a professionally printed, perfect bound book (unless you are going for the hand-constructed aesthetic). If you reach a point in your creation process where you realise that you have (or are about to) achieved your goal, consider what you can do to make your game even better – whether that is in terms of design, writing, production values, promotion or something else – then set yourself some new goals.
2) The second thing I realised this month is that it is okay to change your goals – they do not have to be set in stone. Sometimes you will realise that you will complete your work well in advance and so it might be appropriate to re-evaluate your goals and possibly change them. At other times it may become evident that you will never reach a specific goal, no matter what you do (game production involves many steps where things are totally out of your hands, afterall). That’s totally cool – adjust your course in light of this new knowledge, work out what you can achieve, and set a new goal.
Set yourself some goals now – a “big” one for GenCon Oz 2010, and several smaller “steps” that you will need to complete in order to reach that big goal.
Now you should go check out Elizabeth Shoemaker’s design blog for the game Blowback. It is a really good description of the things many of us will soon likely be experiencing.
Leave a comment telling us what YOUR goals are.