Hello from Miyazaki

Please introduce yourself
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littlejohn
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Hello from Miyazaki

Post by littlejohn » Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:41 pm

Hi there! I live in a small town in Miyazaki Prefecture and I write fiction for a living (I am not anywhere near famous, sorry!). I am also a board game designer. I've lived in Japan for about 15 years now. I'm married with a young son. Most of my days are spent writing or designing though I occasionally teach private lessons, which keeps me from becoming feral. I am somewhat solitary by nature so life in the inaka really agrees with me. The people here are kind and considerate and mostly just accept me as a part of the community. It's nice to meet you all.

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by Shizuman » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:44 am

Gday Littlejohn welcome mate! What sorta fiction do you write?

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Zasso Nouka
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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Oct 19, 2018 6:45 am

Hi LittleJohn,

Thank you very much for taking the time to sing up to Japan Simple Life, we honestly are very grateful that you've joined the forum. It's kind of a sleepy quiet place here but no so dissimilar to life in the countryside :)

I think I can honestly say I have never met a game board designer in my life before, sounds like quite an interesting and creative job. Do you come up with the concept yourself or work within a brief or a bit of each ? Writing for a living sounds like a dream job, being able to work from home and set your own hours, I imagine that it takes a bit of discipline to keep working. Do you have a set work schedule or write as the inspiration takes you ?

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by gonbechan » Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:43 am

Its so nice to see the influx of new faces and you LittleJohn look like to be an interesting addition to the community. Welcome.

I love board games, even though most are now digital board games in our house, takes up less space, you know.

I too have never met a board game designer, it has to be a really niche career. I would love to hear what it entails and the trials and tribulations of developing a board game.

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by littlejohn » Fri Oct 19, 2018 10:30 am

Thank you for the nice welcome!

I write historical thrillers for a living. They are a hoot to write and I count myself lucky that I can make a living at it. The secret to being a writer is to just write every day. The other secret is to get rid of your inner editor. Much of my day consists of telling myself that what I'm writing isn't very good. Lately, I've been working on that attitude and now the writing goes much smoother. I don't think that really goes away for any writer.

Board game design is much like writing novels. Once the initial shitty first draft is down, you spend most of your time refining and editing it until you are so sick of it that you either publish it or burn your house down and go live in a monastery.

You start off by doing lots of research and thinking about how to turn reality into abstraction in a way that presents players with interesting choices. If you're really good at it, you can teach the players something while they play - maybe something about an idea or how something works or maybe even reveal something about themselves.

Once you've written up a set of rules, you print out a paper copy of the game and play it and try as hard as you can to break it. Then you pick up the pieces of your shattered ego and go back and rewrite the rules. After a few times, you finally have something that's hopefully playable and fun and somewhere close to your initial vision. After that, you find the right publisher and make a pitch. I deal exclusively with a small publishing company because I make really niche games that appeal to a certain audience.

You get a contract and the playtesting begins. Here again, your game will be played and played and played again by people who are trying as hard as they can to break it in ways you never even considered. The feedback comes back and you might sob a little and then you get back to work and fix things. Back it goes for more playtesting. It's like sending off your smallest kid to get beaten up at school every day and watching him come home covered in bruises.

When you've finally endured more than you could reasonably take, the game gets approval and slotted for artwork. You wait six months and wonder what the hell is going on. Finally, one day you wake up to an e-mail and the artist has submitted the game art for approval. Your heart soars as you open the attachment and see the first glimpse of the beauty your game will become. For the first time in a long time, you feel really good about your game. The marketing department goes into gear and you write blog posts and field questions from the gaming public while trying to remember your rules set that you wrote and rewrote over a year ago.

The game gets released and you're horrified that it will suck and no one will possibly buy it. Then everyone buys it. It sells out in three days. Now you are terrified because people are actually buying it and maybe even playing it. Dear Lord - don't they know I am a fraud?

Then the royalty checks come in and you remember why you did this in the first place. You smile in deep satisfaction and imagine what you will acquire with your newfound riches. The next day your wife announces that the water heater is broken and you will need to buy a new one. You hand over your royalty check, kiss her on the forehead, and go back to designing your next game.

This one will have unicorns in it. Oh and a cowboy! Can't forget the cowboy.

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by Zasso Nouka » Fri Oct 19, 2018 1:26 pm

Thank you,

That's a fascinating peek into the world of game design. I'd never really thought about what goes into it, kind of imagined that maybe a committee gets together and makes something but it's far more interesting to hear that it's more likely to be the work of a single person gradually refining their vision until it can be brought to fruition. Sounds like a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride though but must be incredibly rewarding once the game is released.

Can't wait to see a game with both unicorns and cowboys :D and maybe dinosaurs :lol:

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by gonbechan » Fri Oct 19, 2018 4:53 pm

and a green pony... :pray:

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Re: Hello from Miyazaki

Post by littlejohn » Fri Oct 19, 2018 7:56 pm

Thanks! It really is rewarding and totally worth the struggle once you see it come alive and hear back from people who enjoyed it. It's neat to see your name on the game, but in all honesty, it's a team effort. Without the developer and the playtesters and the artist standing behind you, it would be a giant mess. Having people who believe in your initial vision enough to bring it towards reality is humbling in a way I've never experienced before. And yeah - green ponies are going in there too. :)

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