Mistake Maven

  • Letting a Particular Game-Piece or Card (or Box...) Drive an ENTIRE GAME

    If it fits in, GREAT!

    But if you spend months and dollars GALORE trying to cohesive everything up, then, like...

    You're more wealthy than I am, anyway.


    (After making this mistake LOTS, I'm basically destitute. Which is why I stopped trying to make games for anyone else EXCEPT my students. And family. And anyone else I can bribe and/or torture into play-testing my latest creations. Hah.)


    The Mad Scientist of Game-Creation

  • Not Knowing When to Turn the Faucet Off

    (And this sermon is meant for a certain Maven with the initials SALLY BISHAI...)

    Have you ever fired off an AWESOME game that play-tested brilliantly and looked fab... but then held off on releasing it because you kept coming out with "just one more card!" or theme or whatever?

    I surely have!

    My original Communication Barrier Skits, erm, originally had about 38ish hand-written cards. (This is back in 2004, btw.)

    Over the semesters, I kept getting more ideas, and ended up with over 250 cards. (Each card had one barrier on it, and each group of unsuspecting Speech students would get 2-4 cards, which they got to throw into a skit and act for the rest of the class... on Day 1 of The Scariest Class, ever. (For kids in the US, anyway. Cultures across the globe have the children stand up to speak or answer questions from the very start, so it's frequently not even an issue, elsewhere. But I teach in the US, so let's try to fix the snowballing scaredness of speaking syndrome if we can, eh?)

    Ten years later, I still refused to release the game, as I was afraid to leave out the most important barriers...though I knew (in my head, anyway) that no one in his or her right mind would spend $100 on  a set of cards that any person on EARTH could come up with. (Small-scale publishing used to be waaaay more cost-prohibitive than it is right now--not that it's "inexpensive" just yet.)

    The point is that, well--would anyone miss the ones that *I* would've? 

    Of course not. Why?

    Well, not only did they not KNOW what I'd originally intended, but they likely didn't CARE what the original or complete set included.

    That's what I tell my students, btw, when they freak out about forgetting part of their outline.

    "But DR. B., I literally forgot an ENTIRE MAIN POINT! I'm going to FAAAAIL my SPEEECH!"

    (I'm not being theatrical, either, I've literally had students weep over this fact.)

    What I'd gently tell them is what I'm forcefully telling myself again--"My dear and beloved friend, no one else even saw your outline, and I was more interested in your delivery this time around--it was the bomb biggidy, btw, so go you!--so, like, who cares? You did a fine job and you got a magic checkmark, so next time you can tell us more about the life cycle of the vampire bat!"

    So there we are.

    (If you're anything like me, then that whole spiel didn't convince you to turn the faucet off, as my dear friend Dr. Davis Houck once phrased it (ok, he told me that, like, 18 times when I was obsessed with fitting every last factoid on EARTH into my poor, beleaguered dissertation).

    So, borrowing the sage counsel of my other dear friends, Dr. Felecia Jordan-Jackson and Dr. Steve McDowell also told me at least 47 times (per week), "your dissertation is just one paper. You can put the other stuff into your follow-up study."

    aka "The more quality ideas that keep falling out of the faucet, the more SEQUEL GAMES you get to make."


    Yay for faucets!

  • Trying to Do it ALL Yourself. Don't. (In This Case, Anyway...)

    I may be a Polymath of Doom, BUT... 

    Some of my skills are more in my brain than they are in real life.

    (aka I might THINK I'm a great graphic designer, but my greatness at GD might only be in my own mind, a la` Hamlet.)

    Long story short, there ARE some sites like fiverr and others that allow you to come up with reasonably not-trashy artwork or editing or whatever for, like, five bucks. 

    And if you're as broke as some other people who shall remain nameless, then maybe you can get a free app to help you out, or even an unsuspecting chum who might be conned into trading a logo for, like, a sonnet. (Like they whip up a logo in five seconds and you write them a quick little sonnet or something, personalised to some fabulous occasion, like their roommate's bday, after the designer friend stole Roomie's entire stash of Tombstone pizzas.)

    Why go to that trouble? 

    Well, you COULD always publish something that makes you cringe, BUT if you're anything like me, you might actually be convinced that "this is a great opportunity to pick up a new skill!" (which it IS), but then end up taking an entire month and missing out on a contest or a deadline or some other such.

    So, if you're another Sally, then you're hereby ordered to either DELEGATE *or* go with PLAIN BACKGROUNDS in b/w, AND TIMES NEW ROMAN.


  • Refusing to Cut Your Losses!

    Have you ever looked at your "final" design, decided that the logo needed to move over *just* 1mm... and end up changing the entire design--for, like, 12 hours straight?!

    I sure have. 

    Have I *ever* gone with the new design?


    Alas, I usually go back to the EXACT same design--pre-1mm scootingness of logo.

    But you know, after that big ordeal, I often get to see the original design with "fresh eyes." (I hate that phrase, btw, but it gets this particular point across, tragic though it may be. (Where "it" = my non-thesaurausness.)

    Am I saying "sometimes you learn and grow more on the journey back to Square One than you otherwise could've" ?

    Well, I surely COULD say that, but in today's lesson, it's more about "sometimes, you've just gotta CUT YOUR LOSSES and move on!"

    Where "losses" = that aforementioned 12 hours.

    See, a more-realistic scenario in The Life of Sall is... that I'd go with the newer design JUST to justify all that otherwise-wasted time.

    Or, I'd literally change the ENTIRE GAME MECHANIC (or create an entirely new website or whatever) JUST to make use of something that I was too stubborn and unwise to, like, wisely but rationally cut.

    I don't like to let circumstances change my courses of action (in any situation, not just game design). 

    If it's my failure or poor decision, fine. But I *always* like to have at least three back-up plans.

    So if even THOSE are thwarted, Sally Sall is no happy camper.

    And it's easier, I think, to say "ok, well, let's move on and learn from this and just go with the safe option."

    But there's a point where refusing to give up is actually counterproductive to a very large degree.

    You might learn something, sure, but you also might end up with literally hundreds or thousands of dollars in repercussions, or worse.

    It all goes back to pride.

    I'd elabourate (lots) more, but I've already kept you here long enough for one day.

    (Maybe I should just scrap this entry and save it for a day when I have more time to elabourate lots more?)

    (But no, I've already put so much time into typing up this fracas! How can I let it go to waste?!?)

    (But what if this?)

    (And what if that?)

    See? I didn't want to cut my losses (in that theatrical example). BUT all that second-guessing ended up wasting even MORE time.

    There we are, then.

    *snip snip*


  • Opportunity Costs!

    Spending 20 hours in order to save $20 doesn't usually rock the house--even if you're as broke as certain people are.

    (Just in case you missed the memo, certain people are ALWAYS broke because they're ALWAYS ignoring their own advice and spending every last penny on yet another prototype of yet another game. Sigh. But that's how *I* happen to learn--I have to see how it is before "what's wrong with it" will stick out like a hot pink zebra. But I don't consider it a loss, since I learn TONS from all my many mistakes--and because I end up modifying and re-inventing the games that didn't pass my barrage of tests. So nothing is actually wasted, in my case. But then, I come from an ethnicity where you never throw ANYTHING away, and you ALWAYS use what you have. Traditionally, anyway.)

    SO, look at the thing you have more of--not LOTS of, necessarily, but MORE of (at the time in question, anyway)--and go from there.

    Despite my constant brokeness, I would much rather spend an extra three dollars on detergent from the grocery store, since (SINCE!) I never go to whatever stores have less-expensive detergent. 

    Spending the time AND the fuel to go 20ish miles away isn't worth it to me--especially since I have a busted knee and have to stay off of it as much as I can. When I don't, I get to spend yet more $ on my medicated plasters, which are great (well, as great as can be expected for an injury such as mine). So I have yet more financial considerations to, like, consider.

    And in my estimation, that extra three dollaz saves me 20 or 30 or 50, even (if one may put a price on trouble and misery... woe is me! Hehe. That's a joke, btw. Heh.)

    So consider the cost--and the opportunity cost, as well.

  • Taking "In for a Penny..." to the Extreme

    Let's be brief for once:

    If you hold on to your sunk costs too tightly, you won't be able to take in all the rewards from, like, letting the sunk costs go!

    Save the sunk designs or ideas in a box or a file and move on and maybe you can use them in a more appropriate setting that's, like, more appropriate.

  • Having a Hard Time Killing Your Kids

    Whether you're a journalist or a game-designer, you HAVE to be able to do away with ideas or sentences that mean lots to you--or that you spent lots of time on.

    This is a thread that keeps coming back in our current series of mistakes--not wanting to let go of something coz it either MEANS lots to you--or took lots of TIME from you.

    Don't worry if you didn't get the message this time, it shall reappear LOTS in this series, so begone for now. (To off the ideas that are holding you back at the moment.)

  • Getting Bogged Down With Artwork Decisions





    Does it say that you're married to ONE design, and that you can't make a different design for the second or fifteenth release of your awesome game.

    As many a wise old-timer (often half my age, sigh) hath chided, JUST SHIP IT, ALREADY!

    Hehe. (More versions of the same game is super-fun! They can even be rare or collectingness whatever they're called after you sell billions of copies! :D

  • Choosing a Card Size (and Stock) From a Pile of Words and Numbers

    Once upon a time, a certain someone spent months and months on a particular game that was close to her heart.

    BECAUSE it was so close to her heart, the plot, game-ploys, and game-play were fully-fleshed out, basically.

    The ONLY missing link--and the thing that made this particular game take months instead of days (or hours)--was that our friend had suddenly decided to change printers.

    (In actuality, she'd been forced to do so, but that's another tale for another day.)

    So she'd never felt their paper or even found a review of that company. BUT they offered some things that were unheard-of at the time, and at unheard-of prices. 

    And she couldn't stop dreaming. Or trying to imagine how the game-play might change with that fresh, new possiblity.

    And, for the record, she soon found out that all the hand-trimmed cardettes in the world felt NAUGHT like a "real" or at least "official" card.

    In the paper that the "real" and "official" game had on offer.

    The cutesy cards she'd chosen were hard to hold--both from their dimensions and their skin.

    Look, we all know it's me, and that I have a BIG problem with taking things WAY too far because it's WAY too hard to wait for a set of samples to show up. (To be fair, the company was apparently sold out of samples, and the wait time was FOUR WEEKS. To be even more fair, I was trying to clean up after someone else dropped the ball, and went from a deadline of two months to less than one (before that particular semester was to begin, and I think we all know that Sallys are BANNED from designing during the school year, because of the whole "momentum" thing.

    Which reminds me... my uploads are done, so off to work I go! (Artwork, that is!)

    Ciao for now,

    sally b