I was very lucky to learn about the first rule of design before I even started work on my game. This mantra if you will is something I hold at the center of my project and I try to remind myself of it every day. This rule is as follows.
Two very simple words, but can be the biggest difference between the next big game and an unplayable romp. As new developers we are bound to come up with an idea or two that we think is revolutionary. Something that you look at and see nothing but potential. You aren't wrong, there is endless possibility in that idea. You may be tempted to just focus on this idea and expand upon it in your mind, polishing the concept to something you think will be great. But even if you spend the next few months ironing it out it will still be just as flawed as any other idea you came up with. Ideas are inherently worthless. You need to get a prototype up of this idea as quickly as possible. Only by putting what we have created on display for others, and letting them tear it to bits can we see its faults.
As a designer it isn't possible to see it from all the angles, there will always be flaws that you are to close to see. The best way to get over this is to get it in front of others as quickly as possible. From there we can correct our mistakes and hope to get it better next time. Ideally you would like to go through as many playtests as possible, with as many different eyes as you can. The more people review your product and the more you pay attention to what they say, the better your game will be for it. Designing a product is a path towards perfection, although we wont always be pointed in the right direction, by understanding where we are at we can adjust our course towards where we want to be.
I understand that this can be hard and difficult, I really do as I am going through it myself. It can be brutal to see your creation, your baby, get redlined and torn apart. But such comes with being a designer. Extra Credits did a video on this topic a while back and while it is more aimed at video games, its very transferable to tabletop design. To pull a quote from that video...
Your ideas can't be precious, your ego can't need protecting. You have to understand that the only thing that matters is the game you ship, not any of the steps along the way.
If you are so inclined you can find the whole video HERE
Next Week I will post another Design Talk about the actual process of Playtesting, and methods I have found to work and not work. So look forward to that, For now though
Thanks for reading