Your Game is Not Done

Is your game completely ready to go, and be published?


You've reached the half-way mark!

After that, there's another half-way mark, when you thought you were done.

How many revisions has your game gone through?

By a revision, I mean changes to the game, the re-creation or alteration of game components, and then a playtest.

Timeline of my gangster game

My gangster game went through five revisions. After that, the game worked, and I was happy with it.

After ten revisions, the game was publishable. I kept working on the game, however. It was worth putting time into.

At about revision twenty, I declared that the game was basically finished, and a few more revisions would be needed. The game was fun, and a few rough corners just needed to be polished.

At revision thirty-five, I declared the game complete. I proposed it to a few publishers, but didn't get any interest. I played the game a bit in the meantime, and kept doing revisions, just for my own amusement. My board game pals would pull the game off my shelf, and want to play it. After every game, I learned something, and made more changes to the game, even though it was good.

At revision fifty-two, a publisher expressed serious interest in the game. They really liked it, but… they wanted to hold the game for a year, before publishing it.

I went to another publisher. They put the game in front of blind playtest groups. They wanted more options on a player's turn. This was a big change, but I made it.

We went through the same process numerous times. Each time, I made the game better and better. The problems they had with the game were real, and significant. All the time I was fixing problems, I also added new stuff to the game. I just sat there, looking at elements of the game that were working well, and thinking "could I make this even better?" It was the kind of exercise no busy person would ever contemplate... just musing over the game's components.

Eventually, the publisher requested a problem be fixed, but when I fixed the problem, the publisher didn't accept that it had been fixed. I checked with many other players, to see if the problem still existed. It simply didn't. There was no way forward with this publisher.

I went back to the original publisher, as a year had elapsed. They were still very interested. After 81 revisions, the game is now in the final stages of approval for publication. It's so much better than when I first sent it to them. All the delays simply forced me to keep working on the game, long past the point where I thought it was finished. I made fairly significant changes through this period. It wasn't just tweaks. Maybe I should've just kept working on it forever.

And... the game was rejected by that publisher. In the year of working with the new publisher, I'd added all kinds of cool stuff to the game, and it had become too complex to appeal to everyone.

Back to work!

The game has now been through 120 revisions, and is ready to go, again. It's simpler, and far better in every way.

Update: did some reworking of the game. It's now in revision 251. It's really good, now. I'm glad I didn't stop at 120.

Update: Glad I didn't stop at 251. Revision 287 is so much better.

100 revisions, for a medium-light game, is now my minimum. If I finish the game before then, I'm just fooling myself, and I'll keep working on the game until it's actually finished.

You're free to skimp on the revisions, if you like. Just remember that your competition are not.

When you think your game is done, that's when you're a quarter of the way there.

How many revisions has your game been through?

Even More Revisions

As I get better at board game design, I'm doing more and more polishing. I'm doing something like 100 revisions of polishing to a game that's already complete.

Does your game need 100 extra revisions? Probably not, but wouldn't it be significantly better because of them?

Every time I've thought "okay, I can't work on this game forever... it needs to go out, so I can work on something else," I've been wrong.

Return to Articles

Next Article