We recently heard about an 8 year old boy who created and self-published his own board game on The Game Crafter. The game is called Questing and it has received a lot of attention in the TGC community as well as on Reddit.
We knew this would be a great story so we contacted his father, CC, and interviewed him to see how this all came about. Enjoy!
Your son (who’s in middle school) created his own board game called “Questing”. That’s amazing! How did this happen?
Well, after playing some board games one weekend, my son said that he wanted to make his own, so I took him to the store, bought him some supplies, and set him loose in our games closet for components.
That evening, we playtested “Questing”, my son’s first board game. ”Questing” is a cooperative board game where players take on the role of heroes trying to wrest control of the kingdom from an evil Chimera who has taken over the castle. Players need to quest around the lands to find the magic gems to get into the castle and fight the Chimera before it grows too strong.
To my surprise and delight, the first playthrough was a real nail-biter; it came right down to the wire, with the warrior barely getting into the castle in time to defeat the Chimera in a mighty battle! I was expecting the game to have some kind of fundamental, game-breaking flaw, but it was really quite solid, and more importantly, fun! Further playthroughs were equally close, with us sometimes winning, sometimes losing, so it really worked as a cooperative game. And the “quest around the kingdom” idea that my son had come up with felt very adventuresome and theme-appropriate.
The game quickly became one of our game night regulars. Its play value for us was easily on par with commercial titles we were playing, like “Mice and Mystics”, “BaKong”, etc., so I decided to get it professionally printed as a sort of family treasure.
That’s when I found out about thegamecrafter.com. It didn’t take long to produce a version of the game through the site’s game editor, and soon we were playing a boxed version of “Questing” with a professional-looking game board and nice-feeling, beautiful cards with my boy’s artwork on them. (The original board is now safely tucked away for safe keeping, to protect it from the wear and tear of regular play.)
After posting about it on reddit and seeing the interest in the game, we went ahead and put it up on the Game Crafter store.
How did your son become interested in designing board games? Are you to blame? :)
Well, my wife and I both work in video game development, so game design runs in our family. And I often tinker with different tabletop game mechanics for games, so it’s something my son has seen me do from time to time.
Plus, we simply play board games frequently. When I hear about good games that are fun to play with kids, I often pick them up specifically so we can have something new to play on game night. We play games like “Bang!” and “Pirate’s Cove”, which involve strategy and comprehension of more complex game mechanics, rather than the more shallow games like “CandyLand” and “Hi Ho Cherry-O”, where you just roll dice until someone wins, so I guess I’m not surprised that he tried something more ambitious on the first try.
Tell us about how many versions (and revisions) of the game were made before using The Game Crafter.
We’ve made many changes to the game over time, but we’ve never produced separate “versions”, per se. Often when we’d play, we’d change a rule slightly, or tweak some numbers on the cards, to see what works and what doesn’t. Since the game worked pretty well right out of the gate, though, the changes we’ve made have been mostly incremental in nature; the high-level game mechanics have been basically constant.
Eventually, the game kind of “settled” into its current form, which is what I tried to capture in the version we put up on thegamecrafter.com. I’m sure it’s not perfect, but it sure feels more solid than a lot of the commercial games we’ve played!
What kinds of feedback are you getting from play testers?
Most of our play testers are friends and family, so perhaps we’re getting biased feedback, but so far, everyone who’s played it has said they liked it. This is backed up by less biased reviewers who, in a recent reddit thread, talked about playing the game and really enjoying it:
We’ve had a few suggestions here and there, such as suggestions for changing the characteristics of the player heroes, but I think the most interesting feedback is that we’re often asked whether there will be any expansions, which of course got my son’s brain gears turning immediately!
Did you help with the artwork or other parts of the process?
I did the preparation of the printed elements to upload to the web site, but wherever possible, I tried to use his own artwork. The artwork you see in the game is basically scans from the original game, because we felt that would be the most meaningful to him. It’s not anything like you’d find in commercial board games, of course, but it has the benefit of retaining its charm; the game *feels* like a storybook adventure made up by a child (because it is!), and in many ways, the art supports that feeling.
Where you’ll see more of my own hand are in things like the overlay on the game board to show where you can move (the original board didn’t have that), the rules document where I tried to codify and explain the many rules of the game as they were described to me, and things like the font choice, layout, the text for the cards, etc. The quest monsters, merchant items, and mysterious location names were also something I had a hand in, because we sat down and brainstormed a whole list of things for those.
Does your son have other ideas for games?
Ever since he was exposed to the idea of an “expansion” for a game, he’s been interested in making an expansion for Questing. Currently, he’s focusing on ideas for new things for the rogue to do, since that’s by far his favorite character in the game, but we haven’t tested any rules or produced new components yet. He has also mentioned something about dragons…
Does your son have any advice for other kids that want to make their own board or card game?
Well, here’s what he had to say: “I don’t know what made it so good. I was just making a board game!”