Design in Detail: First Concepts
Since I'm now a designer on a successful Kickstarter project, developer on a very popular set of wargame rules and currently starting on a new project for release it looks like I can legitimately claim to have a design "process". As I'm starting Moonflight I thought I'd use this as a chance to examine my personal process in some detail.
Just to say first of all, stages is a very apt description because by developing a range of projects by stages you allow yourself one of the most important creative tools, settling. It is useful in all creative fields but particularly in writing to let an idea settle. Write it down and walk away, forget about it, give yourself time to fall out of love with it then return to it. It's easy to believe that piling in with drive and passion and smashing your project through by sheer self belief is a good idea but its generally not. Let it settle and allow it to win you over when you return to it in just the way it would win over a new user.
Before you start designing make an effort to educate yourself in what makes good games good, play and study games. Frequent your local charity shops and buy any game you don't recognise. If you've never played a deck builder or dice builder, worker placement or area control, push your luck or take that game make a special effort to change that. As a note, the difficulty of piecing together what makes a game work is why I always worry when people say they wrote a game because they played something and "thought that they could do better". When I'm playing a good game I don't examine it, if something misfires or clunks everybody