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Killing a game, is it ever too late?

19th April 2022 by Frank West2

I first announced Rising Blades in mid-2017 and couldn’t wait to share the details, this was an exciting and unusual game which I had been working on for years.

Back then I didn’t use my 3-week announcement process and aimed to spend much longer talking about a game prior to its release. There was an active Facebook group, I released small teasers, and started posting in the forum. I was building an audience and reached 200 subscribers on BGG and received hundreds of votes for the most anticipated game of 2019.

A finished game

In 2018 Rising Blades became a finished game, and I don’t just mean the design.

The artwork was complete, I had full professionally printed prototypes ready to send reviewers and a final box. The game also came with miniatures which were all sculpted and there was a special piece unlike anything else. It was a large sculpted miniature that was very functional and measured around 30cm x 15cm.

In total I had spent over £25,000 on Rising Blades and this doesn’t include the considerable amount of my time that was involved, it was ready to go.

With the game ready, I reached a point where I was starting to plan out the Kickstarter. I was mapping out my marketing plans, who would make videos, and a timeline for when to launch the project.

The problem

  • Playtesting for Rising Blades had gone well, people were enjoying the game and it offered a unique experience.
  • The public were excited, even though they had little information they wanted to learn more.
  • The game looked great and had some beautiful components.
  • My distributors were excited and wanted the game.

Yet despite all this, there was one problem:

Me.

As a designer I have a rule that I follow for each and everyone of my games. I need to be able to go to a board game convention, stand in front of a stranger, and tell them that the game is perfect.

Perfect doesn’t mean everyone will think it’s the best game out there, but it does mean that I am 100% happy with the game as it is presented.

Finding the fun

The game was great, it was unique, and offered something other games didn’t. I truly believe if I had released it that a good number of people would have enjoyed the game and it would have been a success.

I spent years trying to work out what the missing piece was, trying to find that perfection, but at its core I believed there was a missing element that stopped me from finding the fun that I needed the game to have.

Five years later and Rising Blades has officially been scrapped and will never see a release.

I’m now looking at what artwork can be re-purposed for other games and hope to use the name for a different project in the future.

A Frank promise

It can be painful to kill a game, but I also believe it can be necessary. You can get so wrapped up in your creations, you can hear so much positivity from your community, but you still need to take a second and check yourself. It hurts to lose time and money, but I believe in the long run releasing a game that doesn’t meet your personal goals will do more damage than anything else.

Rising Blades would have been a good game, but it was never going to be a great game, and I’ve made a promise to myself to only release games that I consider to be perfect and believe will be great.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!


2 comments

  • Christof Van Conkelberge

    8th May 2022 at 9:43 am

    In 2015 about 300 new games came out in Essen. Nowadays 1500 or more titles are being released. Prices for paper and cardboard are constantly higher, because of covid and greedy investors. If more designers and publishers would be as brave as you are, less mediocre games would hit the shelves, which is better for everybody’s wallet and the invironment.

    Thanks you for your newsletter, it’s always filled with interesting insights I higly appreciate.

    Reply

    • Frank West

      8th May 2022 at 6:35 pm

      It’s my pleasure Christof and I agree. It’s always nice to see new ideas and I welcome new creators into the industry who are trying to get their first game out, but I’d be happy if we halved the amount of games and doubled the quality!

      Reply

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