Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

Should I make this game?

6th July 2023 8

I recently started working on a new game and wanted to share some of the questions I ask myself early during the design process while deciding whether it is a game I want to explore further from a publishing point of view.

How many players will the game support?

Some designs work better for low or high player counts, and it is important to me to always support 1 – 4 players, and ideally 5 where possible.

Does the game feel fun?

It’s very easy to put together a group of game mechanisms that can be played through until an endpoint is reached, but doing it in such a way that the journey is fun is much harder. I want to make sure my core concepts are fun and not just clever or interesting.

What’s the standout system?

Each of my games should have at least one new system, something that makes it stand out from the crowd, that will excite people, and feels new and exciting.

What’s the key visual piece?

A game needs to look good, and having a key visual piece that looks great on the table and gets people talking is a must. Is there something in this game that could tick that box?

The experience

These days, my biggest focus is the overall experience the players have, and this goes well beyond the game design itself. It encompasses everything from how long it takes to set up, the teaching time, how intuitive it is, how fun it feels, the types of interactions you have with the pieces, and how long it takes to pack away. When I look at this game and the direction it is going, how will it measure against each step in the overall experience from opening the box to putting it back on your shelf?

The audience

Who is the potential audience for this game? Is this something that you’ll see on the shelf in Target, or is it for the dedicated hardcore gamer? While I’ll happily design games on both ends of the scale, games that hit a sweet spot in the middle stand out more to me. I want deep, thought-provoking games that have a wider reach.

Does anyone want this game?

It’s always important to sit down and question whether anyone actually wants this game. Are there already loads of games like this, or does it not already exist for a reason?

First reactions

I have a core group of local friends who are always the first to playtest my games. As soon as I want to try the game with someone, these are the people I go to. Each of them only gets to experience the game for the first time once, so how do they react? Are they excited and actively talking to me about the game after the first play, or are they more agreeable and just responding to questions? Measuring those first reactions is a strong indicator of whether the game has something special about it.


If I choose to follow a game through until its completion, then I am committing at least 2 years of my life to the game. From the initial design process through to crowdfunding, publishing, sales, and translating, it’s a huge amount of work. I will only ever commit to this if I am personally passionate about the game, can see its true potential, and love playing the game.

Next steps

Should all of these things give the right results, then I’ll typically move forward with the game. This means I’ll start refining the design, looking at what needs to be improved, cut, and trying to fill any holes. I’ll spend many months with pen and paper getting the game to a good state before integrating graphic design, artwork, or expanding my playtesting groups. At any point, the game may still be cut, but at least while I’m working on it, I know it has the potential for being the next game I publish.

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!


  • Reed Ambrose

    6th July 2023 at 2:38 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Frank. Is your newest design ticking all of the boxes or are you still in the process of finding that out?


    • Frank West

      6th July 2023 at 2:50 pm

      Currently it does, which is very exciting!

      I would say the majority of games I design do not make the cut for one reason or another, so it is a great feeling when one is standing strong.


      • Reed Ambrose

        6th July 2023 at 3:12 pm

        Oftentimes I find we must endure the first 12 pages of writing to discover what really mattered was on page 13. I hope it continues to work out well for you!


  • Jen and Pete Lohs

    6th July 2023 at 11:15 pm

    Thank you so much Frank for sharing your insights. From ideas, mechanics and playtesting, to aesthetics manufacturing and ultimately reaching our table, reflection through the creative and final process at each and every point is indeed so incredibly important. Passion, strength and honesty when looking within is required. As you mention, it is as important understanding when to cut as it is to know when to proceed.
    As a player of games, your publishing lessons evoke even more appreciation for the value of each and every game published and ultimately chosen for our table. When each part is connected to a cohesive whole, the game stands out in the crowd. Your games Frank achieve this. Congratulations and thank you.
    All the best with your new game. We are excited to hear more as you progress!


    • Frank West

      7th July 2023 at 11:03 am

      I often feel one of the hardest parts of becoming a creative is learning to say “this idea isn’t bad, it just isn’t good for this situation”. It’s much easier to review something honestly and decide how to move forward once you’ve disconnected from the idea that making mistakes or changing things is bad.

      I really appreciate the kind words Jen and Pete. Having people like yourselves in my community is the driving force behind so much of what I do. Your words bring a smile to my face.


  • szoupi

    16th July 2023 at 6:41 pm

    I wonder if it is possible for each new game have a new wow mechanic. Could a good combination of already used mechanics form a notable mechanic for a new game to be published?


    • Frank West

      17th July 2023 at 12:44 am

      I generally believe their are 2 approaches to making a game:

      – Make something new
      – Make something that is the best version of something that already exists.

      The second of these options can certainly work if you can present it well enough.


  • szoupi

    17th July 2023 at 10:16 am

    Couldn’t agree more!


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