Publishing lessons

Board games & crowdfunding

The current goals for my next game

10th August 2023 4

I have been working on a new game for a while now, and recently I have been focusing on my goals for the game. I’m going to share those goals today for several reasons:

  • To help you think about your own goals for your games.
  • To see whether my goals change.
  • To listen to feedback and find out if there are other goals you’d like me to include.

Keep in mind, throughout the process I will be listening to the game in order to make decisions and wont force any of these goals if the game heads in a different direction.

Player count: I would like the game to accommodate 1 – 5 players straight out of the box.

Play length: I would like the game to take 1 – 2 hours to play.

Ease of learning: I would like the core rules in the rulebook to span no more than 8 pages. This doesn’t include the cover, contents listing, setup, credits, and non-core rule materials.

Deep thinking: I would like this game to be heavier (more strategically challenging) than my past 4 games. This will be tough given the previous requirement but I would like to go deeper than The Isle of Cats while keeping the entry point in the same place.

Table presence: I would like this game to have the best table presence of all my games, with a focus on celebrating the artwork. I want to place value on the artwork so that it remains visible and purposeful throughout the game.

Table size: I would like the 4-player version of the game to fit a standard 4-person table.

Something new: I would like this game to feel familiar while incorporating new mechanisms that don’t exist in existing games. Instead of creating the best version of an existing system, this game will be focused on designing new systems.

The story: I would like this game to explore a new part of the City of Kings Universe, telling a brand-new story set at a different point in time.

Ease of teaching: I would like to optimize the teaching process so it takes less than 5 minutes to teach the game to another player.

Tutorial: I would like to design a tutorial system that you can optionally play for your first game, helping you get started even faster.

Is there anything else you would like to see me working towards?

For me, a significant part of this design is focusing on how I can include depth and complex strategies while keeping the entry point to the game very low. I plan to take all my learnings from The Isle of Cats and Race to the Raft, and how accessible they are, along with my experiences from many recent video games, and apply them to this upcoming design.

It’s going to be an exciting few months!

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!


  • Jen and Pete Lohs

    17th August 2023 at 11:19 pm

    Hello Frank!
    We have been considering your post for a few days…
    We really connect and align with all your goals so far in your new game’s mind map, and are excited to see how they develop and come to fruition.
    We would just love to add game sustainability and as little air in the box (unless leaving room for further anticipated expansions) as possible considerations… and closer to 1 hour than 2 hours would more likely get more plays in our house!
    We appreciate reading your thoughtful and thought provoking publishing lessons…
    Thank you Frank:)


    • Frank West

      18th August 2023 at 10:27 am

      I think these are some great points!

      Sustainability is something I consider for all my games and while I thought about putting it on the list, I see it more of a thing I must do rather than a specific goal for the next game. It’s certainly very important to me and is something I always keep in mind.

      Box size is always a tricky thing but I do aim to keep the boxes as small as possible for their core purpose. The Race to the Raft box was very considerate of this and I’ll be heavily considering the box size for this upcoming game as well!


  • Britt

    23rd August 2023 at 12:51 am

    We love Isle of Cats and play it constantly with my elder mother. Her eyes aren’t what they used to be, and sometimes she can’t tell off the bat if a cat is orange or red unless she can compare them side by side. So another consideration is that your games are accessible for teaching and played by a wide swath of people and generations. The artwork is beautiful and our favorite part regardless. 🙂

    Another plus is replayability – either through expansions or different goals/challenges, perspectives or “twists”. I love that Isle of Cats has various modes of play and I wonder if a similar idea for “challenges” could be applied? We play Isle of Cats probably 4-5 times a month and it never gets old for my mum but you know, sometimes I wish we had more expansions! I usually make a restriction or goal for the game to add a little extra spice.


    • Frank West

      23rd August 2023 at 11:03 am

      Hey Britt, I’m glad to hear you’ve been playing The Isle of Cats so much and I’ll definitely be keeping your idea of challenges in mind. It’s something I’ve wanted to explore more in games and I will see what I can do with it moving forward. Accessibility is important to me for a number of personal reasons so I try hard to be as inclusive as possible with game productions but there are some limitations with physical products that can cause tough decisions. In the case of your mother struggling with some of the cats, if you aren’t already using them then the colour reference cards may prove beneficial. Each of the cat colours in the game has a uniquely designed tail which can be used to identify the cats for people who struggle with the colours. Hopefully this may be of use.

      I’ll certainly be doing what I can to make my games as accessible as possible moving forward!


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