My name is Tom, I am a 35 year old Londoner currently living in Dublin with my wife and two cats. I worked in the games industry for about 15 years. I started as a QA tester with SEGA, and made my way with several studios and companies including Activision, Lionhead, Microsoft and CCP. After a particularly stressful summer of 80 hour weeks and a long crunch I shifted direction. I was tired of burying my head in design documents and tweaking tiny bits of other peoples games. I wanted to make my own games.
I never became the next Todd Howard or Sid Meier although that was the plan when I started out. Like most other designers I spent time micro-tuning pieces of the game to ensure that it keeps the producer happy, aligns with the whole project and maintained a healthy profit margin.
I’ve always loved board games playing them and making them. I made my mum and dad sit down and play an awful game I designed when I was 7 based on Mr Frosty, a toy I’d received for Christmas that year. At 35 I still can’t get the sodding theme music out of my head – Mr Frosty is such fun, he makes drinks for everyone! Mr Frosty didn’t make it more than a few weeks into January, but designing and playing games. That stayed.
With the advent of things like Kick starter, it is now perfectly viable for anyone to create and sell a game they have imagined and created themselves. Even if a financial windfall isn’t the end goal, just the process of creating a game awakens your imagination and gets the passion motor running. Every game you make, no matter how far along the path from concept to final, tells you something about the next game you choose to make.
Board game design (in fact most design actually) works on what is called an iterative process. It requires testing and tweaking in a cycle to refine a game into something you and others will love. The fact that these days you can get other board gamer’s from all corners of the globe to give you feedback and help you improve what your making is an added bonus. We are all cardboard children – and we play games because they create experiences for us that stick.
I created this site, because I wanted to impart some of the knowledge that I’ve picked up over the last 15 years. I also want to keep myself in check and give you some real world example of how I approach game design through my development diary.
I truly hope that in these pages there is something to assist you in your game design journey. If just one person finds one useful thing among the pages of this site, it will have been worth it!
Maybe if you are reading this, you are that person, and if so, I’m delighted you found me. Say hello and let me know how you became a cardboard child and what your making!