I’ve recently been playtesting a game, and the difference in response to that game and the previous one I designed got me thinking about what makes a game successful. The diagram below massively simplifies the process:
Notice that if your ideas aren’t engaging, you’re already at a disadvantage. I doubt this will come as a surprise to anyone, but I think its an important observation.
Notice also that if you fail to communicate your ideas (or your design) then once again you are hampered.
There’s also feedback loops between these three streams. If people don’t buy your game (or download it, or sign up to play it at a con, or whatever) then you don’t get past the first hurdle, and people never play it. If people don’t play your game then they obviously won’t get to enjoy it. If people enjoy your game then they will talk about it, helping you get your message out and get more people to buy your game.
So, every element in all three chains is vital. And, unless you’re hiring someone else to do parts of the process for you, you need to be able to do all four things – ideas, communication, networking and design.