The Beginning

Howdy! Today marks the start of my blog, my first foray into the blogging world. Let's all take a moment and collectively put our hopes and dreams towards this turning out well.  I definitely need the positive vibes going my way.

If it wasn't already abundantly clear, this blog will be about Son of a Blank!, the game that I have been making for the last two years that I am about to launch on Kickstarter later this year. I will talk about how I started, my mistakes, my successes, why it has taken so god damn long to launch, and keep you updated as this project goes along. I'm sure there will be other posts on related and sometimes unrelated topics, but that's to be expected.

If your interest is piqued, then follow me onward.. well downward!

 

Before we fully dive into this, I would like to just point out a few key points about this blog:

  1. I'm not a fantastic writer and I am not the best with grammar. Don't hate me for it. It's just the way I are. But if you can forgive me for the eventual mistakes that will be made, keep reading and I will do my best to keep you entertained and perhaps educate you along the way. 
     
  2. I will be throwing my inner commentary in here and there denoted by italics. You're probably thinking "WTF? Why?..." To which, I say to you, "because there isn't an accurate way to depict sarcasm through written word without voice inflection." Just let it happen. I can't help myself. 
     
  3. Oh! And I cuss. If you are one of those people who get offended by that, this isn't the blog for you (politely fuck off). For the rest of you who, like me, prefer to use the full extent of the english language, follow me on this kick ass journey of self discovery and hopeful success! 

 

Anyway, to what the post is actually about. Since I so aptly called this the beginning, I guess we should talk about how/where I started Son of a Blank!.. and maybe a bit about me.

So let's start off with the most important part... talking about me.

What fun.


Quick overview:

  • Hi, I'm Colton Schweitzer.
  • I'm currently 25.
  • I live in Seattle. 
  • I love all sorts of games, but have a huge fondness for party games.
  • I have two cats, Murphy and Guru.
    • Guru's nickname may or may not be Urug the Devourer. Pronounced (oo-roog).
  • I am the sole creator of Son of a Blank! and it's been quite the journey to get this far.

Isn't it weird that you can boil down parts of your life into bullet points that slightly summarize your life, but really don't....??  Kinda fucked up... but only kinda.

Back to the details, my older brother and I have played board games and party games with our parents since we were little. Seriously though, when we were 7 and 9 my parents would let us hop in on a game of 25 Words or Less with their friends. It was awesome. So you can start to see where my love for games comes from; a life time of playing games with friends and family. 

My favorite game when I was younger was Balderdash/Dictionary Dabble (basically the same game).

For those of you who haven't played, (what hole were you living in and why didn't you play??) someone picks a word in the dictionary that no one knows and writes down the correct definition on a piece of paper. Everyone else playing writes down their own definition on a piece of paper and pass it in to that first person. The person then reads all of the submissions (including the correct definition) out loud and then everyone tries to guess which of the many responses is the actual definition. Players receive points for correctly guessing the right definition or if someone voted for the response that they had written. If my quick explanation doesn't make sense, go look up the directions on google. 

I absolutely loved coming up with ridiculous responses that obviously weren't the definition. I reveled in making everyone laugh. Every time the definitions were read out, it was clear which one was mine. I was the only one not taking it seriously, which made it that much more fun. Bear in mind, we played this until I was around 15. We came back to it here and there, but the majority of my time playing this was when I was younger.

  Holy fuck! Is that a bear... in mind?!

Holy fuck! Is that a bear... in mind?!

 

Around 19, I was introduced to Loaded Questions. I don't feel like explaining the full rules, so for a quick synopsis: 

  • A player picks a card and reads the question on the out loud.
  • All other players write their own answer to the question on their own sheet and pass it to the person before the one who drew the card.
  • That player reads all answers out loud.
  • The person who drew the card tries to guess who said what.
  • Depending on your group, hilarity might ensue.

This game is fantastic because ridiculous responses are semi built into the game. However, the main issue with Loaded Questions that I still had was that it was still very apparent which response I wrote because the other players were taking the game seriously. 

Fast forward a few more years. I'm now 23 and I'm at my family's cabin with my brother, my step dad, and my mom. We are talking about games and whatnot and laughing like normal. Someone brought up a semi sad story and ended the story by saying, "well, shit happens...". Pretty typical for us. My family definitely cusses and I have cussed since I was 12. So usually this wouldn't spark anything. However, in this case, it did. Immediately after hearing "shit happens", I thought to myself, "That will be my game, S#!t Happens! The game for people with a dark sense of humor... the game all about finishing macabre scenarios in whatever manner you like."

So when I got home from our mini vacation, I started conceiving S#!t Happens the party game. But boy... did that idea change quickly. Not that it was a particularly terrible idea, I just realized that when I was writing down all of the scenarios I was not leaving any room for people to actually finish the scenario. I made up 50 ridiculous, shitty scenarios all for naught. But it's all good, because it got me stoked on the notion of game creation. And while the first game idea didn't persist, the name did. At least until a few months ago when a trademark issue appeared out of nowhere (more on that in later posts). So S#!t Happens quickly became Son of a Blank! thanks to that issue. It actually worked out perfectly because the name fits the game better. 

After a great deal of brainstorming, I finally realized what I wanted to do was combine the best parts of my favorite games: Cards Against Humanity, Balderdash/Dictionary Dabble, and Loaded Questions. All three games are awesome, but were missing something.

For those of you reading because you are starting your own game or project, here is tip #1. You can make most prototypes for next to nothing... even if it's an app, which is what I did.

You don't need to invest a lot in something you have not tested/gotten feedback on yet, especially when you are still in the idea phase. Many people don't realize that the greatest way to come up with the best product possible is through User Experience Design.

The breakdown that I'm about to give is incredibly shallow version of UX mixed with what you might want to do when creating a product. It's not nearly as detailed as it really should be. This is just an overview... 

  • You have a problem that you want to solve so start with research.
    • Find out who your competitors are.
      • Do a competitive analysis.
        • Make a list of everything they are currently doing vs everyone else.
      • Do a heuristic analysis of your competitors.
        • If you want to know more about heuristic analyses, look it up on google.
    • Find out who your users are.
      • Once you figure out who they are, try to talk to as many as possible and ask them a bunch of questions.
        • Ask what their ideal experience with your potential product would be.
        • Ask what is missing in what's currently available.
          • Find out what pisses them off about what's currently available or not
        • etc. 
      • Ask them a ton of questions about what you want to find out/what you don't know already.
  • After learning a ton from research and hopefully validating some of your assumptions (if you had any in the first place), you then can start prototyping. 
    • Don't go expensive (like I said above), just get the idea across.
      • You'll be surprised just how many people are totally cool with paper prototypes.
    • Try to test with at least 5 users, specifically people you haven't talked to before because they are going to be biased.
      • That doesn't mean you can't get their opinion, but they shouldn't be your first option.
  • After testing your prototypes with as many people (all within your  as possible in the short time), now is the time for iteration.
    • Go back and update what you had based on the feedback that you received.
    • Repeat until you feel like it's good enough to bring up the fidelity of your product to a releasable version.
  • When you finally get here, now is the time that you can start looking for your manufacturer or someone that will help you print out the game so you can test what people think of the close to final version.

My first prototype was made on notecards and yellow notepads. I suckered about 15 friends into playing with me on my birthday and everyone loved it. At the end of the night, most of them asked me when they could buy it. I thought to myself, "Holy shit! This thing looks like shit and they want to buy it?! Fuck yeah!" It made me feel really confident and want to move forward with what I had. 

I took what I had, improved it, added a bit of visual design (and by that I mean color, text, and bullshit, not graphic design) and found a manufacturer who could make my prototype. Below is a picture of my first prototype. Yes, it's chewed up, but it's been a while and it's gotten a TON of use.  

 Clearly this thing has had a lot of use...

Clearly this thing has had a lot of use...

Welp. That's the beginning. That's where/how I started my game and a small overview of the process that I followed to get where I am today. If you're still with me so far, I'll be trying to post something every week to two weeks. 

Next post will cover my process of finding a manufacturer, getting prototypes made, and one of the biggest mistakes I made during this full process. 

Until next time.
 

Cheers,

Your friendly neighborhood Son of a Blank!