An email from a good friend arrived in my inbox in the summer of 2010.
"Dave, any chance you are up for the inaugural game of The Settlers of Catan this Thursday night?"
My response: “Sounds great Dan! I’m there! What’s Settlers of Catan?”
Dan had read an article in Wired magazine a few weeks prior and was inspired:
“Monopoly Killer: Perfect German Board Game Redefines Genre”
There were four of us that night, good friends equipped with beer, chips, and a big fat rule book that looked really daunting. None of us were gamers, but like a good host, Dan had studied the rules ahead of time and did his best to teach us all how to play. We had a blast and that night I was hooked.
The game stuck in my head for days afterwards and I started poking around the internet to see what else was out there. Over time I started discovering new games, both with the same group and also with my three young boys. As an engineer I have always loved creating and building things and solving complex puzzles and problems. Once I was introduced to modern games, it was only a matter of time before I started thinking about creating my own. How hard could it be?
Most designers will say their first ideas are just too complex. I was no exception.
Imagine an alien world, with a map broken into hexagons. Each player is a different species, slowly evolving, collecting resources, discovering new lands, attacking and dying, and struggling to stay alive and thrive, with political tracks, economic cycles, catastrophic environmental events, and . . .
Yup, I had "invented" the 4X game and a pretty complex one. After a few weeks (months?) went by of creating hex tiles, landscape maps, event cards, and who knows what else, I realized I was in way over my head. My creative side kept going though, with games and game ideas moving through my consciousness until one day, I got that spark I had been searching for.
Next: Spark of Inspiration!