In the latest #askboardgames show I answered a very interesting question about keeping my motivation high during a long process of designing a board game. In fact, this question is not only about being motivated and focused this whole time. It’s about much more than that. It’s also about frustration, despair, and being stuck with no idea how to fix the damn prototype.

I had that feeling again only yesterday. It was another test of First Martians. Another test game when everything works smoothly, everything goes well, and yet I know the game is missing something. My testers says the game is great, but I know it’s bullshit. There is something wrong with how the gameplay works. Something I cannot name, something I cannot identify, but I know there is a problem. I am pissed off. I am playing another game, everything works, all mechanisms function well and it just drives me mad.

Don’t fucking pretend you are finished. Don’t try to look awesome. You suck. You are a bad game. I won’t publish you.

It’s not that late, sometime about 10PM but I feel like I am done for today. I am so frustrated I cannot focus on anything. I don’t want to read a book. I don’t want to watch a movie. I don’t want anything. Angry and frustrated, I go to bed. This day ends early and in an extremely bad manner.


It’s Friday morning. I’m standing next to my desk with a cup of hot tea. After yesterday’s test session, the prototype is like a battlefield. I look at it with anger. I think about Robinson and I try to find the mysterious thing that is missing here in First Martians. That final detail, that invisible something that makes a difference.

And then it hit me. In a split second I can see everything clearly. I grab a piece of paper. I note it down.

And then I smile.

Despair and pure happiness. Every designer’s inseparable brothers.

edited by Piotr, thank you!