Well, folks, Heartland is hauling.
My first tabletop game design ever has been released to the public! What a cool milestone for me. A few years ago, I never would have imagined that I’d be a published game designer but if I’ve learned anything over the years it is that things don’t always goes as planned and there are still good surprises in the world!
The game is being well-received and we’ve been getting some solid reviews. Check out this review by Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower:
I even spotted the game on the shelf of my local game store. It’s pretty neat. I am so glad that people are liking the game.
There is this funny thing that happens when you are a creative type. When you are working on something that you feel is important, great stuff, you start to think about what’s next and wrestling with identity questions like “did I get lucky or am I good enough to do it again?” At least that’s how it works for me. I try not to get too stuck looking too far out in front of me but when things get rolling it feels important to keep building on the momentum that is already working for you. And when things get buzzing, I find that they’ll keep buzzing if I can keep up. I guess that’s what Jim Collin’s Flywheel Principle is all about, but I digress.
The difficulty for me is that one idea leads to another and then I have to decide which idea to pursue. Sometimes this is an easy decision but not always. And that’s the tough part, sometimes being creative feels like work and other times the muse drops an idea into your lap. And sometimes the best stuff comes from the stuff that feels like work while other times the stuff that just happens is the best stuff. It’s important for me to remember this when I get lazy. It’s then when I need to open up a blank Word document and just start typing until the page is filled. It’s then when I need to pick up a deck of cards and start shuffling and dealing and making pretty shapes until something clicks. And when the works feels grinding, I need to remember, too. I need to remember to step back and take a break because sometimes things come together when you aren’t even working on them directly. The tension is to remember and live in-between both places.
And I’m just talking about the creative part of designing games, or any other creative pursuit, here. This doesn’t take in to account the work involved in getting a game published, the business of the work. In between great ideas you have to learn to get a sense for when something is ready and then figure out how to pitch the idea and who to pitch it to. Or you have to decide if you want to produce it yourself. This is fun and creative in it’s own way, but it calls for a willingness to do your homework and listen, and I mean really listen. When people don’t like something about your game, or song, or story, or painting this can feel very personal like someone is saying your baby is ugly but if you are willing to listen you can learn, even if you disagree.
Maybe this sounds a little bit like chaos to you. But to me, it’s a very exciting process that gets me pumped up. I feel alive when I am bringing creative pursuits to life. Even when it hurts because it’s hard and frustrating, it still makes me feel alive, pain is like that sometimes. It jars us awake and aware and makes us present to the moment. When I remember thing part about the creative process being the thing that makes me feel alive, I can settle in and do the work I love to do because I’m free from having to worry about the final product. I no longer have to ask those questions about whether or not I’ll be a one-hit-wonder because getting published is just a perk that sometimes follows doing what you love.
These days I’m not so worried about whether or not I’ll have new ideas that are worth publishing, I am just focusing on the process and trying to enjoy each step along the way. And in the midst of that, some stuff will get published and some won’t but either way, I’m still having fun doing something that feels important and has potential to bring people together. For me, that is what makes this important work. Time to get back to it.