Creating Games Is Not For the Faint of Heart
Approaching a major milestone, I have been reflecting on the process of creating FeastDay! The Liturgical Year Board Game. I am SO CLOSE to having prototypes of my game I can hardly stand it! If all goes smoothly (and it rarely does) I will have five copies of my game by Friday! I have concluded that creating games is not for the faint of heart!!!
This idea came to me many years ago. I had an idea that the weeks of the liturgical year would make a great path for a board game so eventually decided to try my hand at bringing it to life. That was the summer of 2013.
The first phase took me about six months. I was able to conceptualize a learning game based on informative trivia questions for each of the liturgical (church) seasons. If players started on the Advent season – the start of the church year – and progressed around the board, they could in effect “play” their way through the year. I created a spreadsheet of each of the seasons, each week within the season, and many details about each season.
I showed the idea to a veteran Catholic school teacher whom I taught Confirmation classes with over a decade earlier. She loved the idea and I asked her to help by sharing ideas. I had compiled questions for each season and she helped develop them into age appropriate questions that suited mid-elementary students. Of course, we recognized that some parents might learn from this game as well! I created an oval home-made prototype of the game board with question cards and continued working on the rules for game play.
The next phase was to find an artist who understood the liturgical year that could create the project. I searched online for Catholic illustrators and, to my amazement, found someone who had already created coloring pages for the entire year of saints! Her work was beautiful so I approached her and commissioned her to do all original work. That was March of 2014. It took about a year of collaboration to nail down a logo, tag line, and all of the elements that would be included on the game board before it was complete.
That process was much more involved that I had ever imagined. We addressed and ironed out the seasons, saints, symbols, colors, and natural elements that would be included. It took countless revisions from pencil sketches to outline to color. I believe it was much more involved than either of us expected. Once the board was complete is was on to the box design and art. A six-sided box would need to be stylistically commercial, yet reflect a child-friendly and engaging concept. Colors would have to be consistent with the board and text would have to communicate what the game was about by expressing the benefits of play. I decided to show the game board on the box bottom along with the basic rules for play. That way, anyone considering FeastDay! would have a great idea of what the game was all about.
Finally, I found a company in the U.S. specializing in printing games for independent game makers. They would typeset the questions and then print the game. In that process I decided to have a simple graphic background behind the actual questions to make the question cards more visually appealing. After some thought and prayer the idea of birthday candles made sense to me. The birthday candles in the appropriate seasonal colors, and set into a geometric pattern as the background, are designed to pique curiosity about the connection between birthdays and feast days. Each feast day (which happens every day of the year) is a celebration of the life of a saint or holy day. This was important to me because it is the link to how the game got it’s name. Ultimately, I want players to know that every day in the church year is important. We do not simply breeze through the seasons of the church year for no reason. Every saint (or significant event in the church) has a day of recognition that is carefully and intentionally placed to mark an occasion that highlights and supports the season in which they fall. We should consider the sacrifices, contributions, and impact each one has made. After a few weeks of preparing the question cards we are now ready to go to print.
Of course, there is more work to do. Once the prototypes are play tested and final edits are made, I will need to find the most reasonable production rates to keep the cost down, distribution channels to reach the faithful, and trust that others see the value in such a game. I believe FeastDay! will benefit families, home-school lessons, parish programs and Catholic School students.
I share my story to inspire appreciation of FeastDay! and all who have a creative idea for promoting their faith. Most creative people are not used to all of the so-called setbacks that they may encounter. Another way of looking at it is there are a tremendous number of details that will have to be addressed, however, with determination and persistence, and the support of others, your dream can become a reality!
Creating games is not for the faint of heart. I would be happy to share what I have learned with anyone who may be interested. Feel free to contact me and, please, don’t let your dreams die!