It’s strange throwing my baby that I’ve spent the last few years polishing and play testing out into the wild. The game has been available on The Game Crafter and DriveThruCards long enough now that ratings and comments are starting to come in, and I love it.

I’m not going to lie, I want to see good ratings and comments, but that being said I love criticism and critique as well. When designing and releasing a board or card game, you really have to try to have a thick skin. I definitely understand and realize that everyone’s tastes are different, and that I can’t possibly please everyone. I know that I didn’t make cardboard gold like Wingspan or Pandemic Legacy.

I’ve played Walking Doggos countless times, and based on the BGG ratings scale, to me, it is a solid 10. Walking Doggos is my baby, and all these years of playing haven’t made me tired of it. I always thought that designing a board game would be terrible, because eventually you’ll be sick of your own game, and what happens if that is before it’s polished and in stores? With Walking Doggos I didn’t see that happen. I always want to play it, and love introducing new players and watching their reactions to the game as it’s being played. Probably my favorite reaction, as a designer, is when I finish explaining how trick taking works, and move onto the explanation of how you can’t see the cards that are in your hand. It’s a great moment. I honestly can’t picture a time that I won’t enjoy playing the game.

Of course, not everyone is me, and I’m going to get low ratings from people that the game isn’t as enjoyable. The best criticism I got was from John Zinser, the CEO of AEG. The hardest part to selling Walking Doggos is the memory aspect. It can make it hard to have a conversation and casually play the game, because anything that takes your mind off the clues you’ve been given can detract from the game.

It’s certainly more memory intensive than other games that use the blind hand mechanic. Most games, such as Hanabi and Bomb Squad, are cooperative, so clues tend to be what cards a player should be playing next. Another blind hand trick taker, Pikoko, is less memory intensive, but instead more about card counting and relying on players to predict how hands are going to play out. I can definitely see how that is more marketable than a game like Walking Doggos.

What I hate about that particular point of criticism, is that while completely fair, I can’t really fix it without fundamentally changing what makes Walking Doggos the game that it is. For some people, that very memory aspect is going to make or break the game.

From there, you have the players who just don’t like trick taking, or don’t like family friendly filler games. It’s going to be nearly impossible to please the heavy euro fan that wants to dig in for an hour or two.

All of these reasons help fuel expectations for ratings and comments.

I’m excited though. It’s no longer going to be about feedback from friends and family that have played the game, but instead feedback from the masses. Strangers that I’ve never met are going to be getting their hands on my game, and attempting to have some fun with it. I hope that they do find enjoyability, and that I can make their game day experiences good ones.

Three weeks from now is the real test. I am fortunate enough that Walking Doggos was selected to be featured on Geekway to the West’s Play and Win library. Three thousand gamers are going to be flocking to St. Charles, MO to play board games for 4 days straight, and 6 copies of Walking Doggos is going to be available to play and possibly win. The feedback I get from both BGG and the convention play reports are going to be invaluable.

I’m both excited and nervous. The Play and Win selection is amazing this year. I really can’t wait to find out how I stack up against the crowd. I hope that those plays also result in more ratings and comments, both good and bad.

If you’ve played Walking Doggos, please rate it on BGG and leave a comment. Your ratings and comments help other players decide whether Walking Doggos is right for them.

Categories: Design Diary

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