How long does it take to make a game? That depends. How long do you have?
The amount of time it takes to make a game will tend to expand or contract, based on your deadline. If you give yourself a year to make a game, that’s how long it will take. If you decide to make a game in a day, it will take 24 hours to complete.
I’m a perfectionist, so I spend an inordinate amount of time developing games. But sometimes, a game idea pops into your head, and before you know it, the game is finished!
This is what happened about a month ago with a game I created called BOGOPO. The development cycle from concept to creation was 6 hours. This was definitely a red herring. I sometimes spend 6 hours working on one aspect of a game, so finishing an entire game in that timeframe was mind-blowing.
The beauty of a short development cycle is it’s easier to pinpoint what sparked the idea and how the game was created. In this case, the idea came from looking at a game my girlfriend pointed out in a party supply store. It was a puzzle game composed of colorful hexagons cut out of wood.
This image must have burned itself into my subconscious because I woke up at 2 am the next day with an idea in my head: what if I made a game where players used red pegs to jump green pegs, green pegs to jump blue, and blue pegs to jump red? It could be called “RGB,” which would be a familiar acronym to anyone who’s worked on a computer monitor.
I was excited by the idea, so I got out of bed and sat down in front of my computer. Since I own a Glowforge laser printer that can quickly cut thin pieces of wood, I decided to make the pegs short, wooden cylinders, about 1/4″ tall by 3/4″ wide. My plan was to work out the design for the game board first, then create the cylindrical pegs for it.
Since I was dealing with 3 colors (RGB), I figured the game board would have a grid that held a multiple of that number, so I used Adobe Illustrator software to create a 9″ x 9″ square grid. Next, I populated it with red, green, and blue circles. Then, I added an extra 1/2″ each to each side to create a 10″ x 10″ game board. It took me about two hours to think up the idea and create the Illustrator file.
Because Illustrator can output Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG) files, my plan was to export the file to the laser cutter and make a wooden prototype of the game. But first, I needed to prepare my materials.
I had a number of 12″ x 20″ x 1/4″ MDF (compressed wood particle) boards to use for the prototype but none of them were colored, so I had to paint red, green, and blue on the boards, wait for them to dry, then paint the other sides the same colors, so the pegs would be reversible.
After the boards dried, I covered them with high-tack masking tape to protect the surfaces from burning when the laser cutter hit them. Next, I cut out a set of sample pegs. The laser printer was a bit dirty, and I was too impatient to clean it, so the cuts on a few of the pegs were a little rough. After I saw these results, I slowed down the laser cutter so it would make cleaner cuts, and recut the pegs.
I ended up with a lot of pegs (81, to be exact, due to the 9″ x 9″ grid I created). Next, I had to make the game board.
I figured the easiest way to make the board would be to cut out the holes where the pegs would sit on a piece of unpainted MDF, so I went back to my original design and updated it to include the holes I needed.
Since the pegs were going to sit in evenly-spaced rows and columns, the grid lines I had originally planned to score into the wood were unnecessary, so I dropped them. I didn’t need to resize the holes because, during the laser cutting process for both the pegs and the board, some of the wood is cut away (this is called the “kerf”), so the pegs would easily fit into the holes in the board.
I covered an unpainted MDF board with high-tack masking tape and sent the cutting template design to the laser cutter. In a few minutes, I had my finished game board. Next, I inserted the pegs into the holes and the playable prototype was complete.
It was now 8 am. Six hours had passed since the idea popped into my brain and I already had a finished game.
Over the next couple of days, I made the following improvements:
- Rounded the corners of the game board to make it more attractive (and less dangerous – this was my girlfriend’s suggestion)
- Painted the game board dark brown to make the contrast between it and the pegs more obvious
- Removed the center peg (an empty peg hole is required to make the first move)
- Created and illustrated a rulebook
Two additional changes made the game more fun to play and easier to produce:
- With 80 pegs, the game used a lot of resources and took a while to cut. I figured the 80-peg version would work for a 4-player game, but a much smaller board would be appropriate for a 2-player game, so I designed a game board that only used 24 pegs (68% fewer than the 4-player game).
- I also decided to paint the pegs different colors on the bottom (black, white, and gray). The idea was the game would be more interesting if players could flip a peg instead of jump over one, and the different colors on the bottom would provide different results. Next, I added a few new rules to explain the function of the bottom colors:
- Black – the player moves twice (they get a free turn)
- White – the player gives a peg to their opponent
- Gray – the player loses their turn
I also added this new rule to the game: when a player collects three of the same bottom colored pegs (black, white, or gray), they can add them to the ones they’ve already jumped and removed from the board. These pegs are placed in the player’s “Victory Pile.” When no more moves can be made on the board, each player counts the pegs in their Victory Pile, and whoever has the most, wins!
In addition, I came up with an alternate version of the game where the pegs are arranged differently and players work to line up three colored pegs in a row (red, green, and blue), which they can then remove from the board. I originally wanted to use the black, white, and gray pegs for this version of the game, but my co-worker suggested we use the red, green, and blue pegs, so players wouldn’t have to turn all the pegs over to play (good idea!).
I thought the name “RGB” was a bit too ordinary, so I started thinking up new names for the game. After sorting through a bunch of choices, I landed on POGOBO, but the matching website domain name was already taken, so I (sort of) reversed the word and came up with BOGOPO (and since that domain name was available, I grabbed it).
After doing some research, I made a few more changes to the game. I noticed similar games didn’t have holes in the game board to hold pegs but instead had round “chips” that sat on top of a flat board. I adopted this design style for my game. Also, I realized having only 24 chips in total would make it a very short game, so I doubled the amount of chips to 48 and made the board 10.75″ x 10.75,” so the chips would be bigger and easier to move. I also brought back the grid lines I had thrown out earlier because they were now needed to show where the chips should be placed on the board.
I wish every game I worked on came together as quickly as this one. The general consensus so far is the game looks good, is fun to play, and is very affordable. What more could you ask for in a game?
Check out BOGOPO in our Etsy store!