Daily Illuminator

May 3, 2008: Not All Fun And Games

If you've been with us long, you have probably figured out that life at a game company is not all Game Days and menacing each other with huge foam chainsaws. Sometimes it gets pretty real. This week has been like that.

Munchkin Quest was originally planned to be at print a long time ago. We got thiiiiiiis close . . . and realized that the game still wasn't all it should be. So we went back to work. And believe you me, you do NOT want to know how nasty it is to deal with a game that's already in final Quark layout when you start making daily changes on it.

A few weeks ago, if I remember correctly, Phil set yesterday (Friday) as the no kidding, darn it, to-press day for the game. It made it. In fact, it could have gone to press Thursday if I hadn't found one crummy glitch on one room tile, just a bit after Alex had left for the day. (Sure, anybody here can work with the multilayered, Photoshopped Quark layouts of the rooms, in the same way that anybody can get nothin-but-net from 40 feet out.)

But it is ALL OFF TO PRESS now, except for the rules and the box bottom - which require photographs of actual printed components that don't exist yet. And there was great happiness.

Things around the office have been a teeny bit stressy for the last couple of weeks (the timing of GTS didn't help). Some of our staff, especially those not involved with the game, have made no secret of their opinion that the game has taken too much time, and that we (by which is meant, Stevie) will never stop fiddling with it. (That's not an unfair opinion. I'm the guy who, three days ago, looked at one of the cards and said "You know, that whole card has to come out. Mighty John Kovalic, will you draw this new cartoon for the new card I just wrote?")

(And Mighty John did, and it rocks.)

And if anybody out there still thinks that making games for a living is Automatic Magic Fun, let me disabuse you. MQ needed enough playtesting that a lot of people in all departments got to play the game during business hours, on the clock. At first, a novelty! Getting paid to play games and shoot holes in Steve's card text! Yah boo! Well, that didn't last. Fact: There are people here who have reached the point where they would far rather do their daily work than play Munchkin Quest again. (Actual quote: "I would have really had fun the last time we played, if I weren't sick of the game.")

And, of course, those whose important jobs have been made harder because some of us are barely even answering internal mail have been a bit miffed. And in turn, those of us spending all our waking hours in Getting The Darn Game Out were somewhat stung by the naysaying. We're all human, after all. (No, really. Technically, we all really are. I've got the lab reports.) I devoutly hope that we will all be friends again next week, or at least that there will be no irreversible maimings.

No real point to this, except to make sure you know - because, if you read this far, you're interested - that these things do not write themselves. Nor are they found in baskets along with chocolate eggs. And everybody at the company, whatever their role, is part of the process of getting a big game out - if only because they have to put up with the development and production staff at deadline time, and work around them to do their own jobs. And I appreciate those who have been martyred on the tear-stained altar of "one more playtest," and the dedicated few who have pitched in and made this game more than I could have made it by myself . . . and, indeed, I appreciate everybody who has put up with ME.

It's going to be a heck of a game.
-- Steve Jackson

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