Aaron Beedle

“Stop paper prototyping and use Tabletop Simulator.”

This week we are lucky to have spoken with Aaron Beedle @paperweightgames.co.uk. Aaron has been a big source of

inspiration and knowledge for me and it has been a pleasure to see him evolve as a game designer and as a game analyst over the last year. Aaron runs an incredibly comprehensive play-testing service that would be of great value to designers at any level.

How and why did your game design journey begin.

I played a game with a friend called Disgaea 2 and we were baffled as to why there was no 2 player competitive mode in the game. It would have been very easy to implement, so I tried to build it as a tabletop game and got carried away. Ended up with about 7 spreadsheets.

What are you working on right now?

My ambient pursuit is usually the study of game design, but I've just finished a proof of concept for quite a unique card game called Residuel and now I'm working on a combat system for a very rules-light grand strategy game called Grudges Void. Think Root but with more consistent asymmetry, simpler rules and hopefully a more interesting cards as resources system.

If you could go back, what is one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Stop paper prototyping and use Tabletop Simulator. Paper prototyping is a skill of its own and has some benefits, but it took on average I'd estimate 10 to 25 times longer than prototyping on TTS.

How do you prefer to playtest, what platforms do you use?

I used Tabletop Simulator and discord to host on the fly playtests and lean on my game hooks and wordplay to get people interested. I have a lot of free time in general so I can afford to sit and wait around reading a book if no one joins.

What are your future design goals?

For now it's to establish a good reputation in the industry so that I can more frequently work with others on their games, but ultimately I'd like to work on augmented reality experiences, potentially at festivals / nightclubs / museums.

What would you say to someone who is considering running their own Kickstarter for the first time.

Have you looked at all of your options? Kickstarter is the pinup idol of the industry right now for people seeking to find success, but a lot of it is just part of a charade. Not all success comes in the form of a funded kickstarter, so try to make an informed decision rather than just going with the one that seems to be working for a lot of people.

What has been the most difficult part of game design so far?

Personally I struggle with motivation. The industry has become so crowded recently and there are so many visible instances where having expendable income gives people a significant advantage, running kickstarters and attending conventions, it's easy to feel dis-advantaged. But none of these things are solid barriers and I have to remind myself that whether it's a bit tougher for me than others or not, I can still find success in game design if I put the work in.

Have you ever collaborated with another designer and if so can you comment on that experience.

I think many people deeply under-estimate how personal collaboration is. If you're looking at it in any professional capacity, there are a lot of potential implications. Then there's simply the matter of contribution. I've worked with designers on their games as a service, but not as a collaboration. In either case, I think it's the same as being in a band or a relationship. You are without doubt going to have to make some concessions on something, you can't expect everything to be done your way no matter how confident you are about it. Just make sure you communicate your thoughts clearly.

What area of design do you think you do not spend enough time doing and why?

Playing games. Analyzing what other people are enjoying. There's a lot out there but it's hard to find the communities that play these games online since so many still function in person.

What question should be on this list but is not?

Are you aware of the fantastic playtesting service available at paperweightgames.co.uk?

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