I sat down in February in front of a stack of note cards. I had just come from a weekend of gaming at a local con here in Atlanta where I live. I played Teotihuacan and loved it, as it forced something to click in my process as a designer. Teotihuacan is complex and beautiful, but as with most games, can be boiled down to a simple central mechanic. Its primary mechanic involves assigning dice by moving them clockwise around a board of action spaces. I felt the impact and simplicity of that mechanic, and saw the vast economy that was built around it within the gaming experience. As I played, and later reflected on the gaming experience, I thought to myself how the designer, Daniele Tascini, may very well have sat down in front of a set of dice and blank note cards, and how through a process of trial and error may have found that it was fun to move dice clockwise around a set of action spaces. That idea must have grown and grown and become Teotihuacan in all of its crunchy and complex glory. I realized that my approach to designing games needed to be scrapped and rebuilt, that my games were terrible because I had always set out to make a game with the final product in mind, building structure and story around it, working to find ways to bring about the experience or theme or brand that I was already set on making. I realized that I needed to sit in front of a stack of note cards and make something small and easy that worked, and build a game around that.

And so, that’s what I did. I sat down with my note cards, and drew four different-colored lines on the sides of each. I laid those cards next to each other and thus embarked on a journey toward what became Colorfield. It’s simple and complex at the same time. It’s compact and easy to play and understand, but deep and difficult in a challenging and puzzling way. The amount of positive feedback I’ve received has been encouraging and overwhelming. People seem to love it.

Now, while claiming that something I’ve created is kind of awesome seems arrogant and self-congratulatory, I feel confident in doing so for a few reasons. The whole mystery of creative inspiration has always amazed me. I’ve been creating things across different mediums for most of my life, and I’ve always felt that the incident of inspiration is a thing that happens to the artist rather than something that the artist earns or comes by due to their nature or how deserving they are of it. When inspiration comes, it is a gift, wild and unruly, that hits when it hits and doesn’t wait for us to be ready. Colorfield hit me while I was sitting in front of a pile of note cards, ready to listen. So, as I think about it and listen to the praise that it has received thus far, I don’t see that affirmation as a reflection on my abilities as a designer, but rather as confirmation of how lucky I was to be sitting and listening when I happened to be. I’m grateful that it’s good. Rather, I’m grateful that it has my name on it because it’s good. I’m grateful that I’m a part of it.

It must also be said that inspiration is nothing but the first step in a process of dedication and hard work. Sweat is what brought Colorfield into its final form. I spent, as I believe an artist should, days and months constructing, refining, testing, analyzing, reworking, and processing it as a game and a gaming experience. Commitment to any art form means hard work. It means staring the thing in the face, tearing out its guts, putting it through the strainer, and picking it apart until it’s finished. But, when it comes together, it’s a beautiful thing.