Developing Great Scott! – Part 5: What’s Hot, What’s Not?

July 1, 2015/ 0 2

Great Scott Mad Invention

You know what I was saying in my last post in this series about how the direction of a game can turn on a dime while it’s in development, and that Great Scott! was now a co-operative game? Well yeah, that. But not that.

I’ll explain the latest developments as swiftly as I can: we came up with a set of rules that made the game a co-op, which involved the players working together to complete inventions based on vague requirements listed on ‘commission’ cards. Players would get rewards as a team and individually for completing these commissions, which in turn would allow them to increase the skill of their character, giving them various abilities such as drawing more cards, storing cards between rounds etc. We made the prototype, tested it out, and… it fell flat: the co-op version of Great Scott! is basically dead in the water at this point.

One aspect that put the nail in the coffin for me was the extra components and the increased production cost they’d entail. I want this game to cost no more than $25 at retail, and I want to offer it for less than that, including global shipping, when it comes to Kickstarter. Increased costs, coupled with extra game mechanics that delay you from making inventions, and even have you fail sometimes, are not something I’m happy to move forward with. It just goes to show that game ideas that work perfectly in your head can be a very different experience when you get them to the table. As I and many others have said before: prototype and physically play with your ideas AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! In future, I’ll do my best to prototype & test new ideas before I post about them 😉

We’ve known from the beginning that the heart of Great Scott! is in the comedy banter that surrounds the presentation of finished inventions. I have frequently laughed my arse off while I’ve been working on the game. Over the last few months I’ve concluded that excessive amounts of ‘game’ are getting in the way of the fun part. I thought it was the competitive element that wasn’t working, but in actual fact, it’s the time it takes to make a finished invention. Cool game mechanics are all very well, but not when they get in the way of the most fun part of the game. So, in that spirit, I’ve settled on what I believe to be the final version of the game!

I know, I’ve gone & used the F word again, but this time I mean it, and here’s why:

  1. The new version of the game is lean & mean. There’s nothing else I can remove from it.
  2. The game can be learned in 5 minutes, with very little confusion.
  3. The game runs an average of 10 minutes per player.
  4. We can produce the game at retail for $25 / £15. Hopefully a bit less.
  5. We can offer the game for under $25 / £15 on Kickstarter, including global shipping, with no VAT or customs charges for EU backers.
  6. The game was rated an average 92% fun by our first batch of playtesters. Most of them rated it 10/10.
  7. Following the general consensus of player feedback, only minor tweaks were made to the rules following the playtest.

If you’d like to see the current rules for the game, you can! Here’s a PDF – have a read & leave a comment with any thoughts you have about it.

Great Scott Card Game Rules

So, what’s next for Great Scott!?

First off, I’m going to finish up the art for the cards. Even if the rules change again, the card design won’t. Not in a significant way anyway. I have the basic design down, as you’ve seen from the examples I’ve been posting on this blog. There are also a few gaps in the illustrations for the Asset cards, so I need to source art for those. I’m very interested to see if the feedback changes when people play with something that looks like a finished game, rather than the bare-bones prototype we’ve been using.

When the artwork is done, I’ll hit the road & take Great Scott! to as many gaming groups & conventions as will have me over the next few months. There is no shortcut to this: I need to spread the word about the game, and I can’t do that with blog posts & social media alone. If the game stands up to repeated playtesting and doesn’t appear to need any more changes, I’ll release a limited print & play version. More experienced designers have told me that print & play is a pretty poor way to gather feedback, but if all it does is give people a taste for the game, I’ll be happy with that.

Assuming all goes well with playtesting I’ll get some review copies of the game printed up on actual cards, and then start gearing up for the Kickstarter campaign, which is where the real work begins!

I’ll leave you with two quotes from players during last night’s playtest:

“This game is awesome”.

Player responding to accusations that his invention was insane: “They called Hitler a madman!”

The less said about that second one, the better…

If you’d like to keep up with our progress on the game, please consider joining our mailing list, The Friends of Sinister Fish. We’ll mail you with any important updates, and you can unsubscribe any time.

Until next time, stay splendid!


Dave Clarke


Dave Clarke is 44 years old and lives in Lincoln, England, with one dog, too many cats, and just enough humans. He is the least talented member of an unpopular punk rock band, and sometimes has dessert for dinner.


  1. Kat

    Ahhhh the first thing I ever made was a Ballistic Baobab Burning Bat Bender! So close!

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