In February 2013, we released NYC Mafiosi. This was a serious project, that took an entire year to finish: whilst more was expected from it commercially, the experience of making a game from scratch – from initial planning, inspirations, drawings, design and all the way through development, publication and release – was totally invaluable knowledge. A realisation of how I expected the game to perform on general release, and how it actually did – thereabouts 300,000 plays since release, and 100,000 of those coming within eight days of publication – showed that this business is far tougher than it seems. We expected more.
The vision was a large and overwhelming one, and the game plays out with the same grandeur as the board games it takes inspirations from: Monopoly and Risk. Designed with the ideals of conquering the city by pursuing successful, intelligent strategies was something we wanted to inspire in the player.
As such, much of the game is front-loaded, and requires a lot of learning early on: as we have found, this is a whole lot to ask of people. Games are increasingly being designed to be very digestible experiences: players want fun, and with immediacy. There is nothing wrong with this, but it makes the job of design much harder. It’s always tricky to impress upon people just how complicated simplicity really is.