TGC: 040 David Sanheuza- Breaking Apart the Vision


How often do we as tacklers of giant creative projects often dream of the grand vision as a whole, of entire gaming universes and back stories, of our polished and intricate end products, with all of our hearts and brains, and then become overwhelmed at how much work these vast projects will take? David Sanheuza of Game-o-gami (returning guest from episode 15), is here to tell us how to break out those visions into smaller projects that can be more realistically completed over time, and on budget.

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What Are The Questions?

To get started, how we can best approach this topic?

  • A good analogy is the idea that we are a hunter, or a type of predator, and we have this prey in our sites, but it’s ginormous, and we don’t know what end to start biting on. If we’re the jackal, we want to know how to get our elephant one bite at a time.

What is something that can be done to start so It feels like progress is being made in a real way?

  • When you take in the grand scope at once, as yourself or even with a few friends, it will feel like the goal is too big to ever complete.
  • Common advice when you are a small team, is stick to small, simple projects so that they are manageable, and obtainable. This is a good idea for practice and to learn from mistakes without big losses.
  • The way to make big goals happen for small teams, is to figure out how to see one big plan as many small plans.
  • Idea is a to take a huge project, all your resources, and all your time and money, and divide them into manageable chunks.

What was the original scope for your new board game, Immortal, and how did you break the vision up into something that was more achievable to start with?

  • Got the idea to break these out while in college. Professor was working on a small animated movie that later turned it into the movie 9. He would work a job for a few months, quit and work on 9 for a few months, and continue the cycle over several years. Efforts on the project were balanced with financial and practical obligations, one step at a time.
  • Started by making a small family card game with simple rules, but a lot of artwork, called Goblins Drool, Fairies Rule.
  • The full version of the game involves a more complex rulebook, player reference sheets, much more artwork, modular game boards and tokens, the building of a Kickstarter page, handling the design and manufacturing, and a ton of new, never-before-tackled things.
  • This project was broken into stages specifically with funding. The first part of the list was broken down was focusing on the artwork, and an artbook with game images and this game’s interpretations of various mythologies became a separate Kickstarter project that was funded on its own. Great artwork is what sells a game, and makes a game enjoyable. Being able to focus on that huge expense as one milestone allows for quality.
  • The lower the funding goal is on Kickstarter, the more likely you are to gain momentum as people see the project as obtainable, and likely to succeed. Breaking these mini-projects off the big project also allows for smaller Kickstarter funding goals and more support.
  • Splitting pieces out also allows for cross-fandom support: Folks who would be captivated by a book with stunning artwork on mythology are more likely to support its later endeavors as a board game even if they are not gamers, and vice versa.
  • While mythology characters are universal parts of our cultures, we’re creating recognizable renditions of them. We feel like people will be able to say “Oh, that’s Medusa from Immortal, that’s Thor and Loki according to Immortal,” and so on.
  • As you’re building unique components, think about how this affects the brand, and the larger planning in all areas – and not just the areas you enjoy.
  • Accepting that this is going to take a long time makes the whole idea a lot less intimidating. Also helpful to accept that you aren’t going to know how many steps there will be the first time – you can’t plan out all 100 steps first. Write the map as you go, don’t try to find one.
  • Having the strength to put the “done” sticker on a project is really tough – some things are hard to accept as done when there could be so much more to add. The saying goes, you get 80% of the benefit from 20% of the work.
  • In the project management world, the focus is on scope, time, and cost – how big is the project, how long will it take, and how much money comes out of your pocket? Prototyping is great this way, as producing just enough of a product to get feedback, and find out if its fun, can be all you need for one stage even if the urge is to bring it closer to done first.

As people are approaching their projects, do you have sage words about clear lines for where to break big projects up?

  • If you have a big project, consider what the chunks of development are. As yourself what 10% done would look like, 20%, 30%, and so on.
  • Ask yourself what milestones can be made into things that you can publish. For example if you’re writing a book or graphic novel, could you publish the chapters independently? Can you gain recognition and support in stages?
  • Patreon is as good a funding source as Kickstarter is for funding incremental projects, because it supports work a little bit at a time, over time.
  • Consider the jigsaw puzzles of your project – don’t look at it as a progress bar, but a checklist.

Can you tell us about the Immortal board board game, and when it’s going to be on Kickstarter, and where we can find out more?

  • Immortal by Game-o-Gami went live on Monday, June 1st on Kickstarter.
  • Hoping to continue putting out expansions and new product for the game as demand allows – so check out the game and the art books, and tell your friends!


Find out more about David Sanheuza:


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About the Author

Steve Ruduski is a business and career coach that has helped dozens of people start their business and successfully find their fit in the gaming industry.

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