Stop On Time was not a eureka moment, there were no sudden light bulbs involved here. A headboard, perhaps, but in truth it’s an idea that grew on me.
I am a father of three and have been a bus driver for 27 years. I have always liked playing board games (some dating back to when Waddingtons was about, so prehistoric, really).
I seemed to have this feeling that I might be able to design a fairly decent game from something I have been doing for many years. So, I took a blank piece of paper and made the grid, road systems, threw in a few traffic lights, bus stops and traffic squares, looked at it and thought it was good.
How wrong I was. The early play test sessions of my prototypes were absolutely awful.
The game lacked any flow and I could see players desperately looking to escape the torment. So, I went away and simplified the game.
Many playtests earlier (including in schools, which was invaluable as students see things differently to the more experienced, let’s say,) and it was almost the finished article.
I felt I had a half decent game on my hands, and I wanted to see how far I could take it. I asked Sheffield University to make me a mock up of the game, and they did. For free. I then joined the Sheffield Inventors group to get advice and guidance on how to move forward.
There was plenty of advice on offer, but when I set out to seek funding, I hit a brick wall. Emails were sent out to various publishers to see if I could get the game under license, but had no response.
I even decided to see if I could get a bus company involved in sponsoring in some way. I had some interest from the company I work for and a nice ‘thanks but no thanks’ from Arriva and Go Ahead.
At this point, the game was being played regularly with more and more positive feedback.
This is where I messed up.
I had a game that people enjoyed, and were telling me it should be a hit. And here, paranoia kicked in. Worried that someone will steal my idea, I sat on the game for three years.
How can you get people to see and hear of your idea if you don’t put it out there, you ask. Well, you can’t.
On February 28th, I attended my first games event to demo my game, thee years after I came up with the idea. The show was a real eye opener. I met some wonderful people at that games event, who imparted their knowledge and experiences, and I realised I had been a fool.
I see my game as bringing the bus industry and the games industry together. Millions use public transport, and many of them play games. I am also sure that a lot them moan about late buses. So, why not let them see how hard it is to keep a bus on time.
I didn’t expect my Kickstarter campaign to be a roaring success, but I was hoping it would get noticed. Where it goes from here, is in the lap of the gods, but I have never been so pumped as I am now about taking it forward.
I met a guy at the games event in Sheffield who had a card game he was trying to move forward. He told me that ‘if at first you don’t succeed…give up!’ He was joking, and both he and I feel that you have to literally get to the end of the earth before you give up something you believe in.
I believe in Stop On Time until the end of the earth beckons.