Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time preview

Running Out of Time Preview

Running Out of Time is the first in the “Design Your Destiny” series, created by Jay Cormier and Blaise Sewell. This is less of a game and almost like a board game designing boot camp in a box. Without spoiling anything, I’ll be sharing our experience with this project and what you can expect.

Beyond the Basics

Coming into this preview, I was expecting a box of tools that would help introduce families to designing their own board games. What I found was something much deeper and complex than I anticipated.

Running Out of Time - story

Players are introduced to a brother and sister who find themselves in a precarious situation that changes their world. Within the spiral bound book, players will read two chapters before being led into a very simple game. After playing the game a time or two, the book asks you why the game feels broken. What is the game lacking?

Over the next couple pages, Jay and Blaise help players to understand key concepts in game design. This is less of a tutorial and more of an interactive journey in overhauling the different games introduced through the journey.

Running Out of Time - game iteration

Running Out of Time helps to point out flaws in game designs that take away player agency, decision making and mechanics that can suck the fun out of games. The pages that follow each game give suggestions that guide players in coming up with their own solutions. They introduce the need for playtesting and iterating on different design ideas to make the game better.

More Than a Learning Tool

I expected to introduce Running Out of Time to my teenage kids and work through the book together. My initial concern was that my kids might be too old for the content. While the illustrations were cartoonish, they were slightly unsettling in the way that Ren & Stimpy was when I was growing up. I believe the game leans more in the direction of 10+ and is built for kids and adults to experience together.

Running Out of Time - gameplay

This is less of a “Game Design for Dummies” and more of a coach that is leading you to come up with your own game designs. The story in the spiral bound book was more dense than I expected. Nothing has been dumbed down for kids and going through the book as an adult was actually very engaging.

As you iterate on each of the games in this book, there are spaces to take notes, write down ideas and track your progress. There’s plenty of space to drop both good and bad ideas as you playtest with friends and family. Jay and Blaise are giving structure to help players figure out why a design isn’t fun and how it can be fixed.

Running Out of Time - game ideas

Players can earn achievements in the form of stickers in the back of the book. Each sticker will complete part of the puzzle on the back page. By introducing new elements to the games and playtesting, you’re earning these stickers. Earning all the stickers will unlock the final chapter of the book. This is a great way to keep players engaged and challenged as the games increase in complexity chapter by chapter.

Who is This For?

It’s obvious that this game is built for anyone who has aspirations to creating their own board games. But, I think it’s deeper than that. Running Out of Time will help people to find their voice when they talk about board games in general.

Running Out of Time - achievement stickers

I teach friends and family dozens of games each month. When someone says “I didn’t like that game”, I regularly challenge them to express why they feel that way. Sometimes it’s about a specific mechanic or that it feels unfair for a specific role in the game. Running Out of Time guides players in parsing out these thoughts and helps them to do something constructive with those experiences.

Approaching Running Out of Time as a game could definitely shortchange your experience. This is something that will make you a better gamer and help you find your voice when talking about your time around the table. Whether you approach this “game” for educational value or have a serious interest in designing a game of your own, there is a lot of content here.

I can’t wait to see how this Design Your Destiny series helps shape the game designs in our hobby.

Design Your Destiny: Running Out of Time launches on Kickstarter on September 12, 2023.

A prototype of the game was provided for this coverage. Components and rules covered in this preview are not finalized. Read more about our preview policies at One Board Family.

Ryan Gutowski

I'm a huge fan of strategy games and pretty much anything that involves "city building". My love of board games goes back to my childhood and passion for building relationships with others.

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