Over the past weekend, I again became frustrated with the game I was creating for National Game Design Month (NaGa DeMon). It wasn't anywhere near to playing like I wanted it. The mechanics were alright, but something was missing. So, I threw out everything yet again and started over, yet again.
This time, rather than starting with a test setup and rolling dice and adjusting ideas, I set to put down my thoughts about the game's rules. I wanted everything I had thought so far to be written there so I could get a better picture of the whole. The real value of this is that it got the ideas out of my head and I could stop wasting energy trying not to forget them. That, in turn, allowed my brain to push into new territory instead of rehashing the same bits over and over.
Key to finding something I could get behind, I had to think first about what I like to do when I play wargames. One mechanism I have a soft spot for is the use of cards. Ordinary playing cards. Just mulling over using cards gave me an "aha!" moment. I found a way for the game to do much of what I wanted it to do, without being as clumsy about it as my original ideas had been. The theme now feels much more integrated into the game too.
The other inspiration came while looking at back issues of Lone Warrior - the use of a player's aid. In this case, I'm using one to track the status of the gun and which crew member is where.
I am very happy with how this is coming together now. Finally back on track at the half-way point!