All game designers are blind. Every single one of us. Peter Molyneux, Will Wright, Sid Meier, even little old me. We are all massively totally hugely blind.
In some areas.
It’s inevitable. That game you enjoy and play a few hours each week, we spent at least a year staring at it EVERY DAY. We possibly sat in three hour meetings about the inventory screen and whether it should be done another way. If we did any serious play-testing, we saw the “you have been attacked by a cave troll” window about 500 times. It’s not news to us, it’s just like the furniture. No big deal.
When I used to work in city server rooms, I ended up totally blind to the security, and the cabling. City server rooms are so security concious its laughable. One room even weighed you on the way in and the way out to check you didn’t swipe anything (or leave anything in there). Many of them had CCTV pointing at you at every stage of the torturous trip in and out (swipe cards, pin entry, physical keys all combined). After a while, you ignore it. Most server rooms have so many cables running from computer to computer that it all gets put under the floor, and round the back of some of the racks is an exercise in cable tangle hell. After a while you ignore it.
The problem with being a small team or lone game designer, is you ignore those really obvious faults, inconsistencies, confusions, bugs and irritations, not because you don’t care, but because you cannot see them. Most US game designers don’t realise all the elves have mid-west accents. Nobody thinks their accent sounds weird, but it always does, to other people. Cockney elves may sound amusing, but to a cockney, a mid-west elf is just as silly.
I’m sure I’m making the same mistake with my new game, but I’m doing what I can to avoid it. Different people, of different ages, genders and nationalities are giving it a try. They always spot things I never would have, because I’m blind to them. If you are making a game on your own, you are also blind to your mistakes. Get someone else to take a look, and listen to what they have to say.