Episode #79: Signs It Is Time to Give up on a Design

(link for direct download of podcast episode)

When you’ve been working on a design for a while and you’re not sure if there’s enough there to keep going with it, we have some signs that it might be time to give up on it. If you want a spoiler, the signs are:

5) No market opportunity
4) Design colleagues don’t ask about the status or encourage you to keep working on it
3) Too long to play/too long to explain the rules
2) Not fun enough (playtesters don’t ask to play again)
1) No hook or the hook is not good enough

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Episode #78: Reasons to Theme Your Prototype

(link for direct download of podcast episode)

We go over the top 5 reasons to theme your prototype and some discussion around them. If you want to have them spoiled, here are some of our notes on each one:

5) Theme makes it easier to learn your game. It drive cohesion, direction, and rules comprehension.

4) Some publishers really care about theme (like Brian) so you’ll get more opportunities if your game has one. You’ll get in the door. Theme sells better than math. Games are an experience, and theme tells your story.

3) A themed games is more interesting to players so you’ll get more playtesters. It shows your playtesters that you respect their time and level of enjoyment.

2) Save the publisher time by showing them it is complete. A game with no theme isn’t done yet and they would usually not do that work if they can avoid it. Once you’re in the door, you’re more likely to stay there.

1) Theme is part of the design. Why are we even talking about them as if they are independent parts?

 

Episode #74: Rules for Writing Rules

Listen Here: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/BGBP074.mp3

Learn all about Jeremy’s “7 Rules for Writing Rules” and what Richard and Brian think about them. We actually disagree on this on more than most episodes!

  1. Force yourself to write your rules right away and have them ready for your first playtest with real people.
  2. Start strong. Tell a story as you give the theme.
  3. Use software to maintain your rules and keep them always up-to-date.
  4. Add notes to add diagrams later.
  5. Put a component list at the end of the rules use a component diagram with labels.
  6. Use 2nd person to specify “you”.
  7. Use white space and formatted lists.

Gen Con Designer Events and Metatopia with Double Exposure’s Vincent Salzillo

Brian had the pleasure of interviewing Vincent Salzillo, President of Double Exposure, Inc. His company organizes Gen Con events such as First Exposure Playtest Hall and the new First Encounter Designer Showcase (publisher speed dating) events. They also organize conventions such as DEXCON, DREAMATION, and METATOPIA. Plus they run the Envoy programs. It’s a lot! This is what we cover in 30 minutes:

  • METATOPIA – A convention for game designers.
  • First Exposure Playtest Hall – A Gen Con event for playtesting your game.
  • First Encounter Designer Showcase – A Gen Con event where you pitch your game to publishers, in a format similar to “publisher speed dating”.

Resources

 

 

Getting More Prototype Plays

Podcast Link: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/BGBP069.mp3

Today we talk about ways to get people to play your ugly prototype! Some topics:

  • Imaginary friends
  • Design partners or other trusted designers
  • Protospiel/Unpub
  • Designer groups
  • General playtesting groups
  • Fostering an inviting community
  • Print-and-plays
  • Conventions at a free table
  • Conventions as an event
  • Other convention options
  • Digital simulations
  • Paid playtesting

Resources

 

10 Questions to Ask Yourself When Designing a Game

Here is our podcast episode on the 10 questions you should ask yourself while designing a game:

If you’d rather not listen to it and you just want to ask yourself some thought-provoking questions about your game, here is the list!

  1. Which feeling(s) am I trying to deliver?
  2. Why would someone play or buy this game instead of others? What’s the hook?
  3. Which core element will keep people engaged in my game?
  4. Which decisions am I giving players that will keep people playing?
  5. Which types of players am I targeting for my game? And what is the weight and play time will it have?
  6. How many high-level strategies can you win with?
  7. What is the single core mechanic in my game? (everything else you can cut, if needed)
  8. How much downtime do players have?
  9. How do players interact with one another and does it fit with the theme?
  10. What is confusing players when they play?
  11. What player counts can this support? Can you expand that count?
  12. What will the MSRP be?
  13. Do players feel like they are in the universe/theme?
  14. Where will people be playing this game?
  15. What is my exit strategy for this game? Kickstarter? The Game Crafter? Selling direct? Pitch to a publisher?
  16. Can I make changes to the game to tailor it to the publisher I think would want to publish it?
  17. Is this game too similar to an existing game?

 

Trapped in a Room with Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin

Richard interviews Juliana Patel and Ariel Rubin who created the extremely successful Escape Room in a Box: The Werewolf Experiment that is now being published by Mattel. He learns all their secrets from their 2,000+ backer debut campaign! Some specific topics:

  • Partnering with Mattel
  • Escape room game opportunities
  • Replaying escape room games
  • Playtesting an escape room game
  • Creating the puzzles
  • Lessons learned from the Kickstarter campaign
  • Finding your audience

Audio/Podcast Version: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/BGBP064.mp3

 

References