Jeremy and Brian cover the top 5 things that are most commonly wrong with a pitch a game designer gives to a publisher. If you’re a designer, you’ll probably find something in here that you can use to improve your next pitch.
Thanks to Mark Edwards for editing this and adding the intro/outro!
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
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?
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”.
Brian makes a list of the top 10 mistakes new designers make from the perspective of a publisher and we all debate about it. This covers things like the design decisions that will make a game harder to sell. Jeremy will share his list from a designer perspective in the next episode!