The Roll [sic] of Randomness

Today we talk about how randomness affects our enjoyment of games. It’s slanted towards game design, but also has some crunchy publisher/indie creator perspectives as well. Topics:

  • Low-randomness games
  • High-randomness games
  • Is randomness in games good or bad?
  • How does it affect your target audience?
  • Harnessing the power of randomness

Audio/Podcast:

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Game Design and Publishing Panel at Gen Con 2016

At Gen Con 2016, we were on a panel to talk about lots of publishing topics. These were the folks on the panel:

  • JT Smith of The Game Crafter
  • Zachary Strebeck, the Game Lawyer
  • Jeremy Commandeur, Game Designer
  • Brian Henk of Overworld Games
  • things like:

Here are some topics we discussed:

  • Forming your business
  • Game manufacturing options (US, Europe, China, etc.)
  • Different ways to sell your game
  • Traditional and alternative distribution models
  • Game awards and contests
  • What should you do yourself? What should you pay others to do?
  • Game publishing contract royalties

Audio/Podcast: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/BGBP044.mp3

References

How to Get Into Distribution

Do you have a game that you want to get into the magical land of “distribution”? We talk about how to make that happen! Some topics we discuss are:

  • What is distribution?
  • What is the structure of the market?
  • Why go through distribution?
  • What profits can one expect?
  • Why do retailers like distribution?
  • How does one get picked up by a distributor?
  • Big consolidators and distributors
  • Minimum print sizes

Audio: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/BGBP038.mp3

 

San Jose Protospiel Panel on Game Design, Development, and Publishing

The San Jose Protospiel had over 75 designers and 450 players in its second year, making it the largest protospiel to date. Grant Rodiek from Hyperbole Games hosted a panel there on board game design, development, and publishing. The panel members are:

  • Jeremy Commandeur – Designer, Organizer of Protospiel San Jose
  • Teale Fristoe – Designer, Publisher at Nothing Sacred Games
  • Peter Vaughan – Designer, Publisher, and Development Director for Breaking Games
  • Aldo Ghiozzi – Game Consolidator with Impressions
  • Brian Henk – Designer, Publisher at Overworld Games
  • Grant Rodiek – Designer, Publisher with Hyperbole Games

Thanks to Jordan Nichols from Your Game Night (http://www.yourgamenight.com/) for recording the audio in the very loud convention hall.

Audio: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/first.mp3

 

Branding: Naming Your Game

Finding the right name for your product, company, book or band is extremely important. After all, you’ll be pouring a lot of time and money into making it as immensely successful as it is in your imagination. So if I’ve just designed a game or started a YouTube channel, what should I name it? This question is fresh in my mind because I realized that our podcast name, The Forbidden Limb, isn’t effective, for a variety of reasons. The main reasons are:

  • It’s hard to spell. Most people fail to spell “forbidden” correctly on the first try. If someone hears it verbally from their friend, they might Google it as “forbiden lim” or something else that won’t get them to us.
  • It doesn’t describe our content. We discuss the business side of the board-game industry. Nothing that suggests or implies board games or the business is in that name. When we pop up on The Dice Tower feed, some people who would be interested in our content don’t click on the link because they don’t have a clue about what we’re about. At the same time, many who have no interest in us might click on it, start watching it, and be extremely bored.
  • It’s hard to remember. “The Forbidden Limb” is a made-up phrase that no one has probably ever used before us, so it doesn’t spring to mind when someone is trying to recall the name of their new favorite podcast. If we were the “Two Birds with One Stone” podcast, even though it has nothing to do with our content, people will have a better chance remembering it because they’ve all used the phrase “kill two birds with one stone.”

Why did we choose it in the first place? I started using it a few years ago when I was making YouTube videos on board-game strategy. At the time, I knew nothing about branding. I used it because I thought it sounded unique. It made me imagine what a forbidden limb might look like, or why one might exist. Since I built a small following with it, I thought it would be nice to keep using it and convert some of those “fans” to the new show as an initial foundation. I’m still happy with that decision, but now it’s time to go with something more appropriate. So, ladies and gentlemen, our new name is…. Board Game Business Podcast!

Beyond the podcast, we go through this every time we design or publish a new product at Overworld Games. Once we choose the theme, we need to name it something that is both marketable and appropriate for the feel of the game and our existing product line. For us, having a name that appeals to large retailers is part of our long-term business strategy, so we also consider that before choosing. In our podcast episode on this topic, Jeremy suggested that you ensure that your name makes sense in other languages if you hope to enter into partnerships with international publishers.

We are slightly regretting naming our US Prohibition game “Booze Barons”, because I’m not sure whether a store like Target would carry a product with a slang term for alcohol in the title. During our Kickstarter campaign for it, we asked our previous campaign backers for reasons why they may not back Booze Barons, and a surprising number of them said they didn’t want to play or support an alcohol-related product. You can see in the chart that over 40% stated the theme as one of the reasons they did not intend to back us.

reasons_for_not_backing_bb

 

It’s also important to ensure that the name you choose is not already used by other products or companies in your industry. If it is, you may confuse your customers or get into legal trouble. If someone else has your name trademarked, you need to keep looking for another name. A fantastic way to see if your name is already taken is by going to KnowEm.com. You can use other sites, but I like this one because it checks social media and domain availability as well.

In the end, a name is important, but don’t let it stop you from creating something. When you’re first playing around with an idea, just name it anything and keep moving. Once you know your creation will be sticking around, you can spend more time finding the perfect name. If you chose the wrong one, like we did, it will become clear before long. Then you can change it to something better.

What are some other features of a game’s name that are important to you?

For a deeper discussion on branding, listen to our podcast episode on the topic or watch the video below.

What Makes a Good Theme?

What themes should designers and publishers target for their games? Here are some topics we discuss:

– How important is being family-friendly?
– Considerations for getting into a big box retailer
– Over/Under-used themes

Audio Version: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/FLP029.mp3

Convention Booths

Here we talk about the convention tips we’ve learned over the years, such as:
– tools for running a booth
– good deals on signage for a booth or table
– traffic patterns
– booth tables, chairs, table runners
– options for taking credit cards
– vendor licenses
– booth cover
– health essentials

Podcast/Audio Version: http://traffic.libsyn.com/theforbiddenlimb/FLP024.mp3