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Worst Demo Attempt Ever

I have been demoing games for a long time for Mayfair Games, ElfinWerks, and occasional others, and I’m fairly good at it. I now have the pleasure of demoing my own game Nitro Dice. Well it’s a pleasure when it goes well at least. This time it didn’t.

I took the game to a local game comic book/game store that has a weekly meet up which draws between 20-30 gamers. With that many players I figure I would have a fair chance at getting players. That was not the case. Seems every one arrived with the intent of playing something particular. There was only one person that showed any interest and I should have known from the start he wasn’t really interested.

The conversation went something like this.

Dude: So it’s a race game. (In a disappointed tone)
Me: Yes, would you like to play?
Dude: What makes it different than other race games?
Me: (Gives the quick overview focusing on the mechanics to hopefully differentiate it from other race games)
Dude: Sounds awful.
Me: Really?
Dude: Don’t you think so?
Me: No.

And that was that. Everyone settled down to play multi hour games so no more opportunities to show the game presented themselves.

I’m sure the guy had no idea it was my game. The question is why would I be showing off a game I thought was awful?

Comments

The guys sound like they were

The guys sound like they were a "particular" kind of gamer. If they were'nt open to ew games then either you did a terrible job of explaining it and should have hyped-it-up a bit more (but from reading your post, I do not believe this is true) or they are the type of gamer that plays what they play and don't care. I like risk. I will play risk. All other games suck. I know risk. Flip it on his head: if he was brought up playing your game (nitro dice: cool title btw) he would ONLY play nitro dice. "Have you heard of Le Havre or Power Grid?" "No...I play nitro dice, Le Havre sounds shit" Could be the same thing.

But at the same time, do take something from it: maybe once identifying "that type" of gamer, you could demo it to them in a different way, perhaps come up with a different genre title for it instead of "race game" - give it a snazzy new title that might interest those certain types, or explain it in a different way.

But look at it also this way: You have made a game and are trying ot promote it, you will always find awful people who detest your game and you always find people who think you're game is magic.

You did a good job at least going to the game-meet buddy, it COULD have been brilliant and you would have found a whole group of customers and the only way you can find out is doing exactly as you're doing.

Tl;dr:
It's gonna' happen like that everynow and then, take it in your stride: you're doing a good job :o)

Thanks

I’m pretty thick skinned after doing this for 8 years. I have had my games exalted and called crap so I didn’t bother me so much that he didn’t like it from the description. I could have hyped it rather than explain the mechanics but looking at it in hindsight it seems that he doesn’t like race games. There is nothing I could do to make it look like anything else. It has a race track and the goal of the game is to complete laps. That’s a race.

Because the mechanics are different from other race games the response usually comes in two flavors. Some people want something new and embrace it while others are looking for a variation on a beloved game they have already played and are less interested.

Because everyone is different you get mixed results. Here are some quotes from BGG that are polar opposites.

“This is a fast playing and dramatic racing game with heavy doses of second guessing.”

“I love racing games, but IMO a racing game MUST play fast. This one doesn't.”

and

“Fun game! It's perhaps a bit on the simple side”

“It's a somewhat slow thinker with more rules and conditions than it seems like it should have.”

As always I forge ahead.

Take the best, leave the rest

Drailus,
Feedback is a tricky fish. All you can do is try to keep positive and true to the spirit of your idea while being open to any ideas that could improve the gameplay. Probably simplistic advice, but just know its something we all struggle with. I know that's what I love most about these forums.
Levi

Empathy...

A few thoughts:

1) Bummer. Sometimes people are like that. Glad to hear that you took it it in stride. I wouldn't expect otherwise.

2) With groups in Austin, I have more success when I announce (on the forum/meetup/mailing list) in advance that I'm looking for playtesters. If you're going to try that venue again, that may be a good path to take.

...um... That's all I've got...

Published

Nitro Dice is published and should be in stores starting the first week of September. I did post on thier forum a few days ahead without any reply and decided to go anyway.

No guts no glory.

8 years in...

you know the game isn't crap from being in the game that long. It might not be to tastes of individuals, but I'm sure it isn't crap.

I thought that only happened to me

Wow, David ... I thought that sort of thing only happened to me. ;-)

-Matt

What about store owners

Dralius wrote:
The conversation went something like this.

Dude: So it’s a race game. (In a disappointed tone)
Me: Yes, would you like to play?
Dude: What makes it different than other race games?
Me: (Gives the quick overview focusing on the mechanics to hopefully differentiate it from other race games)
Dude: Sounds awful.
Me: Really?
Dude: Don’t you think so?
Me: No.

And that was that.

I had a demo scheduled for a Saturday at a local store. I spoke with the owner of the store and we agreed to postpone by one week the actual demo because of a "big" Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament.

Anyhow I went out of my way to print up posters and reminders to be put in would-be buyers bags. After all that effort, I was certain that the demo would have a respectable amount of people attending it.

I showed up on the Saturday and the clerks had no idea there was going to be a demo?! How was it possible? I had agreed to move it to ANOTHER saturday. Well it turns out the owner was on holidays but the store clerk decided to call him up... Turns out they scheduled it for Sunday NOT Saturday... Basically all my posters and little notices were all a waist...

Worst thing of all, on the Saturday there were kids in the store... On Sunday, during my demo time nobody showed up! Sucks really bad.

If it makes you feel better...

... a local guy told me last night that he played Nitro Dice at Gen Con, and that it was awesome.

There's a trick to it that

There's a trick to it that not many people use...

Right after someone says "Sounds awful" or something similar, you stab them with an ice pick. In the eye. this increases the percentage of people in the world who would enjoy your game, and has the side effect of providing you some satisfaction and a fun mini-game of "how do I hide the body". A win-win situation, really.

(Disclaimer: don't do that.)

questccg wrote: Well it

questccg wrote:
Well it turns out the owner was on holidays but the store clerk decided to call him up... Turns out they scheduled it for Sunday NOT Saturday... Basically all my posters and little notices were all a waist...

Worst thing of all, on the Saturday there were kids in the store... On Sunday, during my demo time nobody showed up! Sucks really bad.

I have had some similar happen to me when demoing for Mayfair. Stores are happy to have you as a draw but often they don’t follow through to promote it. No wonder so many go out of business.

sedjtroll wrote:... a local

sedjtroll wrote:
... a local guy told me last night that he played Nitro Dice at Gen Con, and that it was awesome.

Thanks for letting me know.

RE:STORE OWNERS

A lot of these guys just think that if it doesn't make them money then why do it. There's not a whole lot of upside to helping the design community when you think about it in terms of the store, as it's not promoting something they can sell immediately... and what if the game turns out to be horrible?

I think unless you find a store that really knows you as a person and customer or is highly into board games, that sort of interaction is going to be neutral at best.

Promotion can lead to sales/money

Willi B wrote:
I think unless you find a store that really knows you as a person and customer or is highly into board games, that sort of interaction is going to be neutral at best.

Well as a "salesperson" (ugh I hate to admit it - but I am) my goal is to promote the product. IMHO the store's role is to SELL the product. And I don't just mean put it up on a shelf somewhere... What I mean by "SELL" is something like this:

1-They understand who the product is designed for (right age group)
2-They understand the game enough to talk about it (in general terms)
3-They TARGET the right age group: a kid aged 9 comes into the store, they say "We have a game designed JUST FOR YOU!"
4-They TALK about the product to the potential buyer.

Do they have to do this for all their products? No. But my product is locally designed and made... They should MAKE an EXTRA effort to help sell the product. That is what I call "local support", helping a local artist and a local designer.

Not do the opposite and schedule a DEMO when you know NO ONE WILL SHOW UP! As for earning MONEY, my game can sell... It just takes time to get a kid INTERESTED in the game. Most kids who play the game always want to play another game. That's a good sign...

But if nobody PROMOTES/SELLS the game, well it is obvious the game will NOT SELL. People will see the product on a shelf and think they have never heard of Quest Adventure Cards!

That is why I made DEMO "reminders" that the store clerk could PUT IN EVERY BAG SOLD... As a reminder that on such and such day, there will be a demo. That's also why we wait a couple of weeks before doing the demo, to give the chance to the store to PROMOTE our demo.

No matter how well prepared you are (posters, reminders, etc.) the store will always fnck things up and make your effort a total waist of time... But NO DEMO = NO SALES. People NEED to PLAY the game and have fun doing so. If they play and have fun, they MAY buy the product... They MAY tell a friend about the game. They MAY want to play it with their friends.

A grassroots initiative sounds great - but in my experience rarely things work out. The alternative is finding a source for DISTRIBUTION and having the distributor's sales force SELL the product to their customers. BUT again, I don't think they even do that?!

My ideas of distribution sales is "calling" the customer to tell them: "We have a new product LOCALLY MADE and DESIGNED that we think KIDS will LOVE to play." That to a store owner translates to "KIDS WILL BUY THIS PRODUCT". Or "I will make money selling this product..."

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