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Observations about changes in game distribution (and publishing)

At GenCon I attended several seminars about game publishing and game distribution. I’m not intending to self publish games, though I will self-publish some books, but I am interested in distribution in connection with selecting a publisher for the new edition of Britannia. A designer negotiating contracts needs to know how games are sold. So I’m not an expert about this compared with an experienced publisher. But I think I can tell you enough to make this interesting. I knew most of this before I went to GenCon but still we can call it “what I learned about game distribution and publishing at GenCon”.

How to be taken seriously by publishers (more cautionary advice)

After “Seven Years and a Million Dollars” I want to talk about how you, as an aspiring hobby tabletop game publisher, can help yourself to be taken seriously by game publishers. While you’re important to your self, your family, and your friends, to a game publisher you’re no different than hundreds of other people who think they have games worth publishing, most of whom are wrong.

Comparing this year’s game conventions

This is not a “convention report,” because I don’t care about many of the events at conventions such as the Origins Awards, and I didn’t bother to attend the really big D&D Next event at GenCon, and I don’t much care about the latest new games. I’m interested in certain aspects of things and that’s what I’m going to talk about.

Generalization about four conventions: GenCon is a story convention - not just story in games. WBC and PrezCon are wargame cons. Origins is a non-story, mostly non-wargame, game con.

"Seven years and a million dollars"

Here's the kind of really sad story you can hear sometimes from novice designers. At one of the game design/game publishing seminars at GenCon, right at the end, someone raised his hand and said he and a group of friends had been working on a game for seven years, and it was a great game, and they had spent over seven years and a million dollars developing it including paying Marvel comic artists to do the art; and how could he get to talk to Fantasy Flight Games about it? The three panelists were taken aback – if I wrote in contemporary style I would say they were "stunned" – and said nothing for a moment.

Choosing a title for a game design book

My author copies of my book, “Game Design: How to Create Video and Tabletop Games, Start to Finish", arrived today - it was printed a little early. I don't know when it will reach pre-order folks. http://bit.ly/MSRs8e .

So it's a good time for the following:

As with game titles, book titles are determined by the publisher, not by the author. All things marketing are the province of the publisher and the title is part of marketing. So the author or designer can suggest titles but he or she does not have the final say.

Being a good listener

Many years ago as I was part of the questioning panel in on a job interview for a computer support position, a candidate was asked a typical question: what are the three most important characteristics for this job and how do you rate in those characteristics? This first reply was “I’m a good listener”.

July 2012 Miscellany

Thoughts about some game-related topics that are not long enough for separate blog posts.

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If you're into twitter, and game design, Reiner Knizia is worth following. https://twitter.com/ReinerKnizia. Many of his tweets are attempts to encapsulate his experience.

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I see that GenCon now charges a base price of $2 per event--but not for seminars

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Commercially viable game designs versus personally satisfying designs

I go to a college game club during the academic year. Recently a couple of the college students have designed their own games and brought them to playtest at the club. One of these is the past president, now a graduate student, who’s been working on games for several years and so it wasn’t surprising. His game that’s a combination of deck building and lots of dice rolling is quite popular. The other is more of a surprise, a 19-year-old woman who had not seemed very serious about games, who’s full of life and enthusiasm about all kinds of things, yet who buckled down and designed games.

Six words about chance/randomness in games

According to tweetdeck, one of the trending:worldwide topics on twitter not so long ago was six word stories. In the past several months I've asked people to say six words about game design, programming, wargames, stories in games, casual games, innovation (and plagiarism) in games, and zombie games.

This time the challenge is this: say six (interesting or amusing) words about chance/randomness in games.

Game Rules are a Pain in the "Watukas"

Here is an example of how a simple misunderstanding in the rules can break a game.

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by Dr. Radut