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Effective Organization for Revealing Your Game

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Tbone
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Joined: 02/18/2013
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The Example

Learning how to express your ideas effectively is almost more important than the idea itself. If you have this great idea (one that might actually be awesome) but never reveal it, or don’t reveal it with discipline, the only thing you’ve done effectively is kill any chance your game has at success.

BGDF has given me so much exposure to the many different ways of expressing one’s ideas. Some that are awe-inspiring and some that are aw-ful. Here is a structure that I believe will help you organize your thoughts, represent your game, and even help you design with excellence. This is a brief road map to the designing and marketing process of your game here on the forums.

The Why

It is necessary to create an inviting environment rather than an invading environment. You are given the task of organizing your ideas in the most attractive way possible so that even those who don’t necessarily enjoy your theme will feel drawn to invest their time into learn about your game. The key is to gradually and gently guide the lurkers of the forum. Any signs of “HELP ME” or “PLEASE TEST MY GAME” and even “GIVE ME YOUR SUGGESTIONS” will leave a bad taste in the mouth of any potential subscriber. Bellow will be the outline that will help ease people into taking an interest in your game without overloading them with walls of text and cluttered graphics. I don’t promise this will cause an influx of gamers salivating over your design (that depends on the wealth of your idea), but I can say it will at least help in the process of maturing as a designer.

The Outline

I have narrowed it down to seven sights of exposure: Theme, Game Elements, Graphics, Work Bench, Rule Book, Digitize and Play, Print and Play. They should be expressed in this order on your original post. Here is an overview of each:

Theme

This is where you give your punch line, your elevator pitch, whatever you want to call it. This should be everyone’s first experience when exposed to your game. It should accurately and seamlessly include the reason they are playing and the element of tension that keeps them playing. This is theme based, no need for mechanics yet. Whatever you put here should entice them to continue on to the next area of exposure.

Game Elements

These are important and should be in list form of about 5-10 items. You should include what is unique (draw cards by rolling dice, trade with a push your luck element, etc.), necessary (Number of players, estimated time to play, etc.), and attractive (simple design, low AP with high complexity ect.). You may even want to divide these into three groups, but don’t let too much theme clutter the mechanics. This is your biggest asset and your biggest liability. The perfect balance lies between exposing your elements just enough to where they understand and veiling your elements just enough to where they want to learn more. This creates that lovely atmosphere of invitation while still preserving the powerful impact of your idea.

Graphics

For me, right after I get the gist of what the game is about, I want visual stimulation. It is crucial, even before opening the rule book, to let the onlookers fantasize about your game. When they see the different numbers, shapes, symbols, letters, text, they will automatically begin to try and figure out your game without you even showing them a rule book. This is what you want. I suggest though, that you find a way to condense the portfolio of all your graphics to a single link within an online cloud folder. Dropbox, Google Drive, etc. Once they see this, they will itch to figure out what goes where, how this interacts with that, and wonder if this or that is possible. That sense of wonder is what you want to instill in your readers; like any other piece of art.

Work Bench

Yep, not quite to the rules yet, we’ll get there. The work bench is your progress bar. This is where you will show what you have been working on, what you are planning to test, and where you are in the design process. During this exposure, you will begin to open up communication with your readers. Now they are beginning to see the interworking’s of your design and want to know what you’re up to. Make an area specific for what you are testing (will the new resource system work, is there enough tension in combat, etc.), what you have recently added and/or accomplished (new turn structure, streamlined deck creation, etc.), and what you are focusing on in the grand scheme of things (artwork, card layout, prototype, testing etc.). I think it is also important to date each of these. This encourages both accountability (forces you to update at least once a week) and rapport (readers know if you are active) as you walk with potential subscribers. I suggest creating a link to either a document or use any other online source like www.tmdesk.com to hold this information. If for some reason you need to take a break from the design process, let them know here. Fostering a good relationship with your readers is key. Communicating effectively will keep readers loyal to the idea and eventually the game.

Rule Book

Now that you have given a clean introduction to your game, it’s time to give them the full experience. Again, make sure this is also a link so that the wall of text isn’t cluttering the original post. This part is really up to you. There are plenty of resources out there to help you fine tune your rule book. Of course, it’s to your discretion how “polished” the rules are before posting. I would say, before even posting a work in progress thread (it’s okay to ask for help with mechanics or other subsystems of your design in the board game design forum), you should have everything discussed so far to a somewhat presentable state. I know this is quite subjective, but you should include enough where it explains all of the mechanics and graphics shown throughout their exposure to the game. PDF is usually what people want. If readers are required to download something, it’s just another reason to move on to another thread. You are still inviting them, hospitality in any way possible will make it easier for readers to stick with your design. What can I say, people are too lazy and too busy to waste any time.

Digitize and Play

This may not be available to all, but it is a necessary step for easy personal testing and blind testing. You can use things like Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia, and things of the like. From here, the game has now entered a pseudo tactile state where readers can now participate in your game. The readers have become players. What you do inside of these programs is beyond my account. If they have come this far they will already know how your game works and will jump right in. Depending on how well written your rules are, they may have questions. Make sure in this section you have a professionally typed feedback sheet that allows players to give you their perspective. The biggest asset of communication is interacting with different perspectives. With the wealth of knowledge available amongst users on BGDF, you are sure to get perspectives needed to make your game elegant.

Print and Play

The final area is reserved for all the print and play materials which should be compacted into some sort of file or link. When players and readers come here, they have most likely subscribed and are following your progress somewhat regularly. Do note, depending on your game, this might be the most difficult part. Heavier games require more components, resources etc. This might mean you may have to send the prototypes you have created to people who are interested in a prototype. I have never tried this, but I’m sure it would be worth it.

The End

This was just something I have been pondering and decided I was passionate enough about the subject to give my take on game exposure. Plus, I really really like to organize things, you should see my game design folder hierarchy – it’s kind of ridiculous. Anyway, I hope this was useful and instilled some good techniques that can nurture discipline in your tactics of exposing ideas to the public. I know I still need maturation in this regard.

Thank you,

Tbone

Trepid
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Joined: 07/01/2017
Thanks

I just read this post and wish I had read it before posting my thread on The Great Totem. Thank you for taking the time to lay out a structure in writing within the forums.

Tbone
Tbone's picture
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Joined: 02/18/2013
My Pleasure!

I'm glad to be of service. Ideas are important, we have to take good care of them! :D

diamondroller03...
diamondroller0331@gmail.com's picture
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Joined: 06/03/2017
Really Great info

This is great info. I have real trouble conveying my ideas when posting info for games. Really love it...

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