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Unexpected orders. What to do?

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coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008

Hi!

I've designed a game. One more. But something weird is going on with this one.

I've made 5 prototypes for my playtesters and the game has been an instant hit. Even my wife is asking me to play all the time (this is rare, because she hates board games and she doesn't want to play any of my games).

I've sent the rulebook to a large (very) german publisher and they immediately asked for a prototype. They've received it a few days ago. They are 'very' interested.

Everythig great by now, but...

I've started receiving 'orders' from friends and relatives of my playtesters!

The game is a deck of cards plus a few tokens kept into a plastic zip bag. It costs me around 15€ ($18.00) to make one, plus the time spent on making the tokens and rounding the cards' corners (around half an hour). So if I sell it for 20€ I'm not making any money, and I don't have the time to do so.

And now what should I do? Should I make a few prototypes and sell them? Should I try a small print run (very expensive)? Should I tell the publisher about this? Should I keep the game secret until I get a response from the publisher?

Thank you.

dnjkirk
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Tell them!

Tell the publisher. Always tell the publisher. Tell them everything.

Then ask them how long it will take them to make up their mind, because if they don't want it, you're going to go to Carta Mundi and place an order for 5000 units and let history take its course :) haha.

bluesea
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Joined: 07/28/2008
One word: leverage. You have

One word: leverage.
You have it. Use it wisely.

Also consider this: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/380102/page/1

InvisibleJon
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Gratitude, appreciation, and honesty.

coco wrote:
And now what should I do? Should I make a few prototypes and sell them? Should I try a small print run (very expensive)? Should I tell the publisher about this? Should I keep the game secret until I get a response from the publisher?
I would thank my playtesters for their enthusiasm, let them know that there's a publisher who is very interested in the game, and that they should be able to purchase a professionally-produced copy of the game in the future. I'd mention that making the games is very labor intensive and fairly expensive, and that I have other things that take priority over making additional prototypes (like ensuring that the game gets picked up by a publisher).

Oh, and congratulations on making such a successful game! Once it's out, please let us know what it is.

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
Congrats coco!

That's all I have to say. I wish you the best with this game. I am not sure of how secret you should keep it. I have read that puting an idea in public domain can help protect it infact.

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
I'm with the folks saying to

I'm with the folks saying to just ask your playtesters to hold tight, it's how playtesting works.

And Magician, no, putting it in the public domain removes all protection. Maybe you mean showing it publicly to try to generate prior art, but I see no reason for that here. Or, really, in most any situation.

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
MatthewF wrote:I'm with the

MatthewF wrote:
I'm with the folks saying to just ask your playtesters to hold tight, it's how playtesting works.

And Magician, no, putting it in the public domain removes all protection. Maybe you mean showing it publicly to try to generate prior art, but I see no reason for that here. Or, really, in most any situation.

Thank you for clearifying that Matthew! May you clearify it for me in more detail to eliminate any misinterpretation I may have about this? I think this is a question that we should get real clear about....we game inventors.

Darkehorse
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Joined: 07/21/2008
Honestly

I don't see the harm in providing your 'playtesters' with a 'prototype' for them to play. Also consider that if it does get picked up, then it may take 2 or more years before it actually hits the shelves. Most publishers already have their 2009 release schedule set, so we're talking minimum 2010, unless the publisher is EXTREMELY flexible with what they publish.

The more people that see the prototype, the more buzz it will create. Of course, once the publisher agrees to publish it, you should probably cease any further sales. A couple copies for your friends/playtesters should be fine. Just don't advertise publicly that you are doing it. I think common sense should prevail in this situation.

-Darke

P.S. When will my copy be ready? =)

InvisibleJon
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How much is your time worth per hour?

Darkehorse wrote:
I don't see the harm in providing your 'playtesters' with a 'prototype' for them to play.
I agree that there isn't harm in letting other people play with the prototypes. My concern is with sinking the time into making the prototypes, and setting a precedent of making high-quality prototypes on demand. I've found that game designers (myself included) often forget to include time costs in the cost of things like high-quality prototypes. Given that the materials alone cost $18, and assume a modest hourly wage of... $15 (?), and 30 minutes to make a copy, then the actual cost of the prototype is $25.50.

My point? Distributing prototypes isn't a bad thing, but if I as in that position, I'd want to spend my time doing other things, like making new games, refining the game I have, and making contact with other publishers.

Darkehorse wrote:
The more people that see the prototype, the more buzz it will create. Of course, once the publisher agrees to publish it, you should probably cease any further sales.
I agree with both of these points.

I think the decision that need to be made is if he *wants* to make the prototypes. If so, then go ahead. If it's a hassle, then politely decline and let them know why not.

The Magician
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Joined: 12/23/2008
Darkehorse wrote:I don't see

Darkehorse wrote:
I don't see the harm in providing your 'playtesters' with a 'prototype' for them to play. Also consider that if it does get picked up, then it may take 2 or more years before it actually hits the shelves. Most publishers already have their 2009 release schedule set, so we're talking minimum 2010, unless the publisher is EXTREMELY flexible with what they publish.

The more people that see the prototype, the more buzz it will create. Of course, once the publisher agrees to publish it, you should probably cease any further sales. A couple copies for your friends/playtesters should be fine. Just don't advertise publicly that you are doing it. I think common sense should prevail in this situation.

-Darke

P.S. When will my copy be ready? =)

This is great clarity. Hat's off to coco for creating such a good game. I am facing questions about my own project that perhaps I will only be able to distribute it as a prototype that I create until I can generate enough clear interest that a print run would be workable. I have many enthusiastic playtesters, but my prospects don't go into the thousands. I know some people really like my idea. Any advice would be greatly appeciated. I do not have the space in my life to create games beyond my original intent that I have set forth that I have shared. My creative plate is so full right now to be full fledged game designer.
Thanks in advance!

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
I've declined making the prototypes

dnjkirk wrote:
Tell the publisher. Always tell the publisher. Tell them everything.

I've just done it. I'll get a response later this week.

I've declined making the prototypes by now and explained my situation to my 'costumers' (no time, publisher testing). But the main reason I've decided not to make them is that it is not a creative activity. As designers we want to create, not to manufacture. Right?

Anyway, wish me luck. I hope I'm not creating too much expectations for nothing ;-)

Please, please, please, please, please, please, please, please...

JB
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Joined: 02/06/2009
If it were me I'd sell the

If it were me I'd sell the prototypes for fifty euro. They're handmade afterall, and any history of sales will get you more leverage with the publisher.

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Another german publisher

Another german publisher have just asked for a prototype!

Any ideas of what should I do now?

Thank you!

MatthewF
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Joined: 07/22/2008
Of the same game? Wait for

Of the same game? Wait for the first one to make a proposal. If you supply a copy to another publisher while one is reviewing it, you might well get a better deal in the end (or help ensure that you do get a deal of some kind), but your reputation with those publishers will be tarnished.

Tell the second publisher that it's currently under review by another publisher, but that you'll certainly send them a prototype if you don't make a deal with the first one. It's business, and they understand the realities of this. Mostly.

Hedge-o-Matic
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Joined: 07/30/2008
I'd agree that having them

I'd agree that having them wait is the way to go. Making hand-made editions is an awful chore, and not worth it at almost any reasonable price. I once made a copy of one of my games for about $100, and it wasn't worth the hassle, really.

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Qualified agreement...

MatthewF wrote:
Of the same game? Wait for the first one to make a proposal.
...
It's business, and they understand the realities of this. Mostly.
I agree. I would only do otherwise if it was clear that the first publisher was not interested in the game, or was taking longer to make an offer than was reasonable. In that case, I would let my contact at the first publisher know that there as a second publisher interested in the prototype, and ask the first publisher to make an offer or pass. In other words: I'd give the first publisher fair warning before moving past them.

From what I've heard, it sounds like your first publisher is serious and interested, so you're probably in good shape. As long as you get a fair contract with them, you're probably good to go.

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Name of the publisher

Thank you all for your opinions.

I've told both publishers about the situation without giving the name of the 'other' publisher. But this way they can think that I'm lying. Should I tell them the names of each other?

Katherine
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Joined: 07/24/2008
you should go with your

you should go with your instinct coco.

If you do name names, they might think you are trying to play one of against the other. If you don't, then they may think you are lying. If either publisher reads bgdf they will know the truth of it anyway.

coco
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Joined: 07/27/2008
News

Hi!

The game was rejected by the first publisher because of the age range. I admit I forced it a bit to '6 and up', but '8 and up' is more accurate. They are evaluating a minor change I've done to the rules to accomodate younger players. This could be an interesting topic (age ranges).

So now a new prototype is being tested by the other publisher.

After all this, I've decided to go ahead with the orders and print a small run of around 10 high quality prototypes with Guild of Blades POD service plus a local laser cutter to make the tokens. I simply cannot say 'no' to my 'costumers'. I will accept ANY order from now on. I'm an author. I want my games to be played.

Néstor

InvisibleJon
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Joined: 07/27/2008
Making people happy...

coco wrote:
I've decided to go ahead with the orders and print a small run of around 10 high quality prototypes with Guild of Blades POD service plus a local laser cutter to make the tokens. I simply cannot say 'no' to my 'costumers'. I will accept ANY order from now on. I'm an author. I want my games to be played.
And there you have it. Take a look at what you want, what it takes to get you there, and if you want to do what it takes to get there. It sounds like you're going to make quite a few people very happy. Congratulations!

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