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How do you design?

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krone9
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So I'm very new to designing boardgames - working on my first one at the moment but I am starting to form a process so I thought I'd share. Hopefully some of the grizzled old veterans out there can guide a noob like myself around easier ways, pitfalls - or just tell me about different ways.

Stage 1 - compile a list of themed comments. This is literally just a set of notes of things that I think are important to the game and that come up randomly as I walk about.

Stage 2 - write the game sequence in a google doc. This is typically balanced to what I want the players to spend the most time in the game doing. Eg its no good if I write a trading game and most of the time is spent moving around the board, or spent doing things as an individual - it should be about the interaction.

Stage 3 - define the draft components - how many and what they need to do. Eg if cards, then they might have stats, artwork, text. All goes into another tab on the google doc.

Stage 4 - Look at where I can simplify unnecessary complexity - do a pass through the doc

Stage 5 - cost up on Gamecrafter to see if its financially viable (roughly) and keep thinking about where I can simplify.

Stage 6 - handwritten prototype using blank counters, dice. Playtest this with my co designer and anyone who visits who is nice enough to agree. Scribble on cards/update google doc with tweaks.

Stage 7 - find artist and define artwork needs - minimum to play and game to be acceptable, minimum for kickstarter, maximum I'd like if the artist was free or I had all the money in the world.

Stage 8 - rough prototype using printed cards, counters with permanent marker. Playtest this with my codesigner and set up blind tests.

Stage 9 - Review feedback and final tweaks

Stage 10 - Artwork - minimum level for kickstarter commissioned

Stage 11 - Kick off Kickstarter

krone9
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I've stopped at Stage 11 as

I've stopped at Stage 11 as I'm only at Stage 8 at the moment so just learning about later stages

How do you design?

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:working on my

krone9 wrote:
working on my first one

Please don't take this as a discouragement.

I recommend to not put potential publishing, component costs etc on the agenda when developing your first game. Concentrate on making the game as good as you can, learn from the experience and then make another one. Then another one. There's this famous quote "Your first ten games will suck — so get them out of the way fast."

I've recently uncovered a google-doc spreadsheet for a game I was designing 8 years ago. It was a completed game, play-tested by many of my friends and very well received.

There was no kickstarter back then and I seriously considered contacting a publisher regarding this game. Luckily I never did.

Looking at it now, the game screams "new designer" on every step. The idea was solid, and a decent game can be made out of it, but at that point I simply lacked experience.

Daggaz
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1. get an idea for a game,

1. get an idea for a game, maybe its a theme, maybe is a method of optimizing and existing game core for things you see as problems

0. (you should do this first but lots of people end up doing it later. do it sooner than that.) read as much material as you can online about game design theory, production process, etc, etc, etc. there are a ton of resources, lots of online forums like this one, extremely good blogs, and a few books on theory available on open pdf.

2. write out a whole bunch of ideas in a notebook, playing around with ideas in your head, trying to connect the dots between theme and mechanics. you want to kill any definitely bad ideas here, but leave room for growth and change. there should be a lot of both.

3. get some of the most basic components made in a rough prototype form. cardboard chits, recycled monopoly money and hotels, whatever you need. start working through your core mechanics ON THE TABLE. i dont care how smart you are or how well you thought your system through, there will be things you did not foresee and many of them will potentially break your game as you first envisioned it.

4. start to consolidate your game into a well defined, consistent set of mechanics, theme, and rules. at this point you want to start a log in your notebook that has much more organisation than just random brainstorming. write the rules down. explain all the thematic and mechanistic considerations. identify your priority areas for work.

5. build a slightly better prototype. it should start to look more like what you want the game to look like, and less like a pile of random junk. start working on your game, doing solo or 1 on 1 "playthroughs" as you flesh out your priority areas and identify new problems or areas for improvement. log every single change or problem or solution down in your notebook.

6. rinse and repeat. your game should start to evolve towards a workable system at this point. if you kept up with step 0, you have avoided some major pitfalls and have had some goals to aim for during the entire processs.

7. you now have a "game" that has the rules, the pieces and components, everything you need to play. start getting it play-tested in groups if you havent already. first with friends (more willing to playtest broken mechanics), then with strangers or acquaintances at various venues. listen to their comments and criticism, fix anything that is obviously broken, but dont let them run your game direction, its your game.

8. polish your game up, and get it blind tested. be prepared for pain.

9. reconsider your options for publishing

10 start that process

krone9
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definitely not discouraging -

definitely not discouraging - in all honesty I am enjoying the process. If I never got a game out, I have had significant fun just developing the ideas and playing around. If nothing else, its given me a great excuse to spend time with my codesigner and talk rubbish over endless cups of tea :)

however...

the reason I put the costs in there fairly early on is that I've started 2-3 game designs in the past (some on Game Crafter that I'd forgotten about!) and found that the first ones were wildly ambitious in terms of component pieces, and the costs were astronomical. Having backed a kickstarter with ridiculous costs (Sword & Sorcery - don't judge me - it will arrive at some point I'm sure...)I know people will back high cost games but I'm not brave enough to do a miniatures game yet.

What looking at costs did however do was help me think about what I want in the box versus what I need. Even how big a box I want to have! I'm trying to stick to a Medium box for a variety of reasons:
1. I'm modelling this game on successful previous kickstarters I've backed/seen - because then I can take learnings and assumptions that some things definitely worked for them
2. Keeping the components limited to what fits in that box makes me think very hard about mechanics and simplifying play - I've deliberately taken out certain "easy" answers because it added more components, and that made the game tighter and better for it. Looking back these were definite improvements that I might not have made had I had no cost/space pressure to think about
3. I do have a soft spot for certain massive games with huge expansions (hey I bought all of Descent - the good version) but I also like the efficiency of a great game in a medium box where the elegance is in the design and it doesn't take up half a bookshelf. Big enough to be pretty, small enough to be easily stored is what I'm aiming for.
4. Overall cost - I wanted to hit a cost of about $24.99 for the first few games I do until I build a successful reputation (or not) and can justify asking people for more money

Can I ask you - if you don't mind sharing - what were the things from your first design that screamed "new designer"? The obvious things that looking back , you would never do now?

(also thanks Daggaz - I think I may steal your list instead)

krone9
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Daggaz wrote: 3. get some of

Daggaz wrote:

3. get some of the most basic components made in a rough prototype form. cardboard chits, recycled monopoly money and hotels, whatever you need. start working through your core mechanics ON THE TABLE. i dont care how smart you are or how well you thought your system through, there will be things you did not foresee and many of them will potentially break your game as you first envisioned it.

this is really interesting to me. I don't work my mechanics out like that I am finding. I think about what I want the game to do eg my Gladiator-style game, Ludus Magnus, I wanted the game to be a build up to a dramatic fight sequence that occurs throughout the game, supported by bidding/interaction between rivals and a sense of loss if a star gladiator is killed but not so much that it destroys the game for you.

So I basically define a Theme first, then a Mission based on that theme - and the mechanics are designed to deliver on that Mission. I tweak them as I go. I could never do it backwards, working out the mechanics first - I'd never know where to start or find the enthusiasm to do it.

As an example - I knew I wanted an auction mechanic in the Gladiator game but that has been tweaked and tweaked over time to get the level of interaction and keep it on theme. When I did my first ugly playtest though it was just "an auction" and playing it through helped define how it work.

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote: Can I ask you -

krone9 wrote:

Can I ask you - if you don't mind sharing - what were the things from your first design that screamed "new designer"? The obvious things that looking back , you would never do now?

Basic mistakes. Over-reliance on "take that". Effects like "skip a turn".
Some balancing issues. I just look at that game and want to fix like 95% of it :)
It just seems very raw to me now. Unfinished. It somehow was fun anyway though.

Rick L
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krone9 wrote:this is really

krone9 wrote:

this is really interesting to me. I don't work my mechanics out like that I am finding. I think about what I want the game to do eg my Gladiator-style game, Ludus Magnus, I wanted the game to be a build up to a dramatic fight sequence that occurs throughout the game, supported by bidding/interaction between rivals and a sense of loss if a star gladiator is killed but not so much that it destroys the game for you.

So I basically define a Theme first, then a Mission based on that theme - and the mechanics are designed to deliver on that Mission. I tweak them as I go. I could never do it backwards, working out the mechanics first - I'd never know where to start or find the enthusiasm to do it.

This is generally my process as well, although every game idea I've had has started in different places. These lists are great, although I don't think there's anything wrong with rearranging the order of it works better for you!

If you're a game designer at heart, you've probably "designed" various types of games or variations on games all your life. No reason you can't count those as your stepping stones to a masterpiece! I've made games since I was a pre-teen. I was GM for all our Robotech RPG sessions through High school, creating scenarios along with it. While serving as a missionary in Ecuador, I came up with variations with uno cards to kill some of the down time when we didn't have teaching visits - I even drew a grid on a bed sheet and used 4 packs of poker cards to create an air/naval battle game to play with the other missionaries!

In my early 30's, I created tons of airsoft BB gun battle scenarios, including overnight camps with night vision and lasers. Lately, I've come up with cool variations of board games, including combining Elder Sign with Settlers of Catan Cities and Knights.

Finally, I started thinking of things that frustrated me in some games, and what I'd do differently. Then I applied that to some mechanics I liked, and thought through some themes that appealed to me until I decided which fit my other concepts best.

You can design games purely as a hobby - publication doesn't have to be the ultimate goal. My current project is about 50/50 of each - when it's ready, I want to enter it into contests, but doubt I'll try to sell it or Kick Start it if it doesn't receive any recognition. But I sure have enjoyed the process, and whether it's ever published or not, it will still be (when I'm ready to stop tweaking it) my own masterpiece of creative art.

Note: referring to my artistic design of the game, not the borrowed art for the prototype lol!

P.S. I didn't even mention how I used scripting in map editors in video games to create automated scenarios (anyone ever play Joint Ops?) - there are a lot of things to draw from when you start designing a new board or card game!

questccg
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Game IDEA first

I usually spend MONTHS and sometimes YEARS with a "Game Design IDEA". Often it's a question of focus and inspiration. The IDEA becomes a priority and I find myself thinking more and more about it... as I do other activities.

But it's still an IDEA. If I feel it's good, I'll start a TEXT document and journal my present day concepts. That usually gives me a starting point so that I can refer to my IDEA is a concrete fashion.

Then comes a long phase about thinking HOW the game should play: what are the components, what types of cards are there, how do players interact with each other, etc. That usually helps refine the idea into something I can actually play.

The next phase is developing a prototype and playtesting the game. This is where 90% of my ideas DIE. Most IDEAS sound great but usually have some kind of flaw in them once I start playtesting the prototype. Things like: the game is too simple, not enough player interaction, the game is not challenging enough, etc. Something, one way or the other, makes it that the prototype does not live up to the expectations of the game's idea.

And that's where most of my "Game Ideas" land up. A worthless prototype of a game that isn't FUN enough for me to play and judged unworthy of pursuing more time on the development of the Game Idea.

I am much more stoic about my designing ... and good ideas get shelved all the time. Often when I work on a NEW design idea, I sometimes try to include aspects of other designs that were "interesting" (and try to form a more complex type of game - by borrowing pieces from other ideas...)

Cheers.

polyobsessive
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Playtesting and iteration

My process is generally to have an idea and mull it over in my head for a while. If the idea is still there and nagging at my brain after that time (the period varies from hours to months) I try to figure out a way to put together a scrappy, hand made prototype of some small part of the game, then try it out solo.

If I'm still interested at this point, I may iterate over the scrappy proto a few times, adding some stuff each time before playing solo, or I may start work on a slightly better prototype.

If I have a victim/playtester available who is likely to not resent me for trying a complete piece of crud on them, I'll try to get them to play it, either at the scrappy prototype stage or later, depending on how things go.

I generally start making notes on the rules fairly early, and this evolves into a rules document over the first few iterations.

I usually put together a "print and play" prototype pretty early (cards made using nanDECK) and revise and reprint these as appropriate, along with the rules. I probably still don't have a full size game, but each iteration moves towards it.

When I feel I have something that at least looks like a playable game I start considering getting bigger playtests done, either with a group of friends locally who help me out from time to time, or at a Playtest UK meetup to get feedback from other designers.

From then on it's just keep iterating: playtest, analyse results, revise the rules and/or prototype, test again... Some revisions add, some take away.

Eventually decide that a design is in a state where I can pitch it to publishers, or I shelve it.

I don't worry about procuring art because I don't want to self publish. For me, Kickstarter is right out!

let-off studios
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Fellow Designers

I won't add much to the stages/lists already here, but I also recommend that you meet up, face-to-face, with other tabletop game designers. Host or attend game design meetups or socials, so that not only your own game designs are played/critiqued/developed, but you can learn more thoroughly from other designers: how they approach the design process, how they solve problems, their trouble-shooting and tweaking techniques, and so on. Seeing another designer and learning how they work, first-hand, is a valuable experience.

I'm fortunate to personally have a group of active game designers - a handful of whom are professionally-published and/or employed in the industry - that I visit with at least once a month. We play each others' prototypes and generally have a great time bouncing ideas off one another and develop our skills after receiving realistic critique.

Find other designers and "latch on to them." That's what I recommend.

tikey
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Well, I'm a complete amateur

Well, I'm a complete amateur at board game design, but I am an industrial designer so I'm using pretty much the same process, which can be summed up as: RESEARCH -> IDEATION -> DEVELOPMENT -> PRODUCTION
With a lot of back and forth between phases.
I'm mostly a theme guy so I start reasearching about the subject, so for example, let's say that I want to make a sci fi game about first contact with alien races. I'll read about that, scientific ideas, sci fi novels and stories, watch star trek, and stuff like that. From all of that I'll take notes and try to identify and categorize elements that can be thought of as relevant. There's almost no filter here, I try to learn as much of the subject as I can in a reasonable time frame (we all need deadlines to get things done). I get everything written down as it can be usefull down the line.
I'm talking about theme now but you can do pretty much the same about a mechanic, trying to see where it has been used, derivatives and the like.
Then the ideation phase is where I first define the game. Is it going to be silly or serious, short, heavy? I set the goals and mood of the game and try variations, maybe it doesn't work as a serious game but it does as a silly short party game. I treat games as experiences so I try to define what kind of experience I want to achieve. Once that's settled I see which mechanics are better suited for that end. How do they interact, what elements are going to be needed.
This leads directly to the development wich is prototype and playtest heavy. It's about failing early and often, the idea is to lock down the core mechanics first, having a playable game that's fun before adding complementary mechanics or making some of those more deep. This is the longest phase and it's easy to get forever stuck there as there's always something else to improve or to change. You have to know when to wrap thing up. Then there's the production phase that I've never reached in board game design but it would be the moment where you close on the details, aesthetics, graphic and parts, design. This I guess you'll do it with a publisher because you need to know the production capabilities and how many units are going to be produced in order to select the production technology that's better suited for the project.

From looking at the responses here I see that most people are working on very similar workflows, so it shows that the design process is quite universal.

ssm
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krone9 wrote: 4. Overall cost

krone9 wrote:

4. Overall cost - I wanted to hit a cost of about $24.99 for the first few games I do until I build a successful reputation (or not) and can justify asking people for more money

What cost at $24.99? Your cost? Manufacturing cost? Retail cost? How much a backer will pay to get a copy?

If retail price, the cost will need to be $5-$7 per.

questccg
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On-demand vs. China

ssm wrote:
What cost at $24.99? Your cost? Manufacturing cost? Retail cost? How much a backer will pay to get a copy?

If retail price, the cost will need to be $5-$7 per.

Well you can use "Print on-demand" services such as "The Game Crafter" (TGC) and put out a game for $19.99 + $5.00 profit. So you can still make games, invest nothing and see how those games sell.

If you're talking about getting it made in China, then you are correct: for $5.00 manufacturing and freight - if you want to RETAIL at $24.99. If it's a card game with some parts, like dice, wooden markers, winks, etc. you can certainly achieve that price point (Could be like $3.50 + $1.50 freight).

But for sure you can self-publish via TGC (http://www.thegamecrafter.com) and AdMagic (http://www.printplaygames.com) a couple of the bigger players in the print on-demand.

gpetersen
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Kickstarter

Quote:
Stage 10 - Artwork - minimum level for kickstarter commissioned

Stage 11 - Kick off Kickstarter

There's so much preparation and expertise that goes into a successful kickstarter. Publishing isn't an afterthought to game design, it's a full-time job.

I'm of the opinion that new game designers shouldn't self-publish. The constraint of having to get accepted by an established publisher forces new designers to keep iterating until they have something marketable.

ElKobold
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.

(del please)

krone9
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questccg wrote:I usually

questccg wrote:
I usually spend MONTHS and sometimes YEARS with a "Game Design IDEA".

You're not the first person to say that. I personally would struggle doing someting over such a long time period. I have a very obsessive personality that when I latch onto something, I REALLY latch onto it and I've learned to make the most of this to get a large amount of work done whilst my focus is there. I'm also getting pretty good at finding ways to keep my focus (eg a codesigner really helps to bring me back when I start finding new shiny things)

questccg wrote:

The next phase is developing a prototype and playtesting the game. This is where 90% of my ideas DIE. Most IDEAS sound great but usually have some kind of flaw in them once I start playtesting the prototype.

Yeah - have found similar - I'd even go so far as to say ALL ideas so far have massive flaws but you work through them (because the theme and overall idea is still a good one). Some are easier than others - so I don't feel too much guilt about leaving the ones that are making my head hurt! I'm still very attached to my first game idea but the flaw there is that the cost of artwork will be extremely high so I am parking until I've succcessfully launched something smaller.

re pricing - yeah - since posting the original post I've found the same thing. My tactic is still the same - price on The GameCrafter because I like the community there, and I'd like to support it by using for prototypes. If I can get it to make a small amount of profit there then I should be ok getting it made in China, I guess. I've now got 2-3 chinese manufacturers lined up with detailed quotes from each for a few different things so getting there...

gpetersen wrote:
There's so much preparation and expertise that goes into a successful kickstarter. Publishing isn't an afterthought to game design, it's a full-time job.

I'm of the opinion that new game designers shouldn't self-publish. The constraint of having to get accepted by an established publisher forces new designers to keep iterating until they have something marketable.


I'm going to try both routes (one game on each) to learn about the process. Certainly there's a chunk of work there from what I've seen from initial research - any tips on specifics?

radioactivemouse
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My first game...

My first game went through a legitimate publisher and I never thought of going through Kickstarter...you have to BE a business in order to do a KS campaign...product quality is just the beginning; there's graphic design, rules writing, component printing/shopping, component proofs, box design/art, distribution plans, assembly issues, marketing, which includes conventions/FLGS/online outlets, website design/maintenance, testing schedules. blind testing...I can go on. Each of these things alone will DEMAND your time and if you're developing WHILE you're running the KS, you'll find yourself sacrificing development time for time pushing the product.

If you do it, you'll need a team and people that have had experience in KS to help guide you.

It's an endeavor that you'll need a TON of information of before you go that route. In some cases, it's better to go through one investor because having to please all your backers is a far more daunting task than impressing a single entity.

I guess I'm jaded because I see tons of failed board game kickstarters...primarily because it's such a low barrier of entry and the act of these people going at this without the right information (and failing) only serves to water down the legitimate and quality projects.

...and it's painfully obvious to spot amateur projects.

I'm not discouraging you from doing the Kickstarter...I just agree with ElKobold in advising to learn how to create a quality game first before going to KS.

krone9
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radioactivemouse wrote:My

radioactivemouse wrote:
My first game went through a legitimate publisher and I never thought of going through Kickstarter...you have to BE a business in order to do a KS campaign...product quality is just the beginning; there's graphic design, rules writing, component printing/shopping, component proofs, box design/art, distribution plans, assembly issues, marketing, which includes conventions/FLGS/online outlets, website design/maintenance, testing schedules. blind testing...I can go on. Each of these things alone will DEMAND your time and if you're developing WHILE you're running the KS, you'll find yourself sacrificing development time for time pushing the product.

If you do it, you'll need a team and people that have had experience in KS to help guide you.

It's an endeavor that you'll need a TON of information of before you go that route. In some cases, it's better to go through one investor because having to please all your backers is a far more daunting task than impressing a single entity.

I guess I'm jaded because I see tons of failed board game kickstarters...primarily because it's such a low barrier of entry and the act of these people going at this without the right information (and failing) only serves to water down the legitimate and quality projects.

...and it's painfully obvious to spot amateur projects.

I'm not discouraging you from doing the Kickstarter...I just agree with ElKobold in advising to learn how to create a quality game first before going to KS.

:)

Thanks for the advice.

The issues I have with going through a traditional publisher is the giving up of control. There are significant advantages to that route - no doubt - but they do come at a cost and it would be foolish to shy away from that.

Personally I'm engaged in this for a variety of reasons, but one of them is the business aspect and I do believe you only really learn by "doing".

Your list of KS requirements isn't a bad one - from my poor novice perspecctive based on what I've read - but neither is it insurmountable with some dedication, some personal funds and the ambition and passion to see a project through.

So I'm aiming to do both routes as I should learn a ton doing so - assuming I can interest a publisher of course!

Incidentally I'd appreciate any guidance and pointers along the way - particularly from people who've gone down this road before. You mention it being obvious in how you can spot amateur projects - I'd love to hear some typical "gotchas" you can share?

Currently working on the website - forgive me as its very much WIP - but you can see the current top tier of games we're working on here:
http://www.motleysprue.com
At the moment its teasers only but more content will be added shortly

Please do sign up to the newsletter if you're interested in seeing how that journey progresses. The big push at the moment is preparing for the UK Game Expo in June. I thought what better motivation than to book a stand, place an advert - whilst we're not going to have 100% finished games there, we are aiming for 2 late stage prototypes, 2 mid stage and some early ideas. That pressure does tend to focus the mind!

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:You mention it

krone9 wrote:
You mention it being obvious in how you can spot amateur projects - I'd love to hear some typical "gotchas" you can share?

I can answer this one.

Art design is the first give-away.

krone9
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in what way? Do you mean the

in what way? Do you mean the design language, the illustration quality, card layout? What specifically are tell tale signs of "amateur projects" in terms of art design in each of these?

(I can have a guess but I've only been at this 3 months so I'd prefer to hear from the experts)

Any examples you can talk to would be amazing - feel free to critique anything of mine, I'd love the feedback!

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:in what way? Do

krone9 wrote:
in what way? Do you mean the design language, the illustration quality, card layout?

All of it. Or some. In most cases you can tell by just looking at the preview thumbnail.

krone9 wrote:

(I can have a guess but I've only been at this 3 months so I'd prefer to hear from the experts)

I`m no expert. I've only ran one campaign.

krone9 wrote:

Any examples you can talk to would be amazing - feel free to critique anything of mine, I'd love the feedback!

Sure. All four of your games have amateur level art.
(Btw, I'd recommend picking the "best" of the four, and focus on that one)

I`m not an artist. I can't tell you what exactly is wrong. But I usually can tell "professional" art from the one done by an amateur (and so do most backers).

krone9
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With all due respect... Your

With all due respect...

Your advice isn't very helpful. Its just negative without being constructive. Perhaps that's not your intention which is why I keep asking leading questions to try and encourage you to add more.

I'll let my(professional, respected) artist know you think his work isn't good enough. Its had pretty good feedback so far from friends, other artists, other designers - both people I know and people I don't so whilst I'm not precious and appreciate all feedback, I'm not sure how much credence to give your comments. Can you link me to your Kickstarter campaign so I can see what "good" looks like in your mind?

If you can add any specific guidance at all it would be helpful. For the record, I disagree and am extremely happy with his work.

:(

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:Can you link me

krone9 wrote:
Can you link me to your Kickstarter campaign so I can see what "good" looks like in your mind?

The link is not hard to find. I've posted on bgdf.

But our design wasn't professional either.
In fact, art direction (for me personally) is probably the most difficult thing in self-publishing.

This is professional: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/roxley/brass-an-industrial-revolution

krone9 wrote:

Its had pretty good feedback so far from friends, other artists, other designers - both people I know and people I don't

People in general will rarely give you direct negative feedback. Especially when asked in person.
If you think i`m being negative, I can stop, no problem.
I was posting to hopefully save you time and money.

krone9
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I tried briefly to find your

I tried briefly to find your game - the WarpGate one?

RE Brass - this is a very interesting example as I've been through that campaign recently for obvious reasons. I decided not to back it. This isn't quite what I intended for this thread but hopefully we'll get a good discussion out of it....

I think Brass is very well prepared, professionally planned and pretty well executed from an art perspective, BUT I'm not a huge fan of the style. Its quite generic - in my opinion - and not hugely evocative of the theme. (actually the Kickstarter artwork looks better than the game)

So I don't think its a particularly good example, both in terms of my own taste and the immersive theme the game is aiming to achieve.

Let me give you a couple of specific examples to show what I mean by constructive feedback:

This map is a fairly generic execution of a fantasy style map. Its well done but an illustrative style that is very modern and has little ties to the period its depicting.

Generally there is a mix of styles in the components which doesn't sit well with me. I'm sure they used multiple artists but I'm struggling to see a cohesive design language through out (actually it looks like 3-4 which are a bit incongruous)

Goes through to Fonts as well - there's about 4-5 different fonts used throughout that artwork shown which isn't a great indicator to me of a well planned out style guide.

Now....

We are deliberately trying to use artwork for our games which is evocative of the period they are set in. For the games we design, each element from art style to mechanics, is designed to produce an experience in line with the theme. I feel REALLY strongly about this - its what I get a kick out of.
I don't get that sense from Brass, though I'm sure its an extremely well designed (mechanically), balanced and even fun game. Its been well executed so they clearly have talented artists - but I think they would have benefited from a better defined style guide (or possibly a smaller team)

I would also comment that that game is ENORMOUS - and produced by one of the most renowned game designers in the industry. You know what - I'm ok if you say that my games aren't up to the same level of standard as the best the industry can offer. I can live with that :) Maybe one day....

krone9
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ElKobold wrote: People in

ElKobold wrote:

People in general will rarely give you direct negative feedback. Especially when asked in person.
If you think i`m being negative, I can stop, no problem.
I was posting to hopefully save you time and money.

All the feedback so far (that I'm considering seriously) is from strangers on forums, chat rooms and from people who are in professional related positions where there's not a personal issue with providing genuine feedback. I'm also quite used to receiving it!

Negative is fine but its not very useful unless its constructive. I'm ok if you say "I hate your artwork because its not to my personal taste" or because "I think the colour palette is ill-chosen and inconsistent" or "the proportional execution of the characters isn't accurate" or "the perspective isn't right" or anything like that

because I can act on it! :)

hopefully that advice is useful to you - I think you're just trying to help and thats very much appreciated.

ElKobold
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krone9 wrote:I tried briefly

krone9 wrote:
I tried briefly to find your game - the WarpGate one?

WarpGate is the upcoming one. Art for that one is still very much in a flux. For example, we will re-do the box. The current is not good enough.

Our first game was this. But note that I`m not using it as an example.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id2QcHARaFI. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172965/guards-atlantis-tabletop-moba

krone9 wrote:

RE Brass -

So I don't think its a particularly good example, both in terms of my own taste and the immersive theme the game is aiming to achieve.


You may like it or not. It's a matter of taste. But there's no doubt that people who were doing art direction for Brass are professionals.

That creates a feeling of security. Potential backers see that money and effort was put into the project and are more likely to pledge.

krone9 wrote:

You know what - I'm ok if you say that my games aren't up to the same level of standard as the best the industry can offer. I can live with that :) Maybe one day....

That's "no true Scotsman".
I could find other examples from first time designers (some of them from this very forum), but seeing how you've responded to the Brass example, I don't believe that it will help me illustrate the point I was trying to make.

I have no agenda to persuade you. I gave you my feedback about the art design from the link you've posted. You are free to do with it as you see fit. Including ignoring :)

krone9
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Re Brass - it wasn't really

Re Brass - it wasn't really my personal taste opinion I was giving. It was from a professional perspective (albeit a different industry).

Thanks for your contribution, but I think we're probably not going anywhere with this - and its off topic from the original point of this thread. Can't be bothered getting into semantic debates about stuff like "no true scotsman" (not heard that one before though so thanks).

So...

I'd love to hear your advice - even if you only have one game behind you - because all opinions are useful and make the game better. However can I ask that you (and anyone else) be specific about advice to improve things, because otherwise its hard to use it effectively.

There's a lot of nay saying on forums and frankly I think that the best thing people can do is to actually just get on and try stuff. Its very easy to get put off by the tales of doom and gloom. Personally I'm ok to fail multiple times to learn - but obviously learning shortcuts are always appreciated.

krone9
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ElKobold wrote: Our first

ElKobold wrote:

Our first game was this. But note that I`m not using it as an example.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Id2QcHARaFI. https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/172965/guards-atlantis-tabletop-moba

Actually I'd really like to talk about this one - if you don't mind. (not the artwork!)

For your first ever game design you picked a $35,000 target campaign with multiple miniatures, vast amounts of card art and a high box price.

That would fly in the face of ALL the advice on here (that I've seen) so I'd love to hear about your journey to get there. You've clearly taken some risks and ignored the experts and by the looks of things, come out of it very successfully. Can you share any details? What was your role on this - was the whole team as inexperienced?

McTeddy
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My process? Make game... test

My process? Make game... test game... repeat until it's paying me.

My advice? Stages 1 to 4 are a waste of time. Skip straight to the handmade prototyping phase. Start with a small set of cards, simple board, generic dice and whatever else you need to have it on the table within an hour or two of development.

Let the game experience be your guide.

Writing down your sequence of play, settling on a theme, picking components and simplifying the game? All of this is likely change later in development after loads and loads of playtesting.

There are a number of cognitive biases that can be triggered by writing something down. I see alot of first time designers trying to hard to chase their initial vision despite having a very strong start on a different game.

You may set out to make a Silk Road trading game, but stumble on a great set of mechanics for a space war. Keep your eyes open, follow the fun, experiment and NEVER get too attached until you know you're on track for the final game.

Don't worry too much about artists, component costs or anything else until you're late into external playtesting. The reality is, players will pay whatever a game is worth.

Focus on making the best game you can, that uses only the components that are vital to the experience. You do this and players won't complain about the price... or more like... they'll complain either way but MOST people will still be satisfied with their purchase.

Money, marketing, artwork? These ARE important. But only once you have a strong game that is worth investing in.

Even professionals have plenty of stuff we've chucked in the garbage.

- Component Pricing as a Design Limitation -
The only exception I'd make to paying close attention to the price early in development is if it's a core design choice.

Sometimes, I make a dice game. I allow myself "No more than 10 dice or 60 cards". I toy with these limitations to see if I can make a good game.

This can be especially effective for new designers because it helps keep our games simple. Limited components usually mean simpler to design, cheaper to make, easier to balance, and so forth.

But even so, I'm not against removing the limitations if the design skews in that direction.

radioactivemouse
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Amateur projects...

krone9 wrote:
You mention it being obvious in how you can spot amateur projects - I'd love to hear some typical "gotchas" you can share?

Here's a website dedicated to kick starters that had 0 backers and 0 money funded:

http://kickended.com/projects/2047664948/

It doesn't have a filter, but you'll be able to find failed game campaigns pretty quickly if you go to Archive and scroll down.

Here's a Kickstarter one of my students got roped into...when I found out about it, it was too late:

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1490071627/strike-board-game?ref=di...

I assure you, there are tons out there. Just look at the games section and scroll down to the depths of the category and you'll easily see the amateur ones.

However, you'll need to do your own research on this...actually asking me to tell you these things just tells me you're coming at this fairly blind and you might not really know Kickstarter as much as you need.

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