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Feeling Stuck

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Squinshee
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I've been designing my card game OverRealm for a good while, and after lots of prototyping, playtests, blind playtests, I'm very happy where it is. It's not perfect, and it could use more development, but as far as mechanically, it's in a great spot.

Now, after all this work, iteration, and general thought, I don't know how to proceed. Part of me wants to keep playing it for development sake, tuning balance and feel. I made a simple card database from scratch (OverRealm) because it was something to keep me occupied. I've also been trying to program it in Unity because I imagine I could learn a lot more and faster from gameplay data and impressions (also cheaper than producing prototypes...although significantly more time-consuming).

My goal is to self-publish. When do I start investing actual money into my game?

joebergmann
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Congratulations!

Hey Squinshee!

Congratulations on getting this far! I looked at your website. I like the art and the rules look nice and concise! I'll read them over more completely tonight.

Here are my thoughts:

Maybe look into Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator and create a version there? Tabletopia is free if you do one game and it is small enough. I think Tabletop Simulator has a monthly fee.

You also could try someplace like The Game Crafters, who will make and sell your game on a per-order system. You might make less money, but also potentially risk nothing to do so.

Finally, you could find a partner, or backer to help out with finances, but you might have to share the profits.

Adam Leamey
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I'll have a look over your

I'll have a look over your project as for where to go next it depends on what you want there is the route of approaching publishers to get to the finish line however if you want self publishing it can be very difficult.

You will need to be active on a lot of social media sites I myself find twitter the most helpful buts it's important you have a good online presence.

You need to know your maket and start talking to that market try and get them interested in the project and if they like it then they will help it grow.

I will suggest you also listed to pod casts such as the board game design lab and I would highly recommend you look into brandon Rollins game dev he has self published a game and covers lots of subjects that many places don't like marketing.

Finally I agree with online prototypes tabletopia is free as long as your designing only 1 game were as table sim is a one off payment with full control.

I wish you luck with your project.

questccg
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Q for you?

Is all that artwork commissioned artwork? Or did you just Google for art??

I'm trying to see what state (in your project) you are at. I'd also look to find a "Graphic Artist" which can do card layouts. Personally, I feel your Database version card layout is a bit too "simple". Yes, they are clean - but I find they don't suit the style of the game... They look more like a prototype than a finished product.

Since it is mostly cards, you could create a "The Game Crafter" version. Will make it easier to send copies of the game to reviewers... Just specify the address and voila, the game is directly shipped to them.

Having someone design you Five (5) Card Templates... should be about $1k.

If that's not your artwork and you want to self-publish, well I guess aside from the Card Layouts, you need to find an illustrator.

I've given you three (3) different paths to explore... Like I said IDK if these are paid illustrations or not. If not, well I would still do things in this order:

1. Get a Graphic Designer to design five (5) different Templates (Layouts)

2. Put up the game on The Game Crafter, maybe do a Sanity Test on your rulebook ($30 USD).

3. Find an Illustrator to design artwork - if you are not using other ppl artwork.

Now if you wanted to spend the LEAST amount of money... I would still get the Graphic Designer and put it on TGC. But I wouldn't spend money on artwork just yet... I'd pitch it around to Publishers and see if anyone is interested.

Cheers.

WinsmithGames
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So this is the issue I

So this is the issue I perceive you have:

  • You have a game that you have playtested and developed a decent amount, but not quite the amount you think it needs.

If you aren't sure what you need to do to get it that last 10%, hire someone who will know... a developer.

Seriously... think about it.

Instead of putting money in graphics and illustrations before you KNOW the game is 100% ready, why not put a little money into someone who can help you get it to 100% ready?

That's what I did with GameCon when I THOUGHT the game was about 80% ready. After listening to Gabe's BGDL podcast with JR Honeycutt, I reached out to JR and he referred me to a developer that was fantastic.

The rate was very affordable, $25/hour, and we paid him for six hours of time. This included: his quick review of the game, a 1-hour long phone call, his more in-depth review of the game, another 1-hour long phone call, two 1-hour long meetings at UnPub (that was fortunate we both were going), and a playthrough at UnPub.

I cannot stress enough HOW useful that was. I found out some major issues of the game that I wouldn't have found out on my own (as to be expected... I'm an amateur, and this guy was a professional). Because of that, we decided to take a hiatus and have come back with a vengeance. (And the game is significantly better for it.)

So... If you are at the point where you want to put in some money into the game... and it sounds like you are... then my BIGGEST recommendation is to hire a developer. It shouldn't cost you more than $100-300 max.

You either find out the game is at 100% and good to go, or you find out some very clear direction on how to make the game better. In either case, it's money well invested.

I hope that helps. And best of luck to you!
David

Rick L
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All great suggestions so far!

All great suggestions so far! The only thing I would add would be contest entries. While many contests are judged by publishers, and you're looking at self publishing, it might not he the best route.

But, that said, if you win a contest or are selected as a finalist, you have something to show for how your game is received, as well as whatever experienced feedback you might get from the judges.

Squinshee
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Thanks for all of your

Thanks for all of your suggestions! I want to answer each of your questions:

• I have used Tabletop Simulator in the past, and while helpful, I found the interface to be sluggish and confusing in a way that distracted from the game. And updating it was annoying. But it proved really useful at times, so I should go back to using it. Maybe we could start a scheduled TTS meetup?

• I have a blog that I need to start using more. And twitter...ugh, yeah, gotta use that too.

• What you see on the card database is absolutely not final at all. The art is not mine and the graphic design is rough prototype stuff. I made it so that if I ever got a lot of blind playtests going it could be used as a helpful reference.

• I hear there's a contest in NYC in January. I need to get more details on that, because even though it's to find a publisher, placing well would give me needed credibility.

• I think WinsmithGames hit it on the head: I REALLY want some outside development help. After listening to that podcasts with JR months ago, I tried to get in touch with him for help (paid, obviously). I never got a response, which is understandable – he's a busy dude and we haven't formally met. Do you have any suggestions on how to get in touch with a developer? I'd love some outside perspective.

WinsmithGames
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JR Is a busy dude and has

JR Is a busy dude and has made a big name for himself. Instead of seeking his help, maybe a quick question along the lines of,

"Hey, I learned so many about board game development in your BGDL podcast interview, and would love to find a developer to consult with on my game. Do you know anyone?"

Keep the email concise, straightforward, and gear it so that the response you seek takes minimal effort on his part.

That's what I did, and it worked. Maybe I got lucky though. Otherwise, I'd say go to BGG and ask how you can find a developer to consult with.

Best of luck!
David

WinsmithGames
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Also, I reached out to the

Also, I reached out to the developer I worked with. I'll let you know if I hear anything from him.

Squinshee
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Joined: 10/17/2012
Thanks, I really appreciate

Thanks, I really appreciate it. Feel free to PM me if you hear back.

questccg
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Concerned

I just want to say, that I am a bit "concerned" you have Googled for placement artwork. Why? Because you will build "false impressions" of your game. So while you Google really nice artwork, it's not yours. And if someone reviews your game (Publisher or Reviewer), you will be giving them an incorrect impression of the game.

My opinion would be to "remove" all that artwork from the Database and not build a "false image" of your game. Legally speaking, copyright artwork may not be used for commercial or marketing purposes. Your database might not be commercial - but it is "marketing" YOUR game using someone else's artwork.

Also the other concern that I have is that the artwork you've Googled may not be anything like the artwork for your game. What I mean is that you may not be able to afford a more realistic version of artwork - or you may have to settle for some other "style". Like I said before, having placeholder artwork can be "misleading". People will come to "expect" that's what the final artwork of the game will look like.

And the bottom line is that at the moment nobody is sure - because you are using artwork from other copyright sources.

Again if you are going to be *serious* about your game... One of the first steps is to find a Graphic Designer and have him/her design five (5) different templates, one for each "character". That's where I would start. It's a smaller investment and the results are very VISUAL giving a more definite preview of what your game cards will actually look like!

WinsmithGames
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He has a point

FYI, I sent you the developer's contact info. His name is Charles Wright, and he's fantastic.

Also, I agree with Quest. If you are at the point where you want to show your game to a developer or publisher, I'd take out the art. Most publishers can probably look past it, knowing they are going to hire their own artist. But it gives off a first impression vibe (to me, at least), and they may not agree with it.

And he's right about the copyrighted work, also. If you are playing the game with your friends and have no intention to sell/market the game, you can use all the Mario's and Zelda's you want. But once you show the game off as a product or potential product, those need to go. The only way you'd want to show it to a publisher may be, "Hey, this is the style of art I like or prefer for the game." (Some publishers give the designers more/less freedom and say into those elements of the game.)

It wouldn't hurt to have a graphic designer provide some basic templates and/or help you put together a sell sheet. In fact, you need to have some example illustrations and graphic design completed before you self-publish it. (You need to show people what you are selling.)

But I would not do that until the game is ready to pitch. And right now, finish the game before you pay for illustrations. Focus on working with the developer and getting their thoughts and feedback. They will likely help you tighten the game up and make it even better.

Best of luck... please keep us in the loop on how it goes.
David

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