Just wanted to introduce myself. I'm fairly new to the hobby gaming industry--and especially game design--but in the past couple of years I've fallen in love with it. I'm active in a couple of different "real life" gaming/design clubs, and I decided it was time to stop lurking and start participating more on BGDF and BGG, since they've both proved to be fantastic resources for me.
I'm a member of CABS (the Columbus Area Boardgaming Society), an active club of about 400+ members from the Central Ohio area who get together once a week for gaming--and socializing, of course. We have about 50 meetings a year, and I think the average attendance is just over 100 people per meeting. For those of you who attend Origins, CABS runs the game library in the Board Room (which consists of over 1000 titles, I believe--a fantastic resource for us). CABS also runs its own regional gaming convention every fall in Columbus, the Buckeye Game Fest (with about 450 attendees last year).
I mention all of this because lots of publishers (big and small) provide free/demo copies of their games to the club, or run giveaway contests, etc., and this might be another opportunity for those of you wanting to reach lots of hobby gamers and gain some exposure for your games. If you've got a game you'd like to promote (for Kickstarter or whatever), I'd be happy to help out with our group.
I'm also active in our club's fledgling game design group (conveniently named the "CABS Design Group"). We just passed our one year anniversary in January (and there was much rejoicing). After a year, we've grown to about 12-15 active members, and have about as many prototypes in development. If you're looking for blind play testers, let me know.
Like all of you, I always have far too many games in development, but the one I'm focused on currently is a card game I designed with James Ernest (who was doing some consulting work for me at the time) and a buddy of mine, Mick Sullivan. The working title is "Panic", and it's a poker-style game about commodities trading (zzzzzzz....right? :) with elements of deduction, auctions and trading. It's a fun game, and we've put it through the wringer several times, but I think there's still some room for improvement. Assuming James failed to sell it at GAMA, I'm planning to put up a PnP version soon (with some variants) to get some feedback. If you're interested in play testing it, let me know!
Nice to meet you all,
gregparso on BGG
And thanks for playing my prototype twice. New edition of Tribute should be in hand next Saturday meeting.
Question is.... will you be bringing Panic?
Great! Looking forward to it.
I'm printing some fancy new cards this week, just for you, Bill. Not as fancy as Tribute, of course, but then again mine don't have 87 different symbols on them. :)
Sounds like you all got a lot of good things going on! What is your peer-review process like? Just curious to see other methods of collaboration.
All the best!
John (from Findlay)
The peer review process is pretty open right now. We play designs and offer feedback. I would not be opposed to a more rigid review process (i have the file for the evaluation sheet used by the Salt Lake City group), but I feel that that evaluation sheet is best for games that aren't there yet (in terms of missing something) or are thematic marginal.
So far, the games there have been pretty far along in the process and just need tweaking.
Greg - I've pretty much converted Tribute to all symbols. When you have game designers not reading cards, you have too much text. So I shall give as little text I can and force the symbols on to people. Bwa-ha-ha!
Sounds like a really interesting process, is it a closed group or can other designers attend?
Like Bill said, our "process" is pretty informal. :) If you bring a game to play test, we'll play it! The design group officially meets for business once a month, and then we'll play test afterward, but most of us are at the regular CABS meetings every week anyway and play test our games there as well. CABS is a great resource because you can always find a wandering friend (or stranger) to join your game and give feedback.
Feedback is usually both immediate and casual (um, and brutally honest, at least in my case!). If we play a few rounds and things aren't working, we'll pause the game right there (or stop altogether) and talk about it.
Occasionally, after a game has been developed for awhile, someone will say "hey, anyone want to take this home and blind test it?"
We've talked a lot about making the process more formal (like Utah's group), but after much debating we decided we really didn't need to muck things up considering the size of our group. As we grow we may have to revisit the issue, but right now it works for us.
You should definitely come down to Columbus some weekend and hang out with us. It's a great group.
@Kirioni: The design group is open to anyone who wants to join, but you do have to be a member of CABS ($50/year). But your first CABS visit is free, so you should come check us out sometime.
If you're not local (and/or don't want to join CABS), but you want to do some blind play testing, let me know and maybe we can work out an exchange. Eventually I'd like to see our group working with designers/clubs from all over the US, or at least regionally.
Thanks for all the information, I have actually read the charter in full a couple years back when I was considering getting something similar starting up. I am not sure I can swing the fee, travel to Columbus enough times a year to justify it. I have been doing play testing at a local college, so perhaps setting up a blind test exchange makes the most sense.
As per above, I believe play testing should stop if it is dragging no need to torture poor souls :) As for honest feedback, it is priceless even if "brutal" in the moment. Truly great ideas need to open to refinements constantly. Sounds like you all have a great thing going, any games yet published from the think tank?
John, check your PM for some more info about CABS.
Currently, we only have one published designer in our group, Jeff Horger, who designed Manoeuvre, a great game if you haven't played it: http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17396/manoeuvre
He's also got a few more games/expansions in the P500 pipeline at GMT.
The rest of us are split between submitting games to publishers and self-publishing. We're hoping 2012 is a big year :)