Skip to Content

Not having money/knowledge left my game in the dust.

So, Wolsung has been out. The system is interesting.
Empire of the Dead came out. Lame rules but close to my asthetic.
Dystopian Legions came out and I'm rather flustered now. Seems like they just altered the dice mechanic I first made for my game.
Osprey is releasing In Her Majesty's Name and now I'm furious.

First one to the patent house is the real deal. Everyone else are just copiers.
My lack of knowledge on how to go about publishing my rules lack of funds, coupled with my lack of funds has set me behind. I really don't know if I'll continue to finish my rules if they'll never see the light of day. And now steampunk is getting so played out. Everyone's cashing in on it seeing as it's the "hottest new thing". Fantasy Flight Games has 2 steampunk games being released later this year.

A customer figuratively kicked me in the ass to write my rules down in a proper format. It's 2 pages of explaining the stats on the character cards and combat, with another 2 pages of 7 scenarios. My friend, the wall I bounce ideas off of and playtest with, is gone. All I have to work with are my theories and supposition. What the hell am I going to do?

Comments

Whoa, whoa, whoa

Take a deep breath brother. Okay things haven't gone the way you foresaw things. The companies who has published your games should have spoken to about game mechanics. Okay bad call. For steampunk games, okay so their being outplayed but popular. Go with a game theme that is a hybred of the themes you love and work with. For your friend who walked out was only in it for the money and not for the overall value of friendship in the creativity you have. You still have BGDF.

Take what happened

And jot down what went wrong. Talk to your friend. Don't argue just make your point across and walk away. Research and ask questions here about publishing amongst your peers. Hang in there. Don't give up. Take a break and think things through and then get back to your love of designing.

?

I don't really see what you are upset about here: I may be wrong, but neither steampunk nor dice pool mechanics seem like new elements for wargaming. What have they taken that's proprietary? Looking at the facts, have they taken multiple mechanics from you, or is it just a case of parallel evolution? Have they copied characters or factions that are demonstrably different from other steampunk games, or the steampunk genre as a whole?

How have they hurt you?

If you're making board games to make a lot of money you're probably in the wrong business. If, on the other hand, you're making games that you like to play and you love to design... you can hardly fault them for making games that you would like to play, and they cannot take the latter away from you. Even if they're crowding the market, you could always port your better, streamlined ruleset to whatever then next hot thing is: Submarine Steampunk? Spacepunk? It sounds like you're angry at the genre and feel in a bit of a rut: switching things up a bit might be good for you as well.

Evil ColSanders wrote:Empire

Evil ColSanders wrote:
Empire of the Dead came out. Lame rules but close to my asthetic.

"Close to" implies not the same.

Evil ColSanders wrote:
Dystopian Legions came out and I'm rather flustered now. Seems like they just altered the dice mechanic I first made for my game.

"Seems like" implies a lack of certainty. Maybe they just had a similar idea.

Why are you flustered? Because they acted in a more timely manner to bring their product to market, while you didn't?

Evil ColSanders wrote:
Osprey is releasing In Her Majesty's Name and now I'm furious.

Furious at what? Yourself? No one is under any legal or moral obligation to not produce games until after you find or make time to make one. You hold no monopoly upon game design or dice mechanics.

Evil ColSanders wrote:
First one to the patent house is the real deal. Everyone else are just copiers.

And what is it that you intend to patent? Dice?

Evil ColSanders wrote:
My lack of knowledge on how to go about publishing my rules lack of funds, coupled with my lack of funds has set me behind.

None of that is the fault of the companies in question. How is it their fault that you lack knowledge? How is it their fault that you lack sufficient funds to bring your game to market? What is the basis of your patent assertion? Your lack of knowledge?

Evil ColSanders wrote:
I really don't know if I'll continue to finish my rules if they'll never see the light of day. And now steampunk is getting so played out. Everyone's cashing in on it seeing as it's the "hottest new thing". Fantasy Flight Games has 2 steampunk games being released later this year.

Steampunk is not as new concept. Like any other genre, it'll probably outlast all of us, as individuals.

Evil ColSanders wrote:
A customer figuratively kicked me in the ass to write my rules down in a proper format. It's 2 pages of explaining the stats on the character cards and combat, with another 2 pages of 7 scenarios. My friend, the wall I bounce ideas off of and playtest with, is gone. All I have to work with are my theories and supposition.

It's called regret - though in your instance, I suspect that you're simply making a point, rather than being serious.

Evil ColSanders wrote:
What the hell am I going to do?

Have you considered opening a fried chicken restaurant?

Surprised at the response

I'm a little surprised by the original blog post - but I'm even more surprised at the response!

I read the OP as a release of frustration that the idea Evil ColSanders has been working on has now "been done" - and he wishes he'd known more or been able to "finish" his design before that was the case.

I don't think he's accusing anybody of stealing from him.

I know the feeling of sitting on a design for a time, unsure how to proceed, and then seeing other similar ideas start to pop up. It makes me lose interest in my design, and it makes me feel like my design is less likely to find a publisher.

So maybe I'm wrong, but if this blog post is just Evil ColSanders venting about that, let's give the guy a break! Maybe a little constructive commentary is what he could use right now.

Mr. Evil, I know it seems like there's a ton of Steampunk out there right now - but honestly, "Steampunk" is SUCH a broad genre that I'm not sure it's a question of saturation. It's almost like saying "there are so many GAMES out there, I'm afraid my GAME won't be published..." you know?

And as some have said, if you feel that the theme of your game is currently so common as to saturate the market, if the mechanics are solid enough, perhaps you could re-theme it to something more unique?

Good luck!

Thanks everyone.

Thanks everyone for your input and comments.

It's basically as Sedj said. It's a big vent at the frustration of lacking knowledge and money to bring out "just a rulebook" as kickstarters and big companies bang them out, with what I feel, are inferior rules with awesome miniatures.

With all these steampunk miniature wargames saturating the market, I feel that publishing my rules at this point will contribute to the saturation and will be looked at as either "just another person cashing in on steampunk" or "just another steampunk wargame". This is where "first to patent/others are copies" derived. If you made a deck-building game, you don't want to hear, "Oh! It's like Dominion!"

"No. No it's not."

I can't really blame my friend. He play tested the game a few times and I bounced ideas off of him. All I can really ask from a friend who is doing it for free. He's trying to make iOS games, so that's more important to him.

Evil ColSanders wrote:Thanks

Evil ColSanders wrote:
Thanks everyone for your input and comments.

It's basically as Sedj said. It's a big vent at the frustration of lacking knowledge and money to bring out "just a rulebook" as kickstarters and big companies bang them out, with what I feel, are inferior rules with awesome miniatures.

With all these steampunk miniature wargames saturating the market, I feel that publishing my rules at this point will contribute to the saturation and will be looked at as either "just another person cashing in on steampunk" or "just another steampunk wargame". This is where "first to patent/others are copies" derived. If you made a deck-building game, you don't want to hear, "Oh! It's like Dominion!"

"No. No it's not."

I can't really blame my friend. He play tested the game a few times and I bounced ideas off of him. All I can really ask from a friend who is doing it for free. He's trying to make iOS games, so that's more important to him.

The world is saturated with games. Saturation is hardly a cosmic-level obstacle to innovation. If your game is truly unique, truly innovative, then both the world and the market will always be big enough for it.

Even within a given genre, there are always niches - lots and lots and lots of niches, each of which are always begging to be expanded.

Venting frustration can be a positive thing. Channel your frustration into constructive energy.

The world has billions of people in it. Your friend is your friend. Your friend is hardly the end of the world. It's one individual. Other play testers can be found. Friends can be biased. Seek a broader base of approval or rejection than just a single one.

Most people who play games, or even just board games, do not own a particular game. If they did, then sales figures would be much higher for any given game. So, take your own characterization of the Steampunk miniature wargames saturating the market with a grain of salt.

On a personal level, I find the Steampunk genre to be quite fascinating. How many Steampunk board games and miniature wargames do I own? Zero. Absolutely none.

Would Steampunk be my first choice for a new board game, if I were going to buy one, tomorrow? Nope. Probably not. But, for some, it would be.

These days, board games are a lot like comic books - overpriced. So, for the most part, I rarely ever buy any. Not because a good game isn't necessarily worth any given price point, but because I often have great doubt about how much that it would actually get played.

The Steampunk genre is ideal for miniatures wargaming. There's no end to the crazy gadgets and machines of war that one could come up with. That sheer variety is part of the Steampunk genre's inherent charm. So, far from being saturated, the Steampunk genre could never really be too saturated.

The Silver Lining?

To me it sounds like you have had 3-4 game ideas that were close enough to games that were later published to suggest you have had some strong designs.

With that kind of track record, I imagine your strength as a designer will eventually pay off if you stick with it long enough.

And the door swings both ways...being first to market means everyone else gets to improve on your designs with the benefit of true customer feedback :) Maybe Osprey and FF published first, but you may very well end up publishing better

Stick with it!

I agree with the other

I agree with the other posters in relation to a re-theme. Steampunk is alive and well and benefiting from popular interest. I’ve seen some very lack luster projects attract inordinate interest purely because of the thematic artwork attached to them – regardless of the actual quality of that artwork.

For the moment the bandwagon is still rolling; even though the majority of the thematic proponents do little to exemplify the rich conceptuality of the genre. Include a few cogs and pistons in the artwork, then add some outlandish verbosity to the descriptive accompaniments and you have Steampunk. Except you don’t, you have a pale pastiche or shallow veneer of Steampunk that belittles the underpinnings of the ideology.

However, I do think the central Steampunk premise is rapidly approaching the novelty bump and drop off point. The point where any old tat will be jumped upon simply because of the association. When the quality/taste bump happens the developed projects, albeit in terms of their artistic aesthetic or developed theme, will distance themselves from the herd.

That said, Steampunk has a lot of other associated genres or offshoots – like Western Steampunk and Cyberpunk. You could even generate your own thematic playgrounds.

An advanced society finds their primary power source and material components on the verge of depletion – so they have to utilise past technologies to keep things running. It’s Steampunk from the opposite direction. The progression isn’t the making of future objects with inefficient technology of the present it’s reversed.

Steampunk tends to revolve around the idea of forward technological development in what is frequently a dystopian society – resulting in overly engineered and inefficient by products (which look cool).

But what if that conceptual idea was shifted slightly and the focus of development centered on natural elements instead of industrial elements?

There could be a setting where mans desire to fly was approached through genetic splicing to grow wings and machines where fused with organic elements to engender the self supporting and evolutionary aspects of biological entities.

The Zombie idea could be retuned and combined with the principles of cybernetic life forms. Cybernetic enhancements grant improved physical gifts and rapid data manipulation, but at the expense of an individuals humanity.

They require fuel at such a rate that the need for it consumes them and eclipses their freedom of choice. The way that they see the world, through their cybernetic eyes and interface with it through cold steel limbs, distances them from the world of true feeling. The data flowing through their silicon chip minds becomes little more than numbers and logical computations, lessening their ability to think creatively and emote.

The development could be a Demonic transition, where people sacrifice elements of their humanity or their free will, selling their souls for esoteric powers and physical boons.

The current crop of games have done very well capitalising on the popularity of Steampunk as an alternative reality setting and a source elementary artwork association, but I’ve yet to see a game that actually evokes the concept and does justice to the ideology.

By and large you could change the artwork in many games to another genre without skipping a beat. Which is a shame, because the conceptual framework could lend itself to some spectacular games if it was actually developed within the game mechanics instead of being casually plopped on top like a disembodied thematic uniform.

Yep

This is exactly where I am heading in my NCCG. Tons of natural elements with some splash of nuts and bolts for the machines and larger monsters, which of course named Titans with many other surprises in the game and 5 novels. Twists and turns for the characters, npc's, villians and super villians. So yeah, change the theme.

Yep

This is exactly where I am heading in my NCCG. Tons of natural elements with some splash of nuts and bolts for the machines and larger monsters, which of course named Titans with many other surprises in the game and 5 novels. Twists and turns for the characters, npc's, villians and super villians. So yeah, change the theme.

So where do you go from here?

Hi Colonel,

I'll let you into a little secret, six months ago I felt exactly the same. But first let's go back 18 months when, after years of writing and publishing free rulesets, we were approached to write a set of 'steampunk' rules by Osprey Publishing.

This was to be our big break, a chance to finally put something out on the market under the wing of a professional imprint. I thought that I could do it in weeks. However Osprey, with all their experience, set a publishing date of this spring. I thought that they were nuts! There were no decent steampunk games on the market back then (in my untutored opinion), it was an open goal. They stuck to their guns, explained clearly what they wanted and set me and my writing partner Charles to work.

As they do say the devil is in the editing. We hit the various deadlines but had to work like stokers on a steamer to do so. Writing, playtesting, trimming, editing, rewriting etc., etc. Our Editor Phil advised us change tack a few times, questioned some of our dafter ideas and generally kept us on the straight and narrow. I tell you that you cannot overestimate the value of an independant eye.

Six months ago the big boys started to arrive; Dystopian Legions, Wolsung, Empire of the Dead; and I thought it was all over. They had beaten us to market and there would be absolutely no-one left to sell our game to. Then my partner Charles told me to actually look at these offerings and determine what their unique selling points were (he has a much cooler head than I). So I did; Dystopian Legions - battle game steampunk; Wolsung - fantasy steampunk; Empire of the Dead - zombie (?) steampunk.

Every one of them was full on fantasy steampunk. Not one of them was approaching the genre from our direction, Victorian Science Fiction grounded in the classic literature, technology and history of the period. You can't imagine my relief...

Now to the point, you knew there'd be one eventually didn't you? You need to look closely at your unique selling point. What will make your approach different and attractive in the eyes of your potential customers? Unless they are revolutionary your game mechanics will not be one of them. Gamers are an emotional bunch. They often buy on the story and on impulse, and sometimes on the figures (if any) and artwork that accompany the rules.

Do NOT give up. Do NOT give into despair just because you were possibly beaten to market by others, this year.

I have been writing and publishing wargames and roleplaying rules, for free, for over a decade. We are not talking the odd set here, but dozens of sets in every possible genre. I have worked alone and in collaboration with friends. I have have had a few sets that have been downloaded in their thousands and many hardly touched by the gaming public despite being free.

Talking to other games authors their story is mostly the same. Perseverence and a strong belief in what you are writing is the key. None of us are ever likely to make a living out of this, so most of us do it for the sheer love of it.

So, check your USP, pick your moment, market the hell out of it and publish and be damned.

Cheers,
Craig.

Wow.

Wow. I really didn't expect a response like yours, Craig. I was really ready to hang up the hat, put my stuff in storage, and chalk it up to another project I didn't finish. I really appreciate the words of encouragement and along with that feedback from my recent playtest, I think I'm going to continue... wherever that takes me. Thanks again.

Wow?

Really? I thought the whole point of fora such as these was to share and support fellow designers and players?

Never mind, the good thing is that you got my point. Even if this project of yours doesn't eventually go the distance you will learn from what you put into it, and your next project shall benefit from that.

I have an external hard drive stuffed with such projects and for every one that makes it onto the blog, a dozen lie bloody and dying in the long grass having given their lives that this project may succeed :)

It was Stephen King I believe who was once asked how you became a good writer. His answer was one word 'Write'.

A lot of people think that you become good at something by talking about it, planning, strategizing their output (whatever than means), attending workshops, reading about how to do it and blogging to their friends about it. They generally forget that you get good at something by actually practicing it in every spare moment you have.

The reason I have got my very first publishing contract is not because I am clever, or talented, or persistent, or know the right people, or have stepped on the fingers and faces of more deserving writers, or even lucky. It is because I try to write games content, every single day, in every little corner of my busy life.

One day I might become a good games writer, but by the amount of editing I have had to do over the last 18 months I am damn sure I am not one yet :D. If I get there it will be because I just carried on writing and because I love it.

One last thing. We get things from our hobby in direct proportion to what we put into it. In my mind this means holding your hand out and pulling others up with you. I suspect, given its name, that this Forum was created for this very reason so I shall be happy to contribute to it, if you'll have me.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Syndicate content


blog | by Dr. Radut