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Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

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Anonymous

Okay, I'm soapboxing again, but I plan to back it up in spades this time...

Recently, my fellow designer at ICGD, Michael Leeke, had us play a rather funny game that is a Star Trek parody called Red Shirt Down.

All of the players send away teams to planets in hopes of surviving long enough to return to starbase. Players play both against each other (by liberally spreading red shirts amongst opposing crew members), and against the game (by doing their best to make it farther along the board faster than other players). For those wondering, on the 'original Star Trek', the guy in the red shirt generally died during the episode.

I found the game a bit simple for my tastes, although the rest of the gang liked it.. and so I made a ruleset of my own...

Which they (our test group) did not like so well.. It was a 3-dimensional decision-making matrix where the away teams had to retrieve certain artifacts and build a machine in order to satisfy a Star Fleet order. Players could steal artifacts, attack opposing ships, and had to fight various obstacles on the planets explored (just like Mike's version)... but again they liked Mike's better, so Red Shirt will see production in his version.

...They did enjoy my game, although they all wanted a few revisions...

...and so I changed it to the exploration of the remnants of an ancient alien outpost at the edge of our universe... and left the mechanics basically untouched. Players explore the underground alien installation while stealing from each other, fighting planetside problems, etc.

Here's where the marketing comes into play... how would I make this a game that someone MIGHT want to take home as compared to the other 150 titles shelved next to it? ...and could that be built right into the rules?

The answer to that is always 'yes' in my book, because if its 'no' we won't bother to produce the game.

...and so a good title was vital.

It is currently titled, "Exploring the Depths of Uranus".

...How many of you, having seen that title, want to know what the game is about?

...while ducking, I remain...
XXOOCC

hpox
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

- Do you want to play exploring the depths of uranus?
- ...
- Don't look at me like that! It's a game, a board game.

hpox
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

Red Shirt Down is an awesome title. Keep that and include your additional/different ruleset as an "expansion" to the game. I'm not suggesting to sell it separately but to advertise Red Shirt Down as having a secondary game called "Exploring the Depths of Uranus".

jwarrend
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

Honestly? Not me. Don't get me wrong, I find "uranus" jokes just as funny as the next guy, but I'd like to think, from a gaming standpoint, that I'm "sophisticated" enough to not go in for such low brow stuff when I'm ready to game. Such is my same reaction to "Spank the Monkey", a game that sounds like actually a pretty good game system, but one that I won't ever play because I personally happen to find the strategy of marketing by shock value offensive and insulting.

My guess? People with a more "normal" sense of humor will find the title hilarious, and you'll sell a ton. But, I doubt I'll be one of them. Sorry!

Best of luck,

Jeff

Oracle
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Joined: 06/22/2010
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

Just to add my option, I find "red shirt down" to be a great name for a game. Just based on the name, I'm looking forward to seeing the actual game.

When I hear a game like "exploring uranus", I just move on and try to forget about it.

Jason

Torrent
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Joined: 08/03/2008
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

Personally, such names will atleast get me to look at the box. However to get me to buy has a higher threshold. The box art and desciption have a to do with how a name s taken, in my mind. So to use 'Spank the Monkey' as an example. Certainly the name is interesting enough to get me to look, and the actual monkey on the front is reassuring. If the box cover had been a guy with big hands sitting in a pile of magazines, I would have just put it right back on the shelf feeling a bit dirty.

The thing with going for such an obviously humorus title, the game itself better be funny. Having a really funny title and good, but not humorus gameplay, seems like something of false advertising.

Anonymous
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

We do plan on making game play at least moderately funny, with members of your explorer team contracting various hilarious maladies should they fail, or not entirely succeed, in a given exploratory mission. (Things like, "You have acquired an evil twin, a small furry creature now follows you around - all of which will impact your abilities on your next mission).

You can sabotage other players exploratory missions through various means... most of which are more embarassing than crude.

...and both the artifacts and the machines that you can assemble from them are silly.

So yes, it will be funny, although there will be no "butt-humor" in the actual game.

Aerjen
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Joined: 08/28/2008
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

It would grab my attention at first, but looking at the cover (front and back) I would have to be able to see it's a humorous game. Otherwise I (and my guess is most people) would put it back on the shelves. If I would be looking for a serious game I wouldn't pick it up (okay maybe I would, but most people probably wouldn't) and if I was looking for a fun game, I would want to be able to tell from looking at the cover that it is one, otherwise I'd move right on through. The Steve Jackson games are a good example of games, of which I'd say they're funny by looking at the cover only.

zaiga
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

I think I wouldn't even look at it. In my experience most humoristic games are not very good otherwise. It would get played once or twice, until everyone has seen all the jokes and then it would start collecting dust.

This may or may not be true for "Exploring the Depths of Uranus" of course, but that is just my thinking.

- René Wiersma

Aerjen
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Joined: 08/28/2008
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

To some extent I agree with Zaiga, although I think there are quite a couple of good humoristic games on the market, which keep apppealing to the people who bought them. For example Munchkin is a parody on Dungeons and Dragons, with a gameplay of about an hour. I think most D&D-players can appreciate the game and might want to play it in between "chapters" or just because it's fun.

setarcos
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Joined: 07/31/2008
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

I agree with jwarrend and oracle on this one.

In fact, I find a name like "Exploring the Depths of Uranus" to be just plain infantile. If I saw this on the shelf, I probably wouldn't even bother to look at it, much less buy it. And if I owned a game store I wouldn't carry it (or "Spank the Monkey" either) whether it was mechanically a good game or not.

JMHO,

Leland

Anonymous
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

I like the Red Shirt Down title. Without explaination I had already associated that with Star Trek. That title implies that the game will be light hearted and fun. The planetary reference title i wouldn't even give the time of day to in the store.

Anonymous
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

I am having a hard time with my game's name, and I am looking for a name to rival "chess",
current working title "revenge of the deposed purple square occupier"
is not going to get me anywhere!

Mmm "red cube, beams to purple area and dies"... now we are cooking on gas ;-)

strobe

Nazhuret
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Joined: 12/31/1969
Putting Marketing Into Your Game From the Start

yeah..... that uranus thing....

the red shirt idea DOES instantly conjure up star trek. at least for me.. someone that watches star trek... and let's face it, that sounds like the target audience... those people will get it.. they'll think it's funny and therefore a bit more fun to play.

if someone that's never seen star trek picks it up because it's a potty joke then finds themselves awash in weird jokes about yellow shirted guys getting it on with green chicks and all your red shirted compatriots getting turned into chalk cubes and crushed and what have you.... well.. they're going to feel a bit lost and probably won't enjoy the game.

just like if i picked up a game called red shirt down and then found out it was all about... uh.... exploring the um...

anyway, you see what i'm saying.

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