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To revise or not to revise...

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SteelShark
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I've got a great game (in my opinion) that has gotten rave reviews from playtesters, enough to where some want to be a part of the future of publishing it (and I'm sure some of the profit...). ;)

My hard spot right now is that the game is averaging 6 hours per game. I've read the board comments on "If the content is right, it doesn't matter how long the game is", but if you have the choice of purchasing one game over the other, you may never try the game if you think you can never dedicate that much time to a game.

It's half way between a casual board game and a wargame, so it could appeal to a mass market with dedicated players, or wargamers looking for some lighter fare for the afternoon. Being right in the middle, though, I'm wondering if I should revise the game down to a two hour game to appeal more to the mass market.

I would have to take out a major part of the play, and revise much of the remaining part, but the core mechanics and hook would still be present. In fact, it would go from a board and card game to just using the card element. (non-collectable)

1) Does anyone have any appreciation for the size of this middle market? I think I'm a typical candidate, since i don't have time for an all weekend wargame, yet I get bored with the common fare out there. I guess I'm the RPG player with a full time job and kids... Is there anyone else out there like me?

2) Does anyone have any marketing trends of board vs. strictly card games? Is there a preponderance of one right now, or a real hole in the market? (again, non-collectable)

3) How about length of time that each market is willing to play? mass-market, wargamer, and middle-of-the-road? Is there any statistical data (like boardgamegeek) on game play lengths?

4) Opinion question here: Should I spend the time to try to revise the game and play both versions? Or should I submit it to a publishing company, and revise it only if I get the "too long" comment. For those of you with publishing companies, in today's video-game-attention-span market, would you take a chance on a 6 hour game?

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

Johan
Johan's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2008
To revise or not to revise...

Hi

I will try to answer your questions from my experience. I use around 20-40 hours per month to test game prototypes and to play new games. I also go to convent 2-3 times per years and play games around the clock for 2-3 days.

SteelShark wrote:
I've got a great game (in my opinion) that has gotten rave reviews from playtesters, enough to where some want to be a part of the future of publishing it (and I'm sure some of the profit...). ;)

My hard spot right now is that the game is averaging 6 hours per game. I've read the board comments on "If the content is right, it doesn't matter how long the game is", but if you have the choice of purchasing one game over the other, you may never try the game if you think you can never dedicate that much time to a game.

The time does matter. If I had the option to play a good 6 hour game and 3 games with the same quality that takes 2 hours each, I would go for the 2 hour games. There are several factors, besides being fun to play, that have to be fulfilled for your game to draw my attention:
- There has to be an intriguing and interesting theme.
- The playing time and the down time between turns have to be balanced. If the player's downtime is too big, then the game will be boring (and a boring game for 6 hours is a waist of time).
- There has to be something new every time I play the game (different setup on the game board, different scenarios and so on).
- Without having the game too complicated or complex, the players shall have several options each turn. The player shall also be forced to interact with each other.
- The game shall not contain any Run away leader, Losers left behind or Stalemate situations, at least not early in the game. If we after one or two hours have a clear winner, why should we play the game for another 4 hours?

Quote:
It's half way between a casual board game and a wargame, so it could appeal to a mass market with dedicated players, or wargamers looking for some lighter fare for the afternoon. Being right in the middle, though, I'm wondering if I should revise the game down to a two hour game to appeal more to the mass market.

I would try to do both. I would try to do the 2 hour game and have the 6 hour game included as an advanced version of the game.

Quote:
1) Does anyone have any appreciation for the size of this middle market? I think I'm a typical candidate, since I don't have time for an all weekend wargame, yet I get bored with the common fare out there. I guess I'm the RPG player with a full time job and kids... Is there anyone else out there like me?

I have also a full time job, a wife and two kids (ok they are not kids anymore (14 and 16)). To be able to play the games I want, I have to plan the game sessions carefully.

Quote:
2) Does anyone have any marketing trends of board vs. strictly card games? Is there a preponderance of one right now, or a real hole in the market? (again, non-collectable)

I have not seen any hole except for collectible board games (there are not so many games in that gene). Otherwise it looks like there are more and more real board games right now.

Quote:
4) Opinion question here: Should I spend the time to try to revise the game and play both versions? Or should I submit it to a publishing company, and revise it only if I get the "too long" comment. For those of you with publishing companies, in today's video-game-attention-span market, would you take a chance on a 6 hour game?

If you send your game and the company reject your game, you will probably not get a second chance at that company with this game (most companies want a description of the game first and then they consider if you should send them a prototype).

And some final questions:
- Have you had the game tested of players outside your own group and your friends?
- Does your group want to play this game over and over again? Are they asking to play the game or are you punching to get the game played?
- If you did see this game in a store, knowing that it was a 6 hour game, would you buy it?

// Johan

OutsideLime
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Joined: 12/31/1969
To revise or not to revise...

Axis & Allies Revised Edition 2004 added three sets of Victory conditions that allow you to decide what length of game you want to play.

Minor Victory is when 1 player controls 8 of the 12 "victory cities" on the board, and is roughly a 2-hour game
Major Victory needs 10 of 12 vic cities, goes 3-4 hours
Total Victory is all 12, baby, and lasts allll niiight.

The addition of the alternate Victory Conditions does not have any impact at all on the ruleset, but has some major ones on strategy and tactics... In a Minor Victory game (which I've payed a few times and is quite refreshing) nobody aims for enemy Capitals, but rather cities like Calcutta, and Manila, and Leningrad, which refocuses the action of the game in new areas of the map.

It took my A&A crew a while to reluctantly try the Minor Victory game, but now that we've discovered the new challenge of it, we play it often... and we don't have to schedule an 8-hour block of time to do so.

Perhaps your game could include a set of diminished victory conditions along the same lines, without harming the infrastructure as it is?

~Josh

SteelShark
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Joined: 12/31/1969
To revise or not to revise...

Thanks for the comments.

Quote:
- There has to be an intriguing and interesting theme.
- The playing time and the down time between turns have to be balanced. If the player's downtime is too big, then the game will be boring (and a boring game for 6 hours is a waist of time).
- There has to be something new every time I play the game (different setup on the game board, different scenarios and so on).
- Without having the game too complicated or complex, the players shall have several options each turn. The player shall also be forced to interact with each other.
- The game shall not contain any Run away leader, Losers left behind or Stalemate situations, at least not early in the game. If we after one or two hours have a clear winner, why should we play the game for another 4 hours?

-I hope it's interesting. I sure think it is.

- Downtime is non-existant if you are being attacked by someone else. If waiting for two player to battle it out, your down time will be 3-4 minutes, where you can be working on your next move, and your next power-up choice.

- The game is highly variable since it all depends on counter-acting your opponent strategies.

- The are many options per turn, and the entire game revolves around player interaction.

- A good player can take the lead, but will have every other player nipping at their heels, with many chances to overtake each other, and with neck and neck finishes between the top contenders common.

Quote:
- Have you had the game tested of players outside your own group and your friends?
- Does your group want to play this game over and over again? Are they asking to play the game or are you punching to get the game played?
- If you did see this game in a store, knowing that it was a 6 hour game, would you buy it?

- So far, all playtesting has been with family, and friends, some distant, but I will be sending the game to a friend of a friend (someone in the gaming industry) who will be playtesting it as well. That will be an interesting test.

- My local group begs to play it, almost every weekend, even when I would rather be working on the art. My distant friends wanted me to leave a copy with them so they could keep playing, and I've had requests to mail out copies.

- Would I buy it? I probably would, if I read a good review first.

Quote:
Perhaps your game could include a set of diminished victory conditions along the same lines, without harming the infrastructure as it is?

I've done this, and the short version takes out a lot of the options, but lasts 30 minutes. It's just that I would like the full flavor of the game, but think 2 hours might be a better target. I did adjust the rules to speed up the game for one play session, but everyone complained, including myself, that you lose too much of the in-between, and the victory was hollow.

Oh, I'm so confused! Thanks for the quick feedback...

Johan
Johan's picture
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Joined: 10/05/2008
To revise or not to revise...

OK

You are convinced that you have a great game (that good). Still I would at least get a review of the game and also try to get it blind tested before I send it to the publisher.

The review can be done in GDW subforum (read the rules in that forum first and send a private message to JWarrend). It would be nice to have a review that concentrates on one particular problem (time issue in this case).

// Johan

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