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Publisher desires prototype 'files'. Only been doing this two weeks. Clarification and help, please.

7 replies [Last post]
Joined: 02/10/2011

Alright, so the title says it all. I've thrown my lot in on the production of games as a way to make my brain earn its keep with little to no overhead required to get started. Apparently, it's already bearing fruit. A company has told me that they desire my rules and prototype "files". Does this mean I produce a quick print and play .pdf that will allow the game to be run in a very minimalist fashion or does that mean they want every scrap of my creative process so they don't do what I've already done?


ilSilvano's picture
Joined: 07/31/2008

Hi, I am pretty sure they just need some .pdf files of the rules and of all game components.
It would be useful to specify in one page of the rules if there are other components that are not in the PDFs (for example: "you also need two six-sided dice and 30 coins in one color").

rcjames14's picture
Joined: 09/17/2010
The Manual

They need the instructions for how to build the game and how to play it.

The first is a list of all the components... so, if there are cards, at the very least a spreadsheet of every single value on every single card, but more likely they want the set of printable PDF card sheets you would use to make a prototype with instructions on how many copies to print of each card. If there are tokens in the game, what they are and how many of each you need. It's basically the list of ingredients in a game recipe.

The second is an explanation about how to setup all the components in the game so that players are ready to start playing along with instructions for how to play. This includes your goal(s), what you can and cannot do, how the game ends and who wins. It is often useful to include examples and an overview of what people want to do to help the reader understand what the rules mean. You'll also want to include clarifications if there are parts of the rules which might be interpreted ambiguously. Remember, they only know what you tell them, so you can't take anything for granted.

Hopefully this helps.

Joined: 02/10/2011
Yeah, it does quite a bit.

Yeah, it does quite a bit. The rules are ending up quite a bit longer than I intended, what with the fluff I'm throwing in to help sell the theme and the notes to the publisher, but it's better to go long and be clear than go short and confuse them. ...except for the claim that 10 minutes should be long enough for a slow learner to learn this game. Ah, well. Modification may be necessary there if you don't have a teacher. As for the prototype, a few little labeled boxes and some cards made with Magic Set Editor and slapped onto the one-page printable .pdf seem to be all that is required. Thanks a lot, guys!


P.S. The game that's being eyed is Hands Off Me Booty!

mdkiehl's picture
Joined: 12/10/2010
Long and short Rules

In many games there are both "long rules" and short "quick play" instructions. This model tends to work well because players can get started with the game then consult the larger rule-book when needed, rather than needed to start by reading a book.

-Matthew Kiehl

Joined: 12/22/2010
Comment on the Process

Now, I fully understand that everybody has a different design process and everybody approaches designing games differently, but I just wanted to comment on what I gathered from this post and your post on "Hands off my Booty!".

The consensus on this site and other sites on board game design do recommend having a fully playtested game with a finished rulebook finished before you submit to any publisher. I may be incorrect, but it looks like you started submitting a game to a publisher before you had the rulebook fleshed out and - if I can tell by original post date on your "Hands off my Booty" thread - something that hasn't been in playtesting that long. (You state the beginning of the thread you just began playtesting - even though it's an idea you've had for a while)

In my experience, and on the advice of others, it is generally a good idea to have as close to a finished product as possible when submitting to publishers.

Now, granted I am making a few assumptions off the timing of your posts, and if I'm incorrect I apologize, but I believe its always better to take the extra time to do everything you possibly can to improve the game before you submit it to a publisher. That way, you're submitting the best version of your game. Otherwise, if you send an unpolished version, and fix it later, that publisher will probably be unwilling to look at it again, as they've already given it a chance.

Just my two cents. By all means, I wish you the best of luck with your game. It sounds like an interesting game of bluff.

Joined: 02/10/2011
(scottbalmes) The publisher

The publisher is aware of how new the game is and I assure you that I sat down (well, I paced in circles with a pad of paper) and built this game out of mathematics that work very nicely together and are already nearly set in stone. Out of the entire game, there are only two crew abilities that may change just a tiny bit through playtesting - all possible variants have been listed so that the publisher knows my thought process and I'll have a massive round of playtesting done shortly.

Regardless, the publisher is small and appears to be very in-tune with games. I believe a little back and forth between the two of us will only strengthen the product.

So, I've got a long rulebook with comments added in, a shorter "cheat sheat", and the .pdf of the materials I used to demo the game myself. Am I missing anything?


Joined: 12/22/2010
Quote:Regardless, the

Regardless, the publisher is small and appears to be very in-tune with games. I believe a little back and forth between the two of us will only strengthen the product.

This will generally happen either way - but I'm just cautioning you with the differences between designing and developing a game. A publisher will always be willing to develop a game with you, but rarely help you design it. Also, never underestimate the power of playtesters to ruin your beautiful plans. The math behind everything might not change, but even simple games can be greatly improved by a small twist here and there. And, of course, this is just cautionary talk, I've not played your game nor know what its like. I'm just giving out some advice from someone whose been designing games for a while, which happens to be the same advice given by every professional game designer out there.

I do admire that you are completely up front with the publisher. You don't want to start off on the wrong foot with them, and being misleading about where you are in the design process can be a way to do that.

Rulebook Stuff:

If you've comment comments back, always great to put them in. I would also recommend pictures. Especially:
-Pictures of the components
-Picture of the initial setup
-Pictures of any major game steps.

For example, in your initial post of Hands Off my Booty, you mentioned a reveal phase and how it was resolved. Having a picture of the "revealed" members of the crew and then text explaining what happens will be worth a thousand times more than just text alone.

My rule of thumb: if in doubt, put in a picture

Other than that it seems like you're on the right track.

Cheers and good luck.

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