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Seeking advice from PnP creators

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keshiekay
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Hey, folks.

My friends and I are creating a PnP, and I've been tasked with learning the best ways to go about it. I know the basics -- make the sheets easy to cut out, make sure everything is in mm instead of inches, make the black and white versions look stellar -- what other advice do you have?

Namely, if you've self-published a PnP, what advice do you wish you had heard and used before you put it online?

Tbone
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Card Number

I've heard from a number of sources that any game with 100 or more cards (standard size of 2.5 by 3.5) typically are discarded first (no pun intended). Little tokens are a turn off. If there is a board, making it as clean as possible is a must. Anyone can use an old monopoly game board to tape or glue your board layout on top (usually).

Come to think of it... my game has around 120 cards, 30 tokens, and the board is split into three different documents -_- so maybe I should heed my own advice! But, if your game is interesting enough, people will do what is necessary I guess. Or you can make it easily accessible through resources like tabloro.com if things are tight!

Looking forward to hearing your design!

debiant
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My only advice in my dealings

My only advice in my dealings within the PnP community (and as a PnP'er myself) is to ensure that you have a low ink version of your files. Some people don't mind cutting and pasting all day to make up a game but ink is expensive.

While it's nice to have lovely art to look at sometimes the cost of ink can be prohibitive.

chris_mancini
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Agreed

with what the others have said...color is nice, and I myself usually post PnPs with some color to them, but it's true ink isn't cheap! Perhaps offer a B+W version, or keep colors to a minimum.

First and foremost, you should have playtested the game on your own and with friends/family a few times first...just to make sure it's working. It's one thing to go by your rules doc and have everything LOOK together, but always have played your game yourself before asking strangers to invest time on your behalf.

As far as components, don't sacrifice any that you feel are integral to your game...but it may be helpful to suggest alternatives which the average gamer may have on hand. For instance, if your game uses custom dice, create a chart which allows players to use standard D6 dice.

Or if your game has dozens of colored cubes or meeples, suggest other popular games which players might harvest similar components from...or suggest other supplies, like paperclips, coins...whatever the average person would likely have on hand.

Ultimately, you are asking for a significant investment of time, energy and a little money (in ink and paper) from a PnP playtester...so whatever you can do to communicate WHO your game is for, WHAT makes your game unique/fun, and WHY players would want to play it...the better off you'll be.

Sell me on wanting to play it, demonstrate that it's worth the time and cost to make it myself, and make it easy to assemble the game if it has a range of components. Pull players in with your theme and mechanics, make them WANT to play your game...the rest will fall into place!

MarkJindra
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BGG

Take a look at Board Game Geek and more specifically the PnP contests they run there. Each of those has some pretty detailed instructions and I would bet you can find some great PnP guidelines there.

Try to make cards a size that will fit in card sleeves that are easily available (standard poker size) and it is prety safe to assume that anyone that will print your game will have dice, some sort of token markers, and probably a few meeples lying around or that they can pirate from their collection.

Hope that helps.

=M=

keshiekay
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Re: Card Number

TBone:

That's a good point about card number. Right now we have ~66 of typical card size, but then a few pieces that are either index card-sized or micro cards (think item deck in Arkham Horror).

We're trying to avoid little tokens, and have been playtesting with cubes equally well. So, there's that.

Thanks for your response!

keshiekay
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Responses

chris_mancini wrote:

Ultimately, you are asking for a significant investment of time, energy and a little money (in ink and paper) from a PnP playtester...so whatever you can do to communicate WHO your game is for, WHAT makes your game unique/fun, and WHY players would want to play it...the better off you'll be.

Huh, I hadn't thought about it that way. We've been playtesting a lot (there's always room for more), and are looking to run some blind playtests in the nearish future.

MarkJindra wrote:
Take a look at Board Game Geek and more specifically the PnP contests they run there. Each of those has some pretty detailed instructions and I would bet you can find some great PnP guidelines there.

Oh! I hadn't thought to look there. I'll definitely check it out.

Thanks for all of your help, folks! Apologies for the scattered responses, surreptitiously replying at work...

questccg
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The stats are NOT GOOD

I wish I could find the SOURCE - but I have no clue where I read that only 5% of people who BUY Board Games will actually want to buy a PNP game. For heaven's sake even Board Game reviewers don't want to rate PNP game - because of the extra effort required.

Have you heard of "The Game Crafter" (http://www.thegamecrafter.com)??? Take your PNP and turn it into a one-off production game that costs YOU nothing extra...

Now your customers will PAY but in return they get a GAME that is MADE, not PNP where they need to struggle to put the game together...

I think nowadays there are BETTER options than PNP which maybe (I said maybe) make PNP obsolete...

But that's just my opinion...

debiant
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questccg wrote:I wish I could

questccg wrote:
I wish I could find the SOURCE - but I have no clue where I read that only 5% of people who BUY Board Games will actually want to buy a PNP game. For heaven's sake even Board Game reviewers don't want to rate PNP game - because of the extra effort required.

Have you heard of "The Game Crafter" (http://www.thegamecrafter.com)??? Take your PNP and turn it into a one-off production game that costs YOU nothing extra...

Now your customers will PAY but in return they get a GAME that is MADE, not PNP where they need to struggle to put the game together...

I think nowadays there are BETTER options than PNP which maybe (I said maybe) make PNP obsolete...

But that's just my opinion...

The PnP community is separate and distinct from the GameCrafter community. That isn't to say that they don't overlap just that those willing to print and play games often take pride in their ability to construct those very things that many find tedious.

It is craft just like any other craft and it is unlikely to go away as long as board games are made of materials which people have ready access to. If anything, with the rise of 3d printing and the golden age of board games I'd say that PnP communities are likely to grow.

It's never likely to make anyone any money though.

keshiekay
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Re: stats

I'd love to see the source of the stat, too. Interesting to me.

And we plan to put our game up as a PnP initially (so people can play it if they want, give feedback), gather e-mail addresses for a mailing list, and eventually Kickstart. The PnP for us isn't about making money, but for making ourselves and our game known. And we think our game is fun and want to share it. :P

I have checked out The Game Crafter -- we're thinking of maybe using it after formally posting our PnP to bring better copies of the game to conventions.

Let me know if you find that stat - I'm curious to see how they got it. Thanks for your feedback!

questccg
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What about Facebook???

keshiekay wrote:
...And we plan to put our game up as a PnP initially (so people can play it if they want, give feedback), gather e-mail addresses for a mailing list, and eventually Kickstart. The PnP for us isn't about making money, but for making ourselves and our game known. And we think our game is fun and want to share it. :P...

It's probably better to INVEST in a Dev Blog or Facebook page (with likes)... I understand the reasons why you want to PNP: build up a mailing list and send potential backers a notice that the game is live.

Facebook followers is probably a better idea (IMHO). And it requires less effort (by everyone). :P

keshiekay
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questccg wrote: It's probably

questccg wrote:

It's probably better to INVEST in a Dev Blog or Facebook page (with likes)... I understand the reasons why you want to PNP: build up a mailing list and send potential backers a notice that the game is live.

Facebook followers is probably a better idea (IMHO). And it requires less effort (by everyone). :P

Why not both? I've set us up on Twitter (@omengames), WordPress (omengames.wordpress.com) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/omengames). I'm working with two others so it's not a ton of effort over all. We don't plan to launch until we have at least 100 Twitter followers and 500 Facebook (both currently < 30), so we have a long way to go. And I'm of the belief that a PnP will boost interest and follower count.

So I wouldn't say it's "better" to invest in one rather than the other. It's hard to get noticed and we're in no rush.

keshiekay
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questccg wrote:It's probably

(Oops, double post. Ignore this.)

larienna
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I wrote some guides and
MattPlays
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Some people

will want to look at the PnP to check out the game before they pledge but wont print it off

richdurham
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Some more basics

going under the principle of "make it as easy as possible for someone going out their way for your game," I suggest:

  • Make boards fit on an A4 sheet of paper (or US Letter), or divided amongst some
  • Don't do card art that goes to the card edge, so the person doesn't need to be super careful with their cuts.
  • Forget card backs, but if you really want them, make the back next to the front on your PnP so the person can fold it over to make a whole card.
  • Keep fonts at 10pt and up. Home printers using "fast" mode can make small fonts quite hard to read.
  • Include diagrams (or even better: annotated photos) in the assembly instructions

Distribution and management:

  • Distribute all the files in a single .zip file, or as a single PDF
  • have a READ ME FIRST file/section for assembly and contact information.
  • Use a QR code or shortlink to a feedback form (since you're doing this for blind playtests).
  • Invite playtesters to use a shared cloud service like a Dropbox folder or some such. Use that a means of communication with the testers (since they recieve notifications when files in a shared folder update). This engagement should help the download-to-play ratio.
larienna
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cards back are not very hard

cards back are not very hard to do if you put the edge definition on the front and no definition on the back. You can print off and people won't really notice. Here are some examples:

Look at the bottom right corner and see how the "vinci" text is printed:

http://bgd.lariennalibrary.com/uploads/Mainsite/Variants/Variants2009061...

Again bottom right, the card with "Fallen Kingdom" has a white section around the edge to handle off printing.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/1290880/fallen-kingdoms

richdurham
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I agree - but only in uniform cases

I thought about how to word the "no edge definition" as you put it, as another option for doing backs. I never cared for it though, because it's best done with uniform backs (so you can't tell cards apart from any misalignment of symbols on the back).

Thanks for finding the wording and providing an example :)

Arthur Wohlwill
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Pnp Games

Thank you! That information (and the rest of this thread) has been very helpful as I am in the process of making my own Pnp game. Currently, the prototype is just clip-art, which is probably not appropriate even if I do not sell my game. However, I do not have great artistic skills. I will probably have to find a local artist. The artwork is actually pretty simple, just a few animals (on cards) and a very basic board. Perhaps an art student at the community college where I work could do this.
Any suggestions?

larienna
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Sometimes icons, dingbats and

Sometimes icons, dingbats and clipart can do wonders. If you look in my Vinci pixture above, there is little or no art.

The map is just shape filled with texture and icons.

Token use again an icon over a texture.

The civilisation cards to the right has some graphic design, and an icon in the top left corner to illustrate the concept.

So with little artwork, you can actually do a lot in board games. Graphic design seems more useful than art, but the opposite is possible to (Good art, little graphic design). Take a look at those cards for example:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/image/31552/age-mythology-boardgame

keshiekay
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richdurham wrote: - Keep

richdurham wrote:

- Keep fonts at 10pt and up. Home printers using "fast" mode can make

Really, really good advice. My font was at 8 pt. and is now updated. Much appreciated.

Thanks for your help!

Arthur Wohlwill
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PNP game
wombat929
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Quick response

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like a fun, quick game. I'm interested to try it.

Quick edits to make the pnp easier to use:
1 - post the 'printing rules' document as a .pdf instead of a .docx
2 - put all the cards on a single page -- with only eight cards, you could do two rows of four. Or do three rows of three and include a rules reminder card for the player. The cards could be even smaller -- sixteen "mini" cards at 1.75 x 2.25" (45x57mm) can fit on an 8x11 sheet. That would be two sets of eight cards.
3 - I might consider putting brief summaries of the rolling rules for each card on each card itself, since you have so much space, esp if you don't shrink the cards.
4 - you might put a note on the printing page in the space that will be cut away that one set of cards is needed per player.

Some notes on helping make the rules more clear:
- You should explain that everyone has to do the three-dice roll thing. From a first read, it seems like only the Turtles have to do it.
- I'd explain the animal cards in the order they play. Vultures should be first.
- The math on the snake is confusing. I parsed it, but it seems like there could be a simpler way to explain it.

Last, in subsequent rounds, are all roles available to players, or do they only get to pick from roles they haven't used yet?

Arthur Wohlwill
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PNP game

Thank you very much! I will make the rules more clear and change the cards when I get a chance.

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