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What were they saying?

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Raydad909
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Joined: 08/17/2010

Hello Group,

I'm a "Long time reader, first time caller" and it's great to be here w/ a bunch of minds that want to "get in the game". I'm presently working on a
board game idea and I'm looking into trying to get it published. Recently, I mailed to a small board game company a signed copy of their NDA along with the rules to a game concept that I was working on. They reviewed my concept and they wrote me back w/ the following:

"...I think it is clever, however I do not think it's strong enough to make it to market. I will say that things always change and it may be that your concept could be part of a game just not the whole game. Feel free to check in with me periodically for any updates".

Two questions came to mind when I read this: What did they mean by the above statement (just checking for 'legalese') and how does one make their game stronger to market? Hopefully, it doesn't involve steroids :-/.

sedjtroll
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Joined: 07/21/2008
This is what I think that means

Raydad909 wrote:
They reviewed my concept and they wrote me back w/ the following:

"...I think it is clever, however I do not think it's strong enough to make it to market. I will say that things always change and it may be that your concept could be part of a game just not the whole game. Feel free to check in with me periodically for any updates".

Two questions came to mind when I read this: What did they mean by the above statement (just checking for 'legalese') and how does one make their game stronger to market?


This is what I think they probably mean...

They took a look at the rules and decided that they didn't think the game was "good enough" to publish. They didn't think it would sell for whatever reason, sounds like they thought it sounded like it wouldn't stand out or something. Like maybe it's too similar to stuff already out there (either thematically or mechanically), or maybe the theme isn't something they thought would grab people interest enough to buy, or maybe they just thought it didn't sound like a great game that people would rave about and rate highly. It's hard to guess exactly what they meant without knowing who it was, or what your game is like! Maybe it just didn't sound like fun to them.

The "things always change" part sounds like it means maybe they would be interested in a different or more developed game based on whatever your clever mechanism is sometime in the future - so like another way of saying "if you work on it and improve it, we wouldn't be opposed to your submitting it again" - a better reply than a flat out "no"!

That's what it sounds like to me anyway, but what do I know? On the other hand, I am in a position where I've received submissions and had to turn them down, so maybe my perspective could be closer to accurate than Joe Random off the street. Then again, maybe not.

How do you make your game stronger? That's a tough question! Development is tricky - and it's also not an exact science - it's an art. If the reason it's not "strong enough to make it to market" is because of the mechanics, then you pretty much need to play the game a lot, try and identify what people like and what people don't like about it - try and distill the important things the game is supposed to be doing and emphasize those, cut out some of the extraneous stuff that really doesn't matter much. It can take a lot of work, and it can be difficult to know when you're on the right track, but done well that stuff can really make a game shine.

If the reason it's not strong enough to make it to market is because of the theme - that could mean it's not a popular theme, or that the theme is overdone (in which case it would really have to stand out among all the other similar games)... maybe the theme is fine in general, but the mechanics don't evoke it well - like the game is about building a railroad, but the game action doesn't feel at all like you're building anything. You might consider retheming the game, figure out a theme that fits the mechanisms better. Or, if you really like your current theme, find ways to tweak it, or tweak/modify the mechanism so it feels more like you're involved in the theme.

For example, there's a game coming out real soon from Mayfair called Lords of Vegas, by James Ernest. In that game you're building Casinos, and the things you do on your turn are: Build a piece of casino, add on to your casinos making them bigger (but it's risky expanding onto land you don't own, because someone might end up taking ownership of it from you), and some other stuff including, and this is classic if you ask me, if you want extra money to spend on your turn, you can go to an opponent's casino and play craps! You literally place a bet, roll the dice, and either you lose money to them, or they have to pay you if you win. You can't turn someone away, after all - you've opened a casino!

Railroad Tycoon is another example of a game that really meshes the theme and game action well. You build up your rail empire turn by turn and deliver goods along your track. At the beginning of the game you are poor and you can only do small deliveries, but by the end of the game your rail network is vast, and you think back to the beginning of the game and wonder how you got by with such a small train! I refer to that kind of change in scope as "Epic" - Railroad Tycoon is an Epic game that meshes well with it's theme. It has a lot of things going for it.
Wow, this post got long. Hopefully it will lend some insight into some ways to make your game stronger. Study similar games that are out there (especially ones that are highly rated and considered "good") and see what sets them apart from other, more mediocre games.

- Seth

ReneWiersma
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Joined: 08/08/2008
It means they thought the

It means they thought the game wasn't bad, but not good enough for them to publish it. And that if you rework it enough, they wouldn't be opposed to reviewing it again in the future.

How to improve your game so that it is strong enough to publish is impossible to say without knowing more about the game.

Whymme
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Joined: 01/25/2009
Why don't you ask the company

Why don't you ask the company themselves? I'm sure that they are the best source for deciphering their reply. And they could also tell you which specific parts they liked and what they think could be improved or expanded.

That said, I think that the key part of their reply is "your concept could be part of a game just not the whole game". Have a look at the games the company publishes - it sounds like those are a bit heavier or more involved than your game, that they sell games with several interlocking mechanics. Your game at the moment is just about one such mechanic. That leaves you with a couple of choices. One is to develop your game further and then offering it at this company again (or at another company), another is to submit your game to a publisher of light games, more in line with the current state of your game. And you could of course pursue both options at once; submitting your game to a publisher of light games while at the same time developing it into a more complicated game, to be submitted to a publisher of heavier games.

Raydad909
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Joined: 08/17/2010
Thanks!

Thank you all for replying to my query. I didn't think I'd get such answers so promptly! I will definitely take them all into consideration. If anyone else out there wants to put in there own two cents, feel free to chime in!

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