Skip to Content

Short-time Lurker

16 replies [Last post]
Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018

Hi, I'm a new board game developer, and even though I've been thinking about this game for 4 years and working on it for several months, it only just now occurred to me to look for a site like this one!

I developed some Mac/PC games back in the 90's, but I've been away from game development for quite a while. Then this game concept just stuck in my head.

The basic idea is an FRPG system that can be played by young kids and their parents. There are plenty of games for young kids. Candy Land, for example. The problem is that they're terrible for anyone older to play WITH their kids. And children usually have a lot of imagination, so an RPG seems like something that could be fun. The problem, of course, is that RPG systems are all complicated. Even a game with just a D20 for rolls is too much for a kid who might have trouble counting to 20, or knowing immediately if 16 is larger than 12.

So I've developed a combat system that removes almost all of that, and distills everything into a single, simple, die roll. There's health, but no armor, no to-hit, no damage, no criticals to deal with separately.. it's all incorporated.

A dungeon level is played on large tiles that the parent (DM) lays out according to the module description (or they can make their own dungeon shape). Characters and monsters are all punch-out stand-up tokens. Character level increases automatically with dungeon level within the (included) campaign, so there are no experience points, and also no gold or random treasure. No crafting system. And so on.

Designed to be very simple.

At the moment I have an artist doing some of the characters and monsters, and another to do a few tiles. A Kickstarter is in the works, once I get all the marketing stuff in place (a few months from now). Hopefully an actual marketing budget will make up for having mostly prototype artwork before the Kickstarter. I have a manufacturing quote and all that as well.. the design has been tweaked several times to match the realities of printing a game with a lot of different components.

Anyway, looking forward to talking to you all. Hopefully I can learn some useful things and help others out as well.

polyobsessive
polyobsessive's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/11/2015
Welcome

Welcome to BGDF, and good luck with your project!

How is testing going? Have you managed to get the game played outside your circle of friends and family?

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
Thanks!

Not yet. I have two sets of beta-testers-to-be. One is kids (and I have a 5yo daughter, who has some friends with geeky parents, so I have access to a small pool of kids), and another is local grownups who play board games and RPGs. I have some excitement from some of the grownups :). The target BUYER of the game is of course the grownup either way.

A third pool I haven't tried to tap yet at all is some local game shops that might let me introduce the game on game nights there and get feedback.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Alpha vs. Beta

Jay103 wrote:
...I have two sets of beta-testers-to-be...

You mean ALPHA testers?! Beta is usually "blind" playtesting where you send your game and rulebook and gamers try to play the game without any assistance or coaching from yourself.

My guess would be that your "beta-testers" are people that you know and are more well aware about you and your game. In the case of "blind" playtesting it's usually some "third-party" to which you either mail a prototype or direct ship them (like a service like The Game Crafter).

But you definitely seem to have some groups to "playtest" your game... And it's a variety of people (Kids + Adults/Millennials). That's good. You'll get better mileage for your testing!

And BTW ... Welcome to BGDF!

ddiaz28
Offline
Joined: 12/19/2017
Welcome. I lurked for quite

Welcome. I lurked for quite a while before finally joining a few weeks ago myself. Your game sounds really cool. Having 2 sons, 11 and 4, myself, I'd definitely be interested in checking it out.

You mentioned a Kickstarter being in the works a few months from now as well as having artists working on artwork already. But you also say you've barely play tested it. I would highly recommend thoroughly testing the game before paying artists to do any work. They might be doing work on aspects of the game you might change or entirely remove based on the feedback you receive. Test it with groups of people you know, groups of people you don't know, and like Poly and Quest suggested, blind play testers as well. I'm playtesting my first game now and the feedback has been extremely useful in refining the game. I have only recently started testing my game but I'm pretty sure it will take dozens if not 100's of tests to get it to a point that is ready to pitch to a publisher or put up on Kickstarter.

Also, I don't think you want to go to Kickstarter with prototype artwork. Designers here will tell you that your game should be almost complete in it's design and artwork. Kickstarter is basically a means to get the money to physically produce the product that is ready to go minus any stretch goals you decide to offer.

Good luck on the development. A family friendly FRPG sounds great.

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Rulebook review vs. Blind playtesting

ddiaz28 wrote:
...Test it with groups of people you know, groups of people you don't know, and like Poly and Quest suggested, blind play testers as well...

The only reason you want to do "blind" playtesting AFTER your game has been extensively playtested by yourself and your various groups, is to be certain that your "rulebook" is sufficiently correct at helping strangers (people who have never played your game) learn all of the rules to playing it.

Of course you can have people "review" your rulebook too.

But sometimes "blind" playtesting find "flaws" or "missing elements or instructions" that a simple rulebook review may NOT find. Could be anything really. But most of the time it's an "omission" that people conducting a review of the rulebook would not find.

And the reason is because "they are not playing your game". Only reviewing your rules for grammar, syntax, clarity and typos. How the game actually plays with the "rulebook" ... that's "blind" playtesting.

Cheers.

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
Yeah, I guess I’m not up on

Yeah, I guess I’m not up on the alpha/beta thing for games. In this case, it’s closer to focus group testing. The rule set is really extremely simple and streamlined. I need to see how kids (other people’s kids) react to things and “get it”. The “beta” could be called semi-blind, in that I’ll give prototypes to grownups I know and they can play with their families and report. There’s no true third party testing. There’s no opportunity for someone to find an exploit in page 17 of the combat rules, because the combat rules are about a half page. Of large type.

Using a deck builder now to enter my “monster manual”, which is provided on cards for easy handling. Then prototypes will be pretty much ready to print.

I’ll probably start a “blog” here, to give people maximum opportunity to challenge the things I’m doing wrong...

Thanks!

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
Some ideas...

Jay103 wrote:
...The “beta” could be called semi-blind, in that I’ll give prototypes to grownups I know and they can play with their families and report...

Well if you are supplying rules and a prototype ... That to me qualifies as blind playtesting!

Jay103 wrote:
There’s no true third party testing.

I have a resource in Boston who can help you out... Provided they are not too busy with other matters. You'll get feedback from 12 playtesters with various experience from "Board Game Neophyte" (hasn't played any modern board games) to veteran gamers. And they each comment about what they thought of the game... Let me know if at some point you'd like to connect with her!

Jay103 wrote:
I’ll probably start a “blog” here, to give people maximum opportunity to challenge the things I’m doing wrong...

Sounds to me like you're a man with a plan! I doubt you're doing anything wrong... but people may have extra resources you can use to maximize your game's exposure.

Cheers!

JohnBrieger
JohnBrieger's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/04/2016
RPGs for Kids

To be honest – it sounds like you are a little too early to be buying art if you still haven't play tested the game with people other than a few close friends / their children.

I highly recommend also doing some market research and playing a few sessions of two of the most popular current RPGs for kids:
- No Thank You, Evil by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook, published by Monte Cook Games
- Little Wizards by Antoine Bauza, published by Crafty Games.

Some quick self-check questions you'll want to look at just to know how to structure some of your marketing and answer questions from potential customers:

What do you think your system does better than these games?
What do you think your system does worse than these games?
What does your system do that these do not?
Would someone want to own both your game and one of these games?

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
questccg wrote:I have a

questccg wrote:
I have a resource in Boston who can help you out... Provided they are not too busy with other matters. You'll get feedback from 12 playtesters with various experience from "Board Game Neophyte" (hasn't played any modern board games) to veteran gamers. And they each comment about what they thought of the game... Let me know if at some point you'd like to connect with her!

Wow that would be pretty great. I may take you up on it, though an extra 12 prototypes might be beyond my available materials :)

questccg wrote:
Sounds to me like you're a man with a plan! I doubt you're doing anything wrong... but people may have extra resources you can use to maximize your game's exposure.

Cheers!


Oh I have a plan.. just a question of whether I can execute it without a huge ore-kick investment... (and my top map tile making choice just bailed on me, sigh)

questccg
questccg's picture
Offline
Joined: 04/16/2011
12 Prototypes???

Jay103 wrote:
questccg wrote:
I have a resource in Boston who can help you out... Provided they are not too busy with other matters. You'll get feedback from 12 playtesters with various experience from "Board Game Neophyte" (hasn't played any modern board games) to veteran gamers. And they each comment about what they thought of the game... Let me know if at some point you'd like to connect with her!

Wow that would be pretty great. I may take you up on it, though an extra 12 prototypes might be beyond my available materials :)

You don't need 12 prototypes... Just a game for 4 players and they play the game 3 times with different people. 4 x 3 = 12 players and their opinion of the game.

Is your game capable of having 4 players to play??? Or is it like everyone has their own setup and that counts as 1 player (Game Set)? You would get invaluable experience from those third-party playtesting groups. Some of the players even told us what the game reminded them of: a bit of "Race for the Galaxy" + Civilization + "touch" of Firefly.

And that was nice because it gave us more leads to pursue in terms of thinking of new expansions and "extra/bonus" material!

PM me and I'll send you her coordinate. Cheers!

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
Answers

I actually have answers to those :)

JohnBrieger wrote:
To be honest – it sounds like you are a little too early to be buying art if you still haven't play tested the game with people other than a few close friends / their children.

Yes and no. I'm too early to be buying ALL the art. However, I don't just want to design a game; I want to design a game that I can manufacture and sell for at a reasonable price point.

To do that, I have to understand all the parts of the process. For one example, I can't get a price estimate without knowing the components, and I can't fully design the components without a price estimate. My original design included a large number of custom dice (one per weapon, basically). But if it cost $0.85 per die, that's not a feasible design, even if it's a good design. Fortunately it doesn't cost that in China, but I still cut that number down.

Another example is that the size and number of punchout sheets is based in part on the size of the tokens needed, and also ties in to the size of the box needed to hold everything, and whether that box needs special inserts, and whether that box fits on a game store's shelves nicely. I was originally assuming character tokens would be 2" x 1". After I started working with the artist to get a few characters done, it became clear that, when you include a 1/8" trim zone, that's just too small to have a nice character. So they need to be bigger, and maybe others need to be a little bigger, and now the punchout sheets should be bigger as well (as opposed to adding another), which means that the map tiles can be larger to match that (and they'll still stack in the box), which changes the overall level designs.. and also changes the box dimensions(in a good way, fortunately!)

So I'm trying to move part-way forward on all the different areas, because they all inter-relate, and I need to know something about everything.

Quote:
I highly recommend also doing some market research and playing a few sessions of two of the most popular current RPGs for kids:
- No Thank You, Evil by Shanna Germain and Monte Cook, published by Monte Cook Games
- Little Wizards by Antoine Bauza, published by Crafty Games.

I haven't played them but I've looked at the pages. They're both very imagination-focused. This game is closer to a traditional board game, more focused on having pawns moving around a big map. There is opportunity for imagination (a child can make up their backstory if they DECIDE to), but it's not the focus of the game.

Maybe that's my personal preference coming through. I'm sure my 5-year-old would like a game that's mostly imagination, but I'd be less comfortable playing with her than I would in *my* game. And I'd probably just buy Dixit for that (in a few years)

polyobsessive
polyobsessive's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/11/2015
Not blind

ddiaz28 wrote:
Test it with groups of people you know, groups of people you don't know, and like Poly and Quest suggested, blind play testers as well.

To be completely clear, I am absolutely not advocating doing blind playtesting at this point. Blind testing is essential to do before you publish a game, but you can waste a lot of time (both your own and the valuable time of your playtesters) by doing blind testing too soon.

Testing with people you don't know, however, is really useful from pretty much as soon as you have a stable game. Getting feedback from people who don't feel they have to be nice to you is so important, and you would do well to find ways to let people know that they can (and should) be brutally open and honest with their feedback.

I also don't buy into this "alpha/beta" terminology. Everyone means something different by it, and as soon as someone starts talking in those terms we end up with a discussion about what the terms really mean. Instead of thinking of alpha or beta, maybe it's better to think about what you are hoping to achieve with any given test: are you testing that a mechanism works, are you looking for how engaged players are at different stages, or maybe you're trying to find if there is a first player advantage?

Good luck with making your game.

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
questccg wrote: Is your game

questccg wrote:

Is your game capable of having 4 players to play???

One box purchase supports 1-4 Players plus a (grownup) questmaster. So really 2-5 players. The only one expected to be able to read the rules is the QM, who's explaining the rest to the players.

ddiaz28
Offline
Joined: 12/19/2017
I could have been clearer

Guess I could have been clearer that those three groups of testers happen in that order. Test the game yourself and close family and friends until you have an MVP, Minimum Viable Product, or Prototype in this case . You don't want to waste strangers' time by playing a game that breaks quickly. Once you have that, then go to strangers and get them to play it and give you honest feedback. And go in each time with specific things you are testing for. Once you think you have an answer, even if it's only after half a play through, end the session and ask for feedback. No reason to keep going if you already know what you need to fix. Every playtest I have run so far has only needed two rounds for me to get enough feedback to make changes. (Those rounds took an hour but that was enough feedback in itself that the game was way too long) Finally, once you have the gameplay down, you write a rulebook and send the game out to blind playtesters to see if they are able to learn and play the game just from the rules without your input.

JohnBrieger
JohnBrieger's picture
Offline
Joined: 11/04/2016
RPG vs Dungeon Crawl

Ah – I had assumed more pen and paper RPG style from your description – my mistake!

In that case, I'd recommend checking out both of Jerry Hawthorne's family friendly dungeon crawls:
Mice and Mystics (Which I think rightfully gets criticism for being too complicated) and
Stuffed Fables – which he designed as a spiritual successor to mice and mystics and looks a lot more streamlined (releases in ~5 days)

"Yes and no. I'm too early to be buying ALL the art. However, I don't just want to design a game; I want to design a game that I can manufacture and sell for at a reasonable price point."

RE: price and components – great that you are already thinking about that stuff. Boardgame margins are razor-thin, so keeping costs down is shockingly important. Also keep in mind that self-publishing is not the only route to market if you have a design, though pitching to publishers comes with a different set of barriers and difficulties.

My "don't buy art" advice is mostly to avoid investing too much capital in the game too early. Many designers regularly abandon games after testing them with wider audiences because they realize that either the game isn't quite good enough, the concept isn't quite marketable enough, or they lose interest and move on to other designs. In the past few years, only about 1/3 of my designs end up surviving testing and making it to the stage where I think they are marketable enough to pitch to publishers (and I think 1 in 3 is actually a pretty good ration). If I self-published, that would be the stage where I'd start buying art.

In addition to projects getting abandoned, games often change extensively as you iterate based on testing and feedback, so you might end up with art you commissioned no longer being necessary. Most people tend to give the same advice: don't spend money before you know you have a viable product that you want to take to market. A viable product is different than "a playable and enjoyable game".

Anyway – mostly, I encourage you to put your work in front of strangers and get lots of people to playtest and give feedback – as that is the way you'll be able to forge a great game! If you ever need any advice on anything, feel free to PM me. I was lucky enough to receive a TON of mentorship as I was getting started on my game design journey and I try to pay it forward!

Jay103
Offline
Joined: 01/23/2018
Thanks once again for all the

Thanks once again for all the comments and advice.

JohnBrieger wrote:
Mice and Mystics (Which I think rightfully gets criticism for being too complicated) and

Heh, that is PRECISELY the example of a kids' game I think is way too complicated.

Quote:
Stuffed Fables – which he designed as a spiritual successor to mice and mystics and looks a lot more streamlined (releases in ~5 days)

I will definitely check this out. Thanks!

Syndicate content


forum | by Dr. Radut