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Subject: The Five Big Questions (and Answers) about Protospiel rss

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Eric Jome
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Introduction

If you are into designing games, you're likely struggling with lots of different issues. Making a game involves working through all sorts of decisions about mechanics and theme, not to mention complicated issues about appearance and publishing. And it can be very hard to make good decisions in isolation, even if you have a wealth of experience or a small crew of helpers; a fresh perspective or the voice of experience is often useful to anyone.

The good news is, all of us who design games are in the same boat. And that's where the idea of Protospiel comes from; if we're working toward the same goals and facing the same challenges, we can get together to share experiences and collaborate, test and make suggestions all toward building better games.

As I've been involved in Protospiel, I often hear the same five questions over and over, so I thought I'd take time to put them together with answers.

What is Protospiel?

A Protospiel event is a cooperative, collaborative game design workshop.

The guiding principle of Protospiel is reciprocity. That is, I will teach you my game and ask you to give me feedback on it and help with it. In return, I'll do the same for you and your game. You should be prepared to be a good tester and evaluator of other people's games. And you should also be ready to work on your prototype, know what kind of help you want and keep an open mind willing to take all kinds of suggestions.

My game is just a rough prototype that still needs a lot of work. Is Protospiel right for me?

Friend, Protospiel IS for you. You don't need to have a shiny polished product at all. As long as you've got more than an idea, something you can actually try to at least partially play, then this is your opportunity. You'll find the environment welcoming, helpful, and cooperative. And it's a working event, trying to help you make it what you want. Everyone will be at all different levels in the design process.

I'm happy with my rules and game play, but I'm struggling with graphics, layout, or thematic design. Can I get anything out of Protospiel?

Many of the designers at Protospiel have spent a lot of time working on their prototypes with different tools and techniques. Some might even be graphic designers or artists. It's a good place to learn from others and brainstorm on options for these subjects. There is often experience in soliciting art and design as well as tips on taking an amateur approach to the next level.

My game is done! I'm looking to get it published. Will Protospiel help?

Protospiel is a game design workshop. People who attend are aspiring or published game designers, but publishers often attend too. There will be people who can provide insights into different publishing approaches and who can share their experiences with you. Games that are worked on at Protospiel have gone on to be published, but it's important to know that the event is more about working on game design with your peers and less about business arrangements. The most useful aspect of the event in this area will likely be networking and sharing of experiences.

I don't have a game of my own. Can I still help out?

Sure! Personally, I believe that if your hobby is playing games, you've probably got a lot of good experience you can leverage to really provide insightful comments and useful suggestions to designers. Protospiel is a great opportunity for you to share that as well as get involved in the game design process early. Who knows, it may even inspire you to be a designer yourself!

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James Mathe
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FYI - Protospiel-Milwaukee.org pre-registration closes this evening.

James

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Brent Cunningham
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I wish I could make it to Protospiel this weekend, but...Hoopla.

I will have a tough choice to make in the future in deciding between 2 great events.

If you are an amateur designer looking to get fantastic feedback and support from the community, Protospiel (and especially in Milwaukee) is the place to go. I went last year and met a lot of great people, and saw a lot of great games that I hope will get publishing opportunities someday.

Don't miss this opportunity!
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Eric Jome
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historyguy71 wrote:
I will have a tough choice to make in the future in deciding between 2 great events.


In the future I hope to coordinate with you more so I can go to both!
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Lucas Gerlach
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Have there been any thoughts about running the Hoopla and Protospiel at the same time on purpose... in the same location (now that the Hoopla is trying out a new location anyway)? Designers could get some overflow from the regular gamers. This would benefit the designers at Protospiel, but I'm not sure of the clear benefits for the Hoopla, apart from letting attendees know about the thriving group of game designers in the area and allowing them to take part in playing and developing these games.
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Eric Jome
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Beaker73 wrote:
Have there been any thoughts about running the Hoopla and Protospiel at the same time on purpose...


Another question that often comes up about Protospiel is wondering if it will work well within another event.

In my personal view, no, it won't. Protospiel requires a lot of time and focus; if 4 people try my game, I am obliged to try all 4 of their games (or at least 4 other designers games) and provide constructive, peer to peer feedback. Indeed, the very first Protospiel was created to allow people to get away from other distractions and focus.

People at a gaming event are the target market, true, but they are there to play games and have fun, to escape. Protospiel is "work"; hobby work that you do for the love of it, but still a working session. If a normal game convention is like going to a movie, then Protospiel is like auditing a film criticism and theory class. Many just want to enjoy the movie.

The nice thing is, though, that there is something very like Protospiel that is better suited in style to being hosted inside another event. That'd be Unpub. Unpub's style is exactly what you're suggesting - a designer with a finished, playable prototype plays the game many times with interested gamers, hearing their market testing focus group style feedback.
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Eric Jome
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Beaker73 wrote:
... letting attendees know about the thriving group of game designers in the area and allowing them to take part in playing and developing these games.


At Protospiel - Milwaukee, we really value people who would take the time to help out. We have a special Playtester track and I try to encourage people to come who aren't bringing designs. There's always much more work to do than hands to do it!

I'd love to have more people help out, but as you note above, people at something like a Hoopla are there to play - it's asking a lot of the event to dedicate a lot of space and time to a prototype when no shortage of finished products are on order.

But, I'll be running published game events at the Hoopla all the same. Great event for a great cause. Definitely worth going to enjoy!
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Jeremy Peet
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I noticed there isn't a Protospiel in Michigan, is that true? This is something that I always wanted to go to!
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Eric Jome
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Germflinger wrote:
I noticed there isn't a Protospiel in Michigan...


But there IS... Protospiel

July 10 - 12, 2015
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Jeremy Peet
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Yeah buddy!!!


Thanks!
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Kevin Nunn
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Great article Eric!

This topic was also covered recently in my blog. Those interested in further info can check them out here:

Part 1: http://kevingnunn.com/2015/01/30/getting-ready-for-protospie...
Part 2: http://kevingnunn.com/2015/02/04/getting-ready-for-protospie...
Part 3: http://kevingnunn.com/2015/02/07/getting-ready-for-protospie...
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Lucas Gerlach
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cosine wrote:
Beaker73 wrote:
Have there been any thoughts about running the Hoopla and Protospiel at the same time on purpose...


Another question that often comes up about Protospiel is wondering if it will work well within another event.

In my personal view, no, it won't. Protospiel requires a lot of time and focus; if 4 people try my game, I am obliged to try all 4 of their games (or at least 4 other designers games) and provide constructive, peer to peer feedback. Indeed, the very first Protospiel was created to allow people to get away from other distractions and focus.

People at a gaming event are the target market, true, but they are there to play games and have fun, to escape. Protospiel is "work"; hobby work that you do for the love of it, but still a working session. If a normal game convention is like going to a movie, then Protospiel is like auditing a film criticism and theory class. Many just want to enjoy the movie.


I just started listening to some of the recent Gamecrafter Podcast about Protospiel by JT and Jeff, and what I was hearing completely agrees with what you're saying. (I'll also be checking out Kevin's blog.) I definitely understand and appreciate the difference. Thanks for answering the question!
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