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Subject: I came up with a card game, but somethings not right. What did I do wrong? rss

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Caleb Cook
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Quick disclaimer: This is not my way of trying to draw attention to my project, I genuinely want your feedback, and want to know if I have done something wrong with the game design/art/so on...

So I recently designed a card game called Stick and Stones. I spent 8-10 months working on rules, getting quotes on manufacturing, play testing, finding artists for the art and so forth. I got feedback from family and friends and made changes according to suggestions. 2 days ago I launched the game on Kickstarter and I'm only 2 days in, but there are only 11 backers, and it seems very stagnate. I am really worried that the game might just not be a good idea, but I seemed to get good responses from people that I got to check it out before launch. So here are my thoughts:



1. Pricepoint is too high?

2. People are scared of the $50,000 goal

3. I've lost a lot of backers by not offering international shipping outside of US and Canada?

4. Bad art design? I like the art thats on the Kickstarter, but maybe no one else does.

5. The RPG card game market is saturated and there is not demand for something like this?

6. Or worse, the biggest fear of all... Maybe it's just a bad idea?

Is there anything I could do to improve the concept of the game? Is it even a good idea? Any thoughts and criticism would be very much appreciated. I put a lot of time and effort into this game and really wanted to get to play it! I'm just trying to decide if I need to regroup and redesign, then go after it again.

Here is a link to the game: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/125326427/sticks-and-sto...

Caleb
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Carl Nyberg
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Did you give a copy of the game to strangers to playtest using only your instructions while you weren't there?
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Caleb Cook
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I did not. I only play tested with friends while I was there. I did this so I could make changes as we played if we ran into anything that was conflicting. But in retrospect I should have sent copies to friends and let them try it alone.
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Drake Coldwinter
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Friends and Family may not be the more cruel sincere people to give you feedback...

Also, before launching the kickstarter you should have done an entry here on BGG, post the rules so people can read, post even a PnP version (cards only with text, no art, prototype version). You would then forge a small community of followers before launching the kickstarter. This community will help you promote the game.

Currently in your kickstarter there is no video, too few images, no clear defined rules posted.

Also it seems to be your first table top game, so you have currently no reputation (it's not easy to build reputation).

Also in your kickstarter you state a couple of times your game is fun and fresh, cool and unique fighting system... Unfortenally we see this kind of phrases from all the failed games. You should post rules and let decide the comunity if the game is fun, fresh and original or not.

At last, many people need 2 or even 3 tries at kickstarter before achieving publication of a game, so if your first try doesn't go well don't give up.
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Brook Gentlestream
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People are attracted to positive energy. While your campaign is in progress, you want to remain upbeat, optimistic, goal-oriented, inviting, and graceful under pressure.

Posting something like "what's wrong with my game?" will doom the campaign to failure. Especially if people start responding, and talking about all the negative things they don't like about your game, or about your campaign, or about you, or about kickstarter, or about capitalism, or online transactions, or whateever else. Every post will be negative and critiquing, including this one. Negativity will breed negativity.

While I find it admirable to post a thread like this anyway because you might care more about improving your game quality than you do at succeeding at your current campaigning, there's a right time and a wrong time to do things.

If you suspect (for whatever reason) that there's a problem with your game or your campaign, you should end the campaign and THEN focus on addressing the problem. Working on your game/campaign, especially fundamental conceptual changes to your approach, while you are accepting money and selling your product is a half-baked way to do business and doesn't give a good impression and some of your backers may find it dishonest, despite your best of intentions.

My advice is to focus on the campaign as it is if you think its worth pursuing. If it fails, then it fails, but don't let it be because you've let the seed of doubt into your heart and couldn't inspire consumer confidence. On the other hand, if something has happened that you think maybe you've done something wrong or you want to do something totally different, end the campaign and THEN work on it.

People will be happier to help you, and the discussion will only aid your reputation (instead of hindering it) when you LATER begin a new campaign. And when you do open the campaign, you'll be totally focused on the campaign and spreading the word, not dividing your time by additionally collecting feedback, making changes, and evaluating your doubts.

A discussion like this is admirable, but its going to grind you to a halt if you focus on it DURING your campaign and it could help carry you forward if you do it BEFORE your campaign.
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monkey700 wrote:
I did not. I only play tested with friends while I was there. I did this so I could make changes as we played if we ran into anything that was conflicting. But in retrospect I should have sent copies to friends and let them try it alone.
What the above poster described is "blind playtesting", which is vital for both making sure your rules are well written (ie: players can play without you there to help) and that the game is balanced (because people you don't know have a different bias towards you than your friends, not to mention the different perspectives on the game).

It's not too late to start doing that, you should definitely do that.

As for your KS, there are some great blog posts out there (I'm sure someone will ink you, I don't have the links handy from here) that go over things that make good and bad boardgame KS's from a variety of perspectives. Here's one such blog: http://www.stonemaiergames.com/kickstarter-lesson-52-write-a...

There are others.

Finally, you spent a lot of time describing how the game is played. That's fine, but what I really want before I commit to a game on KS is the rules. I would recommend sharing those on the KS page as well.
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Caleb Cook
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Also I should mention that I should have spent some time on this forum before launching the project. I am very much new to game design and really didn't know where to start for a good resource. I sent a message to Michael Mindes from Tasty Minstrel Games, who directed me to Stonemaier games blog on how to run a good Kickstarter for a game. I might have spent to much time on the Kickstarter and not enough time figuring out if I even had a good concept.
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David Boeren
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I would say that the biggest barrier for me is that there's almost nothing to tell me what the game is like or how to play it.

If there was a gameplay video showing how it works that would help. If not that, then at least having the rules posted and maybe some example diagrams.

I play a variety of LCGs and when looking at this sort of game the things I want to know are:
1. What is the resource model like?
2. What are the basic phases of the game?
3. What are the ways you can win?
4. What unique or interesting mechanic does this game have?
5. Can I play cards on my opponent's turn?
6. What are the different factions and what are their playstyles?
7. Is this a one-shot product, or will there be expansions?

Somewhere the theme is significant too, but functionality matters a lot in a card game. I can't really answer any of those questions with what's on the Kickstarter page, other than a strong feeling that this is a one-shot product.
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Nate Walker
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monkey700 wrote:
I did not. I only play tested with friends while I was there. I did this so I could make changes as we played if we ran into anything that was conflicting. But in retrospect I should have sent copies to friends and let them try it alone.
The game needs more playtesting - by people you don't know. As said above, you need to have strangers play it. Give them the game and the rules - that's it. Playing it with friends is not enough. You're nowhere near ready to produce the game.
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Drake Coldwinter
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I think to build up a community and let your game be know before going to kickstarter it's very important. Open a blog, make an entry here in BGG, people will check the images, read the rules and have time to make up their minds and get interested into your game before you launch it to kickstatarter, then you will have a group of people who will embark right away into it.
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Julian Wasson
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There aren't enough details about the game. The theme is interesting and the art's not bad, but from looking at what you've posted I don't really have a feel for how it will play. If you have semifinal rules, post those. Post a couple preview cards for each type of card. You have some example Enhancements, but TBH they look snoozy and the "roll a die to see how many turns it lasts" mechanic seems both clunky and swingy.

Kickstarters without a video generally don't do very well. Even well-established game makers like Greater Than Games got a ton of pushback for not having a video when they Kickstarted their new space game. I know that the skills of "making games" and "making videos" don't have a lot of overlap, but only half of what you're selling with a Kickstarter is the product itself. The other half is you as a person.

I can't really tell you if it's a good idea or a bad idea right now because there isn't enough to give me a good grasp on exactly what the game is. I think the stickmen versus stone golems theme is neat, and there's definitely room for you to do something cool with that. But really, that's all I've got to go on, and it's not enough to sell me on the game.
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Magnus Karlsson
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monkey700 wrote:
Also I should mention that I should have spent some time on this forum before launching the project. I am very much new to game design and really didn't know where to start for a good resource. I sent a message to Michael Mindes from Tasty Minstrel Games, who directed me to Stonemaier games blog on how to run a good Kickstarter for a game. I might have spent to much time on the Kickstarter and not enough time figuring out if I even had a good concept.
Yes, coming here with a new user badge and (not in this case) trying to promote your game is a very bad idea - you did it sort of right and I think you should kill the Kickstarter early, use the support you can get here and then do a restart later.
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Chris Norwood
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To succeed on Kickstarter, you need more than a good game. As another person said above, success is based on the publicity, excitement, and community you have already built for the game.

Check out Jamey Stegmeier's blog and the Funding the Dream podcast for tons and tons of advice for creating a successful Kickstarter (much of which is about building your community before you launch the project).

And also remember, there's no penalty for cancelling a project and re-launching it later.

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Oliver Kiley
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My gut reaction is this: you are not a known entity (i.e. not well plugged in) in the hobby gaming world - and hence don't have the traction you need to generate a lot of early interest in your campaign.

The kickstarter environment is getting increasingly competitive, and new self-publishers need to lay a lot of groundwork and get interest going in their game well ahead of any crowd funding. Plus, if you haven't done any external testing (i.e. blind testing outside of your circle of family/friends) your game may also need a lot more development and exposure anyway.

Here are some suggestions, in no particular order:

(1) Do some serious blind playtesting. Make additional prototype copies and find testers to give/loan copies to for external feedback. You need feedback.

(2) Go to a game designer focused convention or event to get additional feedback.

(3) You need a strong presence in the community, mainly BGG. Your newuser badge says it all unfortunately, and a lot of interested people might be loathe to support a totally unknown entity. You don't even have a game page here in the BGG database. Get that going, get information out there about your game - get involved with the BGG community so you can learn how to drum up support.

(4) Prior to launching another campaign, get a prominent video review to take a look at your game and provide some insight on it and/or generate interest.

(5) I'm not sure your financial numbers make sense and/o you need to figure out how to do the game in a more cost effective way. The $50,000 dollar goal for a card game with 120 cards plus a few counters and dice is way to high. Games with far more components and complexity have goals that are half as much. I'm sure your numbers pencil out as you've been looking at them, but you might need to take a different approach. If just your printing costs are $22,000, divided by 2,500 copies means each game is costing you $8.80 to print, let along all the other costs. That's too high for a card game to print. Full size boardgames that retail for $40-50 cost around that to produce at that scale for comparison.

(6) Your kickstarter needs a video or something showing the actual gameplay. And you also need to have a rulebook, even a draft available for the KS campaign. KS backers are generally a pretty sophisticated and scrutinizing bunch (for good or for bad!) and you're not likely to get any serious support without people having a VERY clear idea of how the game plays so they can gauge whether or not they want to play it.

I hope this doesn’t come across harshly. You have cool idea from what I can tell, but I think there is a little more groundwork to lay before launching the kickstarter. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.

Best wishes.


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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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If you send me a copy of the game, I'd be more than glad to play test it for you. I've play tested a game for another member of BGG and provided an extensive amount of feedback. He told me I was very useful, as I provided him with a lot of feedback with constructive criticism. If you'd like to contact him to check on me, I can provide you with his contact information. I'm also out of your circle of friends, so I can be more honest with you than they will be.
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David Boeren
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Cosmonaut Zero wrote:
There aren't enough details about the game. The theme is interesting and the art's not bad, but from looking at what you've posted I don't really have a feel for how it will play. If you have semifinal rules, post those. Post a couple preview cards for each type of card. You have some example Enhancements, but TBH they look snoozy and the "roll a die to see how many turns it lasts" mechanic seems both clunky and swingy.
See, I didn't even get far enough to see that. Yes, that rule sounds like a turnoff but more importantly people won't keep reading once they see there's no real information there. Yes, your rules are likely going to be not-so-good because they have never really been playtested properly. But nobody will know because they aren't posted. And not being posted or having anything else showing how the game works will keep people from being interested enough to pledge as well.

If you don't mind, can you tell us about your background? What other card and board games do you play? Is this meant as a serious card game or is it just a light filler sort of thing? Is there another game you would compare it to?
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Caleb Cook
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I absolutely should have come here first before launching the game. I really appreciate the feedback everyone is giving me. I believe I might kill the project and begin a thread here to gain more feedback from the BGG community. What's most important to me is that people have a good time playing the game and are glad that they backed it.(Much like the feeling I got after playing my copy of Dungeon Roll from TMG)I am definitely confident in the game, I just know that sometimes things that appeal to me don't appeal to everyone else. Thank you so much for the feedback I plan to spend a lot of time on here over the next few months getting advice on the game. I really appreciate all the constructive thoughts and being so open with a brand new user to the forum(I know a lot of forums tend to temporarily shun the new guy). Thanks to everyone!

Caleb

P.S. Where would be the best place on BGG to startup a thread where I can post the rules and get feedback on gameplay mechanics?
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Beau Bocephus Blasterfire
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I believe you can add your game to the game database by clicking on Misc from the drop down menus under the search bar at the top of the page and filling out the appropriate fields.

It will be a good place to put pictures and information regarding your game. If nothing else, it is a good way to advertise your game prior to kickstarting it.
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Kickstarter has become a culture that you really have to be tapped into if you are going to use it. My first impression is that perhaps you did not fully research KS best practices because you do not have a campaign video, and you do not provide rules to your game. These are both aspects that will turn off potential backers very quickly. Especially the rules, if people are unclear about your explanations or want to know how a mechanic differs from another game with similar mechanics, the rules, even preliminary ones, can turn people who are on the fence.

As for the art, I think it is fine. It is kinda cute, so not taking itself too seriously, but not sloppy either.

I do think the market is pretty full for this type of game, so your success will depend on how well you can sell your battle mechanic. So flesh that out, give us a walk through and make the process (rules) totally transparent.

That's my $0.02.
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monkey700 wrote:
P.S. Where would be the best place on BGG to startup a thread where I can post the rules and get feedback on gameplay mechanics?
You should definitely make the game entry for your game. You can post files and start a thread in its forums.

There are lots of threads asking for proof reading help in the game design forums, does that fit?
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Julian Wasson
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monkey700 wrote:
P.S. Where would be the best place on BGG to startup a thread where I can post the rules and get feedback on gameplay mechanics?
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/forum/26/boardgamegeek/board-ga...

There's a whole subforum dedicated to board game design. That's where I'd go.
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I just went and looked at your KS page.

As noted you don't fully explain the rules of the game and from the outside it looks to me like a Magic knock off. Except is has cartoon art, not as steamlined graphic design, and is untested. You mention having enhancements that is unique, except Magic introduced Enchantments 20 years ago, which though may be different in your game seem the same from the outside.

I noticed a couple typos and your presentation is very conversational not professional.

If I am looking for a quick two player card game I am looking to spend under $15.

I think most people would just go with something else.
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monkey700 wrote:
I absolutely should have come here first before launching the game. I really appreciate the feedback everyone is giving me. I believe I might kill the project and begin a thread here to gain more feedback from the BGG community. What's most important to me is that people have a good time playing the game and are glad that they backed it.
THAT, sir, is the correct attitude. Have some GeekGold.
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I will echo some other posters in saying that your main problem is a lack of concrete information about the game. One diagram and a description of some of the cards is not enough to gain backers' confidence in your product. Until we see a rule book and a game play video, we can't even tell you if the concept is good or if it has a place in the market.

Get those two things up on the Kickstarter as soon as possible and you will have a much better chance of salvaging the project (though $50k is fairly high for a card game).
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Caleb Cook
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dboeren wrote:
[q="Cosmonaut Zero"]
If you don't mind, can you tell us about your background? What other card and board games do you play? Is this meant as a serious card game or is it just a light filler sort of thing? Is there another game you would compare it to?
As far as personal games I play, I tend to lean towards trading card, fantasy card games such as MTG, Battletech and such. Sometimes delving into D&D. I've been stuck on playing Dungeon Roll from TMG a lot over the last month. It's fun and lighthearted but still fulfilling.

S&S is meant to have fun artwork and be kind of quirky. But the gameplay can be very strategic. It's played in 5 rounds of short 10-15min battles. Then that determines the end of the overall war. As each battle ends you add in a terrain card that gives and advantage to the losing team(The concept of being pushed back onto your own land where you are familiar with your surroundings and have a tactical advantage). You also have a certain number of points to use for building your deck at the beginning of each battle. This allows you to choose to either use more expensive cards with more power, but you will end up with fewer cards, or less expensive cards and use more of them with enhancements. This gives you more cards but less power. So the concept is that there is a lot of tactical flexibility. So it is meant to have in depth gameplay played in short rounds. To be honest I'm not sure what to compare it to. Maybe a much more in depth of the mini-game 'Rage Frenzy' in the video game Rage.
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