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Subject: Starting my Game Designing Career rss

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hermes ayala

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Hello, I finally started on what I've been wanting to do for a few years; creating a board game(first of many.) I'm in the early stages of testing and finalizing my first game. My question to everyone is whats next? 1.Do I need an agent, if so what kind and where to look for one, how do I know how good they are? 2. What about big publishing companies, how would I get involved with them and would I still need an agent before contacting them? 3. Should I design a prototype using a company like thegamecrafter.com? would they be reliable, trustworthy? Is there more Noable Companies that I can build a prototype with?
pretty much looking to find out about the steps to take. Thanks for all the advise.
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Ricky Dang
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My suggestion, if you are in the early stages and are just finishing up the the game, to make a prototype of it and do some closed playtesting. Give it to some friends and have them go at it and get some feedback. I don't think you'll need to go to Game Crafters to make something that fancy yet. Just print them out and stick them into protectors if they are cards, or sketch it out if it's a board, and let it go.

Once you have a solid feel of the game, then you may want to make a better prototype and send it out for blind playtesting. If you have not play tested yet, it's very unlikely that any companies would even bother taking a look at it. Companies usually only take a look at it if it's the final product and read to go, unless you have some kind of relationship with them or you are a well known designer.
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Levi Mote
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Educate yourself about the industry.
The Board Games with Scott videos and Ludology & Board Game University podcasts are great places to start.

Best of luck!
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hermes ayala

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I'd love to educate myself. Do you have any links?
 
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Tom Razo
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For podcast episodes, check out:

http://boardgamegeek.com/browse/boardgamepodcast

On Board Games

Ludology

Board Game University


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Jason Washburn
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To break into the industry is no different here then it is to do anything else. It is the same for a pop singer or artist or anything. Just because you can sing does not mean you are going to make a million bucks or ever be famous.

To have a game published I would say you need to have everything in order and ready to go when the opportunity presents itself in what ever way that is.

There are a few ways you can go about it.

PnP - Print and Play - you design a game for the love of making a game and the enjoyment of having others play your game. It is given to the masses out of joy and love and in honor of the gaming gods.

Self Publish - you design your game with the thought that you will find the funding to self publish it. Then you will need to work out a way to get it to market and you will need to decide what that market will be.

Professional Game Publisher - you will design your game and then take a professional bad ass prototype to meet with a representative from a game publishing company. You may go to an event where it is much like speed dating or you may be able to set up a meeting where they will give you a few minutes of their valuable time. If they like it enough they may enter into a contract with you where you may IF YOU ARE LUCKY, get 5% or so of the base cost NOT RETAIL, of the game. It will be produced in a very limited print run as this is a risk on behalf of the publisher. If it does well they may wish to extend the contract and continue printing the game.

These are the three basic ways a game designer can get their game to players. None of them are easy. They all begin with a game that has to be great not good but great. Then others have to enjoy the game and the theme. The game will have to have such appeal that someone would be willing to go out of there way either to pay to print it themselves or to purchase it either from you or a publisher.

It is a grueling and daunting task. I encourage you to design your game and put it out there for others to test. Once blind testing is completed and feedback is good overall and you have feedback from a cross section of gamers, then you may be ready to take the final step in publishing it.

The post above me suggested that you do some homework and research about publishing. Which is great advice. However you are putting the cart before the horse if you have not had several hundred games played in the final version of your game and everything functions as intended. many designers do not understand what it takes to bring a game to market either with the help of a publisher or self publishing.

I think it is awesome that you want to get into the market and make games. Don't give up and keep at it even when you are ready to quit, and it will happen. you will have moments of doubt and empty feelings. Fight through them and stay the course. If you do that with passion and the love of gaming in your heart you will find a game that you and others will believe in and that others will get behind.

Good Luck!

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LudiCreations
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Do not get an agent.
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hermes ayala

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Thanks a lot!Great advise!!! Everything you said means a lot, I appreciate it and I wont quit.
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hermes ayala

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Is blind testing dangerous? As to losing your game or base ideas being stolen. Not sure how common it is to have your game ideas stolen these days?
 
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Tim C.
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There are also some books on the subject available at amazon. Read them.

Also get involved in a game design guild if you have one in your state. (here in Utah we are fortunate enough to have one and it is very helpful). They can help play test your game and perhaps get it published.
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Scott Nelson
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hayala wrote:
Is blind testing dangerous? As to losing your game or base ideas being stolen. Not sure how common it is to have your game ideas stolen these days?


It is an almost absolute must in game design. Your family and friends are too close to the game to give feedback to the extent blind testers will. Also, if a rule book can be played and easily read your design will be received much better. Blind testers have to play the game from reading the rule book, and will find flaws in the book as well as any game design problems.
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Levi Mote
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hayala wrote:
Is blind testing dangerous? As to losing your game or base ideas being stolen. Not sure how common it is to have your game ideas stolen these days?


Sorry if I seemed curt earlier, I was responding from my phone.

You should also read all of the pinned threads on this forum. They will help you understand the ins and outs of people stealing your ideas.

Let me also say that even in the "designer" board games portion of this industry the Designer is often last in line to get paid so don't quit your day job. :)

I once heard Jonathan Frakes being interviewed when he was on Star Trek TNG and they asked him how he was dealing with his overnight success. He replied, "I've been a working actor for over a decade."

Those who do this do it for the love of the games, not the $$.

Again best of luck!
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Tim C.
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hayala wrote:
Is blind testing dangerous? As to losing your game or base ideas being stolen. Not sure how common it is to have your game ideas stolen these days?


If we worried about this all the time there would be nothing but litigation and about 10 games in this industry. Only copyright infringement (art, I.P., expression of rules) or an exact copy of the product is punished. I can't think of a case where a boardgame designer had to sue someone over having their game stolen and published before they were able to get it out.

Game designers are inspired by others designs all the time and even lift mechanics they like from other games. Play enough games and you will see what I'm talking about. Rarely does anyone straight up copy a game, slap on different art, and call it their own. I'm sure there is a precedent for this, but I can't think of any. The market doesn't tend to reward such plagiarism. Though it's not illegal as long as copyright and patents aren't infringed.

Usually games that are very similar (perhaps even mechanically the same) are referred to as clones. This happens more in the computer game industry and is honestly not a big deal. It's only a big deal when a company feels it had a very unique system never before demonstrated and it magically shows up in a competitors product around the same time their product launched. With out a patent though there probably isn't much they could do legally.

Many games are open tested (both board and computer games). Look at the many free print and plays on this site people have made. They aren't freaking out about people "stealing" their ideas. Some have gone on to be published or are in the process of doing so.
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B G
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I have a B.A. in game design (whoo!)
A lot of breaking into the industry has to do with A) Being good at something, be it art/design/etc, and B) knowing people. The game design industry as a whole is very small, and lots and lots of people know each other. Meeting people, showing off your cool stuff, making friends and so on will get you very far.

Where are you based out of?
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Jason Washburn
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What Tim Said.

In my time designing and playing and going to cons I have never seen someone steal some ones entire game. A designer may take idea from your game or find inspiration in your game. To me this is flattering and it means your mechanics are sound and solid and you theme is strong. I hope in years to come other designers refer to my game. that would be awesome.

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Travis Worthington
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2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
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Rule number one: don't quit your day job and/or live somewhere cheap.

Rule number two: design great games that lots of people want to play over and over again.

Rule number three: work with a publisher that will market your game so that it can be an evergreen hit, selling more copies every year than it did the year before.

Rule number four: do what you do best. If you are a designer, design. If you are a publisher, publish. Its very rare that doing both means you have the best of both.

Two ways to make decent money in the industry are 1) make a hit that consistently sells multiple print runs year after year or 2) develop a following that will buy your 1-2 new games you design every year. Neither one is very easy - each year there are likely 5 or fewer of the 2,000 new games that is a hit. And there are likely less than 20 designers that have a sufficient following to sustain themselves economically by designing games. Not impossible, but very improbable - Hence why rule one is so important.
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hermes ayala

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Colorado but originally from So Cal. I don't plan on quitting my day job, I just love games and always wanted to put my never ending ideas into something I love.
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hermes ayala

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It would be nice to make some money but that's far from why I want to do this.

As far as Publishing companies, is there smaller ones, indie sort of companies that would be better to deal with than the major ones?
 
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Derry Salewski
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hayala wrote:
It would be nice to make some money but that's far from why I want to do this.

As far as Publishing companies, is there smaller ones, indie sort of companies that would be better to deal with than the major ones?


They're all smaller, indie companies compared to most industries (other than hasbro.)

Different companies want different things. Researching and meeting people will give you your answers.

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David J. Mortimer
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hayala wrote:
Is blind testing dangerous? As to losing your game or base ideas being stolen. Not sure how common it is to have your game ideas stolen these days?


Blind play testing doesnt necessarily mean you don't know the people involved. Playing blind means they know nothing about the game and can they fathomn it out from the rules without any help.

Sharing is critical. There are lots of play test groups about now who will give you honest (sometimes harsh) advice but this is a critical part of the process.
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David J. Mortimer
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hayala wrote:
It would be nice to make some money but that's far from why I want to do this.

As far as Publishing companies, is there smaller ones, indie sort of companies that would be better to deal with than the major ones?


This is another area where research is critical. Dont waste your time sending a two player wargame to a family game publisher etc.

I have found a lot of great advice in the book "The Kobold guide to board game design" This is an awesome reference book and is available on Kindle etc. It doesn't tell you how to have a good idea, it is lots of very solid advice from various experts in the industry.
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Seth Iniguez
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hayala wrote:
Colorado but originally from So Cal. I don't plan on quitting my day job, I just love games and always wanted to put my never ending ideas into something I love.


What part of Colorado? I am in the Denver area, and have been trying to get a designer/playtest group together to help with some designs I am working on. Maybe you can stop by and we can check out each other's prototypes?

Send me an IM if you want to meet up at some point, I have a tattoo shop in Aurora that has space for setting some games up.
 
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Levi Mote
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You also have to learn, and this just comes from getting tons of feedback, what advice to heed and what to discard.

Stick to the foundation of your design without being afraid to throw out pieces that aren't working.

You will likely need to completely deconstruct your mechanics at least once during development.
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hermes ayala

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As far as new mechanics; I've never been a workshop person. How do any of you designers go about making a mechanical prototype? I spoke to my Wife's father about my new mechanical questions as hes an aero space engineer but I dont want to burden him with building it. Should I have paid more attention in workshop or is this something that comes later, after finding a publisher?
 
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Carl Nyberg
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You don't need an aerospace engineer to make a prototype. You just need some paper, colored pencils and perhaps some index cards and dice.
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