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Subject: Independent Game Design Question rss

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Nate K
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Obscurity. It is DAMN difficult to get noticed.
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David Thompson
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MicroStack Games wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Obscurity. It is DAMN difficult to get noticed.


I agree - how do you set yourself apart from the thousands of others?


- Be an active member of the community.
- Contribute content that is valuable to others.
- Provide constructive criticism to others.
- Ask for feedback on your designs, but be careful not to spam.

Your designs will eventually get noticed but it may take time. The best thing you can do is build a solid reputation with regard to the quality of your work and participation in the community.
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R T
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Skirmish_Tactics wrote:
MicroStack Games wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Obscurity. It is DAMN difficult to get noticed.


I agree - how do you set yourself apart from the thousands of others?


- Be an active member of the community.
- Contribute content that is valuable to others.
- Provide constructive criticism to others.
- Ask for feedback on your designs, but be careful not to spam.

Your designs will eventually get noticed but it may take time. The best thing you can do is build a solid reputation with regard to the quality of your work and participation in the community.


- Choose your target audience and listen what they have to say. If you design a train game for kids, your target is kids who like trains.
- Define very well what it's your game and were it fits. In the presentation you need to be very clear, having a game looking like a type and being another would return bad critics ( even constructive ones) that will misled you and would take away people would really like it if they play it. Again, the train game example, if you miss say it's for kids, you surely end with people saying it's mechanics are to simple.
- Clarify your game spot. where do you see it coming to shine when played, as a filler, a long night with a pack of friends, as simple game easy to learn, or an heavy gamer game. People have different tastes and different schedules, even in development phase.
- Be aware of the building curve in prototyping. If the cost to build a prototype it's to high, be sure you already have a very near final version design. Several changes could turn your testers away (future supporters of the game). Also keep as simple as possible, PnP skills should be keep as simple as possible. There are always time to improvements after base game designed.
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Luca Morini
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I'm not a professional game designer, but as a game researcher I can't but rehiterate David Thompson's advice: it's all about community and networking (and, of course, quality).
While it's true that many projects get "lost in the crowd" of the world wide web, the same web allows anybody to get instantly world famous (well, almost) just by being noticed by the right people, which, of course, is much easier if you are an active community participant.
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Isaac Shalev
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Making a great game is still the hardest part of the process.

It's never been easier to network, find and participate in a community, gather playtesters, raise capital, and manufacture and distribute a game. A person who is committed to doing the work will succeed at these steps. But the first part takes more than effort and diligence. It takes talent, skill, perseverance, and a bit of luck, too!
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James Hutchings
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In my experience, finishing anything.
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Tony Go
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If you're having hull problems I feel bad for you son, I've got 99 problems but a breach ain't one.
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MicroStack Games wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Obscurity. It is DAMN difficult to get noticed.


I agree - how do you set yourself apart from the thousands of others?


Steve Martin once said: "Be so good, they can't ignore you."

apeloverage wrote:
In my experience, finishing anything.


Steve Jobs once said: "Real artists ship."
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Jeremy Lennert
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Horror Leader wrote:
MicroStack Games wrote:
kurthl33t wrote:
Obscurity. It is DAMN difficult to get noticed.


I agree - how do you set yourself apart from the thousands of others?


Steve Martin once said: "Be so good, they can't ignore you."

That might have made more sense in its original context, but in this context it strikes me as naive. No amount of quality will help you until someone looks at your game long enough to notice it, and just getting someone's attention for that long is arguably the hardest part.

I wish we lived in a world where products could compete purely on merit, but sadly we live in a world where marketing and luck are frequently more important.
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Jason Glover
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While sometimes a designer may get lucky, the real key i have found is community.

I spend a ton of time with other designers on forums and chats. I also make sure to answer every question that is posed to me from customers. I also make it a point to help and reach out to new designers looking to make their own game. Community is key! I go to both of my local Protospiels (Milwaukee and Michigan) and I spend 90% of the time playing other peoples games. You build friendships and a fanbase organically this way.

Sure, some folks might get a lucky from time to time, but the ones that I see have success work REALLY hard on their design and all are active in the community.

Just my 2 cents... hehe
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Jason Washburn
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Along with everything written here which is awesome advice, intestinal fortitude! And you have to be passionate about your work and what you are doing, At times it will feel like you are the only one who is beating the drum and at times that feeling may be on point. Connect with others on a personal level and build that community.

I would say that designers are an extraordinary bunch of folks. They come from all different backgrounds and they are accepting of all different backgrounds and there is a reason why. They have common ground in games and game design. The love and passion the community feels for designing games and the playing of those games is tough to capture and store away. It is an energy an excitement. When designers talk about community and playing other prototype games this is the feeling that they are describing. As a designer when you play a game you are thinking about the game but also you will begin to look deeper into the games you play. What was the motivation, why did they pick this mechanic? That is why you connect at a very real and understanding level with other folks. This is how you build a community of genuine people who have interest in what others are doing. And like others have stated if you participate in that community you will gain the recognition as a designer.

Designers bear the the trials and tribulations of many designers before them and they have an obligation to those that will follow. Designers work hard to make the gaming world better then they found it. And you can't ask for much more than that.

It is not about luck. It is about passion, community, networking, building personal relationships and continuing to work on your designs to provide others with quality games to play, fall in love with and admire.


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Glenn McMaster
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Design games about what you know.

A designer that understands the fundamental mechanics of, say, 1942 carrier warfare will design a game with better fundamental principles than someone who doesn't have as good a feel for the period or technical details.
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Tom Razo
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Many have already mentioned the benefits of participating in and building a community.

In my experience so far, getting a game in front of others to build a community of fans takes quite a bit of time and resources. Meeting with others face to face or corresponding via blogs, forums or otherwise on a regular basis is time consuming. I suspect many designers would suggest gaming conventions as the most efficient method of networking.

In my own efforts, I believe the networking aspect of game design and the pursuit of publication to be the most challenging part that I've faced so far.
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peter jackson
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PlayCrossbones wrote:
getting a game in front of others to build a community of fans takes quite a bit of time and resources.


I absolutely agree. My free time is extremely limited, and I'd rather spend that time working on designs. Kickstarter makes me tired just to think about, I'm not very clever in forums, and cons aren't my thing.

I wonder how many designers are in this position. Probably quite a few, I'd think.
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David Ferguson
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All excellent ideas from this thread. I will take them with me as I make my way into game design ranks. I've been taught if I ever ask someone to playtest my design be courteous enough to do the same back.
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Carl Nyberg
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apeloverage wrote:
In my experience, finishing anything.


Yes, I agree with this. I have four board games on the go, and they are all still in the alpha playtest mode and I haven't finished the instruction manual for any of them.
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Hamish Sterling
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Hats off to all the advice.

I have found it difficult to get off the ground within the BGG community with my games. Outside of here, we do very well.

It's important to get feedback and willing playtesters here, but I've found most people have (strong) different ideas, likes and backgrounds, that you're really only hoping to find someone that likes the same flavour game as yourself. These are the people that will give you the solid advice you're seeking. Great advice above about knowing your target market.

With such a large community and some many posts, that's a difficult task for a new comer. It takes a long time to be recognized here on BGG, let alone in the 'real world' if you are self published and look after your own marketing etc.

If I had relied solely on the feedback or comments posted for our games in the beginning, which were few and perhaps not what I hoped for(this of course is a valuable learning curve)....they would never have been made. Having 'tenacity' to drive your project through makes up for that though.

If you're really passionate about your game, you can make it work & sell. The question you need to answer before self publishing is "What are my expectations?"

If you hope to sell 100units...that's probably doable with a simple website, sales to local shops and people you know.

I don't know the exact number (maybe someone else knows) but some posts have mentioned if you self publish a game and sell 1000 units, that can be considered a success...something like that. If you can figure out your costs and ROI and potential sales channels etc. and if that can meet your expectations....then maybe self publishing is an option


It's not easy finding and convincing buyers & retailers to buy/sell your game if you're a nobody, by this I mean a new publisher. The sheer amount of posts on here of game ideas & WIP show how many game/ideas are out there. You're competing with very clever marketing and huge companies that dominate the shelf space.

All in all though.....once you go through the first effort of making a game...you'll know better how to go about the second (depending on how your expectations were met on the first one of course)

Power to the indie publisher I say. Brave enough to want his/her game on the counter next to the big boys
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Nicholas Ferezin
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I do think getting noticed is a problem, but I feel that you get more recognition as you contribute. To be clear this isn't just posting for the sake of posting, or commenting for the sake of commenting, but actually adding something of value. Now I'm just starting off, so maybe I'm wrong, but in my experience even in such a competitive space if you are someone who adds value you will be appreciated.

Also if possible take advantage of the physical spaces around you. I'm currently incapable of getting a community for my current game given where I'm living and the language barrier the game presents. It drives me crazy when designers elsewhere take for granted being able to interact in such a close way with their audience! Appreciate it guys!

I know that I've been feeling a lot better since I started tinkering with my next game where language does not pose a problem.
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