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Subject: Classic Novel Microgame Contest rss

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Steven Cole
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Classic Novel Microgame Contest

Conquest of Orion is almost ready to deliver. Tradecraft, a microgame, was a lot of fun to design and will be published next year. Several other games are in the works. Not surprisingly, we’d like to do more, and this is where you come in!

We’re going to have a little contest to find some great games and then publish the winner. In particular, we’d like to challenge designers out there to design and develop a microgame based on a classic novel.

Classic novel? Yes, though a classic poem or play would be just fine as well. Consider the variety of public domain works you can draw from:

Sherlock Holmes
Alice in Wonderland
Beowulf
Dante
Shakespeare
Frankenstein
Treasure Island
Guliver’s Travels
Dracula
Les Miserables
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

There are many possibilities, but for the purpose of this contest, let’s stick with fiction (sorry, no Encyclopedia of Needlework this time around). Additionally, the game rights should be available (no John Carter, Disney still owns the rights). If there are any questions about what might qualify, please don’t hesitate to submit a question or just post it here. This page will be updated with clarifications as needed.

Here are the rules and some guidelines:

1. Games must be small in size. In particular, designs should be limited to 18 to 36 cards (poker sized), a rules sheet (double-sided 8.5″ x 11″), and maybe a generic item or two. Generic items could be things like a six-sided die, a few coins, or items that can be used as counters, but not necessarily meeples, twenty-sided dice, or cubes in 6 different colors… Most likely, the game will not be published with the generic items included.

2. Game themes must be family friendly. Games do not have to be aimed at children as the audience. Stated another way, if it were a movie, it would be rated PG.

3. Games must be created and owned by you. Love Letter is a great microgame, but please do not submit a Pride and Prejudice retheme for it. However, games that you’ve had on the shelf for a while and can be rethemed or have previously been submitted to other contests are fine. Do not submit games that are currently under review by another publisher.

4. Games will be judged on how well they play, not how good they look. Our artists and graphic designers will work on the look and feel, so don’t worry if your art needs work. That being said, Game-icons.net is a great resource for free icons that can be used for improving the clarity of a game.

5. Games will be judged (primarily) on:
-Fun – do players enjoy it, do they want to play it again?
-Replayability – can they play it more than a few times and still enjoy it?
-Interactivity – how much are players interacting with each other?
-Theme – does the theme influence the game design, does it fit the chosen work?
-Approachability – is the game easy to explain and easy to get people interested in trying it out?
-Testing – has the game been tested and had most of the rough edges smoothed out?

6. All games are to be submitted by 12:00 PM EST on 9/15/2014 via our submission page. Please include rules and all files needed to print and play the game (no physical prototype needed, it’s a microgame after all).

Well, what are you waiting for? Go design an awesome microgame!



The fine print:

The contest winner will be offered a game publishing agreement with Escape Velocity Games. Key sections from the agreement are included below:
-The Designer agrees to design for the Publisher and grant to the Publisher the right to publish, a game tentatively entitled ______________, hereinafter referred to as the Game.
-The Designer hereby affirms that he is the sole author of this game. Furthermore, he declares that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, he has sole disposal over the copyright therein and with regard to all pertinent contents. He further declares that he has not yet granted any third parties any rights to exploit the Game or that any previous such grant to any third parties has now definitively expired.
-Copyright to the Game will be vested in the Publisher. However, should the Publisher fail to market, or should fail to sell a copy of, the Game for a period of twenty four (24) consecutive months, the copyright shall revert to the Designer. The Publisher shall advise the Designer, in writing, of the availability and reversion of such copyright.
-As payment for the Game, the Designer shall receive a royalty of Five Percent (5%) of the retail price. The royalty will be payable quarterly within sixty (60) days of the last day of the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th month of the year.
-The Publisher agrees to give Design credit to the Designer.
-The Designer will receive ten (10) free copies of the game.
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Nate K
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2+ players? Or could I do a solitaire game?
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Steven Cole
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kurthl33t wrote:
2+ players? Or could I do a solitaire game?


Solitaire is fine! Keep in mind that it should be a fully developed game though, not just a puzzle with a theme (not that I have any idea what kind of game you're thinking about). Thanks for the question.

Steve.
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Odd Hackwelder
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I am in for sure.
Thanks for the contest.
You are contributing to promoting microgame madness.

I just finished running a microgame contest here on BGG.
You might have seen, if not:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1153853/microgame-print-and-...

Also I run a microgame group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Microgames/

And I will be running another microgame contest limited to 18 cards only starting at the end of the month.

I do have a question. How many games can we enter? I did not see that in the rules. Thanks.

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Thomas Girard
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I'm in. How does one check if the rights to a novel are available? Would you just check when it becomes public domain?
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Steven Cole
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Hackogames wrote:
I am in for sure.
Thanks for the contest.
You are contributing to promoting microgame madness.

I just finished running a microgame contest here on BGG.
You might have seen, if not:
http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1153853/microgame-print-and-...

Also I run a microgame group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Microgames/

And I will be running another microgame contest limited to 18 cards only starting at the end of the month.

I do have a question. How many games can we enter? I did not see that in the rules. Thanks.



Yes, I've saw your contest on here, congrats on getting some great participation! I originally wanted to do just 18 cards, but the feedback I got from a few designers I know is that it was just too limiting when combined with the theme requirements. You might find more success if it's not restricted to a certain theme.

As for the number of games, go ahead and submit as many as you want... it's not a lottery though, so only good games increase your chance of winning!

Steve.
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David Bate
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skeletonhat wrote:
I'm in. How does one check if the rights to a novel are available? Would you just check when it becomes public domain?


http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Public-Domain-Materials

This might be useful.
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Steven Cole
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skeletonhat wrote:
I'm in. How does one check if the rights to a novel are available? Would you just check when it becomes public domain?


It depends on the country, but for purposes of this contest, picking something published more than 100 years ago is a good idea. Most countries give the author copyright for the duration of their life plus 50 or 75 years. Here are a few helpful links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_...
http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/okbooks.html

Again, almost everything on the Gutenberg site qualifies:

http://www.gutenberg.org/

Lastly, if you have questions about a specific work, you can message me and I'll help do a little research.

Steve.
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Steven Cole
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MicroStack Games wrote:
Who does the voting?


There won't really be voting. I'll rate the games on the criteria given above, then get feedback from some local groups of playtesters.

Quote:

Quote:
As payment for the Game, the Designer shall receive a royalty of Five Percent (5%) of the retail price. The royalty will be payable quarterly within sixty (60) days of the last day of the 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th month of the year.


Does this refer to a percentage of net sales to retailers?


No, I'm (hopefully) being more generous than that. If the MSRP for a game is $10 and I sell 1000 copies into distribution for $5 each, the royalty will be paid on the $10, not the $5. So, the royalty payment for that situation would be $500. Many publishers pay on the $5 they receive, which is still fair, but I felt the higher amount was better suited for a microgame since the overall numbers will be lower.

Quote:
Is there a lump sum payment up front as well?


No.

Quote:
How long does the licensing agreement last?


It lasts 24 months after the game is no longer being produced, marketed, or sold. After that, rights would revert back to the designer.

Quote:
Nice contest! Thanks for hosting.


You're welcome, and thanks for the questions! I hope you'll consider entering.

Steve.

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Odd Hackwelder
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I just signed a contract for 10 years from the date I signed. I think it varies. Are you obtaining world rights or US rights? Because I'm in Taiwan some contracts might only include that country the publisher is in or that country's language. If I did want a Chinese version of my game or my game to be sold in Taiwan is that just something to discuss after the fact?
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Odd Hackwelder
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Yeah, I think you are right Steve about 18 cards with a theme. It will be hard enough to get people to just use 18 cards and mine will be exactly 18, no less. That is so 4 games will fit in one tuck box evenly. I am worried about getting enough people with those restrictions, but I think it will be fine. I love your theme actually. I have to admit I am not much of a reader, well the classics anyway. But researching books trying to find one that sparks an idea is very exciting. My first thought was Alice in wonderland with cards that make you grow and shrink and all that. But I assumed it had been done. Yeah about 20 times too, check BGG. I will go for something less common. I like the list of 100 you posted. Thanks.
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Steven Cole
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MicroStack Games wrote:
Steve - Thank you for the quick answers and explanations. Will update the contest sticky as well. Suggest adding a "voting period" length or when the results will be announced.

Think some of my confusion was due to the wording (didn't see any mention of sales).

Are most contracts fixed length (in years or months) or open-ended like that?

This may give you some more ideas as well (from this thread).

Quote:
Designer Quandary #2 – The Designer’s Cut
The contact will also stipulate how the designer will be paid on the project. Traditionally, most designer fees were around 3-5% of the MSRP (i.e. full retail price), 5-6% of wholesale price (what the publisher sells to a distributor, usually ~40% of MSRP), or 20-25% of profits.

New designers often balk at the seemingly low fees – but the reality is that when all the costs are accounted for, the “take home” earnings the designer makes can often exceed what the publisher makes. In the first two scenarios (% of MSRP or Wholesale) the designer gets paid for each sale regardless of whether the game turns a profit for the publisher. In effect, the designer is an expense that needs to be paid off the top. In the profit sharing approach, it’s possible that the designer makes less money if the game tanks – but if the game is very successful they may stand to make more. Particularly with crowdfunding, the potential revenues (and profit) under a profit-sharing scheme can be higher if the campaign goes well.

Further Reading:
>> A call for change! - Interesting debate on designer pay


Thanks for the feedback. I believe I am trying something new by trying to be as transparent as possible with the contract details. When I looked at other game design contests with a publishing contract as the prize, none of them spelled out any part of the contract or specified royalty rates or anything like that. I hope it's helpful and motivating!

I would say that most of the contracts I've read over are not fixed length. They seem to use the model I'm using. As a publisher, many games will break even or perhaps lose money. If I get a true hit on my hands, I need to make sure I can profit from it, not do all the hard initial work of establishing the game, then have it pass to another publisher after 5 years or so. Imagine if the contract for Ticket to Ride ran out after 5 years. I think Days of Wonder would be a very different company.

Steve.
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Hackogames wrote:
I just signed a contract for 10 years from the date I signed. I think it varies. Are you obtaining world rights or US rights? Because I'm in Taiwan some contracts might only include that country the publisher is in or that country's language. If I did want a Chinese version of my game or my game to be sold in Taiwan is that just something to discuss after the fact?


Congrats on the contract!

This contract will be for world rights to the game, not just the US. If the designer wants to work on a Chinese language version, I would be open to working with a partner for that. The success of the English version would probably dictate how quickly that happens. I know you're in Taiwan, so if you want to talk about specific plans you may have, I'm open to that.

Steve.
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Jake Staines
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wrrlykam wrote:
skeletonhat wrote:
Would you just check when it becomes public domain?


http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Public-Domain-Materials

This might be useful.


The example given in the OP kind of demonstrates the problem with that approach, though. Apparently the first five John Carter books are in the public domain in the US... but the Edgar Rice Burroughs IP-holding company maintains trademarks on names from the books and goes after people who try and make use of those names, so it would be practically impossible to actually make use of those public-domain works in a commercial manner. Disney recently released a movie, and if you got anywhere near the licensing deal they presumably struck with the ERB people, they'd be unhappy and unleash their lawyer swarm on you. Realistically, even though the fiction is in the public domain, it would be very difficult to make commercial use of any of the first five books.


You could probably legally come up with a similar, Barsoom-inspired setting and similar, John-Carter-inspired characters and maintain your own fiction and use that, but then a) you wouldn't strictly be making a John Carter game anyway, and b) the ERB people may still come after you and sue you if they're crazy enough!
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Bichatse wrote:
wrrlykam wrote:
skeletonhat wrote:
Would you just check when it becomes public domain?


http://www.wikihow.com/Find-Public-Domain-Materials

This might be useful.


The example given in the OP kind of demonstrates the problem with that approach, though. Apparently the first five John Carter books are in the public domain in the US... but the Edgar Rice Burroughs IP-holding company maintains trademarks on names from the books and goes after people who try and make use of those names, so it would be practically impossible to actually make use of those public-domain works in a commercial manner. Disney recently released a movie, and if you got anywhere near the licensing deal they presumably struck with the ERB people, they'd be unhappy and unleash their lawyer swarm on you. Realistically, even though the fiction is in the public domain, it would be very difficult to make commercial use of any of the first five books.


You could probably legally come up with a similar, Barsoom-inspired setting and similar, John-Carter-inspired characters and maintain your own fiction and use that, but then a) you wouldn't strictly be making a John Carter game anyway, and b) the ERB people may still come after you and sue you if they're crazy enough!


Agreed. You can check around though and get a feel for how open the rights are. Are there other games about the work? Movies? Graphic novels? Video games? If so, there's a chance the copyright is expired. John Carter is the only example I could come up with when looking for works that have the book in public domain, but not the game/movie/whatever rights. Again, if there is a question about a particular work, I don't mind helping out with the research (I'll have to do it ultimately anyway).

I think using the Gutenberg site as a starting point is a good idea. You want something that people have heard of, but is public domain. The top 100 list should help with that.

Steve.
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Max Seidman
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Am I correct in assuming that you don't retain any rights to games that don't win?
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1. Can we submit more than one design?

2. If we are so artistically inclined is there any chance that we can use our own art for the final product or will it be done by your team regardles?
If so does that affect the royalties? I'm an illustrator and typically the royalties are split between author and illustrator for children's books but if someone were a author and illustrator they would make the whole cut. Just curious.
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Ramenhotep wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that you don't retain any rights to games that don't win?


Correct.
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skeletonhat wrote:
1. Can we submit more than one design?


Yes, that would be fine. As mentioned above though, only good games increase your chance of winning...

Quote:
2. If we are so artistically inclined is there any chance that we can use our own art for the final product or will it be done by your team regardles?
If so does that affect the royalties? I'm an illustrator and typically the royalties are split between author and illustrator for children's books but if someone were a author and illustrator they would make the whole cut. Just curious.


I usually pay artists as a fee rather than as royalties, but I'd be up for a little negotiation. I am open to the idea of using your art as long as it fits the theme of the game. Checking out your site, your style is quite unique (reminds me of LittleBigPlanet - my kids have been playing it recently, so I mean that in a good way). Your style might work for Alice in Wonderland, but maybe not so much for Pride and Prejudice.

Steve.
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stevencole wrote:
reminds me of LittleBigPlanet - my kids have been playing it recently, so I mean that in a good way


Thank you!

I'm certainly open to any artistic change but I'll submit with some art and let you be the judge.
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SO I've settled on Moby Dick as my subject. Looking to make a nice little microgame. I currently have two different designs Im going to prototype and playtest with the guinea pigs my friends at work over lunch.
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MicroStack Games wrote:
stevencole wrote:
Ramenhotep wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that you don't retain any rights to games that don't win?


Correct.


Might want to consider changing this aspect of the contest.


Why would you want to change this?? Surely the non-winners should retain their rights, that's what Steve is saying.
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skeletonhat wrote:
SO I've settled on Moby Dick as my subject. Looking to make a nice little microgame. I currently have two different designs Im going to prototype and playtest with the guinea pigs my friends at work over lunch.


Ah, don't be shy, they know what they are! Microgames are perfect for lunch, even getting lunch out. So yeah, take advantage of free playtesting.

And, Moby Dick sounds like a great choice!

Steve.
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khendrix wrote:
MicroStack Games wrote:
stevencole wrote:
Ramenhotep wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that you don't retain any rights to games that don't win?


Correct.


Might want to consider changing this aspect of the contest.


Why would you want to change this?? Surely the non-winners should retain their rights, that's what Steve is saying.


I checked out the KBR contest and saw this:

Quote:
-The rights to the games remain with the authors at all times.


I don't think that's any different than what I'm doing. The designer retains the rights until the winner signs the publishing agreement. Then, the rights will transfer to Escape Velocity Games.

The implication is that if the winner doesn't like the terms of the agreement, they don't have to sign (hopefully that doesn't happen, but it could). Additionally, if I find 2 or 3 games that I really like, there's nothing stopping me from offering more contracts later. Until they sign, they would retain the rights to their games.

I have no intention of claiming rights of games that are merely submitted to the contest.

Steve.
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MicroStack Games wrote:
The wording here threw me off a bit:

Ramenhotep wrote:
Am I correct in assuming that you don't retain any rights to games that don't win?


Thanks for clarifying. That's what I thought. Agreed on the approach as well.


No problem. I'm glad to clear that one up, because otherwise it could really mess with the contest!

Steve.
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