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Subject: What to do and what to leave for the publisher rss

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Gary Faber
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I've found my passion is in designing the idea, the mechanics, and the cool aspects of the game that fit the theme---in other words, the game itself. I don't have passion or the expertise in actually creating the game, or even a top notch prototype. My prototype is nicely sketched on a piece of cardboard with sleeved cards cut out of photo paper. It does the job.

My question is, besides playtesting it to death and reaching out to publishers, is there any other task I should try to do if I want to have it published?

Thanks.

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Adam Nikolaus
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From what I have come to understand, the one big thing that is needed is a solid set of rules. The layout and formatting of them is less necessary, but they need to be well crafted and easy to understand.
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Gary Faber
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Yes, thank you. I've got those about 90% done, subject to more playtesting of course!
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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Varies wildly from one to the next.

Some want a complete game ready to print. Some want the bare basics. Some want something in between. Some want intense playtesting. Some do their own. etc ad varium.

Worse yet. If a game looks "too done" then some publishers will shy away just as readily as some will from too little.

There is absolutely ZERO standard. Every one is different.
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Miles Ratcliffe
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A functional, well-developed and tested prototype is all that's necessary for a publisher to review a game. It doesn't need any fancy artwork, just so long as you can give a good impression of how the game plays. Anything that hampers the gameplay experience is not going to leave a publisher with a good impression. This could be anything from a badly written rulebook to overdeveloped art & design, or just it being an underdeveloped game.

Now, some publishers (if it hooks them enough) may jump on board with a design about 75% of the way into its development (50% even). Then again, most will want the game design at least 90% done (i.e. only minor adjustments to be made, if any). Among everything else, a publisher needs to consider the time they able to spend further developing a game, and this isn't going to be a great amount.

I've had to pass on many games that I know just aren't quite ready yet. Even if I've seen good potential in the design, if that potential hasn't already been realised, then it's a much larger risk. It's like investing in an invention that hasn't proven how well it works for its intended purpose yet. There's that uncertainty. For a publisher to commit to bringing a new game to market, that game really does need to prove itself.

Anyway, reverting back to the initial question:
- Playtest, playtest, playtest... with as many people as possible, request specific feedback and use that to develop your design further
- Once you realise that the only feedback you tend to be getting is very minor/picky (i.e. "maybe you should move that icon 1mm to the left", "I think that icon should be facing the other way"), then you're probably about 90%+ of the way through developing the game (congrats!)
- Prepare your pitch when submitting to publishers and refine your rule book
- Start contacting publishers you think might be interested in your game, and play the waiting game following up as necessary and acting on any feedback you receive

Hope this helps! :)
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Adrienne Ezell
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Like the OPs state, there is little overlap between what different publishers want. I think the most important thing is passion, and is sounds like you have that in spades. Well done!
 
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Eric Jome
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jettpanda wrote:
My question is, besides playtesting it to death and reaching out to publishers, is there any other task I should try to do if I want to have it published?


Your competition will put a premium on an attractive presentation. So, you should learn some simple techniques to put a better face on it.
 
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Eric Jome
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golddmaster wrote:
A functional, well-developed and tested prototype is all that's necessary for a publisher to review a game. It doesn't need any fancy artwork, just so long as you can give a good impression of how the game plays.


It is my impression that this isn't helpful to pitching to publishers.

Most I've seen want an idea of what the final product will be like. You need more than finished game play to stand out.

Consider simplistic things. Use Google Image search to "borrow" graphics for your presentation. You don't need custom art, but it won't hurt to have some color on your concept. Definitely move up from hand writing...

You're really showing you put time and thought into it, that you'll work on it and follow through.

We are in an era of unprecedented game publishing. Thousands of titles are made each year. You should take steps to stand out from the crowd.
 
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Miles Ratcliffe
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cosine wrote:
It is my impression that this isn't helpful to pitching to publishers.

Using placeholder art is good if it aids the gameplay. Then again, if the game good enough, the graphic layout is functional and the rules are clear, the game will stand on it's own, without any need for fancy artwork.

When I check through the games submissions I receive, I look out for interesting game concepts that meet the criteria/guidelines of games that I'd like to bring to the market. If it does capture my attention, I will read the rules and aim to play a prototype of the game as soon as I'm able.

If the game puts up any barriers to enjoying the game; bad game design, unwieldily graphic design elements and/or badly written rules, it will spoil my impression of the game and, unless my concerns are addressed, I won't be wanting to give it a second look. There are many publishers I know that feel the same way.

I agree that, as a game designer, your game needs to stand out and it is really worth understanding how best to arrange the layout of your components. Then again, you shouldn't be looking invest time/money into any art that isn't going to greatly compliment the gameplay and players experience when playing the game.
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