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Rocus Peetam
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Hi all,

Recently I've developed a game and brought it to a gaming convention where i was able to demonstrate it to a major publisher who where into my idea if only the setting was differently. My question to you is to stick to my own idea and publish it myself with Kickstarter etc. or to adjust it and try it again with said publisher? What would you do?
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Vincent
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How much time do you want to spend on it? A kickstarter takes a lot of time and energy, but you do keep full control over everything. Selling your game to a publisher will save you a lot of time, but are you willing to give up control over your own game?
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Matt Lee
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Basically, are you willing to spend lots of your free time working on this as a business?

Self-publishing is more about being a business owner and doing everything before, during and long after the kickstarter. That's around a year of your free time (or more if problems crop up) with little-no money beyond the KS funding for all of the work with artwork, art design, printing, and shipping and rectifying problems (torn card, component problems, lost shipments, etc.).
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Keng Leong Yeo
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Designing and publishing are two very different things. That's what we learnt with our first board game. We have since written up two geeklists summarising what we learnt from each:

Lessons Learnt as a First-time Board Game Designer
Lessons Learnt as a First-time Board Game Publisher
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M.J.E. Hendriks
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There are many publishers - try some others first.

What is your game about? What is the setting/topic, and what setting/topic would they be interested in?

How heavy is it? What's its target audience?
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JT Call
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My advice as a designer-turned-publisher:

Don't self-publish. The market is too saturated for new publishers (and even existing publishers). These days, if you want to be successful, you need excessive playtesting and development (including blind-playtesting by people/groups who have never played your game and have to teach themselves by only reading the rules), you need a finished product (including artwork, graphic design, and a professional, finished prototype), you need exposure (attending multiple conventions, sending multiple finished prototypes to reviewers, being an active member of the game design/game publishing community), and you need money (to pay for the good reviewers, to advertise on FaceBook and other websites, to pay for artwork and prototypes, etc).

So basically, it is a second full-time job. If you are a talented artist AND a talented game designer...you are halfway there. You also would need to be talented at hand-making prototypes or have enough cash to pay someone else to make a nice one for you. Then you also need to be talented at pitching your game to folks and explaining the rules (salesmanship), not to mention being a savvy businessman (knowing the worth of your game and balancing the costs of manufacturing/shipping/artwork with what sale price the market will bear).

So my advice: if you aren't independently wealthy AND super talented in at least 1/2 of these areas, don't do it. You will need the money to pay others to fill in your talent gaps. Now, if you are talented in all of these areas and happen to be sitting on a nest egg, MAYBE you could try self-publishing...but then yo better plan on running a board game company for the rest of your life. You could theoretically just try and publish this one game by yourself, but I would bet money on you either just breaking even or outright losing money. You'd have a published game, though, so perhaps that is worth it to you. Then again, if that is the case, you may as well just keep working on your game and look for an interested publisher. You can retheme it for the one who showed interest or you can find a new publisher. Either way, you are more likely to make at least SOME profit selling your design to a publisher (versus trying to publish the game yourself and most likely losing money).

tl;dr
If you want to be a game publisher (and that is more important to you than creating/publishing a single game), go ahead and be a publisher. But if you just want to get your game out to the market, be a game designer and find some other publisher to do all the hard/risky work of developing/selling/marketing/publishing your game. You may not want to relinquish creative control of your project (and that is fine; just find another publisher who likes your themes), but you will ultimately be happier (and richer) by getting a publisher to buy the game and partner with you on its production.
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Rocus Peetam
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First i would like to thank you all for the good advice!
Also to answer your question:
Quote:
What is your game about? What is the setting/topic, and what setting/topic would they be interested in?

How heavy is it? What's its target audience?


It's a game about Barbarians trying to get to Rome. The publisher said they loved the simple game mechanics, but that the theme wasn't really what they where looking for since they are focusing on families. They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.
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maf man
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Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.

Would you feel like this would change your game to the point you wouldn't feel like it was your game anymore?
I've seen plenty of games that could be completely painted in a different light and still be just as good if not better, but then again I've seen games where if you took anything away from the tone the game would fall apart.

I can't really add more than whats already been said as far as to go with the publisher or not besides telling you to ask yourself is the change they ask for so big it causes you to turn down what your looking for?

Perhaps there is a better fit for your game's publisher or perhaps your game could be better with the change they want.

Good luck, and I hope to see your game out there soon!
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Charles Ward
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If you had to pick between being a game designer or a game publisher, which would you choose?
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Rob Harper
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Smokey1990 wrote:
It's a game about Barbarians trying to get to Rome. The publisher said they loved the simple game mechanics, but that the theme wasn't really what they where looking for since they are focusing on families. They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


So, can you bring yourself to let go of the theme and try something else? If you can make it about families trying to get to a theme park, or penguins trying to get to their winter shelters, or something like that, then you know you have a publisher who will give it a serious look. That has to be a good thing, right? You could look at the other themes in their range and try theming to fit in with them. Maybe you could pitch a couple of possible rethemes to them to see what they would like most.

If you aren't willing to give up on the theme, take the fact that a publisher likes the game itself as a bit of encouragement; there will probably be other publishers who also like it.

Personally, I have no wish to be a publisher; it really doesn't sound like fun. I would definitely go with the retheming as my first option. Even if it doesn't result in a contract, it would increase my understanding of the game and its potential market.
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Johnathan Morton
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As someone going into publishing I would suggest that you look for a publisher, unless you have a lot of time on your hands. Like others have said, it take a lot to run a company or to even get noticed. In the end you need to decide where you want you effort to go.
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Kate U
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It seems to me that if one publisher liked your mechanics that much, there's a good chance another publisher will also be interested, perhaps without requiring a theme change. Good luck!
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Metäl Warrior
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Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


That would be a dealbreaker for me.
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Rocus Peetam
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Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


That would be a dealbreaker for me.


Yeah it kinda is so, I'm conflicted about this, I could try to find another publisher whose interested but I don't know how to approach them.
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Rocus Peetam
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ex1st wrote:
If you had to pick between being a game designer or a game publisher, which would you choose?

Probably White Goblin games, i really love their box artwork and i think my game would fit well in their assortment.
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DJ Wilde
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Try other publishers. I think you simply ran into the wrong ones for your game. If "family friendly Disneyland" isn't what you want to make as a game, no one can blame you. Try more publishers before you make the leap to self publishing. My 2 cents anyway.
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Metäl Warrior
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Smokey1990 wrote:
Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


That would be a dealbreaker for me.


Yeah it kinda is so, I'm conflicted about this, I could try to find another publisher whose interested but I don't know how to approach them.


The way I look at it, if I'm spending months designing a game and it's a hobby for me, I'm not going to let someone meddle with it unless I think it's a better game as a result. Going from dark and gritty to Disney would definitely cross the line.

If I was making a living from games, I might have a totally different viewpoint, though. Sad but true.
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JT Call
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Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


That would be a dealbreaker for me.


Yeah it kinda is so, I'm conflicted about this, I could try to find another publisher whose interested but I don't know how to approach them.


The way I look at it, if I'm spending months designing a game and it's a hobby for me, I'm not going to let someone meddle with it unless I think it's a better game as a result. Going from dark and gritty to Disney would definitely cross the line.

If I was making a living from games, I might have a totally different viewpoint, though. Sad but true.


My advice remains the same then: don't self publish. Keep the hobby just that -- a hobby. Keep developing the game till you find a publisher who loves the theme.

I'll say this from a publisher's perspective, though. If I am interested in a game, I will usually ask the designer how they might feel about retheming their design (even if I like the design just fine). If the designer immediately acquiesces, I get a tiny bit suspicious about how desperate they are to get the game published, but overall I am happy to have someone who is flexible. If, on the other hand, they reject any changes outright, I am even more suspicious since it suggests the designer is probably too bull-headed to take feedback from myself or any playtesters; I expect that they will be difficult to work with, and I anticipate the game's quality to be sub-par. The best response I can receive is, "I am happy to make any changes that will either make the game better or help it sell more copies (ideally both at the same time). At the moment, though, I feel the current theme achieves that goal, so I am reluctant to change it. That said, I will, of course, keep an open mind, and I am happy to embrace something that makes the overall game more successful."
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Metäl Warrior
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talusproteus wrote:
Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
Jaffeli wrote:
Smokey1990 wrote:
They said if i could make it more family friendly they'd be interested.


That would be a dealbreaker for me.


Yeah it kinda is so, I'm conflicted about this, I could try to find another publisher whose interested but I don't know how to approach them.


The way I look at it, if I'm spending months designing a game and it's a hobby for me, I'm not going to let someone meddle with it unless I think it's a better game as a result. Going from dark and gritty to Disney would definitely cross the line.

If I was making a living from games, I might have a totally different viewpoint, though. Sad but true.


My advice remains the same then: don't self publish. Keep the hobby just that -- a hobby. Keep developing the game till you find a publisher who loves the theme.

I'll say this from a publisher's perspective, though. If I am interested in a game, I will usually ask the designer how they might feel about retheming their design (even if I like the design just fine). If the designer immediately acquiesces, I get a tiny bit suspicious about how desperate they are to get the game published, but overall I am happy to have someone who is flexible. If, on the other hand, they reject any changes outright, I am even more suspicious since it suggests the designer is probably too bull-headed to take feedback from myself or any playtesters; I expect that they will be difficult to work with, and I anticipate the game's quality to be sub-par. The best response I can receive is, "I am happy to make any changes that will either make the game better or help it sell more copies (ideally both at the same time). At the moment, though, I feel the current theme achieves that goal, so I am reluctant to change it. That said, I will, of course, keep an open mind, and I am happy to embrace something that makes the overall game more successful."


I wonder if all publishers are so reasonable and levelheaded...
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James Mathe
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There are a ton of publisher out there, someone will like your game as it is.

This blog I wrote should help you with how to reach out to publishers:

http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-...

Good luck
James
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Rocus Peetam
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RPGShop wrote:
There are a ton of publisher out there, someone will like your game as it is.

This blog I wrote should help you with how to reach out to publishers:

http://www.jamesmathe.com/courting-a-game-publisher-dos-and-...

Good luck
James


Thanks! I'll look into it!
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