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Subject: Can one hire Boardgame designers? rss

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Ratiba Cherif
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Hello all -

I have a boardgame design idea for professional development...I think I have gone as far as I could in the design phase. Looking for someone to help me turn my idea and content into the board game.

How does that work? Is there a cost to it?

Here are a few words about my idea:

The game will simulate an international development project or program from the design/planning phase to implementation, reflective M&E and utilization of results to inform new programming.

A collaborative game, players will have specific identities (donor, project manager, local NGO, M&E officer etc.). They can form teams or play individually. The goal is to complete the project process and achieve expected results.

There will be a a context sheet (country, demographics,socio-political makeup, needs, etc.). The timeline of project (ranging from 18 months to a 4 years) and beneficiary focus will be determined by the "donor". There will be dice rolling, event cards drawn (these could be droughts or floods, coups d'etat and withdrawal of funding, one of the project partners is appointed to a political role, the organisation has lost a major contract/reputation risk etc.) , simulation exercises and other pen and paper exercises (theory of change/results framework, performance indicator development...)

It is somewhat similar to https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1348470/aftershock-humanita...


Cheers,
Ratiba
 
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Craig Stockwell
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Some good information recently came up on this thread:
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1644686/game-designers-...
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Greg
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To summerise: Yes, but you need a good idea of what you want and what you're willing to pay for it.

I find I do more hired game design work than traditional work these days.
 
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Ratiba Cherif
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Many thanks Craig Stockwell. I'd seen that thread - very rich in info. Maybe me but just couldn't find any straight answers.

I am really looking for a content designer who could help me develop mechanics, game rules and support me through the review of two rounds of playtests before finalizing.

There's a specific scope, so the designer won't have a great deal of autonomy.

The game would be a simulation of an international development project cycle, I'd like it be collaborative and that players have roles with specific limitations and interests (as they do in real life).

I thought about the possibility of having dice rolling, card drafting, pen and paper exercises, scenario based role play...

The audience is very limited so won't be for sale to public (so royalties aren't gonna be an option)

Must be fairly easy to use (as it will be played on the highlands of Africa and the meeting rooms in Washington D.C.)


Duration of play: to be discussed. Toying with multiple duration depending on learning and skills objectives.


Right now I have no money so looking for volunteer contributions, but would not want that to deter interested designer but who need to get paid, so pretty much open to all suggestions right now.

Cheers,
Ratiba

 
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K S
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RCdream wrote:
There's a specific scope, so the designer won't have a great deal of autonomy.
...
The audience is very limited so won't be for sale to public (so royalties aren't gonna be an option)
...
Right now I have no money so looking for volunteer contributions

So little freedom, small audience and no money? I feel like recruiting designers might be a hard sell for this project...
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Ratiba Cherif
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had to try it!

Ok, how does one calculate a flat fee for boardgame content design, then?

How many days/hours work will it require? Do I need to draft a scope of work that would outline the work and ask for fee propositions?

Is there an example of boardgame scope of work?

 
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Bojan Prakljacic
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I can do it for free, but if it become too similar to Pandemic, don't blame me. XD
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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RCdream wrote:
Many thanks Craig Stockwell. I'd seen that thread - very rich in info. Maybe me but just couldn't find any straight answers.

My impression is that hiring a board game designer for a one-off project is somewhat unusual and so there aren't really established standards for it. There are a number of threads discussing what sort of compensation a new designer could expect to get if they developed a game themselves and then took it to a publisher, but hiring a designer to work on your project has more variables (designer's experience level, scope of the work, manner of payment...) and there's less data available, so it's not surprising that it's harder to get a clear answer.

There may also be an issue that people who have done this sort of work feel that revealing their past rates would be to give up an advantage in future negotiations. If you post in a public forum that you once worked for $X, that's going to make it harder to ask for more than that in the future, even when circumstances change.

I'm a published designer, and I would be happy to consider doing work for hire, but I don't actually know what is considered a reasonable price (if any accepted standard even exists), and most of these threads give me the impression that the poster doesn't want to pay enough for me to justify taking the time off from my own game designs.

An unpublished designer would likely be willing to work for less, but they'll have even less information about what a fair price would be, and you'll have a lot less information about their past work (quality and style).
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Ratiba Cherif
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Thanks for the offer Bojan but I think it'll involve more than replicating an existing game.
 
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Ratiba Cherif
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Thanks for the candid and clear response Jeremy.
 
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Craig Stockwell
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Ratiba, I think you'll face some serious challenges -- but not impossible ones.

Published designers are generally less inclined to work for free (or nearly-free); but they're the ones who could most readily shepherd a project through to a logical end point.

Unpublished designers are likely more willing to work for recognition (and little/no money), but with no game sale to the public, they're not likely to get that.

If the game is part of a training process, I can see where you'd be less inclined to offer the game to the public. But if that's the case (and I'm only guessing here), then are you going to offer the game to groups who've completed the training (maybe they replay quarterly, as part of retreats, or for fun)?

Providing a seasoned designer with the game's flow and tempo should lead them to the best mechanics to use (with a limitation on total complexity) -- I wouldn't curtail their creativity, just because you think one mechanic is better/best (e.g.: perhaps dice-rolling sounds great, but it turns out card draws convey the theme/tension better, and make for a more balanced game).

...

Some seasoned designers/developers can, after hearing a reasonably detailed description of a project, closely estimate how many hours of their time it should take to complete it (and after years of project work, they're pretty accurate). In speaking with one such fellow, I've gathered rates run $50+/hour for such project work; alternately, a relatively unknown designer/developer might work for much less, perhaps $10/hour. As you have several aspects of the game decided, and presumably some work done, and playtest groups ready/available, maybe 200 hours could get the game to the place where you want it for your purpose -- unlike most games, which have to be iterated and reworked until they're commercially viable/competitive.

Presuming at some level, you're using the game as a tool to make money (e.g.: training others, soliciting donations), you could negotiate little or no money up-front for the project, but a greater amount with success of the program. For example, let's say you determine that the design/development's "market value" is $5000. You offer $500 for every [calendar] quarter in which you make a certain amount of money using the game, over the next five years. If it never happens, they get nothing. If you make money half the time (10 quarters), they get paid $5000. If things go exceedingly well, they get more.

Ultimately, I think you're more likely to get a better game by hiring someone with experience (and paying them at least some up-front) -- however, it's also quite possible to find unpublished designers who do pretty solid work, but haven't successfully navigated their way through the pitch (or self-funding) process.

...

I hope at least some of the above is helpful for you -- I like the idea of more games being made, and more designers (and developers) doing more work!
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Sean T
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RCdream wrote:
had to try it!

Ok, how does one calculate a flat fee for boardgame content design, then?

How many days/hours work will it require? Do I need to draft a scope of work that would outline the work and ask for fee propositions?

Is there an example of boardgame scope of work?




A scope of work would be helpful to determine an appropriate quote in both costs and time.

Do you have a required date of completion? A faster turn around usually means that other projects get put off and increases costs to compensate. If dates are more flexible, then the design can be done during slower periods between projects.

Who would own the intellectual rights? Is the game on licence to you or would you own the property in full? Would you need art provided, or do you have an artist in-house that you are using? Are you providing printing, or are you requiring a finished printed product? If you require a finished printed product, how many units do you require?


Now most of this would be hashed out in negotiations, but they are things to keep in mind.
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Ratiba Cherif
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This is very useful information. Thanks much. I realize now (as expected) I will have to pay for something good. Also point taken re creative leeway, should have been clearer, I actually need a designer that will specifically weigh in on the technicalities and mechanics of the game...I know nothing about it a part from my own experience of playing boardgames and what I learnt reading through the design posts in this and other fora.

I should have started this thread much earlier...
 
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