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Subject: Prototype for convention question rss

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Jamie Noble
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Hi guys! I have a question I wanted to pick your brains on...

I have a board game I'm currently designing https://boardgamegeek.com/article/23631310#23631310. I was going to try and get a prototype made by Game Crafter for a convention I'm attending at the start of December(Dragon Meet).
It's never going to happen with the Game Crafter prototype as the art is only halfway there and I imagine the lead time for TGC is fairly long. So my question is, should I go ahead a print myself and mock the game up using card sleeves and a bit of do it yourself? Is that acceptable as something to show to gather interest? It's not a miniature game, is mainly cards and a few tiles.
Thanks in advance. Jamie
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Andrew H
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In general it's OK, but there are a few notes.

If it's a design convention, or a design portion of a regular convention, you'll see a wide variety of design stages. It's understood that things may be a work in progress. Try to help people that test your game, by testing their design.

If it's a regular convention, you would have better luck with finished prototypes, but there are usually plenty of people who will play test. The big consideration is usually time. I would guess that 20-40 minutes is what a random person would be willing to spend on learning the rules and trying the game. There will be people who would stay longer, but if your full game is more than 45 minutes, it will be more difficult to just ask people who walk by. Finished art would probably increase the random person visit to 60-90 minutes.

If you are hoping to have a publisher try it, there is also a variety of preferences. Some would do their own art or retheme the game, while others would want a finished product. The biggest issue is to see that the rules are solid. In all three of these examples, the more refined the rules are the better, but publishers would probably place the highest emphasis.
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Craig Stockwell
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Echoing what Andrew said above, if it's not a convention featuring prototypes, the more polished the components are, the better. If you've not already, check-in with the organizers to see if there's an area/time for unreleased games to be shown. That said, I've seen plenty of people having a grand time playing a home-printed prototype in card sleeves.

Looking forward, if (when!) your aim is to pitch to publishers ... oddly enough, the polish of the components is less important; however, the [developed] state of the mechanics/rules is critical. I've received many compliments during pitches about professionally-produced prototypes (most from The Game Crafter, in fact) -- but it's the [advanced] state of the game which convinced them to take a copy back to the office for further consideration.

On a related note, have Print-and-Play files (e.g.: PDFs) available when you pitch to publishers -- sometimes they're interested, but don't want to transport a physical prototype.

You likely already know, but unless you're committed to self-publishing, don't commission art for your prototype -- publishers will almost always replace it with their own. Use stock/public images as placeholder art.
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Jessica Berlin
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I totally agree with everything the other two posters said. If you're early on in your game design process, you definitely don't need to worry about art or printing your game at TGC yet. Get your game playtested as much as possible by as many different people as you can. The DIY prototype is definitely ok, and you'll be glad you didn't put a lot of time into the art, design, printing of a prototype after you've playtested it and then realized you have to change a bunch of things...

Getting gamers at a con to play an unfinished prototype can be challenging. We've found that going to events that are dedicated to playtesting unpublished games are a lot easier to get people to play the game (rather than cons that people go to so they can play published games), but it's still possible. I wrote a blog post about this recently with some tips about how to get gamers to play your game: http://galvanizedstudios.com/2016/10/26/getting-gamers-to-pl....

Good luck!
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Dave Schroeder
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I agree with all of the above posters as well, just a couple things to add:

We used Print and Play Productions for our prototypes and they turned out great. They have grown a bit since we used them, but the customer service was very responsive and helpful, and we got around 100 cards and 400 tiles done in a couple of weeks.

We have found that unless the convention is specifically for games in progress, the type of feedback we get from people changes based on how the game looks. Our early prototypes got a lot of comments about basic mechanics, while the more polished ones got more comments about edge cases, iconography and the like. Essentially, the feedback we got was aimed at the stage of development that people thought we were in based on the look of the game. This is not necessarily good or bad, just something to be aware of.
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Phil Vestal
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Agree with the above posts and would also say if you are up for making some of it yourself, you can get some pretty nice stuff put together depending on what you have to make.

I was pretty impressed by this post and the work he did: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1668881/prototype-showdown

You might be able to copy some of those ideas (both cards and tiles) with the art you have, plus placeholders, and give people a pretty good idea of what the game will be.
It may not be perfect but but would still look pretty legit.
 
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