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Ethan Harrison
United Kingdom
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Hi Everyone.
I'm totally new to this. I just finished my first prototype board game. Could anyone recommend a company to send it to or tell me what I should change first? Thanks.


Dear Mr Blah Blah
Please review my game submission; ‘The Festival Game’. Exciting, humorous, family game featuring the mega-popular festival paradigm.

Market/ Age Range:

Though the game is not solely aimed at everyone who went to a festival over the past fifteen years and should broadly appeal to anyone with a keen interest in board games, this huge, and practically unpenetrated, market is impossible to ignore and would logically contain a high percentage of potential custom. According to a wide range of statistical sources well over 3.5 million people attended a UK music festival in 2016 alone, and this vast figure is set to continue growing. Demographic figures suggest +16 - 60 age range all significantly represented. Average festival ticket prices are in excess of £180 so expendable income is guaranteed. Also concentrated and established social hubs simplify advertising campaigns.

Similar Titles:
There is currently only one other title currently supplying this market; Festival - a slightly more complicated, and lengthy homemade - no help from a company - board game recently funded on Kickstarter. Info available on internet.

The Festival Game/ Play Time:
Approx-
1-2 Players 30 mins
1-4 players 1 Hour
1-6 Players +1 Hour

Players:
1-6 (*8 would work but would require a larger box.)

Components:
1 x Box (26 cm x 26 cm x 5 cm)
1 x Board (50cm x 50cm)
1 x Six-Sided Dice (I have designed a dice with 'Footprints' for dots - very popular)
1 x Set of Rules (1 x Double Sided A5)
100 x Cards (5.5 cm x 8.5 cm) All Individual Text + 10 Blank
6 x Plastic Cylinders (Diameter 30 mm x Height 24 mm) 6 Different Colours
36 x Plastic Emoticon Counters (Diameter 28 mm) 6 Different Colours - 6 Different Designs
18 x Silicon Wristbands (20 cm) 3 Different Colours and Designs

Basic Mechanics:

The board’s perimeter has forty different locations, plus three shortcuts through the middle. Players roll one dice on their turn and, unless landing on certain locations, pick a card from either ‘Instant Karma’ or ‘Blag It!’ piles, then read out the card and follow the instructions. Cards range anywhere from ‘You trip on a tent peg - 1 GoodVibe ☹ TM’ to ‘You get a selfie with your fave rock star! +5 GoodVibes 😊 TM’ etc. Ten blank cards are also included for players to make up their own, highly personalised, situations. The winning camper is the first to complete three laps of the board, each representing one day at ‘Farmer Haystacks’ Festival’.

Though the game’s distinctive appearance, theme and dry sense of humour are all novel in their own right, the GoodVibes 😊 TM points system is the game’s most unique and central feature and works by utilizing universally resonant emoticon imagery to convey players' performance. Each player has one cylindrical piece, approximately the diameter of a film canister but a 3rd of the height, filled with six counters. [See pics] The top counter is the classic happy face emoticon and underneath, in increasing levels of unhappiness, the subsequent five. Each lost GoodVibe 😊 TM subtracts -1 from players’ dice roll, therefore, when players have lost a few they must calculate the risk of throwing higher and when they have lost all six they cannot move at all and must rest. One GoodVibe 😊 TM counter is returned for every turn missed - or rested. Simple and effective.

Players, many as young as five, quickly understand the fast-moving, humorous game style and enjoy overcoming their fluctuating fortunes. Four decision making situations; 1. When to rest or go forward. 2. Which card to pick. 3. Whether to pick another player a card. 4. Whether to pick a card after using a shortcut. - added to the random nature of the cards, creates an excellent balance of both tactics and luck producing a dynamic tension in which players are never fully safe, but also can never give up hope, whatever happens (much like a real festival) and this sustains excitement until the end. Also, very importantly, there is ALWAYS an end - preventing any risk of boredom.

The game has been tested hundreds of times and I am very pleased to say that this straightforward, lighthearted approach has been universally popular. The only problem we found during development was that players occasionally forgot what day they were on - typical festival behaviour - hence the addition of the wristbands: Red - Friday, Blue - Saturday, and Black - Sunday. Whilst ensuring players know ‘what day it is’ the wristbands also add that special festival flavour.

‘The Festival Game - Enjoy the thrills and spills of a real music festival all from the comfort of your own living room.’ ‘One minute you’re falling over in the mud and dropping your phone down an organic toilet, the next you're getting a selfie with your favourite celebrity then blagging a lift all the way to the Dance Tent on Farmer Haystacks’ brand new tractor. Amazeballs! +5 GoodVibes 😊 TM.’

Prototypes are available for testing.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Ethan Harrison
 
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BG.EXE
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I favor Euros, but I like pretty much all games.
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Roll and move game with a Monopoly board layout and two chance decks?
zombie

I've got some unfortunate news man.
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Richard Valetutto
United States
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Roll and move game with a Monopoly board layout and two chance decks? I've got some unfortunate news man.

One could argue that Talisman fits that description and that game got published.
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Michael Lowrey
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I’m not that familiar with how to sell a board game but one thing does jump out at me: Your pitch letter is too long and too wordy. Publishers’ time is scarce — many simply aren’t going to read an 850 word description of your game and the intended market. Because of the length and wordiness of the letter, they might also assume that your rule book is overly long and that your game mechanisms not very streamlined.
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Stephen Rochelle
United States
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boardgamesdotEXE wrote:
Roll and move game with a Monopoly board layout and two chance decks?
zombie

I've got some unfortunate news man.
Yeah, this. Your best chance, maybe, is to talk to one of the few companies that tries to straddle the hobby / mass-market divide, like USAopoly. I have no idea whether they take outside submissions. The mass-market companies don't. The vast bulk of the hobby industry (and in all likelihood, the Kickstarter user base) will have the reaction above.

Beyond that, though, let's look at your game description:
Quote:
Four decision making situations; 1. When to rest or go forward. 2. Which card to pick. 3. Whether to pick another player a card. 4. Whether to pick a card after using a shortcut. - added to the random nature of the cards, creates an excellent balance of both tactics and luck producing a dynamic tension in which players are never fully safe, but also can never give up hope, whatever happens (much like a real festival) and this sustains excitement until the end. Also, very importantly, there is ALWAYS an end - preventing any risk of boredom.
OK, you've identified your decision points. That's good to be aware of. However:

1) Your point #2, "which card to pick": it looks like you've got Chance and Community Chest decks. Two options for blind draw. That's not really a decision. Points #3 and #4 are similar. "Blind draw and hope" is not an interesting decision. "You're never fully out of it" just reinforces that this is not actually a decision (and certainly not a "tactical" one).

2) So, we're left with the push-your-luck bit of #1: how long is it worth risking degraded rolls for movement? Particularly if players know that +GV cards are reasonably common in the decks, that's at least some incentive to push a bit.

3) However, on the whole, decision #1 looks to be undermined by the other movement mechanic, recovering one GV counter per rest. Setting cards aside, this means that the best movement option is to move at 6 GV (average move 3.5) and then rest, alternating between the two. Over four turns, that's an average move of 7. By contrast, even doing a PYL once — a 6 GV move, 5 GV move, and two rests — produces an average move of only 6. That amounts to a 12-turn average difference in time to win the game. Monstrously huge. So, your movement decision is broken.

4) The game is waaaaaaaaaaaay too long for what it is (which is, per the above, a zero-decision roll-and-move race). The track is 120 spaces long. The best movement strategy moves 1.75 spaces/turn. The average optimal player needs 68 turns to finish. 68 turns of roll or rest, roll or rest, and hey, a random card, which from your descriptions, looks more or less equally likely to extend the game as to shorten it. "The game will ALWAYS end" is, IMO, underrated with respect to a lot of classic-style game designs, but I question whether the length you've constructed actually staves off boredom.

5) You've got a Monopolyesque board (a square with property-shaped spaces tracking around a central art area with card draws) but no indication that the spaces matter — your victory condition is just "lap three times" and there's no mention of buying the toilets or anything. This isn't inherently wrong (plenty of games are just races) but it's a failure in design because you've primed players for a type of game that you haven't made. I'd drop the laps thing (which is cumbersome per your own notes) for a Candy Land-style start-to-finish track.

6) Your age bracket is way off. Festival-goers are 16 to 60 with disposable income or whatever, but this game is (per my point 5, and per your comment about when people grasp the full strategy) Candy Land. That's not a "16-to-60 with disposable income" target game (plus, that's just a weird way to be writing your pitch, but that's a whole other essay). You have a luck-dominated (perhaps even strictly, like Candy Land) race game for kids that you've saddled with a massive false decision (the rest thing) in the primary mechanic.

7) Strip this thing down. Way down. Go check out something like Monza for a dice-rolling race game for kids with a decision/course-plotting element to it. See if you can thematically adapt the color-coding you've got on your property spaces to how the Monza board looks. Note that it ends in something closer to 8 turns than to 80.
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James Clarke
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Good job on the artwork, it fits the theme well. I also like the variable/stacking emoticon player tokens. Is there much skill to the game, or is it mainly luck based (roll and move) as someone has alluded to above? Not sure that wristbands are the best way of identifying what day it is. Couldn't you just have a day tracker on the board?

Agreed that your letter draft is too wordy and some sentences are far too long. Also, it's probably not a good idea to advertise your competition in the letter.

Well done for designing a game and for organising a credible protoype. Good luck with the next stage.

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Stephen Rochelle
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Enter560 wrote:
Quote:
Roll and move game with a Monopoly board layout and two chance decks? I've got some unfortunate news man.

One could argue that Talisman fits that description and that game got published.
This is a fair point and I think it deserves an answer, because I'd certainly write a good bit about Talisman the way I wrote about Ethan's game.

1) Talisman, as a hobby game that continues to be published, is an exceptional outlier. It's therefore probably not a good business plan to say "but this!"

2) Talisman is substantially more deliberative with respect to player actions and interactions. From this review:
Quote:
it also has to do with the way the board changes with the actions of the players. The Dragon is drawn on a space by the Wizard, who casts Invisibility to avoid it. However, the Warrior has found the Holy Lance and now attempts to find the Dragon to slay it, because the risk vs reward for him are worth it. The Fountain of Wisdom is discovered, and the "heroes" of the land flock towards it. The Monk finds the Wand - and becomes powerful thereby, so the other characters seek to find some way to gain the Wand for themselves.
Fundamentally different from "I tell another player to blind draw a card with even odds of being good or bad".

3) Talisman's continued publication is largely a function of nostalgia, not the timeless objective good quality of the game design. From this other review, playing the game a generation on:
Quote:
Talisman did not get worse and I did not change.

The industry at large of gaming grew up and learned. Technology made better components. Experience made better rules. Expectations of gaming grew.

Everyone seeks the next Talisman. But they do not truly. They seek the next leap that is the thrill of Talisman. There have been copies galore. And that they are - copies of a system that was the hottest thing 20+ years ago. They have not reinvented the way Talisman did.
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Kiai Weidemann
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One thought:

I am not sure if you have done much play testing outside of your group, but that would help. You might consider making it available at one of the print on demand places like "The Game Crafters". That way you could see if folks like it or have suggestions from improvement.
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L B
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Hi. Welcome to BGG. There is a group of forums geared toward game design. You may want to try there.

https://boardgamegeek.com/forum/974616/boardgamegeek/board-g...
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Ethan Harrison
United Kingdom
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Thanks. I agree. Sounds logical. Wristbands were cheap and festivally? Is that a word? It is now. Thank you for your feedback.
 
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Ethan Harrison
United Kingdom
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Thanks. Excellent. I'll look. Saw them earlier.
 
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Ethan Harrison
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Thanks for your feedback everybody. Like I said I'm new to this. The submission guidelines that the bumph letter was written for requested all that stuff but I'll streamline my 'wordiness.' Promise
 
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Ethan Harrison
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Thanks for your wordy answer. However, no toilets, or anything else for that matter, can be bought in game. Your equity is you Goodvibes alone. Players try, though as you have pointed out it is random - just like a festival - to avoid bad things and gravity toward goods things. With the shortcuts a fast lap can take 5 moves. I should have made that clearer. Maybe I'll do that. I wanted to make the perimeter more 'wobbly' un like a monopoly board and more like a row of tents at a festival but f@cksake it would have taken a sausage-fingered berk like me ages. That is one of the jobs for the next version. What I like about it is that people, I've seen many strangers play it unadvised, intuitively know what to do as its simple so they can start having fun quickly.

Do you get to choose whether you pick a community chest or chance card in Monopoly>>?

I didn't think you did and you were told - as it were.

Thanks dude. Very comprehensive advise and much appreciated. I'll work on the letter too.
 
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Ethan Harrison
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I'm not sure about the aversion to roll and move games with two packs of cards. People - in normal land- still love a classic y'know? It's like an aversion to rock and roll with two choruses and two verses. People still like that too. I think, sometimes, there is a tendency to overthink things when a straight forward approach is sufficient.
 
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Ethan Harrison wrote:
I'm not sure about the aversion to roll and move games with two packs of cards.

You're getting typical responses from the people you asked. Have you ever gone to a board gaming group, or a convention? These are not the kinds of games you will find being played or sold there.

Ethan Harrison wrote:
People - in normal land- still love a classic y'know?

Ethan Harrison wrote:
The game...should broadly appeal to anyone with a keen interest in board games

If you're going to hold firm on your design, you need to decide who you're marketing it to. The people with a keen interest in board games have already told you what they think. If you're going for people/kids "in normal land" then you don't need the regular users of this site, you need to see if you can make some kind of connection with Hasbro or Mattel.

Lastly, it will make it much easier for people to hold a conversation with you if you use the "Quote" link so we know who you're responding to when you write a new reply.
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Stephen Rochelle
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Ethan Harrison wrote:
People - in normal land- still love a classic y'know?
I agree (though it's not what gets sold here, and pitching "classics" to mass market is a radically different animal, more or less along the lines of "cannot be done". The big players do all their stuff in-house).

However, that's why I pointed out that you've designed a complicated version of Candy Land with an adult setting. There's a fundamental mis-match here in the game you've designed and the audience you've targeted. "Classics" and "normal land" won't save that.
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