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Subject: What's a good convention for my new 3-4 hour long game? rss

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Howdy all!

I'm a new board game developer working on my first game, which I plan to bring to Kickstarter in about a year once the art is done and I've done some promotion. (In case anyone's interested: https://www.instagram.com/goldstruckgames/)

I have never been to a board game convention, but would like to start going to some to demo my game. I'm wondering what these conventions are like. I'm assuming that you can sign up with a game and set up a table and have people play, right?

The problem is my game is medium-heavy in complexity, takes about 30-45 minutes to explain the rules, and generally lasts 3-4 hours.

Any suggestions about what conventions might be good? Or any general advice about going to conventions with a game like this?

Thanks!

[EDIT] Sounds like I should be doing demo versions of the game for conventions, being as I'm not going for playtesting, but to build interest. Does anyone have any suggestions for specific conventions (in the USA) that would be good for this? I live in New York City, but have the means to travel a bit.
 
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Scott M.
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Winter Springs
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Whats your elevator pitch??

I mean if i am going to sit for 30 minutes for rules and 3-4hrs for play time, your going to have to hook me hard that first 30 seconds. And yes i dig long heavy games.

At a Convention though your going to need to distill your game down to a 30 minute snapshot so you can generate table turnover and get enough folks to get a feel/taste of the big pie.

Demoing the full 3-4hr game each time is not practical.
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Eric Engelmann
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One that is near your (secret) location?

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Eric Engelmann wrote:
One that is near your (secret) location?


I'm in New York City!
 
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atraangelis wrote:
Whats your elevator pitch??

I mean if i am going to sit for 30 minutes for rules and 3-4hrs for play time, your going to have to hook me hard that first 30 seconds. And yes i dig long heavy games.

At a Convention though your going to need to distill your game down to a 30 minute snapshot so you can generate table turnover and get enough folks to get a feel/taste of the big pie.

Demoing the full 3-4hr game each time is not practical.

Interesting. Are you saying it's reasonable to show up at a convention with a game and not do actual full test runs, but instead sort of show people certain mechanics of the game and letting people play briefly?
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goldstruckgames wrote:

Interesting. Are you saying it's reasonable to show up at a convention with a game and not do actual full test runs, but instead sort of show people certain mechanics of the game and letting people play briefly?

Reasonable, expected, and wise! One important thing to remember is that you want to showcase the "heart" of the game. If you can create a place to play from that is NOT the beginning of the game you might be better off.

Giving each person a couple of buildings built or troops recruited and allowing them to experience the meaty centre of the game will do a lot more for building buzz (assuming they like it).

Dominion has beginner cards, CoB has beginner maps, most CCG and LCG come with functional decks, RPGs/Dungeon Crawls pre-built characters, etc...

Think of it like like a computer game where you start as the acient heroes of old and play one battle, then go to your hero building up from nothing: that hint of what is to come allows folks excitement.

Play the pivotal part of the game, explain the details later.

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MacavityandMycroft wrote:
goldstruckgames wrote:

Interesting. Are you saying it's reasonable to show up at a convention with a game and not do actual full test runs, but instead sort of show people certain mechanics of the game and letting people play briefly?

Reasonable, expected, and wise! One important thing to remember is that you want to showcase the "heart" of the game. If you can create a place to play from that is NOT the beginning of the game you might be better off.

Giving each person a couple of buildings built or troops recruited and allowing them to experience the meaty centre of the game will do a lot more for building buzz (assuming they like it).

Dominion has beginner cards, CoB has beginner maps, most CCG and LCG come with functional decks, RPGs/Dungeon Crawls pre-built characters, etc...

Think of it like like a computer game where you start as the acient heroes of old and play one battle, then go to your hero building up from nothing: that hint of what is to come allows folks excitement.

Play the pivotal part of the game, explain the details later.


This is extremely useful. I had no idea this was how conventions worked. Thanks!
 
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Melissa Delp
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goldstruckgames wrote:
atraangelis wrote:
Whats your elevator pitch??

I mean if i am going to sit for 30 minutes for rules and 3-4hrs for play time, your going to have to hook me hard that first 30 seconds. And yes i dig long heavy games.

At a Convention though your going to need to distill your game down to a 30 minute snapshot so you can generate table turnover and get enough folks to get a feel/taste of the big pie.

Demoing the full 3-4hr game each time is not practical.

Interesting. Are you saying it's reasonable to show up at a convention with a game and not do actual full test runs, but instead sort of show people certain mechanics of the game and letting people play briefly?
I think it depends on what your purpose is. Is your goal to actually "playtest" your game and get feedback or to build interest and get people excited about your game?

If it is to playtest, I suggest looking at conventions and events specifically geared toward that -- Unpub (has a main convention in Baltimore and many small ones at other cons); Proto Atlanta; Protospiel.

If you are trying to build interest -- then a shortened demo version would be good. It will allow you to cycle through more people while still giving them a taste of the game.
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I wouldn't think people would spend money to get into a convention and then be convinced to devote 3-4 hours on a game they've never read/heard about before-hand. Try participating in local meetups. It doesn't actually sound like you have. If that holds true, maybe your game could use more playtesting before trying to unleash it onto the masses for beta testing.
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mjbulldog wrote:
goldstruckgames wrote:
atraangelis wrote:
Whats your elevator pitch??

I mean if i am going to sit for 30 minutes for rules and 3-4hrs for play time, your going to have to hook me hard that first 30 seconds. And yes i dig long heavy games.

At a Convention though your going to need to distill your game down to a 30 minute snapshot so you can generate table turnover and get enough folks to get a feel/taste of the big pie.

Demoing the full 3-4hr game each time is not practical.

Interesting. Are you saying it's reasonable to show up at a convention with a game and not do actual full test runs, but instead sort of show people certain mechanics of the game and letting people play briefly?
I think it depends on what your purpose is. Is your goal to actually "playtest" your game and get feedback or to build interest and get people excited about your game?

If it is to playtest, I suggest looking at conventions and events specifically geared toward that -- Unpub (has a main convention in Baltimore and many small ones at other cons); Proto Atlanta; Protospiel.

If you are trying to build interest -- then a shortened demo version would be good. It will allow you to cycle through more people while still giving them a taste of the game.

Thanks for the clarity. The mechanics are solid and any playtesting I'm doing now is just for fun and to build more interest, so it sounds like I ought to come up with a demo version for these conventions.

Any suggestions about specific conventions (in the USA) that would be good for this? I live in New York City but have the means to travel a bit.
 
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Michael McKibbin
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One way to approach it would be to hold several shorter demo sessions, to give a broad number of people a taste of the game, and then schedule a couple full games for those who are interested.
 
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Eric Engelmann
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Small local cons may have a playtesting/designer workshop component. All of mine do, as well as several others in the DC area. At mine, up to 10 designers show attendees their game while interacting with the program's mentor and other aspiring designers. The big designer event I've been to is the UnPub convention in Baltimore. Designers book a table in (two hour?) slots while about 1000 gamers stroll around, joining games and demos.

If your game is polished and presentable enough to attract gamers, you can recruit them at any local con, assuming you are extroverted enough to hustle.

I often have a designer like this in one of my 300-350 gamer cons.
 
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Greg S
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This one: https://www.bostonfig.com/ Unfortunately it just happened.

I don't know about New York City, but Boston has a very active game development group on Meetup https://www.meetup.com/Game-Makers-Guild/.

 
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hgman3 wrote:
One way to approach it would be to hold several shorter demo sessions, to give a broad number of people a taste of the game, and then schedule a couple full games for those who are interested.

Good point. Thanks.
 
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Eric Engelmann wrote:
Small local cons may have a playtesting/designer workshop component. All of mine do, as well as several others in the DC area. At mine, up to 10 designers show attendees their game while interacting with the program's mentor and other aspiring designers. The big designer event I've been to is the UnPub convention in Baltimore. Designers book a table in (two hour?) slots while about 1000 gamers stroll around, joining games and demos.

If your game is polished and presentable enough to attract gamers, you can recruit them at any local con, assuming you are extroverted enough to hustle.

I often have a designer like this in one of my 300-350 gamer cons.

Very cool! Perhaps I'll reach out to you once for more info once the art is done... Thanks!
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Matthew Proper-Lee
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Relatively close by is Metatopia
https://www.dexposure.com/m2019.html
 
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Jonathan Sullivan
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City of the Big Shoulders is a 2-3-4 hour game that is heavy.

The game plays over 5 decades(Rounds).

I volunteered to run demos at GenCon for it. The demo would run about 90 minutes, which included teaching and made it through the 3rd round.

I feel like everyone walked away from my demo with a solid understanding of the game, its mechanics, and whether it was a game for them.

The key to all this was being prepared. The night before, we had a meeting where the developer went over how to teach, we practiced running demos, and got constructive criticism. By being prepared, we were able to guide people through the game, point out interesting bits, and basically made the 90 minute demo fly by.

I worked 3 hour shifts and the time seemed to just disappear. It never felt like a slog, or left people bored.


Later at GenCon, we played a prototype game... the person didn't even tell the rules. It was complicated, had lots of fiddly bits, and we didn't know what was going on. He just kind of played the game for all of us and told us some of the rules as we went. It was... boring, and ultimately left a bad taste in our mouth. Presentation and demonstration skills are a must have.
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