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Subject: Prototype questions rss

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I'm sure there's an ocean of info in this forum on this very topic, but I did a quick search with no luck. Any help is greatly appreciated.

What are the general quality expectations of a prototype? (for blind playtest/submission purposes)

More specifically, is it a problem to use borrowed pieces from other games and/or borrowed artwork? Wouldn't it be a waste of time/money to worry about the originality of components at the prototyping stage since it is all likely to be redone if/when it's picked up?

Thanks!
 
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Thomas Loefgren
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I'd say there's a huge difference between the quality needed for playtesting and the quality you need to present to a publisher.

You should begin playtesting (with friends and anyone else you can get to play your game) as soon as possible, to discover any major flaws in your design. For this you don't need any high quality board, map or components, as long as you ask your friends not to judge the game by the visual appeal.

When your game is polished and tweaked to (near) perfection, after many, many playtests, you can think about making the graphics (etc.) more presentable and appealing before submitting to a publisher.

At this point also remember to include nicely presented (and precise!) rules.

Some good tips in the book "Paid to Play" http://www.amazon.com/Paid-Play-Business-Game-Design/dp/1440...

Also some nice insights on this blog:
http://michaelmindes.com/reader-question-how-do-i-get-my-gam...

Happy prototyping

 
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Nathan Little
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I'd say for the initial play testing and prototyping, get it 'in the ball park.' Definitely don't potentially waste your time trying to get final grade stuff when you're not sure what you'll need to change, add or remove.

Just make sure you get your board/cards/tokens what have you their intended size, and general color since such things can tremendously effect playability and the learning curve. I also think you're better off using abstracted placeholders rather than just lifting existing artwork. ie: if you are gonna have soldier tokens, create a little doodle of a soldier roughly of what you envision, rather than just grabbing an existing picture. With enough stuff from different sources the visual disharmony will start effecting your feedback.

I've heard for submissions if you have it looking like someone already is producing it (high quality) you are in a better position. But I've also heard some publishers are have artists on staff and intend to redo things anyway and don't care. I'd wager that the better it looks it can't hurt, but the worse ... it can.
 
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Joe Mucchiello
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The OP said BLIND playtesting and publisher submission. He knows you don't need anything but a pencil for initial testing.

I suspect that the quality necessary for a blind playtest is probably sufficient for a publisher submission. The blind playtest has to stand on its own with ZERO input from you (or anyone else who knows the game). So if it is good enough that your blind playtesters can play and enjoy the game sufficiently that you are considering going to a publisher, it is probably good enough to show a publisher.

That said, the first blind playtest prototype does not have to be as good as the last blind playtest prototype. Initial blind playtesting with laminated cardstock pieces is just fine. As the design becomes tightened up with blind testing you might change that cardstock to wood bits (for example).

IOW, don't assume your first blind playtest prototype will be your last. So don't go overboard on that first one.
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Andy Van Zandt
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i agree with joe for the most part, your blind-test prototype should be good enough for a publisher, and at no point does it need to look 100% professional. functionality is key.

specifically, the more functional your components are, they better play/rules feedback you'll get. if you've got penciled words on scraps of paper, 75% of your feedback will be component based, which is comparitively less helpful.
 
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Rob Bartel
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Check out my geeklist From Prototype to Finished Game to see photos of a bunch of familiar games in their original prototype form.
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Thanks to all for the responses!

Let me try to be even a little more specific:
Is there any downside to using, say, the cardboard hearts from Descent (other than the cost), and including them as part of my prototype just for playtest/submission purposes? Or even a step further - recognizable plastic figures from a popular FFG game? Will publishers (FFG included) be concerned that my prototype is infringing on copyright, even though I'm only using them to get a better feel for the game mechanics, and there is no intention of actually re-distributing them?

Well... after writing it out it sounds even less risky, but there's something about it that still makes me hesitate.
 
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Rob Bartel
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Nah, you're fine. Publishing the game with stolen art is definitely a no-no but, for a prototype, use whatever you have at hand to help convey your intent.

In fact, here's a geeklist by none other than Bruno Faidutti, called Games whose prototypes were obviously made using components from some other game.
 
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