Recommend
7 
 Thumb up
 Hide
11 Posts

BoardGameGeek» Forums » Board Game Design » Board Game Design

Subject: To retheme or not to retheme? rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Nate
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Last year I showed a prototype to a publisher and they asked to take a closer look. I sent it to them, and after a while they rejected it, saying they liked it but that it wouldn't fit into their schedule for a while. They said that instead of holding on to it indefinitely, they would send it back to me to give me a chance to shop it around. (I thought that was pretty cool of them, actually). They also said that if I didn't find a publisher by this summer, they would want to take another look at it.

So, now it's this summer and I'll be meeting with these guys again soon. I've been thinking a lot about the game and I think the gameplay is exactly what I was going for, but I've since come up with a new theme that would fit the rules better.

Knowing that this publisher has seen the game before, with its current theme, should I bother changing the theme to something that fits the rules better? It would require a complete remake of the game -- very few components would survive the rethemimg, but the gameplay would be completely unchanged. 100+ cards, a new board, a new rulebook, new player aids, and new pawns.

Thoughts?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Travis Worthington
United States
California
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
2010 Releases ........................................ The Resistance, Haggis & Triumvirate ..................................... Now accepting submissions for 2011 releases ........................................ www.IndieBoardsandCards.com
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
what is the old, and new theme?

Theme not only can help sell a game, it can also make the game easier to learn and more enjoyable to play.

That said there are some themes that are overdone - renaissance trading for example and others (generic fantasy) that are well saturated but offer room for a truly innovative game shine.

in the end theme is less important than the theme to mechanics and game play matching.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate K
United States
Utah
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's hard to say whether a retheme is a good idea without knowing more about the game, but off hand, I'd say don't bother.

I don't know which game publisher you are courting, but most publishers will do all their own art and rulebooks and such, anyway. If you wanted to mock up a few cards and some pages from the rulebook to show them the direction you were thinking of taking the game thematically, that probably wouldn't hurt. But don't kill yourself trying to get a nice-looking prototype with a new theme unless you really think it will help sell the game. My instinct would be, though, that it's unnecessary. Having a playable and fun game is a lot more important to most publishers than the look and feel of the components.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like games that are dripping with theme, so... If you can retheme it in a way that makes the theme really tie into the mechanics then I say go for it. Since the publisher has seen the game before, perhaps you can show them the game with the two different themes. One theme might 'grab' them more than the other and give them the push they need to bring the game to market. Now I don't know anything about your game other than your post, but perhaps one theme would lend itself better to future expansions than the other or have greater mass appeal.

On the other hand, demoing the same game with multiple themes might give the impression that the theme is tacked on, or diminish the game's "presence". For me this would be less of an issue, but I'm not a game publisher. It would seem to me that a publisher would be open to new themes or ideas before the game comes to market, but I can't speak for them.

Ultimately it's your game so I think the best theme is one that not only ties into the game, but is one that you can really get behind.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nate
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Thanks for the feedback!

wadenels wrote:
On the other hand, demoing the same game with multiple themes might give the impression that the theme is tacked on, or diminish the game's "presence".


I think you're right -- there is a risk there. But your comment also sparked a memory of my first meeting with them.

When I first showed it to them, even as I was getting out the components, their first question was about how open I'd be to changes like that. It's kind of their way of being up-front about the fact that might want to change things. I told them I wouldn't have a problem with that (and I meant it).

Later on in the conversation I mentioned that the theme could be easily changed, and they said they thought the theme was fine. But at the time, they had only seen the game for a few minutes.

I don't know if that changes anyone's advice.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Iffix Y Santaph
msg tools
designer
badge
The Evil... The Chaotic... The Wallaboo!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just to further go along with Wade's comment, when you have a game that you are excited about, you'll market the game much better. SO if a retheme gives you some fresh excitement about your project, I definitely think it's a good idea. (Just save the original, for comparison, so the publisher can try the game they remember and associate it with the new. And tell them why you changed the theme, and how it better fits the game play.)
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Brian McCormick
United States
Lansing
Michigan
flag msg tools
badge
Tasteless Brute
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
There are games I've played (both published games and prototype games) where the game felt as though the designer REALLY wanted to push this or that theme as opposed to choosing a theme that best fits the gameplay. It's a big turn-off.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kevin B. Smith
United States
Mercer Island
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
kungfugeek wrote:
Knowing that this publisher has seen the game before, with its current theme, should I bother changing the theme to something that fits the rules better? It would require a complete remake of the game -- very few components would survive the rethemimg, but the gameplay would be completely unchanged. 100+ cards, a new board, a new rulebook, new player aids, and new pawns.

I think doing all the work to change the theme before knowing if they want the theme changed would be silly. But at the other extreme, not even mentioning the re-theme possibility to them seems equally silly.

It seems like the right answer is somewhere between "mention the new theme to them as an option" and "mock up several examples of components with the new theme and pitch it to them that way".

One would hope that a game publisher could imagine a game with a different theme, without having to see it fully realized in prototype form.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tomas Riha
Sweden
Göteborg
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
A certain game mechanism can make alot of sence under one theme but feel forced under another. IF a re-theme makes the game more intuitive without making it harder to sell and market I would say go for it.

2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mike Kollross
Canada
Carvel
Alberta
flag msg tools
designer
Pew pew pew!!!
badge
I'm a member of the Game Artisans of Canada
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Just be prepared to counter the "we like the game but not the theme"

Even having "I had given some thought to doing X instead. Goods become BLANK and buildings would be BLANK.

That's all you need. At that point in the conversation they are heading for a no and you have nothing to lose by keeping them on track to a yes. At the bare minimum you are lengthening the conversations and building a relationship with the publisher.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wade Nelson
United States
Golden Valley
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
peakhope wrote:
kungfugeek wrote:
Knowing that this publisher has seen the game before, with its current theme, should I bother changing the theme to something that fits the rules better? It would require a complete remake of the game -- very few components would survive the rethemimg, but the gameplay would be completely unchanged. 100+ cards, a new board, a new rulebook, new player aids, and new pawns.

I think doing all the work to change the theme before knowing if they want the theme changed would be silly. But at the other extreme, not even mentioning the re-theme possibility to them seems equally silly.

It seems like the right answer is somewhere between "mention the new theme to them as an option" and "mock up several examples of components with the new theme and pitch it to them that way".

One would hope that a game publisher could imagine a game with a different theme, without having to see it fully realized in prototype form.


I think I like the mock-up idea best. Unless the new theme really makes the game shine (in which case I still say go for it), I would think that a good publisher would be able to appreciate a good mockup. The mockup could be anything from an illustration of the game with a different theme to some prototype components or anywhere inbetween.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.