Scott Boor
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I live in Northern California in the heart of Silicon Valley. I have been designing games for a little over a year with one *ready* to solicit for publication and several other ideas at various stages of completion. I love designing games and talking about game design with the (few) friends who share the interest.
Going to conventions locally I've met a few people who are also designing, but seem to have even fewer people with whom to share ideas and swap playtesting with.
So I'm reaching out to any other designers in the area interested in forming a group to meet and render mutual aid in the process of design, art and even pushing on toward publication.

Here's my grand vision:

1. Regular (bi-monthly) meetings to talk about what we're working on and, within that framework, what is working and not working. I could see breaking into small work groups of 2-3 to go over things and get ideas.

2. Special speakers (possibly funded by dues) in the form of those who have published and other industry connections to help build networks.

3. Open playtest events where we call in our friends and passersby to play the games and complete questionnaires. A kind of playtest-a-palooza perfect for conventions or game nights at various shops in the area.

Who would be interested in something like this?

BTW: I have a print and play version of one of my games here on BGG. You can find it by following this link: www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/121520/pirate-hunter
I'd love to get feedback.
 
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J C Lawrence
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Campbell
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Travis Worthington attempted such at SB-Boardgamers a couple years ago. Unfortunately it struggled for critical mass and withered. A not inconsiderable part of the challenge was incoherence across the audience. I was interested in designing 18xx and other strongly analytical games (and still am and still do: 1843). Travis was interested in small and short tactical games. Karlo wanted interesting geometry with high randomness and take-that. Candy was interested in non-confronational middle-weight family-style games. Another chap wanted high theme high narrative...etc. As a result the cross-feedback was often irrelevant to the designer's goals/interests.
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Michael Ptak
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I've met Scott at Dundracon last month and said I'd be interested in something like this. Maybe my best friend might also be in if he ever gets a design afloat because he's given me feedback on some of mine.

Conflict of interest on designed genres was something I never considered though. Personally I'm a big fan of dudes-on-a-map conquest games that don't take forever to play. I've never considered sitting down to play something like the train games, but maybe I'd be up to trying something for the sake of getting it tested.

Personally, since I don't have a lot of exposure to many of the games in the industry, I think it would be nice to play some other genre titles to get a feel for what exists.
 
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Scott Boor
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JC - I really do appreciate the perspective. It was not something I'd thought about either.

I personally agree a cross-genre experience and feel someone not used to playing a 'certain' type of game might be able to bring a different perspective.
I've been thinking of it in terms of coming together for mutual support and agreeing to play games one is not used to in an effort to help one another knowing the others are doing the same for everyone else.

If there are others at hand interested, I'd be willing to start something and at least plan a few meetings to get things rolling.
 
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Philip Migas
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Akron
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Scott, I run a design and prototype group in Akron Ohio (called Boardgamers of Greater Akron Design and Prototype (BOGA DAP). I have learned a few lessons and would like to make some recommendations.

scott_Boor wrote:

1. Regular (bi-monthly) meetings to talk about what we're working on and, within that framework, what is working and not working. I could see breaking into small work groups of 2-3 to go over things and get ideas.

Make it monthly, at the same time and the same place. Consistency makes it easier for people to commit to it. Once you establish a consistent time and place, don’t change it under any circumstance.

scott_Boor wrote:

2. Special speakers (possibly funded by dues) in the form of those who have published and other industry connections to help build networks.

The main concern for game designers is to get playtest time. We have two sections of the meeting, one is for designers who need help figuring out mechanics. The entire group is involved. Then we brake of into groups to playtest.

scott_Boor wrote:

3. Open playtest events where we call in our friends and passersby to play the games and complete questionnaires. A kind of playtest-a-palooza perfect for conventions or game nights at various shops in the area.
Friends and passersby are not as great at early reviews as other game designers. Setting up consistent monthly playtest sessions is more convenient than worrying about conventions. DAP went 2 years before we started getting involved with conventions. They are still a side issue compared to the monthly meet-ups. The good thing about monthly reviews is that it provides time between playtest to refine the game.

[q="scott_Boor"]
Who would be interested in something like this?

I was surprised with the level of interest in my area. The first meeting was 8 people. Recent meetings have averaged 15 people with a maximum of 21 at one meeting.

clearclaw wrote:
Travis Worthington attempted such at SB-Boardgamers a couple years ago. Unfortunately it struggled for critical mass and withered. A not inconsiderable part of the challenge was incoherence across the audience. I was interested in designing 18xx and other strongly analytical games (and still am and still do: 1843). Travis was interested in small and short tactical games. Karlo wanted interesting geometry with high randomness and take-that. Candy was interested in non-confronational middle-weight family-style games. Another chap wanted high theme high narrative...etc. As a result the cross-feedback was often irrelevant to the designer's goals/interests.


I am afraid there is more to the story than what was posted. If you are a serious playtester, it does not matter your preferred taste. There are a variety of different game taste in the design group. We are very professional and don’t let our personal taste prevent us from giving a design review.

Do not let the fact that a playtest group did not work previously. There are multiple reasons for groups to stop. One of the main one is that the group leader becomes too busy with life.

Be prepared to be the leader. I come over prepared for meetings. I have an agenda. I have people signed up before hand for playtest. During the meetings I organize the playtest groups and make sure the people who request playtest first get there game tested.

Feel free to contact me if you feel you can use my help.
Philip Migas
www.bogadap.com
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Steven Metzger
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Knoxville
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clearclaw wrote:
Travis Worthington attempted such at SB-Boardgamers a couple years ago. Unfortunately it struggled for critical mass and withered. A not inconsiderable part of the challenge was incoherence across the audience. I was interested in designing 18xx and other strongly analytical games (and still am and still do: 1843). Travis was interested in small and short tactical games. Karlo wanted interesting geometry with high randomness and take-that. Candy was interested in non-confronational middle-weight family-style games. Another chap wanted high theme high narrative...etc. As a result the cross-feedback was often irrelevant to the designer's goals/interests.
And I moved away.
 
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Scott Boor
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Philip,

Thank you for your supportive comments. I will certainly be in contact with you about the idea.
I don't really need to add another commitment to my plate, but I have a strong passion for this one. I know how much I and my games have benefited from play testing and I would like to extend the same benefit to others.

Thanks for the reminder about Consistency and preparation. They are certainly going to be important to getting something like this running.

Much obliged.
 
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Scott Boor
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Now,

Where are my locals interested in the concept? Surely the south bay area must be CRAWLING with aspiring designers?

It's time to come out loud and proud!
 
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J C Lawrence
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The better established local designers (Tom Lehmann, Matt Leacock, Scott Caputo, Ted Alspach etc) seem to have well established play and discussion setups (as one might suspect). My impression is that the wannabes, or those designing games for marginal audiences (I fall into this camp), are the ones struggling for feedback and discourse, and are buttered all over the map and scattered among the many local game groups.
 
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Brook Gentlestream
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Long Beach
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clearclaw wrote:
The better established local designers (Tom Lehmann, Matt Leacock, Scott Caputo, Ted Alspach etc) seem to have well established play and discussion setups (as one might suspect). My impression is that the wannabes, or those designing games for marginal audiences (I fall into this camp), are the ones struggling for feedback and discourse, and are buttered all over the map and scattered among the many local game groups.


...and on that note, anyone want to come down to LA?
 
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Chris Johnson
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Azusa
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lordrahvin wrote:

...and on that note, anyone want to come down to LA?


There is an established, open, playtest/design group in LA:

http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/SoCalPlayTesting/
 
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Scott Boor
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Looking for NorCal folks interested forming a playtest and game design mutual aid society. Anyone interested feel free to PM me.
 
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