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Subject: Make Anyone into a game designer rss

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David Rainwater
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So I recently started my own project called King's End. My goal is to get this game onto kickstarter, and soon after distributed. Since this is my first game I have a lot to learn, but I do the research, I ask questions and thus far I feel like I know what I'm doing.

While play testing my game I've had a lot of people say "I want to make my own game" I try to encourage them, but many of them are quickly frustrated by the large number of obstacles that come into play. Even when you google "how to make your own board game" there aren't very many comprehensive articles concerning this topic.

In response to this issue, I started a blog tracking my progress on King's End. My goal is to use it as an example to teach people how to make a game get a prototype, find a manufacturer, come up with a budget for kickstarter, get it kickstarted, and finally find a distributor.

Now again, I've never done this before, so this blog is following my journey to get all this done, but I want to make sure that I'm leading people in the right direction. That's why I'm coming to ya'll. I've been getting help from people who have successfully done all these, but there are still holes in my instruction.

Let's start with the issues that I'll encounter last, cause those are the ones I know least about. How have you guys found distributors for your game. How'd you pick a manufacturer? And what have you guys done to get traffic to your kickstarter.
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Dylan Green
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I don't have any answers for your questions, but I wanted to poke my head in and say I'll be watching what happens in this thread with great interest.
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Nicholas Vitek
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Distributors on the quick:
1) Find a fulfillment house that already has the contacts (PSI, Game Salute, etc).
2) Contact distributors directly at trade shows. It isn't hard to figure out the name of distributors. Go down to a local gaming store and ask which distributors from which they order.

Manufacturers on the quick:
1) Look at the 100s of games you already own. The manufacturer's mark is normally on there (Ludo Fact, Panda, Grand Prix, etc).
2) Google is your friend.
3) Request quotes (These need to be highly detailed quotes, sizes, #s, component material, # of colors, etc)
4) Request shipping estimates

KickStarter traffic on the quick:
1) Start building an audience well in advance. Post pictures, garner feedback, spread across the net.
2) Ads on popular gaming sites (BGG, Purple Pawn, BGI, reviewer sites)
3) Get high quality review copies into the hands of reviewers.
4) Take a finished proto to conventions and run the game for people. Get them interested.



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Joe Mucchiello
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You should change your title since the actual question you asked is about game publishing, not designing.
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David Rainwater
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I fully intend on this being a comprehensive project. The focus will be on game design. Really at first those were my real burning questions.

Though your right, we should switch gears back into game design.

With that in mind let's chat about prototyping for a second.

I'm currently working with my friend who's doing the graphic design for King's End. Do you guys know any cheap method of getting things like cards or tokens presentable?

And an even bigger question that I've never seen answered, is how to make miniatures that look presentable without spending oodles of money.

Some people on Kickstarter say that its not very realistic to get miniatures for cheap. But like I said, my goal is to make anyone a game designer. I want to eliminate or deal with as many obstacles as possible.
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Nicholas Vitek
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Miniatures on the quick:
1) Expect to pay $200+ per miniature for 3D Digital Sculpting, then about $50-$100 for an actual 3d printed version. It goes up in price if you go physical sculptures. This is the absolute lowest amount. For a miniature project I'm working on, you're looking at $4k-5k just getting the originals made.
2) Depending on the # of unique minis and the # of minis per box, you'll have to pay for 1-X molds. 1 if you can fit all the different minis into one mold such that one injection gives you enough for one unit.
3) Check out the blog for a project called Viktory II. It has a ton of good information in it about miniatures.

Cards on the quick:
1) Print and Play Productions (search in the forums) by Andrew Tulsen (Howitzer_120mm) makes great looking prototypes / full games.
2) SuperiorPOD, Arts Cow, etc. can make cards as well. The first one seems to have a lot of communication issues based on the feedback of the forums here.

Tokens on the quick:
1) Glass beads from a hobby store
2) Acrylic crystals from the hobby store
3) Andrew Tulsen can make great wooden/stickered tokens for you that are professionally cut.
4) Andrew Tulsen can also make chits and chipboard tokens, as well as boards.
5) You can print on fullsheet label paper(google label sheets), print on them and then cut them out using a large circle punch.

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David Rainwater
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You sir seem to know your stuff.

Nich wrote:
Miniatures on the quick:
1) Expect to pay $200+ per miniature for 3D Digital Sculpting, then about $50-$100 for an actual 3d printed version. It goes up in price if you go physical sculptures. This is the absolute lowest amount. For a miniature project I'm working on, you're looking at $4k-5k just getting the originals made.
2) Depending on the # of unique minis and the # of minis per box, you'll have to pay for 1-X molds. 1 if you can fit all the different minis into one mold such that one injection gives you enough for one unit.
3) Check out the blog for a project called Viktory II. It has a ton of good information in it about miniatures.


What if the miniatures were digitally sculpted by the designer? Would that put a dent in the overall cost?
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Nicholas Vitek
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I've published two games through my game company, Living Worlds Games, LLC. including 1955: The War of Espionage and Schlock Mercenary: Capital Offensive.

I deal/work with other local area publishers and have co-published with one and am working on a co-publishing deal with another. Plus, I'm friends with a number of other publishers.

The board gaming community, while a decent size, isn't so large as to be unable to know the other people involved at roughly the same level.


---------

If you are able to digitally sculpt the miniatures, then you remove the sculptor's fee from the equation. That only leaves you with the 3D printing costs(approximately $50 / mini), the mold creation costs(several thousand dollars) and then the cost of the miniatures.

For me, if I was a a sculptor, it would remove many thousands of dollars from the equation, but I'm not and I won't be. Reason below.

As an individual, you only have so much time, energy and talent. You need to make a decision as to what you will be good at. If you do your sculpting yourself, you remove time away from game design and the details of publishing. If you hire out the sculpting, you cost yourself money but free up time.

It'll all depend on what your function in your company will be. Personally, I would rather hire out the technical aspects (artwork, sculpting, graphic design, manufacturing) so I can focus on the soft aspects (game development, game design, project management, publishing, marketing, distribution). Ideally, I'd like to contract out the marketing and distribution portion as well.

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David Rainwater
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With that in mind, how much did you spend prototyping both of those games. I understand that this is a costly processes, just curious what you personally spent.
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Nicholas Vitek
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It depends on what you mean by prototype and your goal for the prototype.

We go through dozens of iterations of a prototype while we are playtesting the game and sending it out for blind testing. Most of the prototypes are no more than slips of paper put into card sleeves or full sheets of labels placed on chipboard. Minimal graphics, sometimes color, mostly B&W. Entire cost of updating a proto, about two or three dollars for printing and then using a pair of scissors. These prototypes should be fast, quick and easy since you'll be making hundreds of changes while balancing and tweaking.

If you are talking about a prototype for pitching to a publisher, you still don't want to go hog wild on expenses nor do you need custom artwork. You are pitching your game, not graphics. It also depends on to which publisher you are pitching.

It just depends, but in general, prototypes are relatively inexpensive in the hobby game market.
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David Sevier
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Not knowing anything about your game so far, I would throw in a concern before you started paying much for prototypes.

How far along in the game design process are you?

How much playtesting have you done? If the answer is "a few" or "a bunch with my friends/gaming group" it's not enough.

The last thing you want to do is pay a bunch of money prototyping the game only to discover that it has some serious flaws that need correcting.
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David Rainwater
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I plan on putting King's End on here really soon once a bit more of the art is solidified so that I can actually show everyone the game, cause I have made several crappy alpha versions and printed up rules to distribute to people to play the game when I'm not present. It's been play tested by everyone from my gaming group to groups of strangers. And while no it's not quite ready for a legit looking prototype I'm getting very close.

Since my plan is to kickstart this board game, I'm curious how much you had spent on your board before you put it up on kickstarter. I know it varies quite a bit, I'm just looking for a ball park estimate.
 
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John "Omega" Williams
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As many other game designers and publishers will point out. Playtest prototypes should never cost much, if hardly anything. Especially if you are planning to present it to a publisher.

Why?

Because many publishes are interested in the game play and dynamics. A lot of glitze on a proto means you were spending more time on that than the actual game. And is often near totally useless as many publishers will totally redo the art and board.

RainEnterprise wrote:
With that in mind, how much did you spend prototyping both of those games. I understand that this is a costly processes, just curious what you personally spent.
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Matt Riddle
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Omega2064 wrote:
As many other game designers and publishers will point out. Playtest prototypes should never cost much, if hardly anything. Especially if you are planning to present it to a publisher.

Why?

Because many publishes are interested in the game play and dynamics. A lot of glitze on a proto means you were spending more time on that than the actual game. And is often near totally useless as many publishers will totally redo the art and board.

RainEnterprise wrote:
With that in mind, how much did you spend prototyping both of those games. I understand that this is a costly processes, just curious what you personally spent.


this. the first fleet proto cost about $8. granted, its was a card game... our current board based protos all are the same. All labor, no cost.
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David Rainwater
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Is that to say that most of the board games on Kickstarter have already been manufactured? Because most of those boards look like they spent a lot more than 8 bucks on a their boards.
 
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Mike Arlington

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Omega2064 wrote:
As many other game designers and publishers will point out. Playtest prototypes should never cost much, if hardly anything. Especially if you are planning to present it to a publisher.

Why?

Because many publishes are interested in the game play and dynamics. A lot of glitze on a proto means you were spending more time on that than the actual game. And is often near totally useless as many publishers will totally redo the art and board.

Out of curiosity, what if you also know a little about graphic design? I enjoy creating at least some art for the prototypes I've been working on. If I was later going to show one to a publisher, are you suggesting I should make a worse looking version to show off so that I don't look like I've been focusing on the wrong things?
(This isn't sarcasm, I really want to know.)
 
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Matthew Rogers
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In graphic design, there is actually a school of thought that says you should always show hand-drawn sketches for your first round with a client. Anything, even something whipped up in Photoshop in five minutes, looks "too finished"... the client is not called to imagine what the model selling the shampoo will look like, she'll look like Stock Model #17 (and if he doesn't like to look of Stock Model #17 it's a no sale, even if it would be a minute's work to swap her out).

Things change, and you might well be able to tell folks these days "this is a photoshopped mockup" but there's still the danger of overcommitting to trivial details.

The same thing for publishers reviewing games... you can say to them "I'm a graphic designer, so this may be a little more fancy than some other prototypes you see today." But there is a danger in their minds (and honestly possibly valid*) that by spending time on making it pretty, you've built up resistance to changes.

---

Of course, the actual truth of it is all of the above is "do as I say, not as I do." Because, honestly, I try to make my prototypes look really good. But... my playtesters know this. They see me come in with something one week, we give it a try and things need to change. The next time, there is a new board, with the changes. And like all things, it's iterative. The first board is a piece of paper with boxes on it. The second board is a board with color boxes on it. The third is a board with clipart on it, etc.

But here's the big caveat... I am my own publisher. So my work and effort on getting the components nice is not wasted work and there are little to no assumptions about the game's playability based on the look of the pieces.

*This is real and a real issue. In one of my development threads, I've been resistant to changing the board. I tell myself it's not that I don't want to change the board but that I don't want to change it twice, since I know I'm going to get a painted version done. But, honestly, it does need to change to track with the blind playtest feedback I'm getting.

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John "Omega" Williams
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RainEnterprise wrote:
Is that to say that most of the board games on Kickstarter have already been manufactured? Because most of those boards look like they spent a lot more than 8 bucks on a their boards.


Kickstarter games arent protos. They are full blown completed games just waiting the funding to print usually.
 
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David Rainwater
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Many are unpublished, unmanufactured though. Several of them I'm sure are almost entirely made at home.
 
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Zaid Crouch
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Again, it depends what you mean when you're talking about a prototype. If you're talking about a testing prototype for your game, then the less money you spend on it the better, as it will almost certainly need to be changed at some point (probably many times).

If you're talking about production prototypes (as you see in many kickstarter campaigns), you may want to spend more money on something like that (although you will still want to be careful about spending too much on something that doesn't yet have funding, and depending on who you want to show it too, as other have mentioned).
 
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David Rainwater
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I am talking about production prototypes. For my play testing prototypes I've just used poster board, business cards, and stolen pieces from Catan.
 
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David Rainwater
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This is, however, more about information for the blog. I'm curious what everyone else does, both for playtesting prototypes and production prototypes. I get a feeling there are many potential approaches, so I'm just curious what any of you have personally done.
 
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