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Subject: Converting Video Games into Board Games -- What Questions to Ask? rss

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Stefan Lopuszanski
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Background:

Hey, I've been working on a few ideas for converting the video game "League of Legends" into a board game. I talked about it a bit before, but I hit some road blocks along the way.

Recently, I just came up with a few more ideas, but they are all heading towards radically different ideas.

I'm trying to figure out what path I should choose and what prototype(s) I should focus on.

To do this I've come up with an idea of posing questions to members of the League of Legend forums. I'll be asking 4 or 5 questions to get a better idea of what direction they would want the board game to go, what they would want to see, and what they would want to play.

I've formulated a few questions myself, but I'm curious what questions do you think I should ask? I'll be limiting it to a maximum of 5 questions, as I don't think people have much of an attention span to answer more than 5. As an incentive, I'm going to be giving a prize randomly to one of the people who answers all the questions. I've done this before and managed to get over 2,000 people.

tl;dr:

Anyway, what 4 or 5 questions do you think I should ask to narrow down the design? They don't have to be related to League of Legends, as I'm sure the questions could be generally related to any board game to video game conversions. So, what are your thoughts? What questions should I ask and what possible answer selections should be available?

Thanks for the input!
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Curt Carpenter
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A board game has to be invented (or designed, if you prefer). You will not get the answers you seek/need from asking people questions. Certainly not to video gamers.
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curtc wrote:
A board game has to be invented (or designed, if you prefer). You will not get the answers you seek/need from asking people questions. Certainly not to video gamers.


Huh? That doesn't make sense...

Maybe I should have given examples, but I didn't want to sway the way people answered.

An example of a question would be: "How long would you play a League of Legends board game?" With answers as: "less than 30 minutes" "30 minutes to 1 hour" "1 hour to 2 hours" "2 hours to 3 hours" "3 hours to 4 hours" "4 or more hours"

You can design a game with certain parameters in mind. Someone doesn't go up to Reiner Knizia and say, "we need a Lord of the Rings game." They would say, "we need a 1 hour to 2 hour Lord of the Rings board game with [ADD MORE THINGS HERE THAT I'M TRYING TO FIND OUT]." It is all around what type of game the company is looking to create with an IP -- not simply making a game with the IP.

Even if they are "video gamers" they are still potential buyers. How many "video gamers" do you think bought StarCraft: The Board Game or World of WarCraft: The Board Game over say traditional board game players? I'm fairly certain they made up a huge demographic of buyers -- probably more people who play World of WarCraft and view their forums bought the board game than people who only visit the BoardGameGeek forums.

Note: I already have a series of questions ready, I just wanted to get feedback and see if others had similar ideas or would spawn some new ones.
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Kevin B. Smith
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1. If there were a board game version, how interested would you be in it?

2. How many boardgames have you played in the last year?

Based on their answers to those, you could have an idea of how relevant their input is on the rest, or at least have some context for interpreting their answer.

I don't know much about video games, so don't feel like I can help much with the actual questions. Topics might include: length (as you said), complexity, randomness, cooperation vs. backstabbery, and fidelity to the video game experience.
 
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Stefan Lopuszanski
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peakhope wrote:
1. If there were a board game version, how interested would you be in it?

2. How many boardgames have you played in the last year?

Based on their answers to those, you could have an idea of how relevant their input is on the rest, or at least have some context for interpreting their answer.

I don't know much about video games, so don't feel like I can help much with the actual questions. Topics might include: length (as you said), complexity, randomness, cooperation vs. backstabbery, and fidelity to the video game experience.


Well, I intend to make the design no matter the level of interest. It is intended to be a portfolio piece. Still some good ideas, thanks.
 
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One suggestion is the questions should come with multiple-choice.

Let say:
1)How many players you want?

A)Solo, B)two (one on one), C)3 or more co-op, D)3 or more competitive

2)How long would you like to play?

A)30-60 minutes, b)1-2 hours, C)3-4 hours, D)5 hours up

3)What kind of games you like?

A)CCG/LCG B)RPG/adventure game with minis, C)Euro worker placement, D)wargame





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Stefan Lopuszanski
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Ultracheng wrote:
One suggestion is the questions should come with multiple-choice.

Let say:
1)How many players you want?

A)Solo, B)two (one on one), C)3 or more co-op, D)3 or more competitive

2)How long would you like to play?

A)30-60 minutes, b)1-2 hours, C)3-4 hours, D)5 hours up

3)What kind of games you like?

A)CCG/LCG B)RPG/adventure game with minis, C)Euro worker placement, D)wargame


Thanks for the feedback. The forums there let me have up to 40 different answers (I know crazy number). I'll probably limit each to 5 or 6, but those are good suggestions so far. Not sure if those people know what a "Euro worker placement" game is though. =)
 
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You may not want your "portfolio" to start off with a game based on someone elses IP. Also, most publishers dont look at portfolios. They look at submissions on a often one for one basis.

So the better question is. What are you looking to accomplish with this?
 
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Stexe wrote:
Not sure if those people know what a "Euro worker placement" game is though. =)


Than do not ask those people about boardgame design! Sure, if you get the licence and are able to name your game LOL some non-boardgaming LOL-players will buy it but you really should focus on people allready playing boardgames.

Take a look at the games you will have to compete against: Runebound (Second Edition), Mage Knight Board Game, Wiz-War (eighth edition),... Than ask yourself what your game will offer that theese games don't.
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Stexe wrote:
peakhope wrote:
Based on their answers to those, you could have an idea of how relevant their input is on the rest, or at least have some context for interpreting their answer.

Well, I intend to make the design no matter the level of interest. It is intended to be a portfolio piece. Still some good ideas, thanks.

I'm not sure you caught the intent of my questions. They weren't geared toward deciding how big your audience might be (although they might help with that). They were to avoid things like having 90% of your respondents say they wanted a 4-hour game, only to find out that those 90% would never play a boardgame anyway, and the other 10% want a 30-minute version.
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Stefan Lopuszanski
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Omega2064 wrote:
You may not want your "portfolio" to start off with a game based on someone elses IP. Also, most publishers dont look at portfolios. They look at submissions on a often one for one basis.

So the better question is. What are you looking to accomplish with this?


It is primarily portfolio work for game design applications. I've put more time into playing League of Legends than almost any other game in recent years. Plus, I'm trying to go for a job at Riot Games -- so a portfolio showing my interest in their IP is a huge bonus. It is easier to show a video game company that I've designed a board game based on something popular than just saying I've designed something original without consideration for IP. Companies typically want to see what you can do with existing IP, not creating something from scratch.

Originaldibbler wrote:
Stexe wrote:
Not sure if those people know what a "Euro worker placement" game is though. =)


Than do not ask those people about boardgame design! Sure, if you get the licence and are able to name your game LOL some non-boardgaming LOL-players will buy it but you really should focus on people allready playing boardgames.

Take a look at the games you will have to compete against: Runebound (Second Edition), Mage Knight Board Game, Wiz-War (eighth edition),... Than ask yourself what your game will offer that theese games don't.


Yes, because non-hardcore board game players have no idea what they want? I'm sure they have SOME idea. I'd rather focus on what the community would want to see -- not necessarily what hardcore board game players would want. Those game examples are very different from League of Legends. Not only that but they are based on relatively unknown IPs outside of the board gaming world. I'd say a better comparison would be other strong IPs; either based on TV shows, movies, or other video game.

I've already asked a few board game players who also play LoL what they thought a while ago. Their answers were fairly typical and not very surprising -- extremely abstract to the theme and relatively short games (1 to 2 hours). Not sure if that is what mass market video game players would want though -- seems most of the video game to board game conversions are long affairs with relatively complex rule sets (World of Warcraft and StarCraft).

peakhope wrote:
Stexe wrote:
peakhope wrote:
Based on their answers to those, you could have an idea of how relevant their input is on the rest, or at least have some context for interpreting their answer.

Well, I intend to make the design no matter the level of interest. It is intended to be a portfolio piece. Still some good ideas, thanks.

I'm not sure you caught the intent of my questions. They weren't geared toward deciding how big your audience might be (although they might help with that). They were to avoid things like having 90% of your respondents say they wanted a 4-hour game, only to find out that those 90% would never play a boardgame anyway, and the other 10% want a 30-minute version.


Hmm... good point. I can't really format the question that way on the forums, but I could put "would not be interested in playing a League of Legends board game" as a choice for each question. That should cull some of the people who would vote without actual interest in playing it.
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Stexe wrote:

Yes, because non-hardcore board game players have no idea what they want?


Oh, I am sorry I thought you wanted to make a game that sales well. Sure, you can make a merchandise style LOL boardgame but the question is how many people would buy it. On the other hand I see a market for a dudes on a map surface-crawler with leveling, PvP and PvE. If you take a closer look on the games I mentioned and the discussions dealing with theese games you will see a need for a game that is similar to theese but a little more like LOL.
 
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Stexe wrote:
Plus, I'm trying to go for a job at Riot Games -- so a portfolio showing my interest in their IP is a huge bonus. It is easier to show a video game company that I've designed a board game based on something popular than just saying I've designed something original without consideration for IP.


I could imagine that creating something digital would be more impressive for a video game company... But I might be wrong.
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Stefan, what type of position are you interested in at Riot Games?

Are you looking to get into a programmer/level designer position? Or an art, character modeling type position?

They make online games, why would they care about a board game? If they want a board game made from one of their games, then they are going to solicit a board game publisher about licensing their IP.

If you want to be a programmer/designer for online games, then you need to be able to show off that type of work not board games. That’s not how the video game industry works

Do you have a background in computer science, programming, level, character design etc?

Are you currently in school for one of these programs or do you have industry experience?

If you’re in school or recently out of school, then you do need samples of you work, but it should be original stuff you have coded, designed, etc not their IP. The people interviewing you for this type of position are going to want to see what you can come up with that’s original and how you solve problems.

Have you been to any of the game developers conferences?
Have you looked at other companies as well? You may not get in the first company you’re interested in, right off the bat especially coming in at entry level, so it might be a good idea to look at all the companies that have internships. A good starting point for that is gamedevmap.com

There are also hundreds of video game industry related groups on linkedin everything from job positing groups, freelance work, specific programming languages, etc a good resource


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Originaldibbler wrote:
Stexe wrote:

Yes, because non-hardcore board game players have no idea what they want?


Oh, I am sorry I thought you wanted to make a game that sales well. Sure, you can make a merchandise style LOL boardgame but the question is how many people would buy it. On the other hand I see a market for a dudes on a map surface-crawler with leveling, PvP and PvE. If you take a closer look on the games I mentioned and the discussions dealing with theese games you will see a need for a game that is similar to theese but a little more like LOL.


Believe it or not, but the best selling games are not to hardcore board gamers. Case in point: Munchkin.

Just because I'm trying to get feedback from non-hardcore board game players doesn't mean the game would not also appeal to board gamers. Pretty sure StarCraft was enjoyed by both. Same for Battlestar Galactica -- lots of non-board game players bought it because of the IP, and yet it is in the top 100 board games as well.

Originaldibbler wrote:
Stexe wrote:
Plus, I'm trying to go for a job at Riot Games -- so a portfolio showing my interest in their IP is a huge bonus. It is easier to show a video game company that I've designed a board game based on something popular than just saying I've designed something original without consideration for IP.


I could imagine that creating something digital would be more impressive for a video game company... But I might be wrong.


Maybe if I was going for a programming job. It is difficult to get a group of people willing to commit the time it takes to make a video game. I've done small video game projects before, but I wanted to do something different this time. Game design is game design -- the medium doesn't really change it that much.

80sgamer wrote:
Stefan, what type of position are you interested in at Riot Games?

Are you looking to get into a programmer/level designer position? Or an art, character modeling type position?

They make online games, why would they care about a board game? If they want a board game made from one of their games, then they are going to solicit a board game publisher about licensing their IP.

If you want to be a programmer/designer for online games, then you need to be able to show off that type of work not board games. That’s not how the video game industry works

Do you have a background in computer science, programming, level, character design etc?

Are you currently in school for one of these programs or do you have industry experience?

If you’re in school or recently out of school, then you do need samples of you work, but it should be original stuff you have coded, designed, etc not their IP. The people interviewing you for this type of position are going to want to see what you can come up with that’s original and how you solve problems.

Have you been to any of the game developers conferences?
Have you looked at other companies as well? You may not get in the first company you’re interested in, right off the bat especially coming in at entry level, so it might be a good idea to look at all the companies that have internships. A good starting point for that is gamedevmap.com

There are also hundreds of video game industry related groups on linkedin everything from job positing groups, freelance work, specific programming languages, etc a good resource


I'm interested in an associate game design position (possibly Champion Design), but I'd also be interested in some gameplay QA positions.

Game design is generally universal -- the concepts of player interactivity, user-experience, balance, and other interlocking mechanisms is fairly ubiquitous. I've already done some small video game projects before, and while maybe a huge video game project would be more impressive, I feel like a board game design would better round out my portfolio. One thing I feel I bring to the table that other applicants do not is my extreme level of interest in traditional game design such as in board games. Creating video games to show your passion might have been how it used to work; but I know many Riot designers who got their start without any video game design experience.

I have some background in Computer Science. I was a Comp Sci major at PennState for a year, but it (the campus and the major) just wasn't a right fit. For my educational background, I have an Associates Degree in Game Design from a community college and recently graduated with a B.B.A in Marketing from Fox School at Temple University in Philadelphia. No industry experience outside of talking to many people in the industry.

One thing that a lot of game company ask for is 2000+ hours in one or two specific video games to show you have the ability to "master" it. Riot Games encourages fans to use their IP to create really cool things -- many of the employees there got their start doing fan related activities with the IP. Yes, people interviewing me for positions are going to see if I can be original and solve problems, but what bigger problem to solve than using an existing IP to create a game that works? It is much easier to create a game system without tying it to any theme, but incorporating a theme heavily and still having the game work is extremely difficult.

I have not been to GDC yet, I plan on going in March though. I've been to PAX East 2011 and 2012, and treated it more like GDC in that I spent most of my time making contacts in the industry, going to panels, and learning everything I could. I've looked at other companies as well -- but Riot Games is my #1 choice if possible. One of the greatest things about Riot is that they know talent when they see it; even if they have no past industry experience. They are willing to take risks to get interesting and unique candidates -- something I feel I can offer.

I'm a member of many game development related groups on LinkedIn. Right now I've been applying to quite a few different positions through GlassDoor and LinkedIn to see what my options could be. I've also been polishing up my portfolio; something I'm trying to round out with more unique offers such as board game design.

Thanks for showing interest in my quest! =)
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The game I created actually came as an inspiration from playing Demigod, which is in the same genre as League of Legends. I eventually made some core changes to the central ideas of gameplay (there are no hero units, you just command the army), but it worked out pretty well. I'm hoping to send it off to a publisher by the end of the year, as long as I can find one that's interested.

When taking inspiration from another source you just have to look at the gameplay that makes that source what it is. It took a lot of thought to create my game, but I jotted down all of my ideas, and my scribbles eventually came together
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Here are a few questions that could be helpful:

1) What aspects of LoL do you like the most?

2) What aspects of LoL do you like the least?

3) What aspects of LoL would be required for the board game to feel like LoL for you?


This gets the main sense of what your audience is really looking for without needing them to really understand boardgames.
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JWest wrote:
The game I created actually came as an inspiration from playing Demigod, which is in the same genre as League of Legends. I eventually made some core changes to the central ideas of gameplay (there are no hero units, you just command the army), but it worked out pretty well. I'm hoping to send it off to a publisher by the end of the year, as long as I can find one that's interested.

When taking inspiration from another source you just have to look at the gameplay that makes that source what it is. It took a lot of thought to create my game, but I jotted down all of my ideas, and my scribbles eventually came together


That's cool. I've played Demigod before (I've tried to play every Aeon of Strife style game). I'd be interested in the rules, do you have a copy you could send to me?

Here are some of my random thoughts and prototypes that I ran through. http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/659476/league-of-legends-the...

I've recently come up with a more abstract game that still feels similar to the game. Think of how Bloodbowl Team Manager tries to capture the essence of playing multiple Bloodbowl games. Just trying to figure out which prototypes I should invest more time in since they are all so vastly different.

Mephansteras wrote:
Here are a few questions that could be helpful:

1) What aspects of LoL do you like the most?

2) What aspects of LoL do you like the least?

3) What aspects of LoL would be required for the board game to feel like LoL for you?


This gets the main sense of what your audience is really looking for without needing them to really understand boardgames.


Thanks, that's great! Just what I was looking for -- now to come up with answers that fits those questions...
 
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Stexe wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
You may not want your "portfolio" to start off with a game based on someone elses IP. Also, most publishers dont look at portfolios. They look at submissions on a often one for one basis.

So the better question is. What are you looking to accomplish with this?


It is primarily portfolio work for game design applications. I've put more time into playing League of Legends than almost any other game in recent years. Plus, I'm trying to go for a job at Riot Games -- so a portfolio showing my interest in their IP is a huge bonus. It is easier to show a video game company that I've designed a board game based on something popular than just saying I've designed something original without consideration for IP. Companies typically want to see what you can do with existing IP, not creating something from scratch.


Riot games produces PC/Online games.

99% of all video game publishers do not handle board game publishing too. When they want a IP directed board game made they go to some other company. Or wait for a company to come to them. Even the publishers that multi-media blitze will be usually accessing outside companies to handle what they do not or cannot.

So coming in with a portfolio showing a board game, instead of programming skills, again may not be the best of ideas.

Works the other way around too. If someone approached me while I was still in the publishing biz and showed me their PC game work... Id kindly decline. I need board game designers. Sorry. Show me a board game prototype or move along.
 
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Omega2064 wrote:
Stexe wrote:
Omega2064 wrote:
You may not want your "portfolio" to start off with a game based on someone elses IP. Also, most publishers dont look at portfolios. They look at submissions on a often one for one basis.

So the better question is. What are you looking to accomplish with this?


It is primarily portfolio work for game design applications. I've put more time into playing League of Legends than almost any other game in recent years. Plus, I'm trying to go for a job at Riot Games -- so a portfolio showing my interest in their IP is a huge bonus. It is easier to show a video game company that I've designed a board game based on something popular than just saying I've designed something original without consideration for IP. Companies typically want to see what you can do with existing IP, not creating something from scratch.


Riot games produces PC/Online games.

99% of all video game publishers do not handle board game publishing too. When they want a IP directed board game made they go to some other company. Or wait for a company to come to them. Even the publishers that multi-media blitze will be usually accessing outside companies to handle what they do not or cannot.

So coming in with a portfolio showing a board game, instead of programming skills, again may not be the best of ideas.

Works the other way around too. If someone approached me while I was still in the publishing biz and showed me their PC game work... Id kindly decline. I need board game designers. Sorry. Show me a board game prototype or move along.


I don't think you understand. I'm looking for a game design job -- not a game programming job. The two fields are not intrinsically connected anymore. I'd have to re-learn quite a bit to be able to code something that would be good enough to put in my portfolio. While coding and scripting are a plus, I think having a good design sense is more important. http://riotgames.com/careers/content-designer

Understanding the fundamentals of game design without the layers of technology is extremely important to good design. One of the brilliant things Riot Games has done has been focusing on designs that do not have high levels of obfuscation -- something most video games fail to achieve.

To me, showing a well designed board game would highlight something unique I bring to the table. There might be many other applicants who present just video game designs -- but how many will also have a well constructed board game?

Also, if you're working at a company you'll be working on their IP -- so why not show you can use an existing IP and stay true to the original idea while still creating something amazing? If Riot Games ever did create a League of Legends board game I'm sure they would be closely involved with its development. They have extremely high standards and would want to ensure they ship the very best possible thing.

So yes, it might be better to create my own video game or mod for another game, but what cries dedication more than creating something for their IP?
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So your going to show a PC game company a board game... To prove you know how to design PC games? This might work if you are applying for a Mechanics Designer position.

And no. The two areas of design and code have not been connected since nearly the Atari days when game design and coding was a near one man job. I know people in the console game biz. Thank you...
 
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Omega2064 wrote:
So your going to show a PC game company a board game... To prove you know how to design PC games? This might work if you are applying for a Mechanics Designer position.

And no. The two areas of design and code have not been connected since nearly the Atari days when game design and coding was a near one man job. I know people in the console game biz. Thank you...


Omega2064 wrote:

So coming in with a portfolio showing a board game, instead of programming skills, again may not be the best of ideas.


Well, you'll forgive me if I assume you thought programming and design were connected when you tell me to show them my "programming skills" when I'm going for a design position?

And I think it is more valuable to show a wide range of talents than simply focus on one thing. Instead of simply showing nothing but video game projects, I'd rather include a vast array of my talents to show how I'm flexible and a problem solver in different fields.

To me, any game company I'd want to work at would prefer someone who is well rounded as a designer than someone who can only do one thing. I think the best designers know how to design for every media instead of being pigeonholed into one niche.

Thanks for the interest though! =)
 
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August Larson
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I don't think it's a bad idea to show Riot Games your flexibility, as long as it's in addition to a sufficient video game design portfolio. If you haven't already, it would be a good idea to design a mod for LoL or, if your programming skills aren't good enough, design a handful of levels on paper or in a drawing program. Even make level designs for non-LoL games to show that you are versatile. After your interviewer seems to be impressed enough with the aforementioned parts of your portfolio, bring out your board game and demonstrate that you know how to make a working level design, think outside the box, and complete a project. That could be the icing on the cake and make you stand out from the competition. A working board game could be a great SUPPLEMENT to a video game portfolio. But don't go in thinking that they really want to see your board game and least of all publish it. It will be impressive, but not enough so on its own merits.
 
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Curt Carpenter
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Having worked in the video game industry on multiple titles, my opinion would be that board game design and video game design are not as similar as you seem to believe.

If your goal is to get a job at Riot as a game designer, I would suggest doing something that shows video game design skills. Doesn't have to be LOL-related. Go mod a game. After all LOL was originally created as a mod of Warcraft III. Maybe go make a different Warcraft III mod with some unique creative aspect.

I've been absent the thread for a bit (sorry), but going back to my previous comment and your reply:
Stexe wrote:
curtc wrote:
A board game has to be invented (or designed, if you prefer). You will not get the answers you seek/need from asking people questions. Certainly not to video gamers.


Huh? That doesn't make sense...

Maybe I should have given examples, but I didn't want to sway the way people answered.

An example of a question would be: "How long would you play a League of Legends board game?" With answers as: "less than 30 minutes" "30 minutes to 1 hour" "1 hour to 2 hours" "2 hours to 3 hours" "3 hours to 4 hours" "4 or more hours"

Again, asking LOL players won't give you the answer you want. If they're not boardgame players, they don't really have a feeling for how long a boardgame should take.

Stexe wrote:
You can design a game with certain parameters in mind. Someone doesn't go up to Reiner Knizia and say, "we need a Lord of the Rings game." They would say, "we need a 1 hour to 2 hour Lord of the Rings board game with [ADD MORE THINGS HERE THAT I'M TRYING TO FIND OUT]." It is all around what type of game the company is looking to create with an IP -- not simply making a game with the IP.

That's the publisher specifying such parameters, not the [video!] gamers. Publishers know how to answer such questions.

Stexe wrote:
Even if they are "video gamers" they are still potential buyers. How many "video gamers" do you think bought StarCraft: The Board Game...

Sure. But what Starcraft player would have responded that they wanted the board game to take like 5-10x as long as the video game?!?

Stexe wrote:
... or World of WarCraft: The Board Game over say traditional board game players? I'm fairly certain they made up a huge demographic of buyers -- probably more people who play World of WarCraft and view their forums bought the board game than people who only visit the BoardGameGeek forums.

And I'm also fairly certain that the demographic of WoW players was not the group of people defining parameters for the board game design.
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I had a phone interview with game company that is relevant to this post. I was also applying for a game design position, and more than half of the interview was questions related to board games that I had placed on my resume. For those who are downplaying the similarity of board games and computer games: from an employers perspective it is the exact same skillset. Good luck, more info via PM if you'd like.
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