gaming

Designing with Materials in Mind

Posted on Updated on

IsthmusCityChips

I recently listened to an interview with Phil Reed, CEO of Steve Jackson that you can find here.

During the lengthy interview, Phil brings up the concept of designing with material costs in mind. In essence, he argues that when designing a game to start by researching and keeping a running total of the component costs and use this background information to dictate what components to include in a game based on the prince point you are aiming for.

Wow, did I wish I had heard of this before I started designing games!

It seems like a common sense notion, but it is not…at least for me. I did not price out components prior to beginning the game design process. For Crop Cycle, I knew I wanted to make a smaller game than Centaurus (i.e not miniatures, a game board, full-box, etc.), but I did not have an outline for exactly how small the game should be. With no previous games under my belt, I also did not have the background knowledge and experience that Phil Reed and other serial game publishers hold.

In hindsight, if I did it again I would begin with researching the manufacturing. The easiest way to get accurate information is to request a few quotes from manufacturers that provide component breakdowns (Panda Games and Wingo both provide this). Alternatively, ask around in game publishing circles such as the Facebook communities here and here.

What I did instead was use the prices of a print-on-demand service as an estimate for the relative differences in cost. For example, I assumed that the comparative difference in cost between cards and tokens when I approached a manufacturer. I did not ask for quotes until later in the process and failed to realize that the price differences of a Print-on-Demand service can vary wildly from a print-run manufacturer.

To use Crop Cycle as an example, the game uses small tokens to use both indicators and as a means of keeping score. For the prototype, I used Circle Shards from The Game Crafter. The cost was cheap and I naively assumed that the cost would be comparable when speaking with manufacturers.

This was a mistake.

It turned out that die-cut tokens can dramatically increase the cost of a project, particularly as some manufacturers lack the required machinery and will outsource the component to another factory. I would have known this if I asked for quotes from manufacturers at the outset rather than waiting around.

Of course, I am not recommending that you pester manufacturers with every conceivable piece component imaginable, but if you have a few manufacturers in mind, ask them for the component costs of common items such as cards, game boxes, dice, and tokens. Then, when you to sit to thrash out the finer points of your game, you will have a much better idea of the overall cost of manufacturing and whether adding an extra cards or dice will still keep the game within the price range you intend. Remember that the MSRP (price retailers sell the game for) is typically 4-5 times your production cost.

Give it a try. Once you have decided to take the leap from designing game to publishing, get your component costs down and then delve into designing your first foray into the world of publishing.

Additional Reading:

James Mathe, a serial kickstarter creator and experienced game publisher wrote three fantastic articles on speaking with manufacturers and the costs of game design. I recommend you read them all!

http://www.jamesmathe.com/the-art-of-the-rfq/

http://www.jamesmathe.com/trimming-the-fat-board-game-on-a-diet/

http://www.jamesmathe.com/hitchhikers-guide-to-game-manufacturers/

Congrats! You made it to the end of the article! If you enjoyed the words above, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER and stay informed of new Content, Events, and Games.

Advertisements

6 Reasons You Need to Share a Table

Posted on Updated on

A Table!


Tables are a scarce and valuable resource at conventions.

As the platform for budding game designers an promoters to showcase their games, convention managers know the value of these tables and charge accordingly.

Larger conventions can charge hundreds of dollars for you to set up a table, knowing that used correctly, you can get a lot of attention for your game.

This high cost conflicts with the budgets of many game designers…budgets that are somewhere in the $0 ballpark range.

One solution to the cost is table-sharing. The concept is exactly what it sounds like. You pay for half the table and another game designer/promoter pays for the other half. The benefits of having half a table include:

  1. Reduced Cost. Half a table costs less than a full table (theoretically half the cost, but some conventions use different math)
  2. If a number of people are at your table (even if it is for another game), this will help you through the Law of Gameplay Attraction.
  3. Networking: Unless other designer you are sharing a table with has the personality of a paper bag, they are going to take an interest in your game.
  4. Anyone who comes to the table will be exposed to your game. That is not to say you should be trying to pester players to try your game while they are in the middle of the another designer’s game, but the moment they are done, they are open for hook lines.
  5. The Security of having another designer/promoter to watch your stuff when you make a sprint to the bathroom.
  6. An opportunity for Cross-Promotion. For example, if I am sharing a table and my farming game (Crop Cycle) with a game promoter showcasing Street Fighter, I might come up with a phrase like:

“You have proven your might in the fields, now take it to the streets!”

Does the phrase make any sense?
No.
Does it promise the two games offer a similar experience?
No.
Does it get players finished with my game to look across the table to Street Fighter?
Yes!

The benefits of table-sharing are numerous and the costs few. Though you have less space to work with, unless you are promoting Twilight Imperium or looking to use the table as a bed (in which case why are you at a convention?) you can make do with less.

But what about you? Have you tried out Table-sharing? Share your Success and/or Horror stories in the Comments below.

Congrats! You made it to the end of the article; a feat few internet readers achieve. If you enjoyed the words above, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER and stay informed of new Content, Events, and Games. Also, check out new blog posts here and on Twitter at #conventioncoach

Surviving the Convention Circuit Diet

Posted on Updated on

Salt_beef_bagel
Image originally found at: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Salt_beef_bagel.jpg

Convention Food will kill you!

You can rationalize that there is protein somewhere in the bacon and cheese bagel sandwich you just consumed; but that won’t undo the calories; or the effect this food will have on your body in the short term. An accurate recreation of your body’s general response to convention food can be found here.

This type of bodily response results in sub-optimal performance at conventions.

That is not being totally fair; sometimes conventions do offer healthy(ish) alternatives, but because healthy fruits and vegetables don’t have a great shelf life and take up lots of storage space, many conventions opt for pre-packaged/pre-cooked foods with shelf lives that rival my own life expectancy.

If a convention does make an effort to provide healthy foods; by all means give them your support. Convention and community centers are integral to our hobby and showing support by tossing a few dollars their way is always appreciated.

Just don’t make surviving off convention food plan A.

Beyond nutrition, food costs can add up and board game designers aren’t known for rolling in cash. Whenever possible, I bring along my own food to a convention along with a refillable water bottle. I do allot a certain amount of money for snacks to support the convention centre hosts, but the bulk of my food does not come from the convention.

If I am traveling or outside food is not allowed, I typically elect to dash out to a Subway and purchase the greatest quantity of vegetables possible to compress between two pieces of bread. If I am tied to my booth all day, I may buy in when I hear a fellow con-goer is going to venture out on a food run. I am a pretty trusting person though, so that may not work for everyone.

You’re not training for a Marathon or Bodybuilding competition, so you don’t need to maintain a pristine diet throughout a convention. By aiming to prepare your own healthy meals however, you ensure that both your digestive tract and bank account don’t take a nose dive and that you have a better overall convention experience.

Congrats! You made it to the end of the article; a feat few internet readers achieve. If you enjoyed the words above, SUBSCRIBE TO MY NEWSLETTER and stay informed of new Content, Events, and Games. Also, check out new blog posts here and on Twitter at #conventioncoach

convention_coach_banner 2