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EXECUTION Producing a Board Game 0-100 (Product dev, Crowd sourcing, Ecommerce, Ads)

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Isaac Oh

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@s.wirat13 agreed. Since we're going the route of an adventure RPG game with drinking as a mechanic, we're thinking 1-1.5 hrs would be a good gameplay time.

Definitely investing into miniatures. They're our biggest cost and many board games simply use 2D cutouts. Our market includes more serious board gamers who would appreciate minis.

Appreciate that man! I'm not thinking of conceptual architecture but when we do I'll let you know!
 

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Isaac Oh

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Thursday and Friday were dedicated to moving into my new appartment/office building and catching up on work for clients. Back to developing the game!

We play tested the game once and found some major problems from the get go. Couldn't even make it through 5 min of playing haha. Everything feels like a web and pulling one factor affects the rest so steps forward sometimes feel like a big step back.

Looking like a week will be a good timeline for a playable alpha version of the game.
 
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Isaac Oh

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Great success
33898

Just had a friend come over and we play tested the game as a 3 person group. By the end of the session, I had two pages of notes filled with improvements and small tweaks.

The coolest part was that some changes we incorporated this morning brought everything together and we were able to have a two hour session of the game.

The mechanics of the game are down baby!!

Now it's just adding more content and continually tweaking small things.

Very hopeful for a strong alpha by next Saturday. We'll playtest some more, send it to some other developers for testing and we'll be looking to go into full production for marketing.
 
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Isaac Oh

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As I come to nearing the end of prototype development, I'm wondering how I can test the product with my market before investing into production of the product.

@AllenCrawley did you send some samples to people and ask for their thoughts before launch?
 
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A little ahead of schedule. I've finished creating about 45 quests for the game besides the main quest.

I've also finished developing the concept art for the game board. It's not amazing but it should give the artist a clear idea of what I'm looking for.

I paid $5 for the software on inkarnate.com. Gotta say, it was really worth it.

33930

It's currently protected by a strong watermark so don't even think about stealing it. Even if someone stole the map, this isn't the final version and they wouldn't know the reasons for the layout.

I changed the rectangular concept to a square map of 27.5" x 27.5". I made sure it would be ergonomic enough for the number of players it supports as well as being able to capture the large scale of our world.

Made lots of edits from the first design.

Now, with a playable "alpha" version of the game. I'm looking to send it to play testers.

Googling for answers, I found the following options:
1. Friends and family
2. Online play-testing groups on FB
3. Paying professional play-testers

These were also some good resources:

I found a post from a game developer who broke his process down into 4 phases.
Phase 1: Test core gameplay loop. See if the game can reach a victory condition and how long it takes
Phase 2: Look for dominant strategies and emerging player behavior.
Phase 3: Final adjustments for imbalance
Phase 4: Final illustrations and game elements

I'm in the phase we're im looking for people to play test so I can see what additional elements I may need to add or tweak. Once that's done, we move onto creating the designs and contacting manufacturers.

While I consider how I'll be getting the game into play testers' hands, I'll be developing the rulebook so that I can get feedback on that as well.

I want to keep costs as low as possible as well as get feedback from people outside of our target market. So, I'll probably be using reddit a lot for this.

Also, it seems like in blind playtests, the testers are given the game without any input from the developer. So it's going to be a test of the clarity of my rulebook as well as the game.

I'll be referencing similar RPG game rulebooks that are highly rated. Gloomhaven, Zombicide, Near and Far, Mechs and Minions, Shadows of Brimstone, Darkest Night, Pathfinder, and DnD.

The goal's not the learn the ins and outs of every game but to just know exactly what I'll need in my own
 
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sparechange

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A little ahead of schedule. I've finished creating about 45 quests for the game besides the main quest.

I've also finished developing the concept art for the game board. It's not amazing but it should give the artist a clear idea of what I'm looking for.

I paid $5 for the software on inkarnate.com. Gotta say, it was really worth it.

View attachment 33930

It's currently protected by a strong watermark so don't even think about stealing it. Even if someone stole the map, this isn't the final version and they wouldn't know the reasons for the layout.

I changed the rectangular concept to a square map of 27.5" x 27.5". I made sure it would be ergonomic enough for the number of players it supports as well as being able to capture the large scale of our world.

Made lots of edits from the first design.

Now, with a playable "alpha" version of the game. I'm looking to send it to play testers.

Googling for answers, I found the following options:
1. Friends and family
2. Online play-testing groups on FB
3. Paying professional play-testers

These were also some good resources:

I found a post from a game developer who broke his process down into 4 phases.
Phase 1: Test core gameplay loop. See if the game can reach a victory condition and how long it takes
Phase 2: Look for dominant strategies and emerging player behavior.
Phase 3: Final adjustments for imbalance
Phase 4: Final illustrations and game elements

I'm in the phase we're im looking for people to play test so I can see what additional elements I may need to add or tweak. Once that's done, we move onto creating the designs and contacting manufacturers.

While I consider how I'll be getting the game into play testers' hands, I'll be developing the rulebook so that I can get feedback on that as well.

I want to keep costs as low as possible as well as get feedback from people outside of our target market. So, I'll probably be using reddit a lot for this.
Super easy, just head to a local college / university campus, post flyers everywhere saying FREE BEER, invest in a ton of booze and hand it out along with the game for testing, then request feedback on how the game plays, problems etc.

You could even setup a few spots on campus with the game out and get people to play the game. Throw up a desk and some chairs and you've got your testing. You could even grab c

In a couple days you will find out if its a good game or not, and you'll get tons of publicity, my last marketing campaign got nearly 2,000 views. Here's the best part, I didn't tell anyone what I was doing, never asked anyone to film or photograph me, yet people allover the city were taking pictures and videos of what I was doing, people were resharing content that OTHER people made of my campaign. Free advertising for myself, from people around the community doing it for me.

Create a buzz/ruckus around your game in the college campus's. If you can make some waves people will be sharing/resharing on social media and you will become talked about. I would advise agaisnt paying any money for advertising.
 

s.wirat13

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View attachment 33930

It's currently protected by a strong watermark so don't even think about stealing it. Even if someone stole the map, this isn't the final version and they wouldn't know the reasons for the layout.
Gotta love the watermark. Make it a bit more transparent and you got a nice treasure map :rofl:

I agree with @sparechange . You can have people test it with zero fee and especially the blind test aspect! Local board game store/ Board game cafe are also a good place. Board game lovers gather there and you can have in-depth feedback for free.
 
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Takeaways from this thread:

1. Start building an audience immediately. A game's success on kickstarter is largely dependent on the marketing done before the game even launches on kickstarter.
2. Send the prototype to influencers / bloggers and big names in the field.
3. Kickstarter is going to take longer. I need to start up marketing first. I'll probably set up a website soon with a way to capture emails then start doing some giveaways or beta playtest prototypes.
 

Kid

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Coivd twist on Spare's idea:
Hang camera on to lamp above the map and do a live online group chat - infinite beta testers!

P.S. Order them free beer via some online store
 

sparechange

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Coivd twist on Spare's idea:
Hang camera on to lamp above the map and do a live online group chat - infinite beta testers!

P.S. Order them free beer via some online store
Good idea, Instagram & YT have live features
 

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sparechange

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I'm getting a bit ahead of this but what if it there was official online game event
on Kickstarter launch's date?
People could see game being played live,get pumped up and go to Kickstarter for more.
Could work, people always want to have fun :cool:
 
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@sparechange @Kid
Great ideas guys!

This Monday and again on the weekend, I'm having two playtests. Just to make sure everything is in order.

Rulebook is pretty much finished. Just a bit more typing to do.

Besides that, I'm about 95% confident that the components of the game are nailed down. That means that I can move onto reaching out to manufacturers for quotes and start the process with the graphic designers.

Lastly, I registered a website and will be starting marketing right after it's finished. Should take just a few days to build a lead gen type of site.
 
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The playtest last night didn't do so well, we were crunched for time so we weren't able to play through much and one of our group was being a downer. Anyway, still got a bit of feedback from that and applied it.

The first draft of the rulebook is finished. Content is still under construction so I'm giving myself two days to push out all the content I need to actually get this darn thing into playtester's hands.

Besides that, I'm hitting up manufacturers tomorrow. Gonna be shopping around so excited for that.

For any game developers who follow this thread in the future, try this process:
1. Get the game built to bare minimum to test the market (playtest). Still, it should incorporate all the mechanics and nuances of the game as well as the rulebook. Test the rulebook! For me, my content's just not there yet.
2. Get feedback from playtesters. I'll be sending them a questionnaire with these questions
  • How many people played the game?
  • How many people were drinking?
  • How long did that game take you?
  • Did you win the game?
  • What confused you?
  • What did you dislike about the game?
  • What did you enjoy about the game?
  • What would you absolutely add into the game?
  • What would you absolutely remove from the game?
  • How much would you pay for a full-scale version of this game?
3. With lots of feedback, continue improving until most people are happy with the game.

-------Prototyping is done------

4. Now that you know you have something valuable in your hands, it won't need to change much. Reach out to manufacturers for quotes and a single copy of the game.
5. Find a great designer
6. Create a website with the designs and photos of the copy.

---------Marketing is ready-------

7. Start that marketing. Get some traction going to kickstarter, pre-orders, or whatever method you have for funding.
8. Plan your kickstarter campaign. Copywriting, rewards, stretch goals, etc

------Launch Kickstarter---------

9. If it's a hit, use funds to completely revamp your content/design/etc and strengthen the things that you were weak in. For example, my storytelling isn't the best so I'll have someone completely rewrite my stories. Invest more into the "bread and butter" aspects of your product that make it what it is.
10. Fulfill kickstarter orders

If productocracy isn't a myth, things should scale from there :)
 

s.wirat13

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The playtest last night didn't do so well, we were crunched for time so we weren't able to play through much and one of our group was being a downer. Anyway, still got a bit of feedback from that and applied it.

The first draft of the rulebook is finished. Content is still under construction so I'm giving myself two days to push out all the content I need to actually get this darn thing into playtester's hands.

Besides that, I'm hitting up manufacturers tomorrow. Gonna be shopping around so excited for that.

For any game developers who follow this thread in the future, try this process:
1. Get the game built to bare minimum to test the market (playtest). Still, it should incorporate all the mechanics and nuances of the game as well as the rulebook. Test the rulebook! For me, my content's just not there yet.
2. Get feedback from playtesters. I'll be sending them a questionnaire with these questions
  • How many people played the game?
  • How many people were drinking?
  • How long did that game take you?
  • Did you win the game?
  • What confused you?
  • What did you dislike about the game?
  • What did you enjoy about the game?
  • What would you absolutely add into the game?
  • What would you absolutely remove from the game?
  • How much would you pay for a full-scale version of this game?
3. With lots of feedback, continue improving until most people are happy with the game.

-------Prototyping is done------

4. Now that you know you have something valuable in your hands, it won't need to change much. Reach out to manufacturers for quotes and a single copy of the game.
5. Find a great designer
6. Create a website with the designs and photos of the copy.

---------Marketing is ready-------

7. Start that marketing. Get some traction going to kickstarter, pre-orders, or whatever method you have for funding.
8. Plan your kickstarter campaign. Copywriting, rewards, stretch goals, etc

------Launch Kickstarter---------

9. If it's a hit, use funds to completely revamp your content/design/etc and strengthen the things that you were weak in. For example, my storytelling isn't the best so I'll have someone completely rewrite my stories. Invest more into the "bread and butter" aspects of your product that make it what it is.
10. Fulfill kickstarter orders

If productocracy isn't a myth, things should scale from there :)
What was the problem in your playtest? I feel your headache right now. To get the right mechanicsm is the hardest part.
 
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What was the problem in your playtest? I feel your headache right now. To get the right mechanicsm is the hardest part.
One of the friends who came to playtest didn't seem like he actually wanted to play. Was complaining that the stories were long and wasn't really engaging throughout. I took some notes just in case, but I don't think he's the type of person we're looking for anyway.

Maybe he thought the game would be more casual. That's something that I could really make clear about the board game. It's not really a casual game but it's easily picked up by casual gamers.

Anyway, not too hung up about it. I'll be printing homemade copies this weekend and have then sent to other playtesters who volunteered.

I've also started working with a designer for the graphics in the game. Working with Napon Suzuki for the character art and with another designer for the rest of the designs.

Also contacted several manufacturers and am in the process of receiving quotes. Many require a 3D model for the printed minis before they can quote me so I'm waiting for the character designs, from which I'll have someone make 3d models of
 

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One of the friends who came to playtest didn't seem like he actually wanted to play. Was complaining that the stories were long and wasn't really engaging throughout. I took some notes just in case, but I don't think he's the type of person we're looking for anyway.
Have you thought about having different game modes/ lengths? That way, for people with a shorter attention span like your tester mentioned above, might feel more engaged?
 

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Some people will like/dislike your product.

The hard part will be to actually know whos opinion is valid, make sure you keep the numbers written down (who likes / dislikes) and what reasons. Then average it out and see if its worth fixing. Lots of people here like MJ's books, but if you go on Amazon and read the 1 star reviews you will find dozens of idiots claiming MJ is a scam artist, take that into consideration.
 
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Some people will like/dislike your product.

The hard part will be to actually know whos opinion is valid, make sure you keep the numbers written down (who likes / dislikes) and what reasons. Then average it out and see if its worth fixing. Lots of people here like MJ's books, but if you go on Amazon and read the 1 star reviews you will find dozens of idiots claiming MJ is a scam artist, take that into consideration.
Really good point. I'll start tracking that.

Have you thought about having different game modes/ lengths? That way, for people with a shorter attention span like your tester mentioned above, might feel more engaged?
Great point. That's something that Near and Far does. I could actually see this working out well. I'll implement this after I get the core game nailed down.
 

s.wirat13

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Really good point. I'll start tracking that.



Great point. That's something that Near and Far does. I could actually see this working out well. I'll implement this after I get the core game nailed down.
@triodine made a solid point. If he wants casual, you can actually give him that. Either with different mode or difficulty adjustment. I’ve played PVE game like Forbidden Island which has several difficulty levels. All the adjustments are explained in the rule book. If you can manage to put that in your game, you can have house audience buying yours instead of keeping them out. In my case, my colleagues are mostly casual gamers. If there ain’t easy level for them, they play for a game and then back to scrolling Facebook. That board game will offer less value to me too.
 

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Lots of doubt setting in. Progress is getting slower.

I just need to finish off enough content for a play test and get some feedback but I'm holding myself back. This is a reminder to myself that I will have the play test content done by tomorrow night.
 

sparechange

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By the words of the amazing Felix Dennis, write down your doubts and fears and hold them up to the light and carefully examine them.

You will realize it's nonsense. Keep going, not everything is sunshine and rainbows.
 
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By the words of the amazing Felix Dennis, write down your doubts and fears and hold them up to the light and carefully examine them.

You will realize it's nonsense. Keep going, not everything is sunshine and rainbows.
Thanks for the words of inspiration @sparechange. I took some time to consider my fears. Even though they're there. My dreams are just too important and in the grand scheme, it's just part of the process. Thanks.
 
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I just finished the final pages of 150 pages of content.
Well... it's not completely done. It's just enough to send to other people to test.
the final product might have around 350 pages of content. It's a lot but players won't be going through every page every run. It's more for replayability. It's definitely a way this game differentiates itself.

Good thing is, when I hit my goal on kickstarter, I'll be able to hire a professional to redo my writing and create the rest of the content.

Further updates, I moved forward with a graphic designer who will be helping me with most major designs for $2000 total. (500/mo)
I also hired someone to do the character art for $2000 total. (half up-front, half after)
The person doing the character art is much more conceptual and talented. I'll probably use his art for the concept, the kickstarter, and some of the major pieces of content. I'll have the first guy simplify stuff for the game itself. Should look really cool.

Something I should have been doing is posting on board game forums just as much as I have been posting here... I'm starting first thing tomorrow.
 
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So, the quest content is pretty much finished. Should be less than half a day to finish equipment content. Then it's finally playtesting.

Here's some subreddits that I plan on being more active on to raise some awareness and document my process.
  1. r/tabletopgamedesign
  2. r/boardgames
  3. r/boardgameindustry
  4. r/boardgamepublishing
  5. r/CrowdfundedBoardgames
  6. r/rpgresources
  7. r/worldbuilding

And these are some article I'm referencing as I prepare my playtesting kit.

Questionnaire:
  1. https://www.schellgames.com/blog/the-definitive-guide-to-playtest-questions/
  2. https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/283044/5_questions_you_should_be_asking_playtesters_to_get_meaningful_feedback.php
  3. https://twiki.graphics.ethz.ch/pub/GameClass/RumRunner/playtesting_questionnaire.pdf
  4. https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/848671/playtesting-questionnaire-creation
  5. https://howtomakeafunvideogame.weebly.com/playtest-and-questionnaire.html
  6. https://www.bgdf.com/forum/game-creation/playtesting/post-playtest-questionnaire
  7. https://www.reddit.com/r/tabletopgamedesign/comments/31w1os View: https://www.reddit.com/r/tabletopgamedesign/comments/31w1os/what_questions_do_you_ask_after_a_playtest_session/
To cut costs of materials and shipping, I'll be "sending" most of my content digitally. Other common stuff like dice, they'll have to have themselves or purchase.

I'm planning on covering shipping costs. They're doing me a favor after all.
 

s.wirat13

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I just finished the final pages of 150 pages of content.
Well... it's not completely done. It's just enough to send to other people to test.
the final product might have around 350 pages of content.
I didn't expect that truckload of contents there. Awesome, Isaac. :clap::
Is it mostly the story which makes the rulebook that long?

Every time I hit the roadblock, I tell myself to just keep doing it. Even if you don't see any result and the road ahead is dark, keep on adding that little incremental process. You will go so far before you even know it.
 
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I didn't expect that truckload of contents there. Awesome, Isaac. :clap::
Is it mostly the story which makes the rulebook that long?

Every time I hit the roadblock, I tell myself to just keep doing it. Even if you don't see any result and the road ahead is dark, keep on adding that little incremental process. You will go so far before you even know it.
The rulebook is currently about 24 pages long. It'll probably come out to about 28 pages after I make notes of all the nuances.
After I edit it down for simplicity, I'm shooting to have it under 16 pages, using more diagrams and less text.

On the other hand, what I'm calling the Quest Tome is currently at about 114 pages.
The quests are all written out for the players. In DnD, one player assumes the role of the DM or dungeon master. His role is inherently different. He's the one setting the scenarios and creating the story around the party's quest.

My goal was to create something in depth so that no one had to be the DM. It would be a much more casual approach. People wouldn't have to prepare their own quests and materials. It'll all be there.

It wouldn't make sense to pay $70 for a few quests, although I'm sure people would. My goal is to create 101 quests. Each will have around 3-4 pages of context. The way to resolve these quests is to navigate through the world.

Now, the 101 quests become useless if the gameplay itself isn't fun. That's my biggest concern and what I'll be paying the most attention to. I feel like a good fiction writer can handle most of the written quest as long as I give him the content ideas.

Thanks man, I really felt like I was going nowhere until today. Feels like I've come far looking back.
 

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I see a lot of value you’re putting in there. I believe that great story will grows a solid fan base. It is going to be awesome. This sounds just like how Toby Fox made his game, Undertale (One of my all-time favorite RPG despite the graphic pixels everyone hates).

I think if you are satisfied with the story, I agree that focusing at gameplay would be the first priority now. Quality over quantity. When looking at the game mechanism, you may need to often clear you head and look at it from the other sides. Go for a walk and you may get that ‘Aha’ moment out of nowhere. It is a creative task and stressing out your best buddy, brain, won’t help much.

I follow one motto aggressively. It is from the anime, MHA (excuse my nerd side haha). It goes ‘When you are at your limit, remember why you clenched your fist’. It sounds like a cliche but when you put it with your situation, your story and what you’ve been through, man, it will get you going every time. Hope it helps you too. Keep it up.
 
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An alternative to testing in person. If you have a friend who can do some basic coding, or whatever it would take on steam, there is a game called tabletop simulator. Pretty much any popular games get ripped off and created on there for people to play. Catan, monopoly, uno, poker, plus a lot in your RPG category I would guess. You could potentially have a very rough version without tons of individual card graphics or at least final products and use that audience to test. You could host the game and get input as you have randoms play that would require you to teach them the game.

Edit: I forgot to add things like dice, timers, etc are already standard in the platform. You only need to make your board and cards and if you wanted a rulebook. Since you said you were sending a lot digitally, this could be a better approach.
 

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