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Occasionally Asked Questions: valid questions I’ve heard from game designers more than once that I haven’t yet answered with a blog post.

Hereinafter, OAQ’s.

I’ll be answering from my own experiences from within the world of board games, naturally.

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How Do I Make Cards For My Board Game?

I’ve used PowerPoint since 2017 and have made well over a hundred games (and easily over a thousand versions / variations / files relating to board games). For me, it does what I need it to, and it’s where I’ve built a lot of templates to help me make games faster.

For most people, I’d recommend – it’s an entirely online interface and saved in the cloud. It’s a monthly subscription, exports to Tabletop Simulator or the Game Crafter, and handles data merges like a champion.

For people with some graphic design experience or looking to self-publish, Affinity Publisher is a one-time, lifetime purchase. Lots of great things to say about it from my limited experience, and handles a lot of the same things that Adobe products do, just without that ever-increasing monthly subscription fees.

For those that enjoy using the latest tools, look at Inkscape for a free, open-source tool that handles vectors quite nicely.

Naturally there are plenty of other tools out there – GIMP is a free, open-source version of Photoshop, Nandeck can be powerful but has a learning curve, Card Creator was released by Pixelatto on Steam 2017. Don’t worry about trying them all. Just find one that works for you.

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When Should I Add My Game to Board Game Geek?

The official guidelines are here:

If you are the designer or publisher of a game, then we suggest you submit a game listing only when the game is 98.3% complete. More specifically, if the game is still being developed, hold off on submitting a listing because the game you describe now might differ from what the final game will be — and that can lead to sour feelings by players toward the designer or publisher for changing their mind or announcing a bad design that had to be fixed prior to publication. Better to hold off on submitting a game listing until you’re only tweaking final details on cards or editing the rulebook.

If you have done all of the following things, I’d say it qualifies:

  • You’ve paid for and received art from a professional artist / illustrator
  • You’ve announced it as coming out on a reasonably specific date on social media / website
  • (If crowdfunding) You’ve created or submitted your crowdfunding page, or already have a preview page up.

If you’re planning to pitch and the game isn’t signed, don’t add it to BGG – it’s not done yet.

What Should I Do If My Game Name is Taken on Board Game Geek?

Don’t panic. If pitching publishers, remember they might change the name of the game, the theme, the direction, and/or the style. When they’re ready to release it, the game may look and feel very different.

If self-publishing, ask how connected you are to that name and why. Also look at the other game’s presence online and how likely people will be confused between the two games. A self-published game from 2010 that 3 people own is unlikely to cause confusion. Something that’s come out from a bigger publisher that thousands of people own is quite likely to cause confusion.

Be aware of other creative things using that title. It may not be on BGG, but this is where your other internet searches will come handy. Check for video games, books, domain name / brands, etc.

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How Do I Cut Components From My Game?

Read this post to start: Help, My Design is Too Complicated!

Look at both the quantity and type of components. What do they need to do?

Components take on many jobs in board games, and there are often multiple ways to accomplish the same thing:

  • Create randomness
  • Track the number of resources
  • Show progress towards a goal
  • Track the score or the game state

Next, consider rule design and incentive design. If you feel you need 50 cubes because that’s the most that has been used in a playtest (and assuming this number needs to change), consider adding a limit of resources (rule design) or a cost to having resources but not using them (incentive design).

Some published games come with fewer resources than necessary and say they’re meant to be limited, so once they run out something else happens. This creates a tighter market, which definitely changes the way the game plays.

How Do I Make A Pitch Video?

Publishers appreciate (or require) a short video with your pitch. What’s considered ‘short’ varies by publisher, but I personally aim for 1 minute for a mass-market game and about 3-5 minutes for a hobby-weight game.

Start by writing a script. The average person can pretty comfortably speak about 150 words per minute, so this gives you a word count target to aim for. Remember that the video’s job is not to teach all the rules or aspects of the game, but to intrigue a publisher to learn more.

If the best version of your game is a physical prototype, set your phone up on a tripod. Use a neoprene mat or your table as a backdrop.

If the best version is on your computer, use a screen-sharing program to capture what’s on your screen. I personally use Bandicam (the free version adds their watermark, pay for it to remove their watermark and add your own), but there are lots of browser extensions and other options.

Either way, make sure your audio is clear and crisp. I’ve personally just used the same headset for playtesting or the phone’s mic – speak into the mic.

For editing and putting it all together, I use Shotcut (free, open-source video editor). Again, lots of possible tools out there. This is just the one I use. Edit, export, and upload to Youtube. Save the video link somewhere handy or bookmark it for later.

Where Can I Find Pieces to Make A Prototype?

Might be a better question to ask where can’t you? I’d avoid cannibalizing games you like, but games from your local thrift store / charity shop are fair game. Dollar stores are great, Amazon naturally has a lot of standard issue pieces…

How Should My Game End / What Should the End Condition Be?

It’s an oversimplification, but end conditions usually come down to one of three things:

  • Someone does something (reduce opponent’s health to 0, checkmate the king, get all their pieces home)
  • Someone collects something (50 points, their third shard, 10 gold)
  • Someone reaches something (the end of the final lap, the end of the scoring track, the end of the last round)

Things to consider when choosing:

  • Do you want players to see the end of the game coming?
  • How does the end condition fit with the theme and/or ‘arc’ of the game?

Got an OAQ for next time? Comments are open.

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