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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 156 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [GENCON] Demo-Folk: What would help you most?  (Read 3926 times)
TonyLB
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« on: July 20, 2005, 09:21:55 AM »

In the Booth Monkeys Sign-in thread, we've had a good number of people who want to demonstrate game systems for other people, but who want some preparation and (at least for me) hand-holding materials.

Now here's the stuff that I, personally, would love for game designers to provide, so that I could demonstrate their games:
  • A rough script of what you actually do and say when demonstrating.  This is so that I know what features to sell right now (in what order) and what to leave for people to discover when they buy the game.  I'm unlikely to use your exact words, but reading/hearing them will help me know what you intend.
  • An iconic scenario, if available, akin to "Your brothers son been stealin' money to see a whore.  Your brother found out, got his rifle and is going to kill the woman dead.  You ride after him, to stop him staining his soul.  GO!"
  • Pre-made characters, if available, to get into that situation with minimum prep-time.  Otherwise, a run-down of how to demonstrate character-creation.
  • Frequent sticking points, and how to explain them.
  • Quick-reference sheets to get people acquainted with the rules.
But, of course, I'm also interested to know (on a selfish level) what people want me to provide so that they can demonstrate Capes.  So what else would be useful?
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Malcolm Craig
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2005, 09:39:47 AM »

For me, your bullet points certainly encapsulate all that I feel I would need to run a game. Indeed, I'm glad you made this post, as it crystalises some of the thoughts about that I was planning to offer to people if they wished to run an demo.

As regards bullet point 1: is this essentially a 'pitch script' that you would be looking for? Would it be handy to have a collated document of 1 paragraph pitches for each game that will be available on the Forge booth, in order that we can all familiarise ourselves with the most basic, salient points?

As I said, these very closely follows what I was intending to provide, i.e.:

Brief, easily grasped scenario that encompasses the key elements
4 pre-genned, iconic characters with defined motivations and easily graspable roles
A 1 page reference sheet on the basic system outline

You thoughts obviously ad a couple of things to this lsit, which I'll make every effort to provide.

Cheers
Malcolm

Edit: Oh, and thanks to Luke Crane for really helping nail down my pitch and demo.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2005, 09:54:35 AM by Malcolm » Logged

Malcolm Craig
Contested Ground Studios
www.contestedground.co.uk

Part of the Indie Press Revolution
Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2005, 10:23:19 AM »

But, of course, I'm also interested to know (on a selfish level) what people want me to provide so that they can demonstrate Capes.  So what else would be useful?

Everything that you mention is rockin'.  However, for a lot of us what we meant by "support materials" pretty much comes down to one major thing, above all the rest:

a copy of the game.

That opens up lots of cans of worms, but I think that we can reach something agreeable (Designer: "I will send a copy of my book to 3 playtesters that don't own it yet, under the condition that they run at least 2 demos of it").
The problem is that this sets a precedent of us not just buying each others' stuff.

On the flip side, though, I honestly cannot afford to buy any more games before GenCon... but if I buy it AT GenCon, I'll be too busy selling other games in my repitoire to take the time to sit down, read it and prepare materials.  I tried last year, and failed on three counts.  There's just too much going on to learn the game by yourself.

Now, with the previous idea of "DESIGNER grabs 3-4 BOOTH MONKEYS, they run off to a corner and play the hell out of his game for 60 MINUTES, then answer questions and describe the system for 30-60 MINUTES", then after that they should be in a good state to run the game. At least, I would be.
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TonyLB
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2005, 10:38:43 AM »

Regarding the collated pitch documents:  Great plan.  I have a home laminator, and am quite accustomed to making up card-stock printouts and laminating them for my games, so I'll offer to take point on this.  If people can PM me their starting pitches, I'll work on creating the Pitch Folder, with laminated, durable versions of each pitch, all in one binder (though they could be removed if needed).

I will further recommend that each pitch-sheet have room at the bottom for two box labelled simply "Where the designer went" and "What time."  Then, if it's 1:37 and you look at a sheet and see "Running for stock, 1:32" you can encourage players to stick around until the designer returns.  Whereas if you see "Dealer's Room, 9:53" then you know the designer has gone illegally incommunicado, and there's no point waiting for them.


Regarding the rules:  People need the rules to run a demo?

Seriously, people need the rules?  Because, for instance, I don't have the rules for Breaking the Ice.  I don't have the rules for Polaris (and, frankly, don't expect to get them in advance).  But I'm perfectly content to run a demo of either one of those.  If someone has a detailed rules question that veers off-script I'm going to say "That's a detailed rules question that veers off-script.  If it's essential to the question of whether or not you'll buy the game then let's dig up the designer.  Otherwise you'll get a good chance to work it out while perusing the rules yourself."

So maybe what we need to add to the existing list is:
  • Enough of the game mechanics to run the actual demo, and maybe a bit more to get people thinking about where it goes from there.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2005, 11:22:30 AM »

Hiya,

What people need is training. And believe me, at GenCon, you're going to get it. I have plans.

Best,
Ron
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Andy Kitkowski
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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2005, 11:42:01 AM »

Regarding the rules:  People need the rules to run a demo?

Honestly, I do.  Or at least familiarity with playing the game. 
Familiarity => Being able to handle any type of game situation => Comfort with system => More successful demo.

I figure by the third time the demoer goes "Um.... er..." when trying to navigate a 20 minute demo, the demo's pretty much over.  There are solutions, of course:
"Hmm, not sure... Let's do THIS for now, and later on we can confirm in the rules?" etc

Quote
Seriously, people need the rules?  Because, for instance, I don't have the rules for Breaking the Ice.  I don't have the rules for Polaris (and, frankly, don't expect to get them in advance).  But I'm perfectly content to run a demo of either one of those.

I'm in the same boat, but I think it's because the above games are generally rule-light.  The entirety of the Polaris "player rules" (resolution, etc) can be easily taught to players.  Breaking the Ice can be learned and mastered in under five minutes. I couldn't say the same for Conspiracy of Shadows, Burning Wheel, The Shadow of Yesterday, etc.

Again, in my instance Knowing the rules = comfort and familiarity = (ultimately) more successful demo.

-Andy
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daMoose_Neo
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« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2005, 05:35:47 PM »

I'd be really keen on seeing some pitches that work, as I really need to concoct one for my own titles.
Myself, I work a slightly different angle as a cellphone salesman- I play 20 questions with the customer, THEN launch into why X service and Y phone is perfect. I can find people what they want, but I have a hard time getting them to want something (which is what a good pitch does).
Imp almost sells on legend alone ("And then, this one time, the Imps charged this HUGE guy and bounced right off him! And then the guy collapsed on top of them, smothering them, oh it was great!").

As for demos, I'll have a 1 page chargen & system for Imp and will play anyone interested Wednesday afternoon (should be down early afternoon) after booth setup. Help on pitching would also be much obliged ^_^
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Nate Petersen / daMoose
Neo Productions Unlimited! Publisher of Final Twilight card game, Imp Game RPG, and more titles to come!
Ben Lehman
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« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2005, 07:29:57 AM »

I just wrote up a short guide to pitching and demo-ing Polaris.  It assumes a basic familiarity with the rules.  I would like to know what more or less should be there.  Anyone interested in reading it critically should contact me.

yrs--
--Ben
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