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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 112 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: To Designers: For the Next GenCon!  (Read 2765 times)
Andy Kitkowski

Posts: 827


« on: September 05, 2005, 01:33:15 PM »

Hey all, Andy here.  I figured that I'd start another GenCon thread in the hizzy, now that things have settled down a bit.  Here's what I've got to say, as a booth monkey of two years:

Dear Designers:  If at all humanly possible, don't bust your ass to get your new game out under the wire so that it'll be out by GenCon.  If you do so, the following happens:

1) Nobody in the booth will be familiar with your new game. Certainly nobody will have played it in its released form. This will make it hard to sell your game.

2) If you will not be present to sell your game, and on top of that pushed the release to make it just in time for GenCon, then assume that nobody will be pushing themselves to sell your game. Without someone to run them through at least a demo, there's just going to be too many other games out there to get familiar with that we won't have the confidence or knowledge to pimp yours.

3) Accidents, problems, and conflicts will occour.  Look at all the problems that RapidPOD had with last-minute deliveries.

4) The Mountain Witch and Polaris are both flukes: They were pimped heavily not only because they were pretty, but because most of us were familiar with them in some form or another, with all the playtesting, feedback and support gathered over a year since the last Game Chef contest. If Tim and Ben had developed outside of the Forge (or even posting occasionally to the Design forum), none of us would have known enough about them to pimp them like we did.

That's about all.  I'd love to see more people take Ralph's attitude (with Universalis) of "I'll fix/release it when I can",  and if it happens to be sometime after GenCon then so be it. I'd much rather see people set their "absolute deadlines" not for August 16th, but for say May 16th, which gives you enough time to produce your game and drum up a little interest and support before its Big Debut.  That helps us all out.

I'm sure that we can all remember games that debuted at GenCon over the past two years that turned out to be totally excellent and mind-blowing, but at the time no one knew enough about them to sell or play them in any meaningful way.  A couple months of time after the release of your game will help us all do that.

In the end, it seems that everyone has their eyes set on GenCon as The Big Deadline, and in the future it's going to be really hard to commensurate that with selling your game in any meaningful fashion.  You're all small-press designers, fully able to set your own deadlines without external pressure from investors, bosses, etc.  Don't fall into the trap that August is the Only Deadline that Matters.


The Story Games Community - It's like RPGNet for small press games and new play styles.
Gordon C. Landis

Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games

« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2005, 11:44:18 AM »

As someone entirely guilty of the offenses Andy mentions:  He's Right.  I mean, it was useful to me to have SNAP at the booth, to demo it, to talk about it, even given the "last-minute-rush that compromised both my effectiveness and the game, and should have been avoided," but it would have been SO much better to have done it right.

Again, listen to Andy.  He's Right.

www.snap-game.com (under construction)
M Jason Parent

Posts: 50

Junk Dreamer

« Reply #2 on: September 07, 2005, 05:58:11 PM »

Amen, Andy.

This goes for publishing in general - if we don't have distributor deadlines to meet (and most of us don't), then hold off release until it is READY. I used to rush a lot of my releases, and push them out the door as soon as the last page was done.

I've learned my lessons. Sit on it, revise, rework, and release when it is nearly perfect, not as soon as it looks releasable. Our releases have improved a lot because of this.

If you -are- aiming for a GenCon release, look at it the way most of the big publishers do - have the production, playtesting, editing and everything else done 4-6 months before GenCon - that gives you a window to fix up problems, to get people familiar with the game, and to make sure your print run is done right, with time to spare. I'm half-heartedly aiming Junk Dreams for GenCon - but that means having the game fully written by the Ides of March. If it isn't done by then, then I'll hold off release until after GenCon... maybe only release in the winter of 2006-2007 instead.

M Jason Parent
(not really an Indie publisher, but I like to pretend)

Junk Dreams Design Journal (an archive of old Junk Dreams posts)

Posts: 1619

« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2005, 07:28:14 PM »

Since I'm bringing Guildmaster to the playtest stage this month and next, I'm certain I'll be ready for Gen Con.  Gives me plenty of time to work out how I'll be releasing it.

"In our game the other night, Joshua's character came in as an improvised thing, but he was crap so he only contributed a d4!"
                                     --Vincent Baker
Joshua A.C. Newman

Posts: 1144

the glyphpress

« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2005, 08:10:39 PM »

Thanks, Andy. Now I sound like a smart person to Tim and Vincent.

Now, I have to sound like a smart person to myself. I was planning on releasing Shock: Social Science Fiction at GenCon, but I think you might be right:getting it out there a couple of months beforehand will really optimize my publicity. Also, it'll take the terrible pressure off.

I just have to get it done. Fortunately, there are already pages of material written and it should be playable in a matter of days. Then the hard work begins. But this way, I can develop for six months and still release in February, enough time to have some respectable opinions play my game. Plus, it gives me a big project in the dark of the New England winter, and that'll keep me sane.

the glyphpress's games are Shock: Social Science Fiction and Under the Bed.

I design books like Dogs in the Vineyard and The Mountain Witch.
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