I had someone reach out to me on Twitter who had some questions for their son who was making his own game. This reminded me of all the games I made as a kid so I was really excited to be able to pass on my knowledge to him.
The 3 Questions a Young Game Designer Had for Me as He Made His Prototypes
This young and aspiring game designer had 3 questions that I see asked a lot in this industry. I wanted to share my thoughts with him as well as others that may have similar questions.
Here are his questions along with my thoughts on the subjects.
1. “If we wanted to get a mock up produced who could do that and what sorts of costs would that be?”
Most game designers seem to prefer using the Game Crafter for making a professional looking prototype. There are several other popular companies that are used and I mentioned them in my main prototyping article here.
Designers tend to start making games out of whatever they have laying around the house. Then they decide to turn that into a professional looking prototype to take to gaming conventions (at home or using someone like the Game Crafter).
You can expect much higher costs using a “print on demand” (POD) company such as the game crafter. This is normal because it’s much more expensive to have one copy of your game than it is 500 copies for example.
Most POD companies allow you to enter the items you need for your game and then you can see how much the total will cost.
I would estimate that your game would cost 2-3 times to have one professionally printed than it would cost for you to buy that same amount of game from the shelves of your local gaming store.
2. “If we wanted to sell the mechanics and idea who would the best target companies be to pitch to?”
The best companies to pitch your game idea to would be ones looking for a game of your type. This means that you will likely need to do a bit of homework.
Understand what your game is about and who your players would be. How long does your game take to play? Once you have answers to these common questions, then you can start looking for a publisher that wants a game like that for an audience that is interested in your game.
I made a planning phase checklist awhile back that pushes game designers to answer questions like this about their game. It may be helpful for you as well.
A few lists of board game publishers that you can start looking through:
- The Game Makers Guild has a decent list of publishers. Some of which are accepting board game submissions.
- And James Mathe created a list of publishers awhile back that he updates periodically. At the bottom of the article you can see his list along with his thoughts on what some of those companies are looking for as far as game type is concerned.
It’s important to respect publishers time as they seem to be very busy. Particularly around the time of big game conventions.
Scott Morris had a lot of great thoughts on how to pitch your game to board game publishers. He is very experienced with this both as a game designer and a game publisher. I found a lot of his ideas to be very helpful. Such as making sure you have a good contract for your game when you work with a publisher.
3. “Do we have to do our own artwork or can we buy artwork from stock libraries?”
Try to keep the art as close to “free” during prototyping. But if you decide to self publish, then you will want to find a talented artist.
Here is what I have seen most game designers do about this.
They will use art from stock libraries for prototypes that they want to show to players outside of their inner circle. So when you decide that your game idea might be good enough to show people you don’t know, then stock photo art (or free art) is usually a very nice upgrade to what you have.
You can find a list of free art and stock art in here as well. Most people say “don’t spend money on art”. Usually that is great advice. I personally think that all you need is free art for your prototypes. Even when pitching to publishers as they often will redo the art you have if they accept your game design.
However, if you decide to self publish your board game through Kickstarter, then you will likely need to hire an artist.
Great board game artists can be pricey because it takes a long time to make amazing art. The consensus is to only hire an artist if you are 99% sure that you are going to self publish your game. Otherwise, it’s likely “a waste of money.”
I’ve hired an artist before on a game that I thought I wanted to self publish. Then never published the game so I had art sitting around that I never used. There are many other game designers that have spent money on their game only to move onto the next design. Or have a publisher pick it up and want to change the art anyways.
Thanks for the Great Questions about Designing Your Own Board Game and Publishing It
It was really nice to hear questions from a young game designer. This is really why I created Streamlined Gaming. To gather resources for making and selling a board game that I wish I had when I started. I’m happy to have made a lot of useful posts over the years to link to when I get good questions like this.
I hope the best for you and your game designs everyone!