A Year Later: Game Design

I guess it’s been a year.

It’s been hot today, so it’s hard to write when the sun’s up, and then there’s a few hours after the sun sets where you need to do all the chores. But today I’ve been stewing on the challenge of being a game designer.

So.

I have not been a game designer in the context of ‘getting into the industry.’ I’ve just been making games now, for a year, and there was always a tacit thought in the back of my mind that, eventually, some point during the year, it would pick up the market and I’d slowly be building on having a job in game design, or at least, a portfolio game designers would want.

Not… really how it works. Anyway.

Here are some things I wish I’d known beforehand:

  1. Lead times are important. It takes about a half of a month to get a game sent from the printers to here in Australia. Expensive, too. Smaller games are cheaper to send, so designing for a small number of cards, leading to games like Werewolf, or Love Letter or the like, is easier and faster.
  2. Booklet games are really important. People are more likely to drop a bit of cash on a game they don’t know they want if there’s no delivery time. Buying a booklet is cheap and fast. Buying a printed cardgame has delivery time.
  3. Reddit and bloggers are super important! The two most sold products we have, online, are Simon’s Schism and Dog Bear, booklet games. The former is mentioned on a Venezualan game blog for people who need cheap games that don’t cost anything to import, which is awesome and lovely and I’d love to help get more games to people in that situation, and the latter is a goofy game that’s had the most time to sell, but was mentioned on Reddit.
  4. People buy my stuff when it is convenient. Face to face? People very rarely come to my booth at a convention and don’t at least show interest in maybe buying something. People want the product. The products are good. But getting people to know that, online, and then getting them to buy them… that’s the trick.

Please don’t feel guilty if you never bought anything. This isn’t about you. This is about useful things to learn. And hopefully, you won’t have these problems: Your product or game will be a wild, runaway success, if my hopes for you hold.

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