Jamey Stegmaier posted an article this week on his blog asking this question: when it comes to Kickstarter, Facebook, and other forms of communication: do you feel punished? This question was derived from some complaints and comments that he received from Stonemaier Games’ fans when he began to combine multiple threads and media into singularly focused Facebook groups (one per game) too keep things easier to update, follow, and converse. These complaints involved fans who did not have Facebook accounts to feel left out, in which the word “punished” was being used.
Jamey Stegmaier explains the situation this way:
I started to receive comments and messages from people saying that I was “punishing” them for not being on Facebook. They said I was excluding them from the conversation. Some were worried about not being in the loop about future releases, despite the many other platforms we use for communication (Twitter, e-newsletter, this blog, BoardGameGeek, Kickstarter, YouTube, etc).
But it was the comments about “punishment” that really stood out to me. That’s a strong word. It implies that I’m choosing to hurt you because of your actions. Yet the power is in your hands. The onus is on you to join Facebook. I’m not standing in your way.
Mr. Stegmaier is explicit in his article that he has absolutely no intent to alienate (and certainly not “punish”) any of his followers. Quite the contrary. Nor is he suggesting that anyone should join Facebook. He further explains that his “responsibility as a creator is to select an effective way to let backers and customers engage with me and with each other.” While he strives to achieve this high level of communication, there are human limitations, and that posting the same content repeatedly on every platform is a gargantuan task and, quite frankly, unreasonable.
It is a fact that Mr. Stegmaier has left footprints for many in the gaming industry to follow, both in his enormous efforts to communicate clearly and frequently with his fans and customers as well as his pioneering efforts in the Kickstarter approach and helping others in the industry create more productive, effective Kickstarter projects. This recent article entitled Kickstarter, Facebook, and Communication: Do You Feel Punished? was published on his blog on the Stonemaier Games website, and can be read here.
The official NSKN Blog chronicled this week on an interesting topic: the increasing prevalence of reprints in the board gaming hobby.
Do you remember that game you played as a kid? The most awesome game ever? The one game you would like to play again, but you can’t because the copy you played wasn’t yours? Or maybe it actually was your copy, but your parents threw it away while cleaning the attic, and now you have to pay an arm and a leg to get off ebay?
I believe many hobby gamers with just a little bit of distance between now and their childhood could admit that they have sought to play these kinds of nostalgic treasures once again. The blog suggests, however, that though the power of nostalgia is strong, the desire to relive these old games is driven more by the positive memories of them, or “nostalgia goggles”, rather than the actual quality of gameplay.
NSKN also posits the emergence of a new type of game: reimaginings of older games of yore, or perhaps also called “spinoffs”. These games, while not identical reprints, use the older game as an idea and then create a new game from it. A good example is the very recent Warhammer Quest: The Adventure Card Game, which uses the classic Warhammer Quest as a basis for a new card game.
To read the article in full, visit the NSKN Blog here.
Image from keithburgun.net
While this is more of a video game topic than board game, we do have some instances of board games being “patched” with updated rules (Myth), a new board (Pandemic), new cards or other parts of a game being changed to make it better or fix something that was broken.
In this article, Keith Burgun (lead designer of two critically acclaimed game apps 100 Rogues and Auro) expounds on why games are patched, why it’s a good thing and why the complaints against patching are really kind of petty. He counters the negatives of patching such as relearning rules or strategies by reminding us that the game will be better than before the patch. And ends with looking at the bad side of patching, where after a certain point, more patches could hurt a game rather than improve it. Head on over to his site to read the full article.
Many of us have a specific local game store that we frequent. Maybe it’s our favorite one, so we only visit that one. Or maybe there aren’t any other options in our areas. But it’s rare to visit many different game stores, so it’s exciting to hear about the variety of options out there.
Gary Ray from Black Diamond Games, a game store in the Bay Area in California, is currently on vacation, going on a West Coast Game Store Tour! So far, he’s gone to stores in Washington and Canada, but he also plans to go through Montana, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and Central California. As he visits the stores, he’s updating us on what each store has that is unique. Since Gary has his own game store, he notices things that the average consumer may not:
The Tension in all of these stores is making money versus customer satisfaction. It’s clear as a store owner, that there are a lot of things that look great to customers that are retail illusions. Nobody is making money selling these things or doing these things, but they exist to draw you in, attract your attention, create a vibe so that you’ll spend money on the 20% of stuff that you spend money on. That’s pretty much how the game trade works, 80% useless crap or services you think are important and the 20% of stuff you actually buy and use. Which are the 80% and which are the 20%? That’s the stuff retailers discuss privately.
Another interesting thing is how game stores could differ across geography. For instance, in Washington state, it is simple for a game store to get a liquor license, so many of the game stores there serve beer along with coffee. In Canada, shipping prices make it so that people don’t buy from online game stores, and the local game stores have far more games in stock and fewer tables for tournaments.
To see the places that Gary has visited so far, check out the blog: Part 1 and Part 2 are up. He also has a lot of pictures on his Facebook page!
Jamey Stegmaier of Stonemaier Games publishes a blog which pertains to different aspects of the gaming industry. In the past he wrote on how to build your Kickstarter Crowd, and an open letter to Kickstarter backers. This this week he tackles eight unique elements of recent crowdfunding projects.
Jamey mentions the use of Facebook’s new “Shop Now” feature. The Entropy Kickstarter campaign is currently using this feature to link Facebook users back to their main webpage. He also appreciates how Project Dreamscape makes it a point to include information about the designers and how the individual outreach by the game’s creator is such a positive experience. Another subject has to do with how building an audience to then latter offer them an on-brand game can be a success.
John Wrot, creator of The King’s Armory and crowdfunding innovator, is back with a campaign for beautiful dice. There’s a lot to like about the project, but my favorite part is that backers have the power to vote on new color combinations for the dice. I think that’s a cool way to involve backers in the creation of the product
That is a but a brief example from the blog, so go check it out and read the rest of Jamey’s post here.
The Inquisitive Meeple is a unique board game blog that began on BoardGameGeek, but has recently branched out to its own domain. What sets this site apart from the myriad of other gaming blogs is its focus on the design side of the gaming industry.
“The Inquisitive Meeple is a blog that is dedicated to interviewing board game designers.”
In 2014, they interviewed the designers of 88 different board games. So far their planned 2015 interview queue is just as ambitious. Luckily their new site offers several options for subscribing to new content so you never miss an interview.
Check out The Inquisitive Meeple’s new home and stay tuned for the next designer interview.
The Political GAmer, TJ, tackles the morality of war games. The blog post takes a serious look at why war games exist and why so many individuals enjoy playing them, but most importantly, TJ asks, is playing war games morally wrong?
In general, I think that when it comes to war, the same rules that apply to books and movies apply to games – it’s important to discuss war and reflect it as a grim reality, as long as we don’t trivialize human suffering, glorify war or make offensive and demeaning remarks on certain groups of people or their history.
While giving examples of answers that TJ finds lacking such as, “it’s just a game,” and “Criticizing games is PC culture run amok, trying to censor things you don’t like,” TJ then provides thoughts on why playing war games can provide educational benefits through empathy.
…by playing different sides, by experiencing some of the challenges and trials that they actually faced we can learn to appreciate the reality of the situation in a way that no textbook can ever convey.
The Political GAmer’s thoughts on different games and war themes are thought provoking. And TJ hopes the blog post spurs us into an open discussion regarding the morality of war games instead of closing it.
For the full post please visit TJ’s site here.
On Thanksgiving Day, NSKN’s blog brought us some solid food for thought: how should game designers and publishers, not to mention gamers in general, consider the impact of thematic content in the games they design and play? In this entry, NSKN presents the conflict that can sometimes arise due to various elements of theme in games.
It’s quite likely that every gamer has become involved in a game where some aspect of the theme struck a nerve with someone at the table. A solid theme brings the mechanics of a game to life, allowing us as gamers to make connections that suck us in and immerse us in the experience of the game. There are, however, elements of life, philosophy, morality, and the human experience, that we find unpleasant, disturbing, and sometimes quite revolting. Whether the subject matter is as “in your face” as playing on a sheet of human skin in Chaos in the Old World, or something deeper and more subtle like the “colonists” in Puerto Rico, it’s difficult to be callous to others when a particular aspect of a game’s theme strikes that nerve.
A mature response in this area is to make one’s own decisions about a theme and to be careful to avoid pressuring others to play games with themes that are difficult for them. However, even in this light, designers and publishers should carefully consider the impressions that will be left on others by the delivery of theme in their games, and be prepared for any negative reactions from thematic elements that come close to established social and moral boundaries.
The article makes observations about how a person can find one edgy theme acceptable yet be very bothered by another theme that could be considered controversial. To read the article in full, visit the NSKN blog page.
On the November 11/19/2014 posting of Bruno Faidutti’s personal blog, Bruno discusses the plethora of games that are being released in recent days, specifically at Essen this year. With the constant flood of new releases, one would guess that a few gems would rise to the top above endless seas of chaff. On the contrary, the bar for quality has been raised considerably. “The overall quality of games, not only in production but also in design, seems to be paradoxically increasing with quantity – and it’s making their job quite tough for seasoned game designers like me,” Faidutti states. “Many of the so-called groundbreaking games published ten or twenty years ago, some of which have become regular sellers, would pale in comparison to more recent stuff if they were published today – they just still have the good old charm of forerunners.”
Faidutti proceeds to then introduce a dozen (actually, 15) games that he has been enjoying most recently, listed in order from the lightest to heaviest in weight:
1. Seventh Hero (Kuro, IELLO/AEG)
2. 8 the Liar (Odd Hackwelder, Swan Panasia Co., Ltd.)
3. Dragon Run (Bruno Cathala, Blue Orange)
4. Tales & Games: The Hare the Tortoise (Gun-Hee Kim, IELLO)
5. Wakanda (Charles Chevalier, Blue Orange)
6. Colt Express (Christophe Raimbault, Ludonaute, Asmodee)
7. Ivor the Engine (Tony Boydell, Surprised Stare Games, Ltd.)
8. Black Fleet (Sebastian Bleasdale, Space Cowboys, Asmodee)
9. Cash ‘n Guns (Ludovic Maublanc, Repos Production)
10. Sheriff of Nottingham (Andre Zatz and Sergio Halaban, Arcane Wonders)
11. Manifest (Amanda Milne and Julia Schiller, SchilMil Games, Ltd.)
12. Sons of Anarchy (Aaron Dill, John Kovaleski and Sean Sweigart, Gale Force Nine)
13. Five Tribes (Bruno Cathala, Days of Wonder)
14. El Gaucho (Arve D. Fuhler, Argentum Verlag)
15. Lords of Xidit (Regis Bonnessee, Libellud)
As I read the article, the games that most intrigued me were Colt Express and its 3D cardboard train, The Hare and the Tortoise (looks like oodles of fun for my kids), and Black Fleet. What sold me on Black Fleet was not only the big map, neat miniatures and pirate theme, but specifically Bruno’s comment, “I would have loved such a game when I was ten, and I still quite like it at fifty.”
What’s not love about a game like that?
Check out Bruno Faidutti’s blog HERE.
In this installment from our friends at the League of GameMakers they take us on the first part of a journey looking at the retheming of a game. This post is written with input from both the publisher and the designer. One of the most interesting things about what is said in here, or not said, is that theming can take a game from being wrong to right without the underlying mechanics necessarily changing at all. That being said in any game going through development your always going to be seeing tweaks made. Otherwise the only value of a publisher would be fronting money for printing and that can be done through a bank if the idea is good enough.
This is a very insightful look into the process by which a theme is chosen and in turn accepted or rejected by the game designer. Theme matters a lot and so often we hear about people not liking the game as much because the theme just feels pasted on. Some games can have a theme tacked on to them, some the theme is integral to the game running effectively (Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne), and yet others have a theme that while not necessary to the game itself melds well with what the game provides to be the chocolate to the games proverbial peanut butter.
To read the full post head on over the League of GameMakers site here.
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