Game Design

Observations From A Gamer's Chair: Over-eager Players at the Table

RPGNet - 20 November 2018 - 12:00am
When excitement can be a problem.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PUBG Corp. details the results of its 3-month 'Fix PUBG' push

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 November 2018 - 12:53pm

The PlayerUnknown†™s Battlegrounds dev has shared a post rounding up the various changes made during its three-month-long Fix PUBG campaign. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Star Citizen has now crowdfunded over $200 million in 6 years

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 November 2018 - 11:44am

Star Citizen's sizable crowdfunding sum has now surpassed the $200 million mark as the game progresses through its alpha stages. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Designer Spotlight: Reiner Knizia - by Caleb Compton

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:25am
The second in my "Game Designer Spotlight" series, this time focussing on the incredibly prolific Reiner Knizia. I look at his design process and philosophy, and try to figure out how he makes so many darn games!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

@Play 86: Interview with ADOM Creator Dr.Thomas Biskup - by John Harris

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:24am
An interview with ADOM creator Dr. Thomas Biskup, about the game's recent arrival on Steam and various other things, both about it and in general.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Squeaky Wheel's Productivity Tools - by Ryan Sumo

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:23am
I talk about some of the productivity tools like Flock, Hacknplan, and Airtable that we use to make making games easier.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless? #12: NFL aka National Fortnite League - by Kenneth Liu

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:19am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Play, Don't Show - by Stanislav Costiuc

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:17am
In this streamlined version of a talk I gave about a year ago, let's discuss how games can use interactivity to create strong emotional bonds with the players.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ship it Fast - Why we developed and shipped a tiny game in 2 months - by Jair McBain

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:16am
As a brand new, game crafting duo with a burning desire to become sustainable, what we needed on our side was experience, confidence and data. In this article, I will cover what we've learned so far from tackling a 2-month development and release cycle.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Making Minimum Wage Making Experimental Games - by Omey Salvi

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:15am
I detail a strategy for indie game development that I'll follow myself to try to make minimum wage making experimental games on Steam. My first game has perma-permadeath. You can only play the game once.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Throw Nothing Away: Lessons from the Making of Steel Rats - by Michal Azarewicz

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:12am
Tate Multimedia's Michal Azarewicz writes about letting your experiences drive your design, iterating on your own passions and talents, and leaving no idea behind in the new motorbike combat racer Steel Rats.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Old School Musical Post Mortem / Developement - by Francois Bertrand

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:12am
Old School Musical is released. Yay ! It's time to go back 7 years back in time (no joke) to talk about how it started.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Getting Started on the DMs Guild – Part 2: Publishing and Marketing

Gnome Stew - 19 November 2018 - 7:27am

Welcome back, folks! I hope you found Part 1 enlightening because we are going to take it a level deeper today. You’ve crafted your beautiful D&D work and now you’re ready to publish it. But I want to talk about some of the foibles of publishing on the DMs Guild, because it’s not quite like publishing anywhere else. This is where I think I’ve tripped up the most, so come and learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make your own!

More Bubble-Bursting

Oh hey, remember how last time I started with the less-good stuff? I’m going to do that again. Some things on the DMs Guild don’t sell as well as other things, by a fairly wide margin. I didn’t include this in the previous article because I think it’s more important to write what you want to write than to write what you think will sell well. But since we’re going to talk about marketing, I think it’s important to bring it up now.

Player options like character classes or subclasses, character races, new spells, and new magic items sell very well in comparison to DM options like written adventures, monster and NPC stat blocks, or DM guides. It makes sense when you think about it; there’s at least a few players for every DM. Sure, a lot of players become DMs, but plenty don’t. In my experience, this can be a drastic difference in sales expectations.

 …it’s more important to write what you want to write than to write what you think will sell well. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

To give you an example – my best-selling adventure, up until recently, had only sold about a third as many copies as my worst-selling compilation of magic items. To put that another way, my “worst” magic items still sold three times as many copies as my “best” adventure, if we were to use sales as a measure of quality (spoiler alert: sales are not a good measure of quality).

I’d like to reiterate – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write the adventure you want to write. You very, very much should. Writing just for sales or writing only what you think will be popular is a much faster route to failure than writing what you have a passion for writing.

dmsguild.com

Pricing and Payment

One of the things I struggled with the most when I first started out was how much to sell my products for, and I think this is still confusing for a lot of newcomers. There’s three options on the DMs Guild: full paid, “pay what you want”, and free. Free is pretty self-explanatory – you aren’t getting paid for this, it’s being given away. Don’t undervalue yourself. It’s fine to do promotional items for free, but I wouldn’t do it for much else.

Full paid is the flat rate for your product. I didn’t know this when I got started, but many writers on the DMs Guild use this very simple formula: # of pages x $0.10, then round up to the nearest 0.99 or 0.95. For example, if you have a 25 page product, that puts you at $2.50, then round up to $2.99. And yes, not bringing it up to exactly $3 is surprisingly important. I dropped several smaller products from $1 to $0.99 and I saw a fairly significant jump in sales. I don’t know why the human brain is this way, but it sure is. You can charge more, you can charge less, but this is a solid baseline, I’ve found.

 Don’t undervalue yourself. You have a valuable skill and you deserve to be paid for it. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

“Pay What You Want” is, and I’ll be blunt here, the worst of both worlds. 95% of the people who download your product just won’t pay anything or will pay a pittance. Again, this can work for promotional items, like one stat block from a larger collection that you’re advertising… but then just go with free. This is my experience; your mileage may vary. Don’t undervalue yourself. You have a valuable skill and you deserve to be paid for it.

As for what you get paid, well, you get 50% of whatever the item costs. If someone were to buy my example $2.99 adventure up there, I would get $1.50 and Wizards of the Coast and OneBookshelf would split the other $1.50 (full disclosure; I do not know what their agreed-upon split is and it probably isn’t pertinent here). This is… fine. This is part of why I mentioned going direct to DriveThruRPG way back in Part 1. When you publish on DriveThruRPG, you receive 65-70% of the item’s cost, not 50%. Again, use your best judgment.

Marketing and Social Media

dmsguild.com

So, let’s get to the really good stuff here: where and how to market your product. Yes, I do strongly recommend marketing it across social media, though which social media platforms will do well for you depends on what your product is. There’s just enough stuff being published on the DMs Guild that people aren’t so likely to just stumble across your product very often. So here’s my breakdown of the big social media platforms.

  • Facebook – there’s a few Facebook groups I recommend joining and promoting your products there. The first is the official “Dungeon Masters Guild” group, created recently by the new community manager, Lysa Chen. The second is the “Dungeon Masters Guild Creators Circle” group, which served as an unofficial primary group until the official one was created. The third… if you really must, is the main “Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition” group. Your posts will be buried quickly, but it does have massive reach.
  • Twitter – there’s no denying it, Twitter is a very useful cesspit. There’s a small handful of hashtags that I recommend using: #dmsguild #dnd5e #ttrpg are the main ones. If you use more than two or three hashtags, your tweets are more likely to get flagged as spam and hidden from people’s news feeds, which is the last thing you want. Twitter tends to serve most people well, in my experience.
  • Reddit – I don’t know how else to put this, but Reddit will probably only serve you well if you have free or pay-what-you-want products. Reddit likes free things. I don’t know why it’s so different from the others in this regard, but it sure is. I’ve seen massive threads turn into flamewars that have to be locked by mods because people seem to think that D&D writers shouldn’t need to be paid for what they do. r/dndnext is the biggest and most active subreddit. There is one for r/dmsguild but I hear it’s not very active at all.
  • Tumblr – there is a really significant D&D subculture on Tumblr, in large part thanks to The Adventure Zone, and to a lesser extent, Critical Role. If your content is the kind of humorous, even zany stuff that TAZ specializes in, you may do very well on Tumblr. The Tumblr community is also kind to works that include strong elements of social justice, like the recent “Blessed of the Traveler: Queer Gender Identity in Eberron”. It can be hard to build a following there, but once you do, you have a built-in fanbase.
  • Instagram – yes, Instagram! If your work includes evocative or eye-catching art, definitely use Instagram. It’s not as useful for strictly-text works, but both modern and historical art tend to do quite well there. Even moreso than Twitter, Instagram is a game of hashtags, and using many, many hashtags is encouraged by the almighty algorithm. It’s not uncommon to see a post tagged “#dnd #dnd5e #dmsguild #art #vintage #fairies #fantasy #writing #rpg #ttrpg #gaming”. Again, your mileage may vary, but since it’s so easy to cross-post to and from Instagram, you might see very big results for very little effort.
Lifecycle of a Product

There is, of course, an initial boom around the first week or two of a product’s release. The longer you stay in the “Newest DMs Guild Titles” promotional ribbon, the better. But what happens after that?

 Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

Well… a long, slow drop. Or a fast, sudden drop. I’ve had products see a trickle of sales for months; I’ve had others not sell a single copy a few weeks after release. I don’t have a good way of predicting this, unfortunately. But do know that unless you see massive, breakthrough success, your product is not going to keep selling in the same kind of numbers as it does the first few days. Never expect to have massive, breakthrough success. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Sooner or later, most products outside of the top bestsellers hit a point where they’re kind of “dead”. They’re not really selling except maybe one or two spotty, inconsistent sales. That’s okay. That’s like the circle of life but for art. You can keep promoting them, but if you keep hitting up the same few sites, you’re going to reach a point of saturation, where everyone who’s going to buy a copy already has. You can stave this off to some extent by staggering your promotions. Maybe Twitter in the first week, Reddit in the second, Tumblr in the third. It’s not guaranteed by any means, but it can help.

What Next?

You may not want to hear this, but the best thing you can do is get another product out the door, and the sooner, the better. A “career” of any kind of longevity on the DMs Guild depends on regular, semi frequent releases. If you can get a product ready every few weeks without burning yourself out or sacrificing quality, go for it. Link to your other products in each new release. There’s a ribbon on every product page for “Customers who bought this title also purchased” and if you can gain a consistent following, that eventually just advertises for yourself.

dmsguild.com

If you can build a reputation for quality, the work will speak for itself. Don’t rush releases if you are feeling like burning out. It’s better to release better work less frequently than crummy work more often. This is where the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier really come in handy – a lot of people work on collaborations for the Guild. Many of the most successful products are the result of many D&D creators working together. If everyone contributes a small piece of a release, it’s easier for everyone. Six or ten or twenty heads are better than one.

If you like RPGs other than D&D, there are other community content programs, though none are quite so large as the DMs Guild. There’s also the Miskatonic Repository for the Call of Cthulhu system, and the Storyteller’s Vault for the White Wolf series of games like Vampire: The Masquerade and Mage: The Awakening. I’m sure there are more in the works, in no small part because publishers have seen the success of the DMs Guild and want that for their own games.

So, that’s what I’ve got in terms of wisdom, folks. I hope it helps you and I wish you all the best when you publish your own DMs Guild content. Don’t be nervous, you can do it!

Tell us what you’re working on in the comments!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: A Visit from Murphy

RPGNet - 19 November 2018 - 12:00am
Because Murphy rules!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Grandmaster Of Fallout 76

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 November 2018 - 7:45pm

This week's highlights include a look at the U.S. grandmaster vying for the world chess championships, a diary playing through Bethesda's oddly emergent Fallout 76, and more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Grandmaster Of Fallout 76 - by Simon Carless

Gamasutra.com Blogs - 18 November 2018 - 7:35am
This week's highlights include a look at the U.S. grandmaster vying for the world chess championships, a diary playing through Bethesda's oddly emergent Fallout 76, and a host of other notable pieces.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Hi-Rez Studios bringing cross-platform play to Smite, Paladins, and Realm Royale

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 16 November 2018 - 11:32am

The PlayStation 4, however, is notably absent once again from the list of platforms supported in the move. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Gnome Stew Notables – Caitlynn Belle

Gnome Stew - 16 November 2018 - 5:11am

Welcome to the next installment of our Gnome Spotlight: Notables series. The notables series is a look at game developers in the gaming industry doing good work. The series will focus on game creators from underrepresented populations primarily, and each entry will be a short bio and interview. We’ve currently got a group of authors and guest authors interviewing game creators and hope to bring you many more entries in the series as it continues on. If you’ve got a suggestion for someone we should be doing a notables article on, send us a note at headgnome@gnomestew.com. – Head Gnome John

Meet Caitlynn

Caitlynn Belle is a queer game designer and writer from Savannah, Georgia. You can find her Patreon at where she makes so many weird games about sex and feelings.

Talking With Caitlynn 1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work. 

My name’s Caitlynn Belle, I’m a queer games girl from Savannah, Georgia, and I mostly release small, experimental games through my Patreon (caitlynnbelle.com and at 2) What project are you most proud of?

Ugh, it’s hard to pick. I like them for different reasons, but if I just had to pick, then I’ve got a game called Kirigami Dominatrix Display Simulator which is about being a hologram domme and using stationary tools like pens, scissors, paperclips, and so on, to metaphorically sexually dominate a sheet of paper, which represents your client. You enact consensual sadism on the paper this way, and I really just think it’s a clever bit of immersion, how you get to physically damage something in creative ways and use that to journey through a sexual experience.

kirigami

3) What themes do you like to emphasize in your game work? Sexuality and identity, I think, are the big ones. I want games that represent me and I want to do my best to put games out that represent others. I want spaces to talk about sex in a safe and healthy way and I want to explore identity and self-expression and what it means to really dig into yourself and figure out who you are, year after year. 4) What mechanics do you like best in games?

I appreciate finding interesting ways to divine outcomes other than dice or cards, anything quirky that ties back into the theme of the game somehow (Jenga towers for tension / fear, for example), and to be honest, I really like just pure narrative storytelling. Games like Fiasco where the structure of the game enables you to just wheel out and say whatever. I don’t like randomizers much in the games I play – my friends and I are used to creating characters and arcs and just driving towards their conclusions with as few speed bumps as possible.

5) How would you describe your game design style?

Sexy and weird. Just like me. But for real, all I’m trying to do is give you interesting things to say and interesting ways to say it. I think if you have that as your foundation, your game stands a much better chance of being awesome. I try to be authentic in voice, so it sounds like me and the image of the game I have in my head is the same image you get in yours, and I try to let my excitement for whatever it is I’m giving you shine through.

6) How does gender/queerness fit into your games?

They’re all tools to tell stories about queer identity. There’s things you feel weird or like an outcast over that you shouldn’t, but there’s no media for you, nowhere to explore people like you, and I want to start normalizing the idea of having cool gay characters do cool gay things. All of these games are coming from a girl who’s still on her own adventures, figuring out gender and love and who she is, and I think those themes are apparent in the text. I know very, very few people who aren’t exploring feelings about themselves in at least some tiny capacity, who they are and how they’ll express themselves, and that’s a real, honest, vulnerable thing, and I really want to see those kinds of characters out there as well.

7) How does the process of making small games influence your design?

It lets me latch on to any tiny idea I get and give it a proper home and just enough space to breathe and be a thing. You get small ideas sometimes and they can’t fill a larger game – just these little inklings of plots or rules – but they fit wonderfully on a three-page game that focuses in on a single experience. You get small ideas sometimes and they can’t fill a larger game – just these little inklings of plots or rules – but they fit wonderfully on a three-page game that focuses in on a single experience. Share3Tweet+11Reddit1Email There’s a lot of things that I couldn’t make into a larger product but I don’t think that makes them less valid. Like, I legitimately feel the 200 word RPG challenge that David Schirduan puts out each year has made some of the best games in our community, and I mean that sincerely. They’re beautiful, wonderful games, powerful and captivating, better than most anything in our collections or up on Kickstarter. But, making smaller projects lets you really focus in on what an idea needs and how you edit, and what you should be editing, and it helps strengthen your writing overall. I try to follow these small ideas to completion each month or every other month and it lets me play around with a lot of strangeness that would otherwise drown in deeper pools.

8) How did you get into games? Who did you try to emulate in your design?

I’ve been roleplaying and playing board games forever, so eventually I took the next logical step and tried to make a game I wanted to play that I hadn’t seen yet. My brother played D&D, and when I was little, I didn’t understand how they were playing a game with no board and why they were talking so much and all the funny dice, so even back then I was trying to pick apart social interactions to form it into a cohesive whole? Which I think sounds a little heavy for a little girl to be doing? But like, I just love taking things apart and seeing why they’re working the way they are, and why people make the choices they do. Once I got an idea of what roleplaying was I just kept doing it forever and ever! As far as who I try to emulate, my secret goal is to make a game that Jason Morningstar really loves. I really like Jason’s work, it’s well-written, thoughtful, and fun. I feel like he’s got a really good handle on how to present a product and how to structure play towards a type of story, and how to do that with as few tools as possible, and that’s something I really admire. I like to picture him as some kind of lich, and only by stealing his phylactery and drinking in his soul will I understand his methods.

9) What one thing would you change in gaming?

How games look. We’ve got this vision of a roleplaying game as a thing with character sheets and dice and rules for doing skills and progression towards conflict and violence. There’s very little space for games that don’t want that – games that have weird formats or physical requirements, or that don’t want to tell stories about conflict and fighting, or games that don’t want to engage in long-form campaign play. They don’t get the same kind of attention and it makes for a drab, textureless playing field. I would really like to see games that just throw everything out the window and tell more personal stories, or find other ways to engage in narrative besides the same tools we’ve been using for decades.

so many games!

10) What are you working on now?

A million billion things – I’ve got a collection of tiny games about goblins, and they’re all dealing with things like intimacy between friends, processing death, body image and self-esteem, consent and boundary issues, etc. I wanted to take a traditional mindless monster and show them in vulnerable moments. My bigger project though is a game about telling the story of a world left to grow outside of its bounds after society left it: you play as the landscapes and memories instead of people (as it’s an overgrown apocalyptic jungle at this point) and build a narrative about what life used to be. It’s proving really challenging, because I have to consider how one might portray blades of grass or forgotten songs, and what that looks like in play! But I think it’s a sweet game and I hope people will like it!

11) Who/what games are some of your influences?

Jason Morningstar’s stuff for telling stable, structured, fascinating stories out of sparse, thoughtful tools – his larp Juggernaut is absolutely excellent and is easily one of the top ten storytelling games of all time. Ross Cowman, especially Fall of Magic, because Ross’ games capture a sense of wonder and heartbreak that just destroys you. We play Fall of Magic once a year and every time it’s just this fucking experience, this thing that sends chills down your back and keeps you up at night. It’s so good. Everything Ross touches is gold. Meguey Baker’s wonderful seasonal games are just magic, too, just dripping with mischief and wonder and crystalline imagery. Emily Care Boss’ romance trilogy, for taking romance seriously and giving you just really fucking great games to explore them with, Epidiah Ravachol’s Vast & Starlit for just being the most concentrated genius you can fit on a business card, I could write entire essays about that game. Ben Lehman, though I don’t get to play his games as often as I like, he always writes things that make me stop and reconsider what I’m doing and how it could be better, just these great little bits that form a much greater whole. I could really go on and on naming all these people I love. Everyone makes great games. Play every game.

Thanks for joining us for this entry in the notables series.  You can find more in the series here: and please feel free to drop us any suggestions for people we should interview at headgnome@gnomestew.com.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Superseeds: The Other Side, Part Three

RPGNet - 16 November 2018 - 12:00am
Finishing a look at The Other Side.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Despite China's game freeze, mobile game revenue is still on the rise at Tencent

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 15 November 2018 - 12:19pm

Tencent†™s game business saw a rise in mobile game revenue during the third quarter of the company†™s fiscal year, though PC game revenue fell by 15 percent during that same period. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

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