Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Real Time Strategy (Games)

How Do You Get a Board Game Published? 123

Posted by Cliff
from the from-idea-to-boxes-and-pieces dept.
cyclomedia asks: "I've been dedicating a little of my time to devising a strategy board game, pitched somewhere between Checkers and Chess but probably not as deceptively complex as Go. Without giving too much away I can tell you that there's a nerd factor within the game itself, possibly leaning the possibility of marketing towards the Games Workshop end of the spectrum, but without the 80-sided dice and Orcs. The next step in my plan is to see if I can actually create a prototype made of coins, stickers and cardboard, and then to attempt to teach the rules to my wife (she's a Trek fan, hence the marriage). If I get past that stage, presumably I can't just show up at Hasbro with my jerry rigged setup and expect an enthusiastic response. So, what do I do?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

How Do You Get a Board Game Published?

Comments Filter:
  • by Renegade Lisp (315687) * on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:28AM (#17766448)

    The game publishing business seems very conservative. Many of the games that became classics over the last few decades were initially rejected by all of the major publishers: Mastermind, Monopoly, you name it. Even Sudoku took more than twenty years until it finally hit home.

    A friend of mine developed the board game Friedrich [wikipedia.org], a strategy game about the Seven Years' War. It took him fifteen years to arrive at the final version, building very elaborate prototypes, and playing hundreds of games with friends who were acting as beta testers. The game was rejected by all major publishers he showed it to, mostly on the grounds that "it takes too long to play" (3-5 hours at least). After he'd mentioned that, every discussion was immediately over. My friend finally decided to publish the game himself, founding his own game publishing company. The game quickly achieved almost a cult following, both in Germany, where it was initially published, and in the US. I think some 4000 copies have been sold so far. It won the prize for the Best Historical Simulation by the American Games magazine in 2006.

    So I'd say: Be prepared to go a long way, but it may well be worth it.

    • by larien (5608)
      Germany has a good board game following - many of the best games originate from there. This means you have an audience who will be interested, but also some intense competition.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by KingSkippus (799657) *

      With all due respect, my god, that game looks complicated. No wonder major publishers turned it down.

      If you have a game with lots of rules and intricacies, I suspect you'd just about have to publish it yourself. I think that the big manufacturers are more interested in games that have mass appeal: games that are really simple to pick up and play, that take maybe five minutes to learn the rules and jump in, and that can be played by (and are at least somewhat interesting to) at least mid-teenagers.

      I'm

      • Those big, complex games may have limited appeal, but thank god someone publishes them, or else I'd never have gotten to play Kingmaker, Republic of Rome, or Machiavelli. Now those are great gamee.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          I've made several professional quality playing boards by printing them in tiles from jpeg's created in gimp/photoshop. Your local drugstore can print them for $0.20 or less each so your total cost may be somewher near $10 for a board + other graphics.

          Helpful hints:
          1. Work on PNG files until you are ready to get them printed. Repeatedly modifying and re-saving a Jpeg will add noise each time the file is saved
          2. Make each jpeg have 8 megapixel photo dimensions 3,264 x 2,448 pixe
    • by numbski (515011) *
      The first thing I want to say is - bravo for persistence.

      The second is, wow that sucks. 15 years to get it to market, 4000 copies, margins being what they are, say after all expenses he makes $3/copy sold.

      $12,000.

      Not so good. :( But hey, it's still on the market, and could still sell many copies for years to come.
      • by Suppafly (179830)
        If you consider it a hobby and not a job, its not too bad.
      • by pluther (647209)
        $12,000 over 15 years? Still more than I've made on half a dozen short stories, a couple of dozen non-fiction articles, and the two plays that've been produced in the same time frame...
    • by Thansal (999464) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:37AM (#17768148)
      Depending on how complex your game is I would suggest tlakign to some of the indy publishers.

      There are companies like Cheapass Games [cheapass.com], Loony Labs [looneylabs.com](thoguh I think they do all their stuff in house), Playroom Entertainment [playrooment.com] to name a few off the top of my head.

      Also, the simpeler you can make the physical pieces of the game the better off you are I think. Can the "board" be cloth or some such? Will the pieces idealy be simple or complex (checkers, WH40K pieces, or soem where inbetween)?

      The other thing to do is to go to Cons (SF/F and gaming). So long as they have a gaming room (for board/card games) you can find a good number of people who are in the field. Most of them will be Reps, but even they are good to talk to, and some times you will run into the actualy developers (or other people more closely tied to the company), especialy at larger cons. Just make sure you have a working copy of your game (I would suggest tryign to make it look good, over trying to emulate a proffessional distribution).

      Good luck!
      • by Thansal (999464) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:39AM (#17768194)
        Oh, and when you type up your rule book, make sure you don't have as many typos as I do in my posts.
      • by Asmor (775910)
        I actually talked to one of the guys at Looney Labs over email a while back... This is the response I got (back in November '04, so who knows if things have changed since then?)

        Hi Ian,

        Thanks for giving us the chance to consider your game (sounds like a fun
        concept), and we wish you the best of luck in finding a publisher.
        Unfortunately, it cannot be us.

        Looney Labs is still a small company and our own ideas greatly exceed our
        capability to publish new products. It is difficult for us to imagine ever
        running out
        • by Thansal (999464)
          yah, I figgured as much, Andrew Looney has created a vast nubmer of games in his own right, and I know there are a few other people working there. I just tossed the name out there as one of the indy developers I know of.

          however that book is a nice looking refference.

    • by stevey (64018)

      Wasn't the Monopoly game initially stolen? There is some interesting interesting history behind it [wikipedia.org] at the very least..

      I'm surprised at how old the game is.

  • Other way... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jackharrer (972403) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:37AM (#17766482)
    You can try different approach. Try publishing your game on Net. Something like printable table (in pdf for example) and some cutout pieces. Let people play. If it's good enough, and people like it you can approach some game publishers. Not to mention that this approach will give you loads of beta testers, for free. So you will be able to improve a game in a process. Use Slashvertisement.
    And as everybody knows, it's better to have a game you like in nice box with good quality pieces, so they will buy it afterwards, thus guaranteeing some sales.

    And be patient, very patient... I wish you luck!!!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You can try different approach. Try publishing your game on Net. Something like printable table (in pdf for example) and some cutout pieces. Let people play. If it's good enough, and people like it you can approach some game publishers.
      Then again, some publishers may be put off byt something being published already. I'd rather have people over and play instead... But I may very well be wrong. I like the idea from a FOSS standpoint!
      • i love the idea of doing it in a FOSS fashion and can easily envision a MOD scene evolving around the game as it is extensible. In favour of that is also my lack of spare time what with being a full time worker and parent. Against that idea is that i DO have kids to feed and would like to indulge in at least a little capitalism :-)

        Perhaps there is a middle way, maybe i can just copyright the fundamental concept and then license sets, mods and expansions for sale - but allow plenty of fair use to create your
    • Print Cheaply (Score:3, Interesting)

      It may also help to follow the example of people like Cheapass Games and print your games on inexpensive material - very plain cardboard and the like, don't include dice or tokens in your packaging and encourage people to scrounge an old monopoly game for those things, and etc. The game itself may not hold up well to pressure, but if it's a good game, then maybe you'll get a grant to print it on heavier material anyway.
      • by WhyCause (179039)
        I was going to suggest this very thing, but then there's the problem of visibility. If you only have one game available on your website, you may not even show up on Google unless someone is specifically searching for your game.

        One solution to this problem, though, may be following the Cheapass rulebook to the letter. Print your own boards and rules, let people find their own pawns, etc., then sell through a site like Paizo [paizo.com] (which just happens to be how you buy Cheapass Games now). I don't have any idea h
  • by Max Romantschuk (132276) <max@romantschuk.fi> on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:37AM (#17766484) Homepage
    I know nothing about the board game business... ...but team up with someone who can draw and/or design well. Scanners and inkjets are dirt cheap these days. If your prototype looks like a product instead of a school project your chances of getting published should be orders of magnitude better.

    Playability is important, but without looks you can't appeal to Joe Sixpack.
    • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

      I know nothing about brain surgery, but make sure you team up with someone who can cut... and doesn't drink too much.
    • While this is true I doubt very much that Joe Sixpack is interested in a strategy boardgame. However... use RISK as your baseline for graphics. Looks professional but not overly complicated visuals anywhere except the packaging (which you can get past by picking a nice font (fonts.com) and sticking the name big in red on black... always looks nice a dramatic).
    • by AvitarX (172628)
      I can second this.

      My limited experience involves working at a print shop.

      We had a customer who designed a game and has now quit his job on the proceeds. He spent 1000's of dollars building prototypes over the course of a year or two. Unfortunately I don't know what he did with publishers or I could really be helpful.

      I really doubt he would have gone anywhere without the nice look. he publishers probably get 1000's of pitches a month, make yours easier to publish (more complete) and they may actually
  • Have you tried? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 91degrees (207121) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:39AM (#17766494) Journal
    presumably I can't just show up at Hasbro with my jerry rigged setup and expect an enthusiastic response.

    Stop being so presumptious. Write to Hasbro with a brief concept of your game and see what they say. Get the game finished and balanced first. No publisher is interested in a half designed game. But don't worry about production values. Graphic designers can be hired by the publisher. And find some other people to help playtest the game. You might want to try a few other publishers as well [boardgamegeek.com].
    • by Almo2001 (1056138)
      None of the Hasbro family of companies (Hasbro, Parker Brothers, Avalon Hill, etc) will talk to individuals. They only talk to "toy brokers." Watch out for them. One of them, Davidson and Associates, makes their money charging people for "research" and have an amazingly poor track record getting games to manufacturers. Check with the Better Business Bureau before giving anyone any money. I'm almost finished with a large boardgame myself, with 6-8 hour playing time. My plan is to publish on the web. Publish
  • by Lord Bitman (95493) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:43AM (#17766520) Homepage
    1) You haven't made a prototype
    2) You haven't taught it to anyone else, meaning
    3) You haven't even played the "game"
    4) You're already comparing it to chess

    How about seeing if it's any good before you start thinking about selling it?

    5) You don't want to give any details, because
    6) You're worried about people stealing your idea
    7) Which you haven't even shown to anyone else, which means
    8) You haven't even done any basic steps towards finding out if it's worth stealing

    How about embracing open development? Or at least a little less closed than "I need to do everything myself. If I ask the opinion of others, they might steal my idea! Which is definitely on par with chess! But not go, because I read that was awesome"

    Do I sound hostile? That's because I am giving you advice and you don't want to hear it. Why did you ask for it?
    • by r3m0t (626466) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:11AM (#17766640)
      I see a lot of people faulting this person over his comparison to chess.

      "pitched somewhere between Checkers and Chess but probably not as deceptively complex as Go"

      He (she?) obviously meant it in terms of the simplicity of the rules, and perhaps the amount of thought required for each turn. He doesn't expect it to become the next chess.

      That said, if he hasn't even played the game, the whole discussion is pointless.

      He should also try to explain the game to somebody with less patience than a wife. Some critical friends, for example.
      • by mwlewis (794711) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:49AM (#17766882)

        He should also try to explain the game to somebody with less patience than a wife.
        You must not be married.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by ockegheim (808089)

        Or for a real acid test, write out the instructions as you would expect them to be in the published game, get some friends to play it with nothing but the instructions and video them. That's all the help someone buying the game will generally get.

        If you're heavily involved with something, other people will miss things that seem blindingly obvious to you.

      • by palad1 (571416)
        He should also try to explain the game to somebody with less patience than a wife.
        Does this person even exist?
        • by tepples (727027)

          He should also try to explain the game to somebody with less patience than a wife.
          Does this person even exist?
          Yes, and it's called offspring.
  • Just for the record (Score:3, Informative)

    by Toby_Tyke (797359) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:48AM (#17766548) Journal
    I'm pretty sure every game system currently published by Games Workshop uses only regular six sided dice. I think the last game using anyhting else was second edition 40K, but that went all-D6 with third edition.

    Oh, and Blood Bowl uses some custom dice, but they're just D6s with pictures instead of numbers.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by BadMrMojo (767184)
      Oh, and Blood Bowl uses some custom dice, but they're just D6s with pictures instead of numbers.

      Also a d8 for scatter.

      1 2 3
      4 _ 5
      6 7 8
      I am so lame it hurts.
      • by Toby_Tyke (797359)
        Ah yes, I forgot about that one.

        Come to think of it, Necromunda might still use some odd dice as well.
      • by Thansal (999464)
        It is actualy easier to use a D8/D10 for scatter simply by having the bottom or top point set as the pointer, and if I remember you need to assign a number (or a few) as "hit".
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by josteos (455905)
        Replace a d8 with 3d6, using the fact that 2^3 = 8:
        die 0:
          1-3: +0
          4-6: +1

        die 1:
          1-3: +0
          4-6: +2

        die 2:
          1-3: +0
          4-6: +4

        Add them up and you get a number from 0-7. Add +1 to make it 1-8. Or modify die one to evaluate to +1 | +2.

        Yeah, my friends never got it either. Probably didn't help that I kept referring to 'die 0'.
        • by BadMrMojo (767184)

          ... Roll 1d (chmod + 1) for scatter.
          I like it. I really do.

          It comes with a d8, however. I'm just sayin'...
    • by Zarf (5735)
      Oh, and Blood Bowl uses some custom dice, but they're just D6s with pictures instead of numbers.

      I guess if your probability can't be represented in base six... no dice!
    • by gunny01 (1022579)
      And Inquisitor, and Battlefleet gothic....etc Practically all the specialist games use odd dice, but the regular ones (40k FB, LOTR) use D6's and the odd scatter/artillery dice. Which you can make if you're good.
  • A better place... (Score:5, Informative)

    by timftbf (48204) on Friday January 26, 2007 @07:56AM (#17766584)
    ...to ask the question would be the Board Game Designers' Forum - http://www.bgdf.com/ [bgdf.com]

    You're almost certainly not going to be talking to Hasbro or GW - you're going to be talking (if you're lucky!) to people like Rio Grande, Uberplay, Kosmos, Mayfair, JKLM... If those names don't mean anything to you, get yourself over to http://www.boardgamegeek.com/ [boardgamegeek.com] and start reading :)
    • by karrde (853)
      I wish I had moderator points right now, because this is your answer.

      I have several friends who have published, or are about to be published. It's not an easy task, and if you don't break out of that not telling anyone you'll get nowhere.
    • by wwphx (225607)
      There is also a Yahoo group, http://games.groups.yahoo.com/group/boardgamedesig n/ [yahoo.com], excellent resource. And there's the Protospiel conventions, upcoming is Protospiel West, http://www.protospielwest.com/ [protospielwest.com], which is tomorrow. I don't recall when the original American Protospiel event is, but I'm sure you can find it. And don't forget the Chicago Toy Fair, which has lots of games.

      And yes, I am a game designer and publisher. www.SpareBrainsGames.com.
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:01AM (#17766604) Homepage
    If the only thing you have is an idea you're afraid someone might steal, then you don't have anything of value.
    • by pubjames (468013)
      If the only thing you have is an idea you're afraid someone might steal, then you don't have anything of value.

      I agree. If someone won't tell you their idea because they are afraid you might steal it, they probably don't very often have ideas and that's why they are so protective of it. If they don't often have ideas, they probably aren't very creative and so their idea probably isn't that good anyway.

      Uncreative people over-rate the value of ideas. Ideas are easy - creative people have good ideas all the t
      • by SQLGuru (980662)
        I somewhat agree with you on this....if the idea is good, you should be able to share the "elevator speech" version of it even in a community like Slash-Dot.

        Consider this game idea -

        It's a card game you play by yourself. You deal cards out in to seven columns, all face up (the extra make an incomplete row). You are trying to move the cards around such that you can collect an entire suit (Ace to King) in a special location to the side. -- Freecell. That didn't give away any of the "secret" rules but gives
        • by lymond01 (314120) on Friday January 26, 2007 @12:38PM (#17770300)
          I once developed a game that had 4-8 kingdoms each handled by 10 lords that were in charge of the armies that could go from hex to hex and discover what was there and use it to raise armies or hold land or even go on singular quests to gain powers which were rated from 1 to 10 in 7 different categories for each lord and when players' armies met they could use their different army races in varying strategies to combat the aggressor using dice and the controlling lord's powers which didn't need to be activated but would just work and the combats would go for two turns then the rest of the board could move so reinforcements might arrive and eventually the goal isn't to destroy your opponent but to claim the Evil Tower Hex where you have to battle the army there to save the land and proclaim yourself King.

          It's sort of like checkers.

    • Have to agree!

      Ideas are a dime a dozen. Good ones worth a little more. But it's IMPLEMENTATION that is worth their weight in gold.

      Cheers

      --
      Why do modern MMORPS still have no concept of rock-climing, swimming, or ballooning?
    • Yes, I think Howard Aiken said it best:

      "Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

  • by trip11 (160832) * on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:07AM (#17766632) Homepage
    I would recomend that once you have a playable prototype, look into some local (or non-local if you're serious) gaming conventions. A lot of these have events for YOU. Everyone brings in a game they have designed, it is play tested, and voted on. Winner gets the game developed or something. Well the details can vary but look into it. Not to mention you could just set up your own, independent game and get lots of feedback from people. It might help smooth out some rough spots. Plus there may be booths set up where you could talk to some reps from publishing companies. At least as much as 'hey, who should I write to in your company about a new game'.

    I know there is a big gaming Con in Denver Colorado, and Columbus Ohio. But there are undoubtedly more.

  • by BortQ (468164) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:15AM (#17766670) Homepage Journal
    Check out The Making of VIKTORY II [viktorygame.com], one guy's tale of creating and self-publishing his strategic board game. He is crazy persistent (and has some past experience) and manages to knock out a pretty professional final game.
  • by Cheesey (70139) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:20AM (#17766688)
    Publish it yourself, selling it through a website. Offer a downloadable demo of some sort, e.g. a PDF of a board and some of the pieces. You can start doing both of these things for a very small investment, and you can scale up your publishing infrastructure according to demand.

    A friend of mine [randomviolence.net] is doing this at the moment. You can try out his board game by printing some levels and some of the pieces, and then, if you like it, you can buy the actual thing by cheque or Paypal. Seems to be doing well, he's making an expansion set at the moment.

    Another thing you could do would be a computerised version of your game, offered for free online. That could be an excellent advert for the board version, but it would take a bit more investment...
  • by Anonymous Coward
    They will ask you what other games you created.
    They will want to see your prototype, docs, etc.
    They will ask you for feedback from betaplayers.
    They will want you to give up your rights on marchandising material.
    They will ask you to pay to get published in gaming magazines under Hasbro's influence.
    If you fit in their marketing scheme, then they will offer you a contract where you have to create games on a regular basis.
    Maybe up to 1 to 3 games a year.

    Choose a smaller game publisher or you will regret you eve
  • by Mahy (111194) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:54AM (#17766928) Homepage
    ...might be a good idea.

    Admittedly, I have only met one game designer, but his strategy was to produce the game himself, and sell it at Cons and Comic Shops.

    His key piece of advice: When you sell a copy, document it! Give the buyer a receipt and keep a copy. I believe he said (though please forgive me if I am remembering wrong) that no one really got interested until he had 100+ receipts in hand...demonstrating that the game was already starting to be a success.
    • by toleraen (831634)
      Or going beyond just talking to game designers, and actually bring your game to GenCon. I haven't been to a GenCon in a while, but when I was there I played several board games that were still in the "prototype" stage. Several of the games didn't have publishers, and that was exactly why there were there. I can't remember if I had to sign up for those ahead of time or if I just "walked in", but I would think getting a spot on GenCons schedule would at least get you some visibility.
  • You could always talk to the people behind War on Terror - the Board Game [waronterro...rdgame.com]. It sounds like they started from much the same position as you are in.
  • cheapass games (Score:3, Informative)

    by kattphud (708847) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:32AM (#17767290)
    If the major board game publishers jilt you, consider selling your idea to Cheapass Games [cheapass.com], the creators of such works of subgenius like Kill Doctor Lucky and Give Me The Brain.
  • by phyjcowl (309329) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:42AM (#17767394) Homepage
    This article caught my interest because I've been in a somewhat similar situation, though I've been pursuing it for the past six years. Here is my story, if anyone is interested or might have further suggestions.

    I spent considerable time writing a two-player strategy board game. In fact, I've spent over five years play testing it with different people and refining the rules until it became quite fun and playable. I've developed notation for it as well, so games can be played by correspondence. It would appeal to any chess freak (of which I consider myself one) though aside from requiring two players there is no similarity. It has a beautiful and unique board that a friend and I designed. My goal in creating the game was to introduce a game that could trigger new and different ways of thinking in a collaborative strategy process toward central transcendence goals as opposed to one of conquest (such as chess or go).

    Yeah yeah, it may sound complex, but no more so than chess, in fact it has fewer rules and as any serious strategy game enthusiast understands, it's not so much the rules as the intricacies of play that inspire.

    I've researched many board game companies in earnest. I looked for those that produced quality designer games (Gigamic, for example) to large multinationals (Megabloks). I wrote nice introductory letters to them. I included overview teasers of the game concept without revealing too much (just to get their interest but protect my idea), and I included my own game NDA from a lawyer.

    The responses I got were typically that the companies wanted me to send the rules but would not sign an NDA (in other words, once receiving the rules, they'd potentially be able to develop it and never give credit where credit was due). That is a reality, an experienced, professional game designer warned me about it.

    From the game company's perspective of course, they've got to be careful too. They live in fear that if they see something submitted from outside their company, and just happen to be developing something similar on their own, that they'll wind up getting sued. One company persistantly asked me to send them my prototype (of which I made several) but refused to sign the NDA for this very reason. Some companies have their own NDAs, and I've found that sometimes these are sufficient because they seem to have wording that protects both parties (but not always!). At one point, Megabloks signed an NDA with me and they play-tested my prototype but unfortunately my game was just totally out of the realm of the sort they publish. That's to say that even though game companies may like to get good ideas, most are really closed to anyone that is not already in their industry or better, employed by them.

    So I'm still looking, considering saving my money to self-publish it, but it's not cheap and I'm not wealthy. My other dream objective for the game, which I have yet to fully lay out in detail would be to form some sort of co-op that involved a few free and open source developers, which would be interested in making a networked electronic (client/server) version of the game (like all those FICS/chess servers) that exist. I would love to see it spread all over and feel like having an electronic FOSS version would really help popularize it in terms of getting a company interested in distributing a physical version of the game. I've always felt that it would be incredibly appealing to sell a physical board game with an online subscription included and a FOSS version makes sense if not for the philosophy for the simple fact that it would be the most efficient way to jumpstart its spread. I dunno, maybe someone is interested in collaborating on that. :-)
    • by 91degrees (207121)
      Perhaps what you actually need, is a second great idea. Idea 2 is something simple and preferably card based.

      Card games are easy to prototype, usually quick to play, and accessible to most people. Publishers like them because they can easily retool existing production lines. Once you have that, you've become an established game designer, and other publishers will be more willing to talk to you.

      Of course, pure strategy games (which I assume this is an example of) are a hard sell. Even serious board
      • by phyjcowl (309329)
        Wow, that's great. I had no interest in a game design career--I was just focused on the one particular game, but your point is interesting, maybe coming up with something else would be a good means to that end.
    • by m4k3r (777443)
      Why would you be unwilling to provide a set of rules to a company who hasn't signed an NDA, yet wish to create a FOSS version ?

      Either you wish the game to be open, or you don't. Choose one.
      • by phyjcowl (309329)
        The two are not mutually exclusive and it isn't that simple of an either/or decision.

        The point is that if you do something in a FOSS fashion you're licensing it in a way , which confers certain rights and attribution. If you bring it to a company without an NDA, you put yourself in a place to potentially lose all rights or the possibility of attribution.

        In other words, one way (the FOSS way) can enable well-understood and accepted controls for efficient distribution, collaboration, and attribution, while th
        • by m4k3r (777443)
          Your rights may be stolen either way. Would you have the funds to defend an open source license in court if some disrespectful company forks the code and claims it as their own ?

          Have you decided on an open source license yet ? It appears as though you'd like to retain the sole rights to publish the non-electronic version of the game. Would you allow a fork that allowed printing of the board/cards/whatever else ?
          • by phyjcowl (309329)
            I think some of the creative commons ones come pretty close to being the most applicable. I would love to see something, Creative Commonsesque, which functions specifically for a co-op sort of arrangement. In other words, where it enables its free usage for members of a co-op. In that way, one could create a co-op of developers, players, artisan board game craftspeople, etc. that mutually benefit by freely sharing the game's rules, design attributes, and community among one another. I've talked to a lawyer
  • by Zawash (147532) on Friday January 26, 2007 @09:42AM (#17767400)
    SJ Games may publish your game - if you have a good concept.. :)
    Read the guidelines for submitting card- and boardgames [sjgames.com]..
    Also check out the Author Guidelines [sjgames.com] for submitting other types of content.

    (Unfortunately, they seem to be rather busy at the moment..)
    Good luck!
  • A friend of mine also creates board and card games. As mentioned before, the first thing you do is test the hell out of it. Have friends over constantly, and play the game. Then make a pretty good prototype.
    Post at sites like http://www.iwanttomakeit.com/ [iwanttomakeit.com] that you are looking for piece/board/instructions makers. Once you have some prototypes, go by your local game stores and see if they will sell it in their stores. Leave a copy of the prototype if you want (make them sign a DBA if you haven't done an
  • You could look at joining GAMA (Games Manufacturers Association (of America)) http://www.gama.org/ [gama.org] or Move to Germany ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:30AM (#17768066)
    I sat in on several forums at gencon last year, which of course does not make me an expert of any sort, but I can pass along what actual game designers and publishers were willing to tell a bunch of nerds at 9am on a saturday -

    The concensus was that getting your game published is generally an inside job. This is not to say that outsiders have no hope; rather, it is to say that the path to enlightenment (getting published) lies through opening dialogue with designers & publishers through established means - online forums, attending trade shows, etc. It's much more a face-to-face industry - people like to know who they're working with.

    The single key element that was reinforced over and over was PLAYABLE PROTOTYPE. Common advice was not to spend money on production values for said prototype, but rather to spend that time and effort making the game playable and enjoyable, and to put tremendous effort into making the rules comprehensive and readily understandable. Apparently nothing irks publishers more than getting a gaudy prototype with an incomprehensible rules sheet and unexplained/missing parts, unless it's some guy waving his hands and insisting his game is 'so awesome' without producing a prototype of any sort at all.
  • by SQLGuru (980662) on Friday January 26, 2007 @10:34AM (#17768108) Journal
    First off, these are not my comments, so don't ask any more than this. But I know someone with a published game and someone else who has a game to publish. I sent this e-mail to the former and forwarded the response to the latter. That's about all of my involvement in the process of getting a game published. But since it is on topic, I thought I'd include the response here for you.

    I'm in Austin, so the reference to Steve Jackson Game might not be as convenient for you as it is for me, but the concept of getting with people who actually make/sell games isn't a bad thought. Also, an earlier response talked about making it "printer-ware", which my published friend indicates that she and her husband do....in fact, she indicates that she might be open to putting it on her site (instant traffic, just not sure of how much).

    Good luck on your efforts, but don't hope for anything quick. Unless it's an awesome game, expect years of effort.

    Layne

    GAMA (http://www.gama.org/) is the Game Manufacturers Association, and they have some worthwhile resources. We went to two of their tradeshows in Las Vegas; met folks, learned some things. I think Jon also hangs out with RPGnet (http://www.rpg.net/), which is more than just role-playing games, and the Game Publishers Association (http://www.thegpa.org).

    It's not too difficult to get yourself an invite to a Steve Jackson Games playtesting session, which is certainly... illuminating. (Heh. That's a pun. Uh, anyway.) Playtesting, however, is kind of gruelling, and there's not much glamour to it. But you can see his shop and talk to his people and get some insight into how it goes.

    And, of course, there's us: http://www.invisible-city.com/play/ [invisible-city.com] We put our games up for free on the web. They're print-and-play, or composed of household parts like poker cards and checker boards. We host games by guest designers, too.
  • I believe they hold board game trade shows. A friend managed to get his published by taking a prototype to the show and renting a booth.
  • ...for a search of "board game publishing" comes up with:

    Board Game Invention & Self-Publishing Resources [spotlightongames.com]
  • Some old friends of mine in Seattle went through this a number of times, until they just decided to start their own "label" of board games. Their gimmick was to produce great new games that used pieces you probably already have from other board games. They don't ship dice, don't ship tokens, don't ship player pawns, don't need much in the way of special cards. They ship a board and an instruction sheet. (I think you CAN buy a higher-priced complete set from them, if you're expecting to play on a mounta

  • Keep at it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pdboddy (620164) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `yddobdp'> on Friday January 26, 2007 @11:53AM (#17769460) Homepage Journal
    There are lots of complex and long games out there, quite a few games in the 18xx railroading series are complex and take a few hours to play. Settlers of Catan. Risk 2011. The Warcraft and World of WarCraft boardgames. Star Fleet Battles. The board game industry has it's share of "easy" or "quick" games, but it also needs the complex games...

    Don't get discouraged, keep playtesting and refining the game and your prototypes, make sure you keep ahold of any patents/copyrights/trademarks that result from the game's creation, and keep pitching it at board game companies til it sticks... baring all that, if you get to a point where you cannot do any more refining or playtesting, and no other company has taken it on, go ahead and found your own company.

    http://www.deepthoughtgames.com/ [deepthoughtgames.com] is a low volume board game publisher. They might be able to help you out in getting your game looking "professional", and perhaps using eBay, or another "storefront" website, you can start selling your game, the costs would be relatively low.
  • The Toy & Game Inventor's Handbook [amazon.com]. I don't yet know how useful it really is, since I have yet to try and pitch any of my ideas, but it seems pretty good in my totally unqualified opinion.

    There's also The Toy & Game Inventor's Guide [amazon.com], but it's rather old. It's pre-internet, which means the whole world has changed. However, it still has some really good stuff on the legal side of things, so you might see if a local library has it anyhow.

    If you haven't already, I would definitely say make a few pro

  • I recommend looking into the Game Publishers Association [thegpa.org] (GPA). They have several sources to help small publishers get on their feet to do it themselves. In my opinion, do not worry about trying to get another company to publish it for you. If you have the means, you really can do it yourself. You can find artists and distributors and all sorts of friendly people to help you at the GPA. If you do not have much means, you might consider a PDF release on the web. Sites, like RPG-Now [rpgnow.com], distribute PDF vers
  • This is slightly OT, but for fans of Catan its big news:

    Apparently Xbox Live will be selling an online multiplayer version of the boardgame
    this Spring. 'Pretty sweet.

  • When my father was in getting his masters (many years ago) his friend created a board game. (it was called Class Struggle and was like Monopoly but with a Socialist mind frame rather than Capitalist) With the help of the College they got it produced and stocked by some local stores. Perhaps this type of thing still happens... I'm not really sure.
  • If you game fits in the general category of 2 player, no hidden information games, then you might want to try having a prototype made using Zillions of Games [zillions-of-games.com]. This program allows you to define the board and movement rules for just about any combiniation you can think of. The basic game plays most of the classics and you can download thousands of versions from their website or Chess Variants [chessvariants.org]

    If your game has hidden information which is only know to one player, then Zillions can't handle that, but if your pu
  • Publishing a board game is a fairly trivial exercise. All you need is a good graphic designer and a good printer. Use the Internet to market your product. Take it on the road to gaming conventions.

    Under no circumstances should you consider talking to a large existing corporation. If they decide to steal your idea for themselves, you will likely not be able to mount enough of a legal challenge to stop them.

    The thing about games is that the game itself has to be compelling in the long term in order for it to
    • by amper (33785) *
      I would also like to mention that I have been involved in the gaming industry in the past (d8 magazine, in case anyone remembers it), and that your post has not only caused me to start thinking about getting involved again, but has also installed in me the desire to be a play-tester for you, if you need them. I've never really though about board games before, as I'm more of a role-playing type, but now the wheels are turning for that type of idea.
  • Check out Days Of Wonder; some of their games were originally user-inspired ideas, so perhaps they are more accustomed to taking an idea and running with it.
  • ...is tell anyone any of the slightest details, such as what your game is actually about, because then someone will Steal Your Idea and Make It To Market Before You.

    @@
    • You can tell other people. Most other game designers won't steal your idea because they are too busy working on their own. It's the same thing with writing fiction. Though, either designers or writers may borrow ideas from other sources, but most likely it won't be the same as yours. The only thing you might keep under wraps is what makes the game unique. If it is a unique game mechanic, then it might be considered valuable. And, if you are worried about others stealing your idea, then copyright the i
  • Producing Your Game (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PRoizen (1056304)
    In my own case I got an artist/friend to do the artwork for a share of profits and published the game myself. I used Paragon Packaging, because most other companies just deal with paper and cardboard. I needed tiles. Min run: 5,000 Cost:$50,000 I would warn you this should be a labor of love. Be sure to factor into your spreadsheet damaged games, dealers that don't pay, etc. etc. In my own case I have lost about 25K on the first 3K games though some of that might be because I choose to compete with a clas
  • GenCon Indy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EightBits (61345) on Friday January 26, 2007 @08:00PM (#17778418)
    Just FYI: I am NOT affiliated with GenCon in any way shape or form beyond the fact that I attend every year to play games and take some time off work.

    I see a few people have said it but I'm amazingly surprised at how FEW people have said it! Take your game to GenCon Indy. It's the biggest gaming convention in the world. Buy a 4 day badge and go sit in the board game room and put your game out there. Set up near the end of a table that is near a doorway into the room. Stand by your game and ask people as they enter the room and inevtiably walk past your table if they're interested in playing a game with you. You'd be surprised at just how many people WANT to play random games with random people. I have played random games with random people every year I have gone all because they came up to me and asked, except last year because no one asked. It will give you a lot of exposure to people, free playtesting, and you'll have a good idea of how many people find your game interesting. About twenty six thousand people attend GenCon Indy so you're bound to find people who will be more than willing to play your game.

    Tell the people who play that it is a new game that is still being designed. A lot of people will jump at the opportunity. I constantly hear people trying to pull bragging rights with something like this: "Yeah, that brand new game that just came out, I played it years ago with the guy who made it. I even gave inspired rule X when I did Y." There is an entire species of gamer looking for opportunities to jump on situations like this.

    You can even go so far as to print out small feedback cards and ask the people who have just played your game if they would be willing to fill it out. Some will fill it out and some will not. But, any gaming company will probably already understand the basic percentages about quantity of feedback and be able to determine how many people actually played the game. Additionally, you can keep your own tally of how many people played.

    You can also try registering it as an official GenCon event. You can setup a one hour game event that just repeats all day and costs people one ticket ($1.50) to play for an hour. You just setup on a table assigned to you by GenCon and people don't register for the time slots, but they stop by with generic tickets to play your game. I and everyone I know always buy about $20 - $30 in generic tickets in case we see something we want to play that we didn't know existed. This will help give you a real tally of the number of people who played your games and GenCon staff should be able to give you an official tally of the number of tickets you collected. This can be used when you approach a game manufacturer to give them an idea of the game's potential for success. Do this for a few years and see how it goes. Don't be dismayed at low numbers the first time around as it may take a few years to build up awareness. Also, don't be afraid to get on the online forums (including GenCon's forum) and start advertising your game. Let people know it will be at GenCon and let people know what to look for and where to find you.
    • by jeblucas (560748)

      Take your game to GenCon Indy. It's the biggest gaming convention in the world.
      I cannot believe that is true when Spiel [wikipedia.org] is still extant. This is your Mecca. The Germans are a game playing people, and this is where they hear about them all. You can see that other posters have mentioned "their games have cult followings in Germany", etc. There's a reason for this---the Spiel.
  • You should take your game/idea to ProtoSpeil :
    http://www.protospielwest.com/ [protospielwest.com]

    The hosts and speakers will discuss how the process of publishing a game works.
    Joseph Elwell.

Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem. -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"

Working...