Consider this a game designer orientation for Protospiel events. I learned some hard lessons along the way.
You can avoid the mistakes I made by thinking about these 5 things.
1. Give your game "Curb Appeal".
You will be competing with a lot of other games for player time and attention. Which would you rather play, a game handwritten on index cards or a game with fun clip art and clear typed text?
Take some time to type and print out new components for your game. If you are using old beat up card sleeves, consider replacing them. Re-glue, paint, reprint, and touch up your game so it looks nice. Make a sign for your game that tells players the most important numbers for your game: # of Players, Play Time and Complexity.
2. Play other designer's games.
It is good manners in the world of Protospiel to play other designer’s games. You are asking for other people’s valuable time, it is only fair that you give of your time as well. Try to split your time up roughly 50/50 so half the time you are playing other designers games.
An engaged designer playing your game will provide feedback that is of higher value than five regular players. Conversely, you will be exposed to novel solutions and ideas when you play other designer’s games. Protospiel can make your game improve by leaps and bounds if you get other designers to play your game.
3. Use the Tag Table format to your advantage.
A Protospiel San Jose, and many Unpub events, each designer shares a table with another designer. You can divide the table time up between the two of you any way you want. I would suggest switching off very 2-4 hours. This gives you a chance to take some breaks, reflect on feedback, update your games and most importantly: play other designers games.
Get to know your table mate and play their games. Consider taking turns making food runs. Ask your mate what other games you should play to for ideas to improve your own games. This is a community event, build your network.
4. Record Feedback for later review.
Most designers assume they will remember the feedback they are given. You won’t. It is not humanly possible given how many conversations you will have over the weekend.
Record audio feedback using a voice recorder on your smart phone, and/or use a feedback form. Recorded audio feedback provides emotional context, tone of voice and inflection.
Consider using a written feedback form. Written feedback will get you more honest objective answers than just verbal feedback.
5. If your game is secret, take steps to protect it.
The volunteer staff can’t police players. Anybody is allowed to walk in off the street and play games. Players may have never been to an event like this before or know how things work.
If your game is secret because of a license or other concern, please tell players before and after every game not to talk about your game online. Place a label on your game board or play area that says "Secret Game, Please do not Photograph."
My goal is to provide you with a good Protospiel experience. Follow this advice and your Protospiel journey will be a great one.
- Jeremy Commandeur