Step 33: Promoting your game

So the art is done and the game has been sent to the printers, now you can sit back and let the money roll in right? Nope – not yet! In an older post we talked about how with book authors they are expected to promote their book, while in the board game world there isn’t the same expectation. That might be true, but I think it’s safe to assume you’re as interested as the publisher is in ensuring your game is a success!

There are many things you can do to help promote your game. Let’s take a look at some examples, though this list is certainly not exhaustive.

1)     Designer Diaries: Many gamers love to read about how a game came to fruition. Write up your story of how it came to be published. Remember that most people probably haven’t played the game when they read your designer diaries, so don’t refer too much to rules that they won’t understand. Once you’ve completed writing them, ask your publisher if they would like to have it or if they’d prefer if you distributed it. If you’re on your own, no worries, that’s what www.boardgamegeek.com is for! Post it in the forum or ask Eric Martin if he’d be interested in sharing it in the News section. Once it’s posted then get your friends and family to head on over to read it and give it some thumbs to get it started. (thumbs are the equivalent of the ‘Like’ button of Facebook). Here’s the Designer Diary for Train of Thought and here’s the Designer Diary for Belfort. For Belfort we decided to mix it up and instead of just talk about the history of how it came to be, we interviewed all the people responsible for bringing the game to fruition: The playtesters, the developer, the artist and the printers!

2)     Leaking art: work with your publisher before leaking any art as they might have a proper marketing plan on how to release it. Again, use bgg.com and get those thumbs going again. If you get enough attention then it will make it to the front page of bgg.com in the images section. We had our artist Josh make up some fun promo images using the art from the game!

3)     Blog: Blog about your experiences with game design. It’s one of the reasons I started this blog. Many blogs are devoted to how to make your blog successful so I won’t go into that detail here. Rest assured that pretty much any press is good press! We even did a video ‘interview’ describing the history of Belfort!

4)     Leaking the rules: Somewhere within the last month before your game is released to the public you should get your publisher to leak the rules online. This could either be on their website or on bgg.com. Then do whatever you can to promote that the rules are available. You know – Twitter, Facebook – the usual suspects.

5)     Local PR: There are a few things you can do locally.

  1. First is to ensure your local game stores are aware that the game is coming. If the publisher has created a sales sheet for your game, print them out and give one to each game store in your neck of the woods. If one doesn’t exist then ask the publisher if you can make one on your own using art from the game. Generally any publisher will be happy for any extra promotion that you can do. A sales sheet is similar to the sales sheet we talked about in Step 14, but it’s for a different audience! The audience for this sales sheet is for retailers and customers! It will have art of the finished box and hopefully a picture of the game in progress with many of the components. There should be a short description and enough flavour text to get people intrigued.
  2. You can also make a press release and send it to your local TV, Radio and Print establishments. If you spin it as a ‘local citizen achieves dream’ or something like that, then you stand a good chance at getting some media attention. If you do get any media attention, then ensure you forward it to the publisher. If it’s appropriate then they can add it to their website. I’ll devote another post on how to write up a good press release.
  3. Once the game is out, the PR doesn’t stop. It’s up to you to go to as many game stores as you can and show the owners how your game plays. Hopefully they’re carrying your game (remind them that since you’re local, there will be more demand here), and now that you’ve given them a tutorial, or even played the game with them, then they’re much more likely to recommend it to others (assuming they like it!). There’s a store in my city of Vancouver that I showed how to play Train of Thought and they liked it so much that they recommend it to a lot of customers and it ended up being one of their best sellers last year!
  4. Organize ‘Meet the Designer’ days at your local stores. Much like an author will do a reading or a signing at book stores, you can do the same things at game stores. Help them advertise it however you can – possibly be including it in your press release. These can be a great way to show your game to people.

Train of Thought6)     Conventions: If the publisher is going to a convention and you can afford it, then ask if you can come too (heck, first ask if they’d like to pay for your flight or hotel!). I can’t imagine a publisher turning down having a designer at their booth helping promote their game. I attended BGG.con when Train of Thought was released and spent most of my time at the Tasty Minstrel booth showing people how to play the game all week. It paid off because Train of Thought ended up being the second highest rated game at the convention!

7)     Reviews: The publisher should be responsible for sending out review copies, but there’s nothing stopping you from helping in whatever way you can. I’ve sent one of my own copies to a reviewer in order to get a timely review. We’ve also sent review requests that we get (since we’re the designers, some reviewers contact us) to the publisher.  Once you do get a review, assuming it’s positive, then do whatever you can to promote that review! Post it on your blog; send it to your publisher so they can post it on their site; link to it on BGG.com.

8)     Awards: Again, this is up to the publisher to submit the game for various awards. You can help by listing awards for which you think you have a better chance at winning and forwarding them to your publisher. We were fortunate enough to win the Dice Hate Me Game of the Year award and now that victory is on the front of the box for the second printing!

9)     Above and beyond: Sen and I will always go above and beyond expectations when trying to promote our own games. For Train of Thought we filmed a 45 second video that gives a nice overview of how the game is played. We got some actor friends, and some videographers and shot and edited the video, then Sen added the music since he’s talented that way!

For Belfort we did a different type of video and enlisted the assistance of one of our friends to help us animate it.

Also I worked with another friend of mine and we wrote a 10 page comic book set in the world of Belfort. We’ve paid an artist out of our own pocket to professionally illustrate it.

Of course, we got permission to do all of this from the publisher first! As you can see there are many ways in which you can help promote your game, and why wouldn’t you?! It might not be a strength of yours (heck, you’re a game designer not a marketing major, right?), but it can only help you to learn about some of the things you can do to increase the potential of your game becoming a hit!

So that brings us to the last step in this blog! That doesn’t mean we’re done though. We’ll be adding more stories and lessons we learn along the way, which will probably mean tweaking or adding some steps here and there. We haven’t even talked about Kickstarter yet, and with a new game of ours hitting Kickstarter soon – I’m sure we’ll learn a lot from that! And who knows, maybe we’ll actually self-publish a game or two in the future! Thanks for reading so far!

-Jay Cormier

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Full Belfort Comic now available!

In addition to designing games, I’ve also been trying my hand at writing comics with my writing partner, Tim Reinert. Our first story is called, Tales of Belfort: The Greatest Story in the History of Ever, and other lies I told my mother. It’s a 10 page story that is now fully available for free online – right now! For those that have played the game of Belfort before and have wondered why it takes an Elf AND a Dwarf to go to the mines to get metal…well, here’s your answer!

Check it out: www.condoofmystery.com.

Background: When Tim and I first decided we’d like to write comics together we started having brainstorming sessions on a huge opus – a gigantic epic – that would have spanned 30-40 issues. We had (and still have, I guess) some great ideas and concepts, but found ourselves drowning in our own ambition. Instead of calling it quits, we came up with a new strategy – let’s just tell a one issue story about something else!

So we worked on an idea or two and still found it to be quite a handful, since neither of us have written a comic book before – though we both have extensive, and varied, experiences in reading them. Our third plan was to write short story comics that are 5-10 pages long. As soon as we did this, the pressure was off and we were able to easily write 3 or 4 scripts.

Then came an idea. What if we wrote a story set in the world of the soon-to-be-published game of Belfort. Even suggesting it to Tim made me cringe as comics based on…anything, usually aren’t that good. Still, we gave it a fair shake and tossed some ideas around. Once I explained some of the concepts of the game to Tim, we found a really cool story idea with the pairing of and Elf and Dwarf forced to team up and go the mines to bring back some metal. With this idea in place, we wrote our story (and re-wrote and tweaked and re-wrote some more).

Once this was completed we then set out to find an artist. We knew we’d have to pay out of our own pocket for this comic, and it was an expense that we thought would be worth it. Our first thought was to reach out to anyone we knew that could draw. We didn’t know that many people apparently. Then we checked online artist resource sites and got some ideas – but before contacting anyone, I remembered I had a cousin that works in animation in Ottawa. Some discussions later, he recommended Rob Lundy who was also a big board game fan.

Rob saw some art from the game and read our script then showed us some concept sketches. Tim and I were immediately impressed and were continued to be impressed as he started to provide layouts and then completed pages – with colour! It was definitely way better than we were hoping for our first comic!

Since working with each other seemed to be mutually beneficial, we decided to team up and we formed a website called Condo of Mystery. Our plan is to release a new page every week. Since we’ve launched in late October, we’ve done just that. Now that we’re done this story you’ll be seeing our second comic start up soon. Our future comics will be different genres and even different art styles – even though all the art is done by Rob.

So, check it out, bookmark it for later and enjoy our first completed comic: Tales of Belfort.

-Jay Cormier

2011 in Review

Well, to say 2011 was a big year for the Bamboozle Brothers (that’s Sen and I, btw!!) would be quite the understatement!

Published Games

In 2011 we saw the release of our first two games!

Train of Thought

Train of Thought box artTrain of Thought was our first published game (though it was our second one signed to be published). It’s a party game that gets people thinking differently than most other party games. It has been reviewed very well so far. There are discussions with other publishers to see if there’s interest in publishing the game in different languages and different countries. We managed to get it into a National Retailer in Canada…yep – Train of Thought is available on Bestbuy.ca!

Belfort

Belfort box artBelfort was released just a few months ago and has been received extremely well by gamers everywhere, including achieving the number one game of this year’s BGG.con. It has sold out at the publisher level, and they are in discussions with other publishers to see if they want to do other language versions of the game. On the last day of 2011, Belfort was the 392nd best game of all time, according to users on boardgamegeek.com. We’ve seen it pop up on a few top ten lists of the year as well.

It has already been confirmed by the publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games, that an expansion will come out next year! Expansion you say? Yep! Sen and I have been working hard on many expansions for Belfort. Tasty Minstrel has given us carte blanche in creating it – so we thought we’d come up with a few and either have them choose – or, if they like them all, then stagger the release of expansions over the next couple years.

Unpublished Games

It was also a big year for our unpublished games! How so? Well, 8 of our unpublished games are currently out at various publishers being reviewed. My trip to Essen (detailed in many posts starting here) was key in getting most of our games out to publishers. We’re feeling some good vibes from at least two publishers about our games and we should start to hear from most of them in January. One of them, Akrotiri, made it to the finals in the Canadian Game Design Competition that was ultimately won by fellow Game Artisan of Canada’s Matt Tollman with his game, Undermining.

Sen and I took one of our almost-published games, But Wait, There’s More and posted it here on our website and gave it away for free to everyone! It has also been posted on boardgamegeek.com – so I guess it’s actually a published game now! If you’ve downloaded and tried it, we’d love to hear your feedback. Expect more free games from Sen and I in the near future!

Game Artisans of Canada

Sen and I belong to the Game Artisans of Canada (GAC), and it’s been an amazing organization and very symbiotic relationship so far. There are chapters of game designers all across Canada that get together to playtest each other’s games and help each other out with general questions and direction. The collective knowledge of the group is astounding, let alone the numerous contacts that each person brings to the table. You can read more about the group, including its annual get-together, appropriately named Cardstock here.

Comic Books!

We also released our first comic, which was set in the world of Belfort and was written by me and my comic-writing partner, Tim Reinert and illustrated by the uber-talented Rob Lundy. We’ve started a path that was very similar to the path Sen and I took on getting a board game published: we have no idea what we’re doing, but we’re taking it one step at a time and enjoying the process a lot!

The entire 10-page Tales of Belfort comic will be complete by Monday or Tuesday of this coming week, then we’re onto other stories set in other, non-board game worlds! Check it out at Condo Of Mystery.com!

 

This Website
It’s always interesting to see if people are reading what you’re writing. One way to tell if you’re connecting with your audience is if your posts start a discussion (go on, comment below!), but the other way is through analyzing the stats. It’s rewarding to me to see that people are visiting the site as often as they are.

What’s the plan for 2012 for this blog? Well, there are still a few more steps left to go to fully complete the journey we started long ago. Plus, since starting this blog, we’ve come up with many more tips and best practices along the way that we’ll have to squeeze into the step process somewhere. Not sure how we’ll do that…maybe just renumber the steps? We’ll see. Plus we’re hoping to get some experiences with different publishers under our belt this year. No problems or challenges with our current publisher – but it will be interesting to see how other publishers operate. We also have plans to put some videos together that better demonstrate some of the steps that we’ve described.

As usual, we’ll be as transparent as we can be – we have to hold back sometimes when publishers request us NOT to post about certain things – which we can understand. Usually it’s just a timing thing and not a forever thing.

Our goal, as it has been since we began: show and explain all the steps we took to get our games published, in an effort to make it easier for others to get their board games published. How altruistic! Well, in doing so, we’re hopefully raising awareness for our games as well! 🙂

Click here to see the complete report.

2012?

So what else is coming in 2012? We hope a few more games from the Bamboozle Brothers! While the publishers are assessing the games of ours that they have right now, Sen and I are still working on new games (it’s really a never ending cycle, isn’t it – no complaints here though!). We have Lion’s Share, RuneMasters, Scene of the Crime and more that haven’t made it through Beta stage yet.
I am really looking forward to April as I have been invited to the very exclusive Gathering of Friends! This is a week long event held by famed game designer, Alan Moon in which his friends (most of them are other famous game designers) and some publishers show up and play games all week! Wow! That’s going to be amazing!
Sen is planning a trip to Essen this year to celebrate completing 4 decades of living. I might go as well, but the Gathering will take a fair bit of change out of my spending this year.
The aforementioned expansion to Belfort will be released. Expect the first expansion to be one of the smaller kind of expansions – not a full boxed version. Just something to mix it up a bit!
I have to say that five years ago, I would never have thought I’d be where I am right now. It’s been a fantastic ride, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store for us! Thanks for joining us on this trip!
-Jay Cormier

Belfort in the Top 3 and Top 400!

Ender Wiggins, who wrote 6 of the top 15 most viewed* board game reviews (Belfort’s review was the 8th most viewed review of 2011!),  made a list of his favourite games of the year. There are some amazing games in this list and anyone interested in checking out some new titles could hardly do better than those listed here. Oh, did I mention that Belfort is his third favourite strategy game of the year? 🙂 Huzzah!

In other Belfort related news, Belfort has just made it into the top 400 games of all time according to users on boardgamegeek.com. Wow, it’s just amazing to know that Belfort is entertaining so many people! Sen and I couldn’t be happier!

The final bit of Belfort news is that we’re one page away from completing our first Belfort comic! Catch up on it now and check back on Monday for the final page.

* it’s actually the reviews that got the most thumbs – which probably correlates to most viewed as well.

-Jay Cormier

 

More Belfort comic book pages!

In case you haven’t seen it yet, we’re now 6 pages into our Tales of Belfort comic. The entire story is only 10 pages long so we’re more than half way through! Head on over to Condo of Mystery to check out the lastest pages. To start from page one, just use the Belfort menu at the top.

The general concept is this: have you ever wondered why, in the game of Belfort, it takes an Elf AND a Dwarf to get metal from the mine? Well, here’s your answer!

-Jay Cormier

Tales of Belfort – the new comic book!

Board games aren’t my only passion. I am also enamoured with comic books.

So much so, that I partnered up with fellow comic book aficionado, Tim Reinert (whose blog about comics and movies is amazing, btw), and we started to write our own comic books!

Belfort ComicWe have written about half a dozen short stories so far and the first one that we wanted to pursue also had another motivation for me: it’s set in the world of Belfort! Initially, Tim and I were a bit concerned because we didn’t want to make it seem like a cheap tie-in, like so many ‘anything based on anything else’ can often be.

Once we stumbled upon the conceit, we were excited to tell this story. If you’ve played the game and wondered why it takes an Elf AND a Dwarf to get metal from the mine, well, here’s your answer!  We wrote a buddy/cop story, where neither character is a cop! Once we got the thumbs up from our publisher, Tasty Minstrel Games, we wrote what we think is a pretty solid adventure story!

Our biggest challenge was finding an artist. But like any line of work, it’s often not ‘what you know’ but ‘who you know’.  I have a cousin in the animation field who hooked us up with Rob Lundy, an illustrator from Ottawa – we were ridiculously impressed with his work. Once we got through this first comic, we realized that we all liked working with each other so the three of us started a website called the Condo of Mystery.

We plan on releasing a new page every week on the site.  The first 10 weeks will be the Tales of Belfort comic. Following that, we’ll get into some other stories that vary in genres from Noir to Western to Superhero.

Check out the site and view the Tales of Belfort comic by choosing it from the header and selecting Page 1. Please subscribe to it so you can be informed of when new pages are posted! This is an exciting venture for the three of us – Tim, Rob, and myself – even moreso for me since the premiere adventure is set in the world of Belfort!

-Jay Cormier

The Big Belfort update!

There has been plenty of action with Belfort recently! Let’s break them down:

The Hotness

Belfort is currently, as of this writing, the 5th hottest game in the Hotness List on boardgamegeek.com! This is just a fluctuating list that tracks which games have the most activity on their pages. Lots of people are interested apparently. Not only that, but on the people side of the Hotness List, both Sen and I are hot. For some strange reason, Sen is hotter than I am!

Belfort at the Printers

On June 1st, Belfort was at the Printers being printed! We’ve been told that it takes 28 days to get everything printed and fully boxed. Then it gets placed on a boat and is shipped to America, and that takes another 30 days. That means Belfort should hit America around August 1st. Some time will be needed for it to get to the distributors and then even more time to get it up to Canada for our Canadian readers out there. Still, we’re expecting to have it in our hands sometime in August!

Final Rules are available

Belfort Board Game rulesIf you can’t wait that long for a taste of Belfort then, you can check out the final rules with all the amazing art from Josh Cappel. They are posted on the new Tasty Minstrel website (which is much more functional than their last site!): http://playtmg.com/products/belfort. If you’ve been interested in the game but wanted to know how it works, then give them a read!

Contest to win Belfort!

For our American readers, Tasty Minstrel is holding a contest in which you can win one of 15 prize packages that includes: Belfort, Jab: Real Time Boxing, Eminent Domain and Homesteaders (2nd printing). To enter the contest, check out the rules and link here: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/661048/tasty-minstrel-games-mega-giveaway-contest

Pre-orders for Belfort – even for Canadians!

You can now pre-order a copy of Belfort for yourself, even if you’re not in the US! They’re even offering a package deal if you want to get a few games from Tasty Minstrel Games (like, say, I don’t know…Train of Thought maybe?!). Straight from Michael Mindes, the owner of Tasty Minstreal Games comes this message:

I have been receiving numerous emails about shipping costs worldwide through PlayTMG.com.  I was planning to offer no shipping outside of the United States, for various reasons.  So, let me preface these costs with the following information:

    • These rates are non-negotiable.  They are as low as I can afford to make them, and I will continue to learn about how to get better rates.
    • These rates do not include any import taxes or duties imposed by your home country.
    • I will not make any adjustments to the stated value of the games to help you avoid those import taxes or duties.  You will need to address that through the political process afforded in your home country.
    • Yes, you can combine orders of multiple games from multiple people for combined shipping costs.  Up to 25 pounds.

In this fashion, I am able to offer worldwide shipping for those that desire it.  Tasty Minstrel fans have asked for worldwide shipping and it is now available.  Those are the terms.  Here are the rates:

    • Hawaii & Alaska = $30 USD
    • Canada up to 25 pounds = $30 USD
    • Canada 26-50 pounds = $50 USD
    • Rest of the World up to 25 pounds = $50 USD

Promo video for Belfort

Sen and I have finished the script for a promo video to help promote the game and now we’re in the process of getting it animated as it will only feature real people at the end when it zooms out to show people playing the game.  Of course we’ll be sharing it here as soon as it’s done – which might even be a bit after the game launches.

Comic Book for Belfort

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve partnered up with Tim Reniert to write comic books. We’ve written a bunch of scripts already, but the first one we’ve commissioned an artist to draw is a story set in the world of Belfort. We found an amazing artist, Rob Lundy, who has gone above and beyond our expectations for this story. We’ve seen some rough layouts and are excited about how it’s coming together. We’ll be sharing more as we progress, but for now, here’s some character art for our two main characters in the story.

We’re very excited about this game. As excited as we were for our first game, Train of Thought, I would say that I am twice as excited for this one. Belfort is the kind of game I like to play – the gamery game! We’re in the home stretch now!

The Road to Comic Book Publication: Steps 1-4

So far we’ve been regaling you with tales of our experiences in getting a board game published. While we still have a few more steps in the actual process to divulge to you all, I’ll be taking a few side steps on this blog to tell you about another project I’m working on: getting a comic book published.

Tim Reinert, who’s responsible for writing a fascinating blog about comics and movies (and music I think) at Four Colours and the Truth, and I have been writing comic book scripts for the past 6 months. Whereas our post have so far been about our actual experiences that got us published in the board game world, the posts about the comic book world will be more about our process of trying to get published.

So looking back over the Steps to Publication, I can say that steps 1-4 are the same for comic books.

Step 1: Read a lot of comics.  This is tip number one for a reason. You have to be familiar with what works in the medium that you’re creating in, so just like a board game designer should play a lot of board games then so too should a comic book writer read a lot of comic books. It will also give you an idea of what’s been done before and what’s selling/working right now on the stands.

This is a passion for both Tim and I, so we’ve got this one in the bag. My reading tends to be almost anything that’s not superhero. That is, until I met Tim. Tim reads everything. Everything! His knowledge of superheroes is second only to Mr. Stan Lee himself. Then add to that his love for indie comics and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded bunch of comic readers!

So if you’re planning on making board games, play games; writing comics, read comics; painting pictures, see a lot of art; making music, listen to a lot of music…etc..!

Step 2: Motivation. Same as in the board game Step 2 – staying motivated is key to success. I took what I learned with my board game designer buddy, Sen, and sought out Tim as a partner to work together with on writing comics. I personally find that I am more motivated when there’s another cook in the kitchen. We’re even piggy-backing the same forum that Sen and I use to communicate on board games, to keep track of our comic book ideas. Fortunately, Tim lives down the street from me, so it’s not as challenging as it is with Sen to get together to write!

Step 3: Versatility. We love all kinds of comics, and we want to write all kinds of comic stories. Our one main mantra is to ensure we’re taking advantage of the medium, meaning that we want to tell stories that can only be done in comics. So far we’ve written a fun adventure tale, a quiet noir story, a time travel story and even a superhero story. If one doesn’t light the world on fire, then we’ve got 5 more ideas ready to go!

Step 4: Persistence. So far we’ve been quietly writing away, and tweaking our scripts for the past 6 months or so. We’re just at the beginning of our journey, but if there’s anything I learned from board game designing it’s that if you believe in yourself, then you have to stay in it for the long haul.

So this blog will now bounce back and forth with updates on our board game progress (Sen and me) and news on how we’re proceeding with our comic book aspirations (Tim and me). Enjoy!