First of May today and out of the blue most of our work table arrived….I know it is not very exciting to you but to us it is something we have been waiting for since forever. It is nice, it is wooden and metal and it is missing a linkage so we can’t really use it yet…
Oh well at least we got 3 out of 4 components in the office….Maybe next week we will be working from our custom ordered beauty and not our aging IKEA paperboard sad excuse of a work desk.
Dear meticulous reader…As the Christmas season is drawing nearer we have to be honest with ourselves…We are not doing much work on the game at this period…We have put up a tree…we are looking for what presents to buy to our nearest and dearest but are we doing very little work on our game…So we thought we better stop posting for 2016 and we’ll start all over again in the new year!
Merry Christmas and a happy new year to everybody!
I grew up with the standard women – targeted consumer philosophy: You can have anything your heart desires, if you can afford to buy it. If you want a perfect body, you can buy the right products (or the right procedures) in order to get it. Or, you can buy a gorgeous pair of high heel shoes that will make you look taller and slimmer. If are not feeling beautiful enough, you can buy a new lipstick, a new dress, a chocolate cake, a new pair of high heel shoes, and you will feel great again. If you feel sad, you can buy well, chocolate and shoes again and you will be happy as a clam!
I do understand that buying new shoes and chocolate is not the ultimate answer to everything especially if you want to publish a board game, but when a friend of mine threw it on the table, my woman’s over consuming brain instantly bit the hook: “You can always buy facebook likes and twitter followers for your page”!
The idea sounds fantastic at first glance! A google search comes up with amazing prices, something like 15$ for 1,000 likes or followers, which is a great deal of course. I am very skeptical when invited to like pages that have less than…don’t know, 180 likes I think…pages with less than 100 likes do not exist in my eyes, something must be wrong with them.… Buying the first 1,000 likes sounds great because it will give my page the initial boost it needs to come to full blown existence! After that it will be easy, people are more likely to trust a page that 1,000 people have already trusted! So, buying the first 1,000 likes is the first step towards building a colossal empire of facebook likes and becoming the female version of Richard Branson….Right?
Well not quite. Firstly after a closer look, you can see that buying followers on twitter is forbidden (check here & here).
Secondly, bots, zombies and fake accounts are very easily detected. And they are kind of funny if you observe them really close. And yes, twitter suspends them frequently. The idea of having a twitter account with fake followers makes me feel embarrassed as I think it leads directly to a complete loss of integrity and reputation in my real audiences’ eyes. In addition, having an inactive, fake audience gives your page no engagement at all: So what is the deal? Fake followers are not, neither will ever be, your audience. It is a total waste of time, money and integrity. Again, I will give you my verdict as an overconsuming woman, addicted to chocolate and shopping that I am: buying fake followers is like wearing a fake pair of Louboutins: It simply sucks!
Building and audience through communication and supporting community equals to building trust for your brand.
Building an audience is addictive: First thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to check my nadanull profile. I check in to my personal profile once – twice per day now, cause I really find more interest in my professional one and I love snuffing around with my new *friends*. I kind of know all of them personally now. I know their tastes, their favorite movies, their cats’ names. I visit profiles; I have real interactions, I unfriend people that I don’t like their attitude or posts (offensive sex & drug abuse is a guaranteed delete from my side).
Building a social profile is also schizophrenic: My nadanull profile (created about a month ago) is real, with real pictures of myself, my kitchen table, my cat. I also provide real information: my name, my studies, my work, my universities. I post my favorite songs every day, I post about things that I like; I have real conversations with all these strange new people. I have around 1,000 friends, a number rapidly growing every day. On the other hand, I have my personal profile, the one I use to connect with real people of my real life, which I only know in person. I have this profile for about 7 years. I only have 120 friends. I provide no information about me, nothing at all, I have a blurry profile picture of myself, and, I am there under an alias, cause I do not feel comfortable posting information about myself on social media! Weird, h?
Yes. I do invite people to like my page, especially if they invite me to like theirs too. But I reward them for this precious, unique and organic like by posting interesting and relevant content (something Dark and something Geeky) and, most importantly, by not spamming. I promise that I will offer you something really cool soon, have a little patience..!
No matter what you think, there is only one truth about playtesting: you’ll never have enough!
Up to now I have had several dozens of playtesting rounds, with hundreds of different people, both friends and total strangers. I will share with you some tips from my personal experience:
First of all playtesters make you a huge favor. Do make an effort to make the people that devote time to your project, feel comfortable. Buy them coffee, tea, drinks, food, ice – cream, whatever they prefer, but make sure have what they need around the gaming table. Nobody likes a stingy host!
Be sober. After a long run of having fun and having all these people praising you for your creation, you might get carried away by all those cheers and drink ups. You have to remember: this is not an ordinary day, you have a job to do and you have to do it sober. So moderate your drinking from the very beginning. Sometimes this may be very difficult especially if you have a party game (or – god help- a drinking game), but you will impress no one if all those people that left their jobs to help you develop your game suddenly realize that you are snoring away on the floor!
Try to have a mixed team of both male and female players. Do not underestimate magic on the table. People often use games subconsciously in order to show off knowledge or skills and gain impressions. Having a mixed team always gives your session an extra something and your players feel super motivated! Trust me, it works!
Have plenty of time in front of you. It is hard to organize a playtesting round, especially if you really need to have one. People will always be late to show up, they will often interrupt the game to answer their phones, to tell you about how awful their day was, about their child getting the chickenpox, they will interrupt the game to tell a childhood story about their beloved nanny that just poped up when you mentioned Freddy Kruger, they will suggest that all of you should make a pause from playing and go to the roof to enjoy the romantic full moon, you will have all kinds of interruptions. Take a big breath, recall any yoga/ Zen techniques you can, relax, be polite, and let everyone enjoy their evening. Besides, try to understand: all of these interruptions occur every time you play a normal game, you just don’t realize them because you are simply playing…now you’re playtesting, but all the others are playing…don’t be a killjoy…be part of the team. Give your players all the time they need. Breath in, breath out.
Have in mind that it may take longer than you initially thought. Never trick your players that “it will take an hour maximum and then we will all go to that party”. No you will not. And your players must know it. The last thing that you want is to keep your dear pleaytesters hostages on the table. Make it clear: the day will be dedicated to the great cause of developing a game. Period. You can leave your other plans for another night.
Take notes during playtesting. Have an organized file that you will record all your thoughts, findings and suggestions. I will make an extended post on it an other day, so I am not getting any deeper at the moment.
Keep evaluation records. Give your players questionnaires to answer. I will also make an extended post on it soon, cause this part is really important.
Give them time to evaluate properly. Answering the questionnaire is not a side dish, it is the juice of all the process. Plan in advance about giving your playtesters what ever they need in order to evaluate correctly. Inform them from the very begging that they will do such a thing, and carry loads of pens with you!
Take photos. Plenty of them, at every possible stage. Even if you don’t know what to do with them at the moment, they will turn really useful sometime in the future.
Listen carefully to your players. Record their suggestions, their opinions, their ideas. Never try to defend your project and talk back to them, instead be polite and respectful, after all you want is critique and not praise. Make sure that they feel comfortable enough to express their real opinion, even if it is hard. Truth is exactly what you want to hear in order to develop a great game!
Doing Pre – Research for Press Releases, game Previews and Public Relations. Lord Byron (the cat) is PrrrPrrrPrrring on my knees keeping me warm and occasionally typing random letters at my Excel file. Speaking of which, is a MUST – HAVE accessory in every research. Up to now (I consider myself being still in the Pre-research phase) I have a sum of 1,020 entries of people to contact before getting public. I guess I have to clean up my list a bit before doing any further research. A word of advice: Keep your Excel list well organized from the very beginning. Use multiple sheets in different colors in order to navigate easily between your entries – having Twitter accounts mixed up with Facebook groups, personal mails and cool blogs is not very wise, unless your list is no longer than 15 rows (which shouldn’t be)!
I Just found out an entry of a blogger that is inactive since 2014, poor guy I hope he is not dead and gone but anyway, 1,019 entries have to be cleaned up now.
I will come back soon with some valid, up – to – date results of people to contact before getting public!