Advice From Designers & Publishers at Unpub 3

At the Unpub 3 event in Delaware this past weekend, panels of experienced designers and publishers offered lots of advice for aspiring designers.

Daniel Solis (@DanielSolis) did a great job of picking out some of the best quotes. These are from the designers panel:

  • “I sent a rule book to the publisher, pic of the game, explained what set it apart and why it fit their catalog.”
  • “Go to cons. Schedule meetings ahead of time. Publishers are very approachable. Be persistent, but not pushy, no more than 30min.”
  • “You first have to tell yourself it’s going to be published. Going to cons lets you have best chance to go viral and get lucky.”
  • “You don’t have to be a graphic designer or buy art for your prototype. Publishers can see the potential.”
  • “If I could go back in time, I’d reassure myself that my first game will suck but it’s a long process.”
  • “Don’t overreact. I had one game go bad because of one mechanic and completely revamped it, which ended up failing worse.”
  • “Find the interesting decision players are making and strip away everything else. Simplify, simplify. And remind yourself of that.”
  • “1hr of play testing with other people is worth 10 alone in front of your computer. Got an idea? Get it to the table fast.”
  • “Look at negative comments as an opportunity if you get the same feedback over and over.”
  • “Ignore the BGG comments, especially if they haven’t played. You *should* care about the face-to-face comments and from this event.”
  • “Don’t ask ‘do you like it?’ Instead ask specifics, 'when x happens, what about that?’ 'Hows the length?’”

And these come from the publishers panel:

  • “Polish your game as much as possible before submission. Don’t change it while being evaluated.”
  • “When you ask a publisher, you’re asking for time and energy - both are limited supply. Don’t waste either with unfinished pitch.”
  • “You can TM a name, art, but not your game. Also It’s costly and unnecessary… And patents are only worth the money you have.”
  • “TtR [Ticket to Ride] wasn’t just a success for its design, but marketing, etc. The publisher does that. Value and respect that contribution.”
  • “Of all industries where you can steal an idea, the game industry is probably the least valuable. No one wants to steal your idea.”
  • “Even if someone does want to steal your idea, you’re already months and years ahead of them.”
  • “If you want to publish, do it, but know you probably won’t have time to design any games. Know that before you go to KS.”