Understanding the Feedback Form
Sep05

Understanding the Feedback Form

You may have noticed something new showing up on some Kickstarter pages lately–a box with 7 circles ranging from 1-5, with the Unpub logo nearby. In fact they probably mostly range from 4-5. These same circles also show up on some Unpub.net game pages (when enabled by the creator) and on feedback pages in the designer admin area. These numbers represent the average ratings of different aspects of games when people fill out feedback forms at an Unpub event. They help other players know what the game is like, and help the designers see what areas they need to focus on. When you use the official feedback form, there are 7 categories that accept a numerical rating: Game length Learning Ease Decisions Downtime Interactivity Originality Fun These terms are somewhat subjective, and leave it to the player to decide what rating each category deserves. Let’s look at each category and see what a good rating in each means. First, game length is one of the most straightforward ratings, because it is easy to tell how long the game took. But this doesn’t mean that short games are given small numbers and long games are given high numbers. Unpub feedback used to rate game length on a scale of too short-just right-too long. With the switch to numerical ratings on a scale of 1 to 5, we lose some detail about whether players think it is too long or too short. A game dragging on too long is obviously bad, but a game that feels like it ends right before you get a chance to accomplish something might be just as disappointing. If it felt too rushed, or took too long to get interesting, this can have a big impact, even if the raw game time was exactly as promised. This is a good opportunity to contribute comments if you think the length was inappropriate. Next, learning ease is still fairly easy to rate. Generally, the faster it is to teach, the easier the rules are, and the higher the score should be. But the rating shouldn’t be solely based on how long it takes to explain the rules; it should also take into account who the audience is, how complicated the game is, and how well you understand the rules at the end. Your personal feelings about game length is valuable, to help find the audience. If you felt it was too long or short, let the designer know what you like to play. Not all explanations need to cover everything at once. Some games are better explained by slowly adding rules as the game progresses. On the other...

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How to host an Unpub Mini Event
Apr17

How to host an Unpub Mini Event

So you want to participate in Unpub, but there’s not an Unpub event near you? Not a problem. just hold your own Unpub Mini. It’s probably less complicated than the last boardgame you played, although that won’t stop me from going into way too much detail anyway. First and most importantly, you need to love board games. Sure, having people, a place, and a time are all important, but loving boardgames is the most important. If you aren’t enthusiastic about holding an event, no one else will be either. I assume, if you are still reading, you are enthusiastic enough to go through with it, so lets get down to the details, because despite what the Beatles say, love isn’t all you need to hold a great Unpub Mini event. The first step is to find some people. If you gather with friends to play games, that’s a good place to start. In more populated areas, it might be easy to find local gaming groups by going online, or going into your local game store and asking around. Also try church social groups, local libraries, boy and girl scout troops, and local schools and colleges. Find people interested in playing unpublished games. (if you need reasons to convince them, just look at What Unpub Can Do for You.) Once you have found enough people who might be interested, you can start to plan the actual event. The second step is to find tables, by which I mean find a place to hold the event. An Unpub Mini event usually takes up 5-8 tables, and typically has an attendance between 10 and 40 people, so keep that in mind when scouting locations. Keep in mind that any location might have regular weekly events that will take up some room. If you have a local game store, start there, and see if the owner is willing to host an event. It can be a great way for an owner to generate additional traffic into the store, and increase a customer base. (Sometimes, the owner will even do all the work of planning it, and all you have to do is show up and host) A game store is, of course, the ideal situation because then you have built-in marketing and a pool of interested people. If you can’t find a store willing to host, think about other public places you can meet. Restaurants or bars might be willing to set aside an unbooked “event room” if they think they will bring in extra revenue from people eating and drinking. Church halls, schools, colleges, and places like fire halls and VFW posts...

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Thoughts on a First Unpub
Feb25

Thoughts on a First Unpub

A guest post by Duane Kolar, designer of Wu Xing Landscaping We’ve all been there. You sat down at a game that sounded cool, but you’re two minutes in and already you know this is not your cup of tea.  The designer is unclear, disorganized, or the game is super fiddly.  And now you’re stuck in a game you don’t want to play for an interval far longer than anyone previously suggested. You may feel defeated, resentful, or just angry.  But you know what’s worse? Being that designer that is torturing his/her previously willing participants. Over and over again. Saturday afternoon I became that guy. I have friends who have designed successful games and I’m a creative guy. Why not me, right? Sure, I’m no engineer or coder, but I possess a mathematical/spatial mind and a will to use it (occasionally). I enjoy looking for new systems and new ways to use old ones. This is so much fun that I did what many first time designers do (or so I’m told). I jammed a bunch of mechanics into a game to make it interesting, destroying my original concept.  Then I inflicted this doomed creation on unwitting strangers. I will say this for the play testers I corralled yesterday–they are a supportive, giving lot, to a man (or woman).  Most of them even finished my game and wrote some very complementary feedback forms.  Players graciously shared what they liked and their ideas on fixing the hot mess that was my game. Designers gave gentle, insightful, and plentiful suggestions for how to streamline my monstrosity. My brief foray into game design has been hugely educational. I went to sleep last night thinking I’d take a break from designing for a while, but I awoke at 2:45am with a bunch of ideas and a desire to try them out.  The lessons I learned yesterday were still buzzing around my head: 1. I learned two things from 7th Dimension Games owner, Glen. First, I learned how to shuffle my cards in sleeves without destroying said sleeves. Thanks Glen for overlooking the fact that the more sleeves I destroy, the more money you make! Second, I learned that you NEVER block the merchandise. Won’t happen again, Glen! 2. Less is more.  I found a mechanic and theme that I loved together, but when I encountered glitches, I added more and more rules and options to make up for what I saw as shortcomings of my original idea.  This morning I’ve been limiting options that don’t work to focus the game and give it a fighting chance at elegance. It feels good so far,...

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Photos from the Unpub Mini at 7th Dimension Games, February 2014
Feb18

Photos from the Unpub Mini at 7th Dimension Games, February 2014

This past Saturday, 7 designers showed off games at the Unpub Mini held at 7th Dimension Games in Jenkintown, PA. The snow seemed to keep attendance down a little, but there were still about 25 attendees, who filled out between 40 to 50 feedback forms! This was encouraged by 7th Dimension owner Glen’s generous donation of a box of games and raffle tickets. 6 games were given away to people who submitted forms electronically and in person. Jason Kotarski volunteered to send out games to people randomly selected from all of the submitted online feedback forms, but a small glitch in the system stopped the names and email addresses from being recorded. Sorry about that! Everything appears to be fixed now and should be in working order for the next Event. As a first time host, (really more of a doorman than a Maitre D’), I had a blast. I could have been better prepared, but I actually found time to play some games. And with one under my belt, I can write a more detailed guide to running your own event. My wife, Anna, proved to be an even more capable host, and served as both raffle ticket taker/feedback collector and photographer. So with that out of the way, on to the pictures! Take my Word for It Wu Xing Landscaping Wu Xing Landscaping Meddling Mine Meddling Mine (Obligatory Pointing Picture) Jack and the Giant Jack and the Giant Crashtastic So Monsters...

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Attending an Unpub Event
Jan16

Attending an Unpub Event

Written by Nathaniel ‘Nat’ Levan. Nat and his wife, Anna, are the brains behind Oak Leaf Games, based in Philadelphia. Nat has been participating in Unpub events for the past 2 years and has always been eager to contribute, as you can tell from the post above. Nat is awesome. —————————————— What do you need in order to attend an Unpub event? The answer depends somewhat on whether you plan to go as a designer or a player, but there are some things that everyone attending needs to do. Do your homework. As a player, research the designers who will attend. See what games they have made, read about what they plan to bring if you can. Designers will appreciate the interest, and everyone will appreciate getting into a game faster. As a designer, prepare your game to be easily played. I have run into problems with this, when I didn’t count the right number of pieces. Make a sale sheet so players and publishers can quickly learn about your game. (How to make a sale sheet will be the topic of a different article.) And learn about the other designers too. Maybe you can get their help. Have a good attitude. You should be courteous, outgoing, and friendly. Designers, remember you’re asking people to help you without giving them anything material in return. Players are there to learn the game from the designer, so you are your first impression people will get of your game, For everyone, minding the host is good manners. You are a guest, so follow their requests. For many designers and players, being outgoing is one of the toughest parts of an event, but a making an effort is worth it. Introduce yourself to get involved, and be your own salesperson, to engage people and bring them to your table. And remember that if you are interested, you are interesting. Bring an open mind, important for both players and designers. Be ready to play something unpolished, and maybe even incomplete. And try something you normally wouldn’t. Feedback from people who wouldn’t normally play a game is frequently more insightful than feedback from fans of the style. Don’t be reluctant to try a game just because the theme wouldn’t normally interest you. It might change completely by the next time you have an opportunity to play it, and if it really doesn’t work for you, let the designer know. As a designer, be ready to receive feedback from players. Part of participating in Unpub as a designer is willingness to change your game. Maybe you have considered everything that is in the feedback and have reasons it...

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