Tips to improve your self invented board game

  • Great! you have invented a game, but make sure your game is unique. When you can say “My game is basically the same as…” it may not be distinctive enough. Ask yourself: “Why would someone rather play my game than the game it looks like?”
  • Don't just think from yourself, but especially from the players. What do the players want? What do they like about your game?
  • Find out what's popular in board games right now. It's the 1920s. Monopoly, Game of life, RISK, Rummikub… These are all games from the last century. On the one hand you know what people like to play these days, and on the other hand you also know whether your idea might not already exist. That could even apply to the title of your game.
  • Keep in mind that any publisher is looking for games that can appeal to a large group of people. Niche categories are really the exception to the rule. Ask yourself if you really expect a lot of people to like your game.
  • You really know very well which target audience is going to like this game. A one-size-fits-all approach is clearly not the way to go. A game cannot possibly be targeted at both young children and expert players. Choose a clear direction.
  • So your game has a target audience… Make sure that the game concept, game rules and theme all fit the target group.
  • Maybe your first idea was a simple game for children, but gradually it became a difficult game for adults. Or vice versa. Or maybe you're still in doubt. Or do you secretly want to serve all target groups? That last one doesn't work. Know what your plan is. We can't say it often enough: A game that is suitable for all people simply does not exist.
  • Of course your child is a genius and plays games much more difficult than average for his or her age. That makes sense, because he/she is experienced and grows up with a father or mother who teaches them board games. But the world is bigger… When developing children's games, consider the experience level of the average child.
  • Simplify the game. Remove parts rather than adding more. Simplicity is gold. You can always add parts later. Expansions? Keep them in mind, but come with the 'base game'.
  • Kill your darlings. Don't stick to your first idea if you are constantly getting negative feedback from others. Try a different theme. You really want to have a certain part in it, but it doesn't work? Change it!
  • Come up with a fun gimmick. Something that only your game has. “You know that game? That's that game with that…”
  • When you write the rules of the game, you automatically come across all kinds of questions and problems that you have to answer or solve for yourself. “Why is this rule so complicated to write down? Possibly because it’s too clumsy in the first place.” Writing the rules of the game helps you to develop your game. Also by letting others read the rules of the game. Make those rules as short as possible. What words or phrases can be deleted? Leave out as much as possible. A good structure of the rules of the game is:
    • Short introduction, what is the game about
    • Goal of the game in two sentences
    • An overview of all components (preferably with pictures)
    • Setting up the game (with picture)
    • A basic turn explained (with an example)
    • Exceptions to the rules and extra acties
    • End of the game and how to win
    • Details of cards etc explained
  • After you have written down the rules of the game well and everyone understands them, make sure that you can also quickly explain the rules of the game to anyone in the same order and then start playing. People always want to play as fast as possible and not get a lecture about the rules of the game. Too much information weakens attention. Train yourself in this. Start with the core and omit all exceptions at first.
  • A game idea can only become a good game if it has been played a lot and often by different people. Only test it on your own? Or solely with your family or friends? This is very limited and usually does not provide objective feedback. Those family and friends are often very proud and may not dare to criticise. Play with many different people. Game clubs are a great place for this. Listen to that feedback. Use the feedback and adjust your game concept.
  • Explain the game to others and then don't play along yourself. That's the best method. It is best to do this through written rules of the game. You give it to people with the prototype, and you're not there when it's played. Create a kind of survey with very specific questions. If this is anonymous, no one feels bothered to be honest. The more anonymous responses you get, the better. A digital form prevents handwriting recognition.

Tips to improve your prototype for your pitch

You want to show us that your game is great. But regard the tips below to increase the chance that we are convinced that you are right.

  • The game mechanics are much more important than the quality of the prototype. But a good prototype helps enormously. Make sure it can take a beating and that it lies well on the table. It's fine that you managed to hold everything together with tape during testing and that it warped or won't stay straight when being folded three times. During development, it never stops with a first version. Cut/tear/paste/scratch as much as you want in the process. But… then make a sturdier copy to show us: the (provisional) final version. This really doesn't have to be factory-printed, but above all very playable.
  • Slightly thicker cardboard can make all the difference. Most of the games we publish use cardboard between 1mm and 2mm thick.
  • Nothing is more annoying than cards that you can't shuffle. Use sleeves for all cards. There are all kinds of sleeves for sale, which vary in size and colour or are completely transparent. Not only do you protect your cards, but the cards can also be shuffled more easily and they are easier to deal out during the game. If you can't shuffle or slide cards, no one will like your game.
  • Concepts in which a logical arrangement of symbols, cards, a game board, colours, and so on will make more impact.
  • Good symbolism makes a world of difference. Some games cannot do without text, but a language-independent game not only has more potential internationally, it also plays much more intuitively than when you have to read a lot of text. If, on the other hand, every action is a rebus, then text is better again.
  • We are a Dutch publisher, so we publish games mostly in Dutch language. But if we want to distribute your game through Europe, we require to remove language as much as possible.
  • Make overview cards that briefly explain what you can do in a turn or how the points are distributed. This is very helpful in playing and understanding the game.
  • Use distinctive colours for the game pieces. These don't have to be the final colours, if only we're not confused while playing the game.
  • Clearly name the parts. Don’t say “a red card” or a “chance card”, don’t use terms such as a “cube” or a “chip”, but give it a theme. For example, a “discovery map” or a “gold nugget”. Then they can still just be blocks or chips, but this adds to the experience. Define this well in the introduction to your game rules.
  • Beautiful artwork makes a game twice as good, but we can look through it just fine if your game doesn't have it (yet). As long as you indicate what kind of images you have in mind. You can just use pictures from the internet. A pirate? A truck? A rabbit? A lucky clover? You can find everything online. That helps a lot in forming an image about the direction. A mood board can also contribute to this direction.