Nikola Statkov
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So should i write "can easily be made into an app" in my sellsheet?
Is this a 'pro' or a 'con'?
Also, components of the game are 45 cards... so should I write
"very low production cost"? Is this a definitive pro?
 
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Michael Brettell
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Unless you are an experienced app developer, I wouldn't offer an opinion of how easy it is to make the game into an app.

'Low production cost' sounds cheap. You could write 'Low component count' as a selling point, which generally I'd assume would be a definite pro.

45 cards may still mean 45 x expensive artwork to the production company.
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Nikola Statkov
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okay. But still, generally speaking can board game companies benefit if their game can be made into an app or can it be detrimental... I am still not sure.
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I'm not sure either, but I suspect it is largely inconsequential. I have the impression digital board games are becoming more popular, but they're still expensive to make, and I think only a small percentage of board games will actually get dedicated digital implementations (I mean something with custom UI and rules enforcement, rather than just "virtual tabletop" stuff like Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia).

I'm also reminded of a panel discussion about game design that I saw at a convention a few years ago. There was one part of the discussion that went something like this (not an exact quote):


First Panelist: It used to be common for board game rules to be ambiguous, and I think some designers kind of used that intentionally so that they wouldn't have to say exactly how something worked. But to make a computer version of the game, you need to nail down the rules exactly. I think most designers these days are writing more precise rules with an eye towards being able to make a computer version.

Antoine Bauza (also a panelist): Not me.

First Panelist: You're not?

Antoine Bauza: I'm trying to make games that can't be done on a computer, so that you get an experience you can't get somewhere else.

First Panelist: ...you're my hero.
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Nikola Statkov
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i see...

Do you think a really good small board game would be more or less profitable as an app..? Or is this impossible to predict..? Maybe I can get in touch with digital game publishers of small games... even though I only have a board game prototype .

But I see the point of Antoine.
 
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While nearly any game can also be made into an app, I think it raises the obvious follow-up question is "OK, why aren't you making it into an app?"

OTOH, if your game is something that's basically a single deck of cards, why wouldn't you directly target Cheapass Games and similar companies with a product that naturally fits right into their catalog?
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Jeremy Lennert
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Compared to board games, video games have higher fixed costs and lower marginal costs, so they are more profitable if you can reach sufficiently large scale (make the game once, sell to a large number of people), but the minimum viable audience is larger than for a board game.

Unless you intend to either program it yourself or fund it with your own money, going straight to a computer game is probably not an option for you.

In the board game world, you can design a game on your own and then take your design to an established publisher and (if they like it) get them to pay for all the remaining costs of bringing the game to market, even if you are a newcomer with no track record.

I've never heard of anyone doing this in the video game world. There are companies that will implement your design at your expense, or who will implement their own internal designs, or occasionally who will do a port/remake of some game that's previously been published in some other form. But I don't know of anyone who will take just a plain game design from an outside source with no proven track record and turn it into a video game at their own expense.
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roger miller
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As a publisher I never think can this game be made into an electronic version. It happens to a few very good selling games but its so rare I would not be thinking about it when evaluating a game. I am focused on is the game any good and what it costs to make the physical product.
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Michael Brettell
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Antistone wrote:

First Panelist: It used to be common for board game rules to be ambiguous

This amazes me. In what world is ambiguity in board game rules a good thing? Irrespective of turning games into apps or not, doesn't that show poor rules-writing / poor game design? Doesn't it just eventually end up getting defined in an FAQ?

I might be misunderstanding what you mean by ambiguity. Do you know of an example of where it was intentional?
 
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Jeremy Lennert
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I think the idea was supposed to be that if you have a rule that could work either of two ways, and some portion of your audience thinks that A is the only reasonable option, and some other portion thinks that B is the only reasonable option, then leaving it ambiguous allows both groups to play your game without having their biases challenged.

I don't know of any specific case where this was done intentionally.

I know of a couple of cases where a rule was left knowingly (but not intentionally) ambiguous because it was believed the amount of verbiage required to clarify an obscure corner case would have driven away more players than it satisfied.

But I think the overwhelming majority of ambiguous rules are due to accident or negligence, and I think the panelist's main point was that designers as a group are making greater efforts to clarify rules than they used to.
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