Saturday, January 28, 2012

POSTCARD FROM BERLIN #52: Getting it Wrong

It can be frustrating to learn that you have been getting a rule wrong for months--or even years.  I recently discovered this when riding the public buses in Berlin, and it's happened with games as well.  Enjoy my latest Postcard on Opinionated Gamers.  Hopefully, I'll have at least gotten that right...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Avoiding Common Criticisms

As I wrote in my last post, it is encouraging to get positive feedback from the games I have published.  Criticism can also help hone a designer's craft, and can be especially helpful in the playtest phase of a game's development.  Following is a list of common criticisms of games (both prototype and published).  It's a good excercise to ask yourself and and your playtesters if any of these apply to your prototype:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Reviews and Awards

It has been a little over 3 years since my first published game was released, and 5 others have followed since that time.  I am usually someone who is always looking ahead to the next challenge and the next project, but sometimes, it is helpful and encouraging to pause for a look back.

The encouraging part is the positive feedback the games have received around the world from a wide variety of players, gaming publications and reviewers.  To keep a record of those, I have added a Reviews page to this blog.

Not all of the games have been readily available in all markets, and so this page also serves as a reference for those publishers looking to license the game in their markets. Most of this goes through the current publisher who leases the rights to the games, of course, but three of my games no longer appear in the publisher's catalogue and, therefore, according to contract, the full rights to those games revert back to me.

Heartland (Eine Frage der Ähre) and Circus Maximus are two games that have been well-received although not widely available, and therefore have potential to sell well in markets outside Germany, where they were officially released.  In addition, I have been working on alternative versions and tweaks to make the games even better than when they were first published.  I suppose I can't resist the opportunity to do something different with the concepts rather than simply recycling an idea in its entirety!

Piece o' Cake (...aber bitte mit Sahne) has already been released in several markets and is well-known in gaming circles, having sold just over 10,000 copies, but I believe it has untapped mass-market potential.

If you are a publisher and are interested in any of these games, please feel free to contact me here or through

I would like to extend my thanks to all those who take the time to comment and review my games, even when those reviews have something critical to say.  I have respect for any intelligently written review, and I apply that feedback to my future projects.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A Letter to Publishers: Act Professionally

Last year, I half-jokingly posted a list for aspiring game designers of Things Not to Say When Pitching to a Publisher.  It proved more popular than I could have imagined, and inspired a more serious follow-up of suggestions for pitching to a publisher.  Even though many game designers are hobbyists, I believe it is important that we act professionally when presenting our work.

This time, I’d like to turn the conversation towards the publishers, both big and small, who actively seek out new designs for their catalogues.  While most of my experiences have been positive ones, I have also experienced—or been privy to—some areas needing improvement from the publishing side.

Consider this an open letter to publishers—especially those starting out in publishing—to challenge them to be more professional in their interactions with game designers.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Journeys, Destinations, and Serendipity

I have not written much lately, although it is not for a lack of ideas.  I have notes written down on a number of interesting, game-related topics that I'm planning on writing about in the near future, either on this blog or a Postcard From Berlin on the Opinionated Gamers website.

Most of my time is spent with work (my real job), my family (wife and two young, very active sons), and my studies (I'm working towards a masters degree).  When I do have time for my gaming hobby, which is very little these days, I must decide between playing the games in my collection (especially getting some of the unplayed ones to the table), writing about games and game design, or developing new game ideas I've had (written down as they come to me in the shower, in traffic, etc.).  In deciding how to spend my limited "action points", I experience the same kind of tension found in my favorite games--those in which you have so many things you want to do, but are unable to do them all.