Game Design

A peek at the experiments Spelunky players use to manipulate the game's code

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 20 November 2018 - 11:02am

Players of Mossmouth's Spelunky HD are working to understand the game's inner workings, a process that has become integral to snagging a spot on the game's leaderboards. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Having a Vision with thatgamecompany Eric Koch - by Larry&Brandon GDU Blogs - 20 November 2018 - 8:59am
When the folks over at thatgamecompany start moving on a new project hoping to follow up the success of their previous games Journey and Flower, there was only one person they trusted to help head up development, Eric Koch. Eric’s career started out in
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fortnite Creator Facing Potential Lawsuit Over 'Stolen' Dance Moves - A Legal Analysis - by Pete Lewin Blogs - 20 November 2018 - 8:58am
Epic Games faces potential lawsuit over 'stealing' popular dance moves. But is there any legal merit here? Are dance moves actually protected by copyright?
Categories: Game Theory & Design

20 Things #31: Blue Dragon's Lair (System Neutral Edition)

New RPG Product Reviews - 20 November 2018 - 2:17am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 5
An review

This installment of the #20 Things-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the first page, we get 8 names for male and female blue dragons, as well as a table of 12 blue dragon lair features – from fine shifting sands covering deep drift to rippled dunes blocking passage, the entries here present some rather cool details that can add genuine depth to the exploration: Sinkholes, veritable scorpion swarms and yes, even a pool that is fed by underground springs make for plausible and cool features to add to the lairs of the masters of deserts.

Beyond these features, which can have a more pronounced impact on lair exploration, we also get 12 entries of dressing that are more cosmetic: Vanquished gnoll raiders, mangled shields that tell, by their presence of the failures of those that came before, faded words pronouncing doom – if you need to add a bit of character to a complex, there you go. Speaking of which: There also is a table that lets you cosmetically customize your dragons: Vivid scars of malformed scales, horns missing their top, wings pierced by holes and curved fangs – these tell the tales of previous altercations and could well result in monikers for the respective draconic foe.

A further 8-entry table on the next page expands on that, providing suggestions for what the dragon may be doing: You could witness a dragon rolling on its back, scratching an itch, finishing a snack of camel plus rider, or, if you’re lucky, it may be out there, hunting…for now. A table of 12 entries may be found on the same page, providing a plethora of sights and sounds that may be encountered. The least perceptive PC may be stricken by a kind of paranoia, and the floor may be crossed by cracks, from which steam emerges. Thunderous roars echo, and the heavy stench of ozone seems to emanate from the floor.

Of course, you do brave a dragon’s lair due to their fabled treasures, right? Well, no less than 20 different trinkets and 8 additional worn trinkets may be found, including ourouboros-like rings, a silk rope interwoven with silver as a kind of necklace – great means of showing, not telling, how vain dragons can be. Oh, and smart PCs may well find a map to Gloamhold here – nice little easter-egg/cross-reference there.

The final page, then, would be devoted to hoard dressing – from the splintered remains of whole wagons to ornately-carved statues of half-nude warriors buried half in sand to packages filled with sawdust containing chandeliers, this section provides quite a lot of evocative entries.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an elegant, minimalist 2-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports a couple of really nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one of which is optimized for screen-use, and one is optimized for printing it out.

Creighton Broadhurst’s dressing for blue dragon lairs is a great little file: The entries do feel like they have a strong blue dragon theme going and don’t fall into the trap of being generic dragon dressing. The lair features in particular made me smile more than once, and as a whole, this supplement provides a great, well-written array of entries that can enhance the experience here. A minor complaint could be fielded in that the electricity/lightning-angle of blue dragons could have featured a bit more prominently. Lightning bolts can create glass (look that up if you haven’t seen the like!), so that could have also featured and added some surreal, majestic shapes and forms…but that may be me. As a whole, this is certainly worth the low asking price. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Observations From A Gamer's Chair: Over-eager Players at the Table

RPGNet - 20 November 2018 - 12:00am
When excitement can be a problem.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

PUBG Corp. details the results of its 3-month 'Fix PUBG' push

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 November 2018 - 12:53pm

The PlayerUnknown†™s Battlegrounds dev has shared a post rounding up the various changes made during its three-month-long Fix PUBG campaign. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Star Citizen has now crowdfunded over $200 million in 6 years

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 19 November 2018 - 11:44am

Star Citizen's sizable crowdfunding sum has now surpassed the $200 million mark as the game progresses through its alpha stages. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Game Designer Spotlight: Reiner Knizia - by Caleb Compton Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:25am
The second in my "Game Designer Spotlight" series, this time focussing on the incredibly prolific Reiner Knizia. I look at his design process and philosophy, and try to figure out how he makes so many darn games!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

@Play 86: Interview with ADOM Creator Dr.Thomas Biskup - by John Harris Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:24am
An interview with ADOM creator Dr. Thomas Biskup, about the game's recent arrival on Steam and various other things, both about it and in general.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Squeaky Wheel's Productivity Tools - by Ryan Sumo Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:23am
I talk about some of the productivity tools like Flock, Hacknplan, and Airtable that we use to make making games easier.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Kliuless? #12: NFL aka National Fortnite League - by Kenneth Liu Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:19am
Each week I compile a gaming industry insights newsletter that I share with other Rioters, including Riot’s senior leadership. This edition is the public version that I publish broadly every week as well. Opinions are mine.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Play, Don't Show - by Stanislav Costiuc Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:17am
In this streamlined version of a talk I gave about a year ago, let's discuss how games can use interactivity to create strong emotional bonds with the players.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Ship it Fast - Why we developed and shipped a tiny game in 2 months - by Jair McBain Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:16am
As a brand new, game crafting duo with a burning desire to become sustainable, what we needed on our side was experience, confidence and data. In this article, I will cover what we've learned so far from tackling a 2-month development and release cycle.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Making Minimum Wage Making Experimental Games - by Omey Salvi Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:15am
I detail a strategy for indie game development that I'll follow myself to try to make minimum wage making experimental games on Steam. My first game has perma-permadeath. You can only play the game once.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Throw Nothing Away: Lessons from the Making of Steel Rats - by Michal Azarewicz Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:12am
Tate Multimedia's Michal Azarewicz writes about letting your experiences drive your design, iterating on your own passions and talents, and leaving no idea behind in the new motorbike combat racer Steel Rats.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Old School Musical Post Mortem / Developement - by Francois Bertrand Blogs - 19 November 2018 - 9:12am
Old School Musical is released. Yay ! It's time to go back 7 years back in time (no joke) to talk about how it started.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Getting Started on the DMs Guild – Part 2: Publishing and Marketing

Gnome Stew - 19 November 2018 - 7:27am

Welcome back, folks! I hope you found Part 1 enlightening because we are going to take it a level deeper today. You’ve crafted your beautiful D&D work and now you’re ready to publish it. But I want to talk about some of the foibles of publishing on the DMs Guild, because it’s not quite like publishing anywhere else. This is where I think I’ve tripped up the most, so come and learn from my mistakes so you don’t have to make your own!

More Bubble-Bursting

Oh hey, remember how last time I started with the less-good stuff? I’m going to do that again. Some things on the DMs Guild don’t sell as well as other things, by a fairly wide margin. I didn’t include this in the previous article because I think it’s more important to write what you want to write than to write what you think will sell well. But since we’re going to talk about marketing, I think it’s important to bring it up now.

Player options like character classes or subclasses, character races, new spells, and new magic items sell very well in comparison to DM options like written adventures, monster and NPC stat blocks, or DM guides. It makes sense when you think about it; there’s at least a few players for every DM. Sure, a lot of players become DMs, but plenty don’t. In my experience, this can be a drastic difference in sales expectations.

 …it’s more important to write what you want to write than to write what you think will sell well. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

To give you an example – my best-selling adventure, up until recently, had only sold about a third as many copies as my worst-selling compilation of magic items. To put that another way, my “worst” magic items still sold three times as many copies as my “best” adventure, if we were to use sales as a measure of quality (spoiler alert: sales are not a good measure of quality).

I’d like to reiterate – this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write the adventure you want to write. You very, very much should. Writing just for sales or writing only what you think will be popular is a much faster route to failure than writing what you have a passion for writing.

Pricing and Payment

One of the things I struggled with the most when I first started out was how much to sell my products for, and I think this is still confusing for a lot of newcomers. There’s three options on the DMs Guild: full paid, “pay what you want”, and free. Free is pretty self-explanatory – you aren’t getting paid for this, it’s being given away. Don’t undervalue yourself. It’s fine to do promotional items for free, but I wouldn’t do it for much else.

Full paid is the flat rate for your product. I didn’t know this when I got started, but many writers on the DMs Guild use this very simple formula: # of pages x $0.10, then round up to the nearest 0.99 or 0.95. For example, if you have a 25 page product, that puts you at $2.50, then round up to $2.99. And yes, not bringing it up to exactly $3 is surprisingly important. I dropped several smaller products from $1 to $0.99 and I saw a fairly significant jump in sales. I don’t know why the human brain is this way, but it sure is. You can charge more, you can charge less, but this is a solid baseline, I’ve found.

 Don’t undervalue yourself. You have a valuable skill and you deserve to be paid for it. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

“Pay What You Want” is, and I’ll be blunt here, the worst of both worlds. 95% of the people who download your product just won’t pay anything or will pay a pittance. Again, this can work for promotional items, like one stat block from a larger collection that you’re advertising… but then just go with free. This is my experience; your mileage may vary. Don’t undervalue yourself. You have a valuable skill and you deserve to be paid for it.

As for what you get paid, well, you get 50% of whatever the item costs. If someone were to buy my example $2.99 adventure up there, I would get $1.50 and Wizards of the Coast and OneBookshelf would split the other $1.50 (full disclosure; I do not know what their agreed-upon split is and it probably isn’t pertinent here). This is… fine. This is part of why I mentioned going direct to DriveThruRPG way back in Part 1. When you publish on DriveThruRPG, you receive 65-70% of the item’s cost, not 50%. Again, use your best judgment.

Marketing and Social Media

So, let’s get to the really good stuff here: where and how to market your product. Yes, I do strongly recommend marketing it across social media, though which social media platforms will do well for you depends on what your product is. There’s just enough stuff being published on the DMs Guild that people aren’t so likely to just stumble across your product very often. So here’s my breakdown of the big social media platforms.

  • Facebook – there’s a few Facebook groups I recommend joining and promoting your products there. The first is the official “Dungeon Masters Guild” group, created recently by the new community manager, Lysa Chen. The second is the “Dungeon Masters Guild Creators Circle” group, which served as an unofficial primary group until the official one was created. The third… if you really must, is the main “Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition” group. Your posts will be buried quickly, but it does have massive reach.
  • Twitter – there’s no denying it, Twitter is a very useful cesspit. There’s a small handful of hashtags that I recommend using: #dmsguild #dnd5e #ttrpg are the main ones. If you use more than two or three hashtags, your tweets are more likely to get flagged as spam and hidden from people’s news feeds, which is the last thing you want. Twitter tends to serve most people well, in my experience.
  • Reddit – I don’t know how else to put this, but Reddit will probably only serve you well if you have free or pay-what-you-want products. Reddit likes free things. I don’t know why it’s so different from the others in this regard, but it sure is. I’ve seen massive threads turn into flamewars that have to be locked by mods because people seem to think that D&D writers shouldn’t need to be paid for what they do. r/dndnext is the biggest and most active subreddit. There is one for r/dmsguild but I hear it’s not very active at all.
  • Tumblr – there is a really significant D&D subculture on Tumblr, in large part thanks to The Adventure Zone, and to a lesser extent, Critical Role. If your content is the kind of humorous, even zany stuff that TAZ specializes in, you may do very well on Tumblr. The Tumblr community is also kind to works that include strong elements of social justice, like the recent “Blessed of the Traveler: Queer Gender Identity in Eberron”. It can be hard to build a following there, but once you do, you have a built-in fanbase.
  • Instagram – yes, Instagram! If your work includes evocative or eye-catching art, definitely use Instagram. It’s not as useful for strictly-text works, but both modern and historical art tend to do quite well there. Even moreso than Twitter, Instagram is a game of hashtags, and using many, many hashtags is encouraged by the almighty algorithm. It’s not uncommon to see a post tagged “#dnd #dnd5e #dmsguild #art #vintage #fairies #fantasy #writing #rpg #ttrpg #gaming”. Again, your mileage may vary, but since it’s so easy to cross-post to and from Instagram, you might see very big results for very little effort.
Lifecycle of a Product

There is, of course, an initial boom around the first week or two of a product’s release. The longer you stay in the “Newest DMs Guild Titles” promotional ribbon, the better. But what happens after that?

 Hope for the best, prepare for the worst. Share15Tweet18+11Reddit1Email

Well… a long, slow drop. Or a fast, sudden drop. I’ve had products see a trickle of sales for months; I’ve had others not sell a single copy a few weeks after release. I don’t have a good way of predicting this, unfortunately. But do know that unless you see massive, breakthrough success, your product is not going to keep selling in the same kind of numbers as it does the first few days. Never expect to have massive, breakthrough success. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.

Sooner or later, most products outside of the top bestsellers hit a point where they’re kind of “dead”. They’re not really selling except maybe one or two spotty, inconsistent sales. That’s okay. That’s like the circle of life but for art. You can keep promoting them, but if you keep hitting up the same few sites, you’re going to reach a point of saturation, where everyone who’s going to buy a copy already has. You can stave this off to some extent by staggering your promotions. Maybe Twitter in the first week, Reddit in the second, Tumblr in the third. It’s not guaranteed by any means, but it can help.

What Next?

You may not want to hear this, but the best thing you can do is get another product out the door, and the sooner, the better. A “career” of any kind of longevity on the DMs Guild depends on regular, semi frequent releases. If you can get a product ready every few weeks without burning yourself out or sacrificing quality, go for it. Link to your other products in each new release. There’s a ribbon on every product page for “Customers who bought this title also purchased” and if you can gain a consistent following, that eventually just advertises for yourself.

If you can build a reputation for quality, the work will speak for itself. Don’t rush releases if you are feeling like burning out. It’s better to release better work less frequently than crummy work more often. This is where the Facebook groups I mentioned earlier really come in handy – a lot of people work on collaborations for the Guild. Many of the most successful products are the result of many D&D creators working together. If everyone contributes a small piece of a release, it’s easier for everyone. Six or ten or twenty heads are better than one.

If you like RPGs other than D&D, there are other community content programs, though none are quite so large as the DMs Guild. There’s also the Miskatonic Repository for the Call of Cthulhu system, and the Storyteller’s Vault for the White Wolf series of games like Vampire: The Masquerade and Mage: The Awakening. I’m sure there are more in the works, in no small part because publishers have seen the success of the DMs Guild and want that for their own games.

So, that’s what I’ve got in terms of wisdom, folks. I hope it helps you and I wish you all the best when you publish your own DMs Guild content. Don’t be nervous, you can do it!

Tell us what you’re working on in the comments!

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Fuzzy Thinking: A Visit from Murphy

RPGNet - 19 November 2018 - 12:00am
Because Murphy rules!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Grandmaster Of Fallout 76

Social/Online Games - Gamasutra - 18 November 2018 - 7:45pm

This week's highlights include a look at the U.S. grandmaster vying for the world chess championships, a diary playing through Bethesda's oddly emergent Fallout 76, and more. ...

Categories: Game Theory & Design

Video Game Deep Cuts: The Grandmaster Of Fallout 76 - by Simon Carless Blogs - 18 November 2018 - 7:35am
This week's highlights include a look at the U.S. grandmaster vying for the world chess championships, a diary playing through Bethesda's oddly emergent Fallout 76, and a host of other notable pieces.
Categories: Game Theory & Design


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