Tag Archives: tips

Designer Blog – Staying Focused and Productive

Designer Blog – Into the Black

Staying Focused and Productive

Easily the most challenging thing when it comes to game design (or any other task if we’re going to be honest) is staying focused and productive with your time. Every single day there are so many distractions that sidetrack me from writing, editing, testing, drawing .. doing anything that I actually should be doing really!

The list is long too; Social Media (Damn you facebook and twitter!), Youtube, Gaming (online and at the table with the family), pets, family, full time jobs, the honey-do list, blog posts (oops .. doing that right now aren’t I?) .. it never ends!

How can you stay focused and productive?

  1. Schedule time to design/write/test
    • Crazy, isn’t it? Just like a “real” job, where you have deadlines to meet, scheduling time to work on your games is the first easy step to getting work done. Even if you’ve hit a road-block, use this time to seek inspiration by reading game reviews or design articles.
  2. Reduce Distractions
    • Dump those social media tabs, email tabs, RSS feeds and so on from your browser. During your scheduled design time you don’t need any of those distractions sitting there taunting and tempting you. In fact, don’t even have your web browser open! Just focus on what you’re doing. It’s amazing how much time you can very quickly lose by checking what is going on in the world.
  3. Take a break
    • 50 ways to take a breakEvery work productivity expert will tell you that you should take a few minutes to get up, stretch and walk around every once in a while. It may sound counterproductive to stop doing your work in order to be more productive but it’s true. The experts suggest that you should take 5 minutes of break for every 25 minutes of work, but the formula for perfect productivity is apparently 52 minutes work followed by 17 minutes of break.  Obviously there is no set-in-stone option.  I suggest you take 10 minutes every 30 to 45 minutes and walk around the block. Go get a drink. Check in on the family. But then get right back to it! Don’t get distracted!
  4. Write a list
    • Possibly the most important thing you can do, as far as I’m concerned, is write out a small, clear list of little goals; things you wish to accomplish. Have a purpose to your work, but make it concise. Break it down, check them off as you go. This will help you stay focused, and feel more accomplished as you complete the list bit by bit!
  5. Don’t overdo it!
    • overworkedEasy to say but hard to follow! There’s too much to do and too little time in the day. It’s ok to take a break from a project if you feel you’re getting burnt out. Losing the desire to work on your own project because you’ve not taken a break does you no good. Designing a game should be an enjoyable process. If you’re not enjoying yourself, step back for a while (a few days, weeks, or even months if needed) and come back to it when you’re refreshed and ready to proceed!

What tips and tricks do you use to stay focused and productive when performing a task?

James J Campbell is the Lead Game Designer at I Will Never Grow Up Gaming and is the creator of several projects such as
TechMage Sci-Fantasy RPG, Into the Black and Conflict & Chaos: Vietnam 1965.

Surviving Gaming Conventions

Tips for Surviving Gaming Conventions


You are in a room, possibly a very large room. It has many tables, chairs, and most of all people. These people will become your aquaintences, friends, and even temporary family. You are at a gaming convention for the next few days and it is your mission to survive this convention with strength, honor, and most of all fun!

Here are a few tips on surviving gaming conventions to help you figure out exactly how to do that. Be it a small tabletop gaming event to the largest Geek-Fests in the world, the advice is mostly the same.

1. Get as much information before you leave, as you can. Most conventions place information on their websites before you go. It is important that you know your way around, both inside the convention space as well as the local city, so that you will have more time to play your games and less time standing around figuring things out.

2. Sign up for the forums and talk to people about their expereinces. Do not be afraid to ask questions.

3. Try to arrive at the convention early so that you can scope the place out and get a feel for the “life” you will be living for the next few days.

4. Pack your own food instead of eating at the hotel. This is a must when you’re on a budget because hotel food is a lot more expensive than store bought food. Pack an ice chest with perishables, drinks, and ice. Bring along a small container or lunch box to carry food in. This will prevent you from having to return to the room. Call the hotel ahead of time to find out what accomadations your room will have. Find out if you will have a microwave and refridgerator at your convenience. If not, there are ways to make good food without these. If you have a coffee pot, you have instant access to hot water. Make a lot of sandwiches and bring some picnic essentials to go along with the meals. Rule of thumb, make sure to bring enough food to share with others and you should be sure to have enough.

On the same thought, bring food and drinks to the convention!  DRINK LOTS OF WATER through the day!  Staying hydrated can be a life saver.  If you forget to bring food or drink, most cons will have some available and there are always stores nearby.  Of course, bringing your own will save you money (Check the convention policies on outside food and drink first however, just in case).

5. Do not try to do it all. If possible, plan out your schedule before the convention. Most conventions will let you pre-register/sign up for games that you really want to play. Chances are you want to try and cram 96 solid hours of gaming into the weekend, to get the most of your money. If you do this however, it will become extremely hard to concentrate and play your best. Most hotels also do not allow you to sleep in the conventions gaming rooms, therefore you will need to get a room and sleep there.

6. Save money everywhere you can. Before booking a hotel room, log onto the convention site forums to see if anyone is asking for a roommate or if there are discount hotel room rates offered. If not, type up a post asking if anyone wants to split room costs. This can be a double or triple bargain! Just make sure that you follow hotel policies about how many occupants they allow per room. Be sure to sign up for the discounted rooms when they’re available. This could save you hundreds of dollars, depending on the length of your stay. Also see what your convention policies are on volunteering. Sometimes you can get a percentage off of your room, get discounts in the shopping areas, free meals, or other comps.

7. Bring a backpack or satchel. The thing about conventions is there’s often some free stuff for you to get your hands on and you’re going to need somewhere to put all that swag. So, bring a bag for you to put your loot in.  A backpack is also going to be helpful to bring some food and drinks (check the conventions policy on outside food and drink first just to be sure you can get away with this).

8. Stay Healthy. We’ve all heard about Con Crud. Wash your hands all the time. Bring a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Wash your hands all the time.  Pack Pepto tablets in case the con food starts hitting you hard. Bring some Advil or Tylenol in case you start coming down with something. If you start feeling really bad, do everyone a favor and go rest in your room instead of spreading the plague.

9. For the safety of everyone, please shower – they call it Eau D’Geek at a gaming convention. To average people, it’s just called B.O. These rooms are full people, all of whom are creating body heat.
Heat + Human Body = sweat & stink. Please, do yourself and your fellow gamers a favor and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD REMEMBER TO SHOWER EACH DAY!
(and no, just spraying on some cologne doesn’t work .. in fact it usually only makes it worse)

10. Speaking of odours, for the safety of everyone, PLEASE DO NOT WEAR SCENTED PERFUMES/COLOGNES.  Many people are allergic, and in some cases deathly allergic, to these chemical scents.

Just shower, put on some clean clothes and unscented deodorant and you will be saving others a lot of hassle and pain.

11. At larger conventions, there will be lines. Just be patient and wait in line, bring a DS and start a social game of Mario Kart? Or…

12. Talk to other people in line – yes, this mean interacting with REAL people in a NON-INTERNET based type of communication. When you’re standing in line waiting for things, just turn around and start to chat to the people around you. You never know who you’ll meet there. Some of the best of friends have met in convention lines.

13. Bring a camera because you never know who you’ll meet at these conventions or what you will want a picture of.

14. Bring some money.  Chances are you’re going to want some of the merchandise that’s going to be offered for sale. It’s unique, geeky, and hard to pass up.

15. Pack like a Backpacker.  This means, bring what you NEED, not what you THINK YOU MAY NEED.  If you find you’ve forgotten something you can always buy it there if you really  need it.  The less you bring, the easier it is to travel.

16. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  There’s nothing like spending all day on your feet in shoes that are going to cause you pain.  You’ll be doing a lot of walking.  Wear appropriate footwear for that!  And take the local weather into account when dressing.  You don’t want to be at a convention, sweating like a madman because you dressed for the ice ages when it’s mid-summer.  Check the local weather forecasts ahead of time and find out what kind of environmental controls the convention space has so that you’re not uncomfortably dressed.

17. Last and most important of all, have fun!!! Play, make friends, be a good winner and loser, and make memories that will last a lifetime.

Take this job and place it (A guide to worker placement)

Take This Job and Place It (A Guide to Worker Placement)

from iSlayTheDragon.com (June 28th, 2013)

A lot of people dream about being their own boss.  No taking orders from anyone.  Work at your own pace.  Keep all the money.  Problem is most of us are the grunts, performing the day-to-day routines that keep the world running.  Meanwhile, the one who gives the orders garners all the attention.  If you’re one of the multitude who thinks they can manage people smarter, faster, and more productively, then our next game mechanic analysis gives you the chance to prove it.

 Worker Placement: How Does it Work?
Broadly defined, the worker placement mechanic involves choosing actions by physically claiming space (placement) with a game piece or token (“worker”).  Players receive one-time direct benefits specifically associated with the space or action they claim, either immediately or upon retrieving their piece.  In some respects, it operates similar to action point allowance and/or role selection, but there are a few technical distinctions.
Perhaps the biggest feature of this genre is the presence of physical pieces representing “workers.”  They are not just intangible actions or make-believe roles, but actual, tactile game bits placed on the board.  The three-dimensional objects can be simple, like tokens or cubes.  More often, newer designs have anthropomorphic pawns, usually called “meeples.”  A sub-category even utilizes dice as workers.  Whatever they are and however they look, these components serve both practical and aesthetic purposes that are central to identifying worker placement games…
To read the rest of this article, check it out at iSlayTheDragon.com!

T&G Con on How to Promote Your Product

May 15th, 2013

Mary Couzin, over at T&G Con, wrote a great article giving us all tips on how developers can promote themselves and their products effectively.  Here’s an excerpt;

1. Go Local. Local groups invest in their community. Contact your local elementary schools, library, YMCA, or Community Centers to see if they offer a Game/Toy Day. If not, ask if they would they like to start one with you as a special guest, or offer to do a one-time event where you are a featured speaker. Prepare a presentation about how to invent a toy or game, keeping in mind that your talk should be less about promoting your product and more about inspiring others and giving back. If you try to “sell” you’ll be black-listed. But if you present well, the word will spread quickly. If you’re not comfortable speaking in front of a group, consider hiring a speaking coach.

2. Get Your Blog On. It’s time to break out of the retail box and share your fun and inventive voice with your fans. A blog is an excellent way to build a loyal fan base, connect with your target market, and let your personality shine through. Blog about the ups and downs of being an inventor. Share tips and ideas that might inspire others and get their creative juices flowing. Provide engaging content that others will want to share through their social media circles, thereby amplifying your voice to the masses. Interact with your readers and fans as they comment on your blog. Be authentic, be real, be yourself.

3. Start Your Own Internet Radio Show or Podcast. It’s a great way to position yourself as a subject-matter expert, and also gives you a chance to spotlight other toy and game inventors as special guests. But be prepared for a considerable time commitment. Internet radio shows require advance preparation including booking guests and scheduling recordings at specific times each week. Podcasts are a little easier to do because they’re typically shorter in length and can be recorded at your convenience. Either way, in order to build you fan base, be sure to establish a regular schedule to distribute or post your podcasts. Don’t want to do your own? Research existing internet radio or podcasts to find the right match for you and your product, then pitch them to see if they’d be interested in doing an interview and product giveaways.

4. Hit the Road with Inventor Events. Many specialty retailers would love to host Game/Toy Days or Inventor Events, featuring your product, and perhaps in combination with other new products. Why not set up your own Game/Toy Tour? These appearances are great for gaining exposure and building your profile in local communities, while helping retailers drive sales and offer an exciting event to their customers. Work with the retailers to determine the best shopping days and times when they have the highest amount of traffic. Be sure to take an active role in promoting your appearance through social media, e-mail blasts, and reaching out to local news media. Offer to create flyers or posters for the event, working with the host on content and giving them the opportunity to make final edits before you go to print.

5. Get Online. Start local by researching online resources in your city where you can promote your Game/Toy Day or Inventor Event. Sometimes parenting websites will allow the public to post calendar events. Use social media, including Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to further build your following, talk about your upcoming events, and promote new product launches. Connect with your audience, your retailers and members of the media. Let people know what you are doing, and take an active interest in what they are doing. Social media marketing is all about a two-way conversation. It’s about the pull, and not about the push. A little promotion is okay, but push too much and you’ll push everyone away.

For more tips you can visit T&G Con’s website here.