Protospiel: How to Set Goals
Every year, Fight in a Box tests what they’ve been working on at ProtospielMN. This is the last shake down & critical decision gate on what projects we’ll take on the road for any given year’s convention season. This year was go-or-no-go for Conquest Princess, our co-op bag builder where you use the power of fashion to overcome galactic tyranny. This week in the blog, we’ll continue our “How to Protospiel” series by discussing how to set goals for the event.
Any convention has potential for goals in the following four areas: development, community building, sales & staffing. Protospiel isn’t a selling convention, so you should set goals for the other three and that starts with understanding the mindset & expectations of the attendees. Designers and playtesters go there to help and be helped. We’ll discuss this in detail in the next part of this series, but in short, when going to ANY event you should make being helpful to others a priority if not your highest priority.
Protospiels and Unpubs can be a wonderful environment to test drive many areas of development: instructions, UX/functionality, components, theme, and mechanisms. Preparing to tackle development at these events starts with questions for yourself & questions for your playtesters. Writing out what insights you need is a great way to focus; having questions ready for your playtesters gives structure for feedback PLUS it helps with community building.
Questions for yourself:
What way of describing the theme made folks most excited?
What way of describing the rules was the easiest for playtesters to understand?
How can I improve a specific game & my skills at running demos in general?
Can someone else run my game?
Questions for playtesters:
Was this fun? - tests the quality of your demo as well as the game.
Looking at the components & game play, what would you expect to pay? - I like multiple choice with ranges for this one too.
Who would you play this game with? - your audience will be larger than the folks at the event.
Would you like to sign up for my newsletter or follow me on social media? - be ready to describe the benefits of following you on either.
What other feedback should I know? Please write it on the back. - not everyone is comfortable sharing aloud. Give folks a place to voice their opinions without fear of confrontation.
These playtester questions might be more publisher-focused than game-designer-focused, but they should be considered. We like to read these questions to each test group & have them answer on an index card.
Now that you understand a little about the mindset & have some questions, think about setting numeric goals you can achieve! It starts with how many hours of playtesting and demoing you hope to do each day. Remember to factor in food & breaks. You should know in advance how long your demo takes, having run it once or twice before the event. Divide that number of demo hours by the time of your demo then cut that in half again - at a Protospiel, you should play as many games as you run. Your number of newsletter sign ups at a minimum should be equal to the number of demos.
While you play other games, be ready to introduce yourself & talk about what you do. This can help you with the final convention area, staffing. At a Protospiel, there will be publishers, graphic designers, game designers, manufacturers and more. Getting a game made & sold requires the love of countless people: convention help, logistics, crowdfund backers, art, graphic design, and even more testers. Folks at a Protospiel tend to be highly motivated and interested in finding a place in gaming.
With goals set, you’re ready for fun & progress! Next blog we tackle how to have the best time at a Protospiel.