An Introduction to Tabletop Game Design: Round 2!

Hey readers!

We’ve been busier than ever these past few months - to the point that we never had a chance to post up a retrospective of the Introduction to Tabletop Game Design courses that we ran from May to July! In short, they were a massive success. Each course sold out, and was an absolute pleasure to run. We had attendees from all over the UK, and even one who came all the way from France for all three - talk about dedication! We’ve received some lovely feedback from those who attended, and we’ll be scattering a few of our favourite comments throughout this blog post. Look, here’s one!

I really wasn’t sure what to expect but you made it really fun and engaging. I came away buzzing with ideas and plans for games. You’ve really helped crystallise a process in my head and one of the ideas I’ve had floating around is going to have some work put into it now.

The courses were such a success that we soon decided to run them again this year, from September to November. The course content will be more or less the same, with a little bit of tweaking here and there to reflect the feedback we had during and after the first run. Tickets are available over at our Events page - but we thought we’d put this post together as a guide to what each course is and what attendees can expect.

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Series Overview

Each course takes place here in Nottingham, and is written and run by Sophie and me. For anyone who doesn’t know, our recent backgrounds are in tabletop game design, but before that we were both heavily involved in staff training and development, so running training days is something we’re both very familiar with!

The courses run from 11am to 5pm on various Saturdays. The ticket price of £95 includes six hours of theory and practical work, a slap-up lunch, hot and cold drinks and snacks throughout the day, and plenty of opportunities for one-on-one time with both of us. After each course we invite all the attendees along to a local pub (with a great selection of ales, if that’s your kind of thing) for an informal debrief.

Walked away with the confidence and knowledge to build low cost prototypes and how to get the most out of early play tests.

Each course is fully self-contained - you don’t need to have attended course 1 to attend course 2, for example - but they’ve been written to fit together in such a way that attending all three gives you a great overview of our tabletop game design process from start to finish. We offer an All-in-one Bundle ticket which gives a discounted rate of £250 for all three - this was a popular option last time, with half of the attendees at each course joining us for the whole run.

Course 1: Starting Your Game (12th September 2019)

This course is a crash-course in getting game ideas out of your head and onto the table! It will cover:

  • Things that can get in the way, and how to overcome them.

  • The tried-and-tested Needy Cat game design process

  • Where to find inspiration and how to research effectively

  • Creating a “Test Build” of your game

  • Tips for awesome prototyping

All of the theory is covered before lunch. After lunch, attendees will have the opportunity to create their own test build for a new game design (all components will be provided), while James and Sophie circulate and give one-to-one feedback and advice. At the end of the day all attendees will leave with a pack containing prototyping parts, templates, a reading list and more.

Picked up some amazing advice and met some fantastic people. Even somehow managed to design a somewhat playable game about coffee in a day?!

Course 2: Refining Your Game (21st October 2019)

This course is all about taking a functioning game and polishing it through playtesting and refinement. Attendees will need to bring along a game they’re working on, as it will be used in the afternoon’s exercises. The course will cover:

  • The different stages of rules writing (and what not to worry about at each of them!)

  • How to write a “full draft”, or rules manuscript.

  • The different stages of playtesting

  • Developing your playtesting skills

  • How to establish and grow a productive playtesting group

Again, all the theory will be covered before lunch. Afterwards, attendees will be split into groups and will be given the chance to run each other through short demonstrations of their game, as an exercise in presenting their games to playtesters and taking notes (with feedback from James and Sophie). At the end of the day they will leave with a pack containing playtesting materials, templates, a reading list and more.

I’ve been trying to get a game published for a while, but didn’t really know where I should start. There was so much useful information on this course, and I feel like I have a new sense of purpose.

Course 3: Finishing Your Game (9th November 2019)

This course is all about taking a tested, fully written game and applying the finishing touches to finish it and sell it. The course will cover:

  • Preparing a manuscript for layout

  • Working with freelance artists, editors and graphic designers

  • Understanding manufacturing costs and considerations

  • Sell to a publisher or self-publish?

  • Self-publishing: Kickstarter fundamentals

  • Self-publishing: methods of distribution

  • Selling to publishers: creating effective sell sheets

This is a heavier session than the other two – in place of an afternoon practical session, there are presentations from guest speakers and a short networking session where attendees will be able to get some one-on-one time with Needy Cat Games and our guests. At the end of the day they will leave a pack containing useful contacts, a reading list and sample sell sheets.

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We had an absolute blast running these courses, and we can’t wait to run them all over again! We met some fantastic people with some great ideas, and several of them have already been making steps towards getting their games published. We’re sure it’s only a matter of time before we’re sharing links to their Kickstarter campaigns or store pages!

If any of this tickles your fancy, head over to our Events page and book your tickets now. We’re expecting them to sell out quickly now that we’re into the last month before the first course - we've very deliberately kept the ticket numbers low, so we can offer the best experience for our attendees. If you’d like to see a preview of the first session, you can check out Three Ruinous Myths about Tabletop Game Design on YouTube - this was recorded during Course 1 back in May.

Thanks for reading - and we hope to see you there!