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Basic manual to make and publish a game yourself

Zelf een spel maken NiNi Games

Make your own game

If you want to make and publish a game yourself, then a lot is coming your way. We are in the middle of this ourselves and already have a number of games in different phases of development. In a series of different blog posts, we also try to help you make your own game.

We have bundled these blog posts and the experiences we have gained into a basic manual.

The different steps of making a game yourself

You may have already started making your own game, so you may already recognize yourself in this, but every game designer will have to go through the following stages to make their own game a reality.

1. Game design

You are taking a shower, watching a movie or having a conversation with a friend and suddenly something pops up. You have an idea! An idea in itself is still worth nothing. The first thing to do is write down your idea. Congratulations, this is the foundation for your game. You started as a playmaker!

2. Making a prototype

Once you've written down your ideas, you can start making one prototype. Nothing is as nice as making your ideas concrete by turning them into something real. When making your prototype, you will soon encounter the first problems. This is okay and part of the process, so don't give up.

It is important to make something concrete as soon as possible. Something you can play (in theory). This allows you to learn the fastest what works and what does not and you can make a first version of your game to playtest. Also immediately write down the rules of the game with your prototype. This will help you to think extra about all aspects of the game.

3. Play testing

When you are ready for your prototype to be playable, it is time to playtest. Look at your friends and family and ask them to help you test your game. They probably just like your passion and are happy to help you. Ultimately, you also want to playtest outside of your immediate circle, but this is good enough for the beginning.

The purpose of playtesting is first to find out if your game has potential. Your first prototype is never a perfect game and it doesn't have to be fun yet, but you should feel like you have something that gets you excited. During playtests you find out whether other people are also enthusiastic about it. If this is the case, they want to think along or get inspiration to take your game further.

In addition to physical playtesting, you can also playtest your game online very well. For example via Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia. There are even entire communities of game designers who meet weekly to play-test each other's games. Definitely a must to go!

Take a look at the virtual playtesters. We can also be found here regularly.

4. Create a presentable product

You have gathered enough information from your playtest and your game may have gone through 50 different versions. You are finally at a point where your game is basically finished. You can then create a presentable product.

If you play your game through a publisher now is the time to make a sell sheet. A sell sheet is basically an elevator pitch where you try to convey your game as concisely as possible. This is only about the essence of your game. A sell sheet is usually no more than one A4 sheet.

If you want to publish your game yourself, you want to be able to offer the game to reviewers, for example. You therefore want to make a version that looks professional enough to properly reflect how the game is going to be. Through Game stuff you can, for example, purchase game components for this. However, publishing a game yourself involves a lot more

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How long does it take to make a game?

You may be wondering how long it takes to make a game. This of course depends on several aspects, but there are guidelines for this. There is a big difference between publishing your game yourself or having it done by a publisher let do. You can assume that as a game designer you will spend about 6 to 12 months only developing the game itself. If you then want to release the game through a publisher, you can expect that the publisher will add another 6 to 12 months before the game is actually produced.

If you are going to publish the game yourself, for example via Kickstarter, you will get all the work that the publisher would do. You can therefore assume that the duration of your game development will be doubled. Obviously, this is very dependent on the complexity of your game.

We make a relatively simple game and initially made the schedule below. It is now January and we are still busy with the Artwork and Game Development. So don't count on too little time;).

How much does it cost to make a game?

Whether you are going to publish a game yourself or are going to do this through a publisher, it is very relevant to know what it costs to have a game made.

The largest bulk of the costs are in your production costs game components. Keep this in mind when designing your game so that you can use it efficiently. You often have a wide choice in the quality of components. If you want to limit your ecological footprint by using wood instead of plastic, there is a price tag.

You can assume that the average games factory does not work with numbers below 1,500 games. So you will certainly have to sell a lot of games to avoid the costs.

To give something of an estimate, you can charge 2-3 euros each for a simple card game of which you have 1,500 made.

A large board game quickly goes towards the 10, - euro each and if you also want to use miniatures, the price will go up quickly.

You can significantly influence production costs by purchasing more products. To give an example of this, you can look at a quote we have received for making Tomb of Rasha.

NumberPrice per piecePrice total
20002,324640,-
25002,-5000,-
30001,795370,-
40001,516040,-
50001,356750,-

There are game factories all over the world and the difference in price can certainly be significant. However, take into account higher shipping costs for orders from, for example, China, so that the lower production costs are often compensated for with lower numbers.

Artwork is also often a major expense. You can easily charge 50 euros per card for the artwork of an average playing card. If you make a game with 50 unique cards, you will soon lose 2,500 euros. Then there are the box and rules.

All in all, for a small game you can quickly go up to 10,000 euros and for a large game you can easily reach 50,000 euros. It's not surprising that many people existing their games through publishers try to spend.

Don't try to do everything yourself!

One of the most important tips we can give you: don't try to do everything alone! There are a lot of people with good ideas or experiences who can help you. Don't be afraid to take advantage of this. You are still the brains behind the game, even if someone gave the tip that made the game a lot better.

There are many groups on Social Media in which game designers come together and exchange their experience. You can learn a lot from this and you don't have to invent the wheel yourself for everything. A few groups that are very relevant in our opinion are:

Other relevant blog posts

This is of course just a basic guide. If you want more tips on how to make your own game, take a look at one of the blog posts below for a topic that you are looking for.

Start-up phase: The first steps
Which sources of inspiration can help you make your own game?
How to prototype a game
Self publish or going to an established publisher?

Test phase: Making a fun and good game
9 tips for making a Print & Play (PnP)
Blind play testing, testing your own game
Tips for writing the rules of the game

Building community: Get to know people
11 games fairs you must visit
Notable Dutch and Flemish publishers

Production: Produce your game
Choosing game components to make your game affordable
First meeting with a manufacturing company
- Protect your game idea

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