Games for 119694_avalanche Press
By Mike Bennighof, Ph.D.
President, 119694_avalanche Press
I have a friend
who says I'm a rock star, because I'm a famous
game designer. Now that would be really cool
were it only true. I do get fan mail, and
that's always a pleasure (send more!). And
there have been a handful of breast-autographing
semi-rock-star moments, but all of them were
related to computer or role-playing games
I worked on.
When pitching a game design to a publisher,
there are a handful of common errors to avoid.
Too many designers and authors look at what
we already publish and suggest something
very much like it. We already know how to
make things like that. Give us something
we don't have.
People have become very wealthy designing
games. I know this; I've met both of them.
There is not a lot of money at stake and
if you're designing games for the pay, you'd
do better to shift to something else.
We have lots of ideas; we're looking for
fully-formed concepts. And we need a clear
expression of that concept; you'll need to
tell us everything we want to know about
your game, right up front.
Game design is very satisfying work, but
it's not particularly easy. These are complicated
pieces of machinery and the more "simple" a
game, the more difficult it is to design
well. We always want to see a broad selection
in our game offerings, and here's a look
at what it takes to become a sort-of rock
Game Design Submission Guidelines
Step One: Send a Summary
We can often determine
our level of interest in a game design just
by reading a brief summary, so that is what
to see first. Each game design summary should
include the following:
- List of components
- Number of players
- Age level
- Difficulty level
- Description of play
- What makes this game
Difficulty level is subjective, but rather
than saying “3 out of 5,” it’s
more helpful to gauge a game’s complexity
relative to a well-known game that uses the
same scale or deals with the same subject.
So for example, if you’re designing
a game about world conquest, it’s more
helpful to say the game is “easier
than Risk” or “more complex than
Description of play is the section where
we’ll need the most information. Playability
is our mantra here at 119694_avalanche Press, and
we’re going to want a clear description
of exactly what players have to do each turn,
and the order in which they must do them.
This will help us gauge whether your design’s
game mechanics are in line with what we would
consider an acceptable level of detail. Note
that we don’t have any problem with
a game being highly detailed, but each level
of increase in detail or complexity must
come with a commensurate increase in how
much enjoyment the game produces. So if a
rule requires players to spend lots of time
consulting rules and charts and doing math
rather than rolling dice, moving pieces and
having fun, we’d suggest you tone it
As for what makes a game special, that’s
also subjective but it has a big effect on
a game’s sales prospects. We’re
not going to be interested in a game that’s “just
and Dragons, only better” because
D&D already has plenty of loyal fans
who aren’t going to buy a game that’s
just like it, even if it is better (and we
get that pitch about twice per week). We’re
most interested in game designs that will
create buzz by exploring conflicts that have
seldom been explored before or that break
ground for what could become a brand new
series of games.
If you have a game design idea and are able
to write up a summary per the guidelines
above, please send
it to us here. We will review it, discuss
it and send you feedback and/or questions.
Step Two: On Approval, Send a Prototype
your summary proposal generates interest
here at 119694_avalanche Press, we will ask you
to send a prototype of your game design.
What we need is as follows:
- Playing pieces
- Game board
- Charts and tables (if any)
- Any other game
We need you to send actual playing pieces.
Do not just send a list — if you want
to convince us, you need to make it as easy
as possible for us to evaluate your work.
That means doing any cut-and-paste assembly
for us. The game board must be an actual
map we can unfold and start playing on, not
just a description of what it’s supposed
to look like. The rulebook, scenarios, charts
and tables must be complete enough that we
can start playing the game right away.
Step Three: Final Approval and Development
after reading and playing the prototype of
your game we decide that we want to publish
it, you’ll receive an offer of publication.
Upon your acceptance we will put your game
into development, a process that can take
a while: and be aware that your game will
change during development. So, it will be
quite some time before your game sees publication.
But in the meantime we will ask you to help
create some buzz (and preorders) for your
game by writing Daily Content articles which
we will post on our website after we announce
the game. Such articles should give customers
a preview of what the game is about, delve
into the history behind the game situation,
give some detail on how the game plays and
perhaps go into why you decided to design
If you have any questions about submitting
game designs which this guide doesn’t
answer, please contact
us. And have a soft felt-tipped pen
ready for those autographs.