On my way home from the office. We are again with Mark in the car, and again we are talking about the game, bit by bit, every detail gets discussed. It was very tight. Until the very end, everyone was in the game, everyone had a chance. Each of us made a mistake at some point, made a facepalm, and groaned that it was the wrong move, that they were mistaken, that they would lose, and that they wasted their turn. The factions in the game were excellent, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. The battle mechanism, revolutionary then, in 2016, today, in 2022, is still innovative. A mega clever idea to add crystals to battles to encourage conflict, mega cool terrain rules, and corresponding tactic cards, and a smart rule for a spherical planet … I was driving, and we could not stop buzzing.
Cry Havoc is a game that we created in 2015, nearly a decade ago. It is still one of the 5 best Area control games on the market. It’s good to play such an awesome game. It was good back then to test, improve, and live with it for literally months. It came out nicely. I am a proud daddy.
It’s October 2009. Outside Poland no one heard a shit about me. I am a random Polish dude with his first big game being released during the Essen Game Fair. One day I got an email from the BGG team. They were preparing the very first Essen live stream and asked me if I was interested in presenting my game.
Hell, yes, I was. I scheduled a 30-minute-long demo in front of a camera.
And then I start practicing.
I prepared the whole demo at home and I practiced, day after day. Like an actor preparing for the play, I practiced my demo over and over again.
When the Essen’s time finally arrived, I was scared as shit. My spoken English was really poor and I had never done a live recording before.
And yet, I delivered one of the best demos of that show. My video was viewed an astonishing number of times. The game’s buzz grew like crazy.
It’s October 2012. I have a big game for the Essen show. It is called Robinson Crusoe. The BGG team contacts me again about a live stream. I immediately reply that yes, I am interested. I schedule the date and time.
And I start practicing.
I prepare the whole demo at home. I go for explaining the essence of the game. I go for emphasizing the most awesome key selling points of the game. And I go further than that. I prepare a hand out, I prepare Wilson – a volleyball with a handprint just like in the memorable movie with Tom Hanks.
Once again I am scared as shit. Once again my spoken English is pathetic. And once again I deliver one of the best demos among those live stream videos. When we finish recording and the camera is off, John from the BGG team asks me to keep one copy of Robinson for him. He will pick it up right after he finishes all the recording. He is not going back to the U.S. without the game.
In the meantime I receive dozens of text messages from Poland with friends telling me that they watched the demo and it rocked.
Practicing like crazy before the recording clearly paid off.
For the past few days Eric Martin has been publishing his interviews from the Nuremberg Fair. No finger-pointing, but let me just say this – once again there were publishers who did extremely poor demos. Boring. Unprepared. Chaotic. No hooks and no selling points presented, no idea and no concept behind it.
Honestly, I don’t get it.
BGG offers you the best exposure you can ever get. It’s free advertising. It’s John and Eric flying to Germany with a camera and giving you a chance to present your game to audiences worldwide. They approach you and say: “Hey, we have a few thousands viewers and we’d like you to present your game to our community. Interested?”.
Can’t you prepare a good demo? Can’t you find in your company a person who speaks fluent English, performs well in front of a camera and knows what he or she is going to talk about? Can’t you show some respect both to the BGG and to their viewers by preparing for the demo? Is it that hard to do a good show and promote your game?
Why are you so lazy? I don’t get it. Really.
Anyway, when contacted by the BGG before the Nuremberg Fair I did the same thing I had done a couple of times before. I told them I was interested. I scheduled the recording’s date and time. And then I began to practice. I noted down all the major key selling points and unique mechanisms we had in Cry Havoc – one of our big Gen con releases. I prepared every minute of this monologue.
And then I did the same thing for my game about Mars. I noted down a dozen of real life examples from the First Martians gameplay to show all players who were anxious about the app integrated with the boardgame that this was nothing to be afraid of. In short, during a few-minute-long video I was shooting with one example after another, like a freaking machine gun to convince the viewers that the app and First Martians combine into the most immerse experience they’ve ever had in their boardgaming history.
You won’t believe how many tweets, emails and text messages I already received after this video was published. All of them said: „I was skeptical. Now I am excited.”
I did my homework. I took the time to prepare. And I won a few hearts over.
So my message to my fellow publishers today is – show some respect. Prepare your demos. Make me excited about the game you are presenting.
I strongly believe that good board game is the one that tells a good story. You play it and suddenly you are sucked into it, you feel chills on the skin. Emotions grow. In a moment you defend castle. You hear roar of warriors. You smell boiling oil. You are into it.
That's how I design my games. I always want to tell a good story. I want players to be into it. As deep as possible.
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