How I manage my board game team from abroad

First of all, I’m not a native English speaker, so pardon me for the vocabulary and grammar. If you have any criticism of my writing, please let me know.

who I am

I am currently a master student at NTUST, Taiwan. But, when I started to create my first ever board game (Balap Kuliner), I’m still sitting in bachelor degree in UDINUS, Indonesia. At both universities, I choose computer science as my major. I played games since I was 6 years old. The game is like a part of my blood for now.

Shortly, I am one of the game designers in Balap Kuliner board game. I contributed to the mechanics, story, and characters development. Unfortunately, before the game is finished, I must go to Taipei to catch the higher degree of education. It’s kind of trade-off for me since I knew I would not only learn many things but also sacrifice many more. Moreover, I’m the one who responsible to manage the things to publish my game.

Common problems

Oh man. Studying is hard, isn’t it? plus managing your project from far away? holy cow! The first common problem that I get is not enough meeting time. Back then when I and my team are still living nearby, it was easy to make an appointment. But now, the condition is different. There is no way we can meet each other at the same location. Thanks to Skype and Google Hangout. Using such technology we were able to solve our discussion time problem. Me and one of my team member are able to use design software. Oh, dude! it helps us like a lot to create early prototype everytime we refine our game.

Playday of Balap Kuliner at BGLib Solo, Indonesia. Photo by Heri Prasetya.

The second common problem is the extended deadline which I hate the most. Being apart from your team will slow down your progress like pretty much everytime! Either personally, or for the team, the progress will be stuck in many manners and times. For an instance, I can’t do quality control directly to what my teammate did to measure the printed prototype. Unfortunately, I’m a little bit perfectionist. So, in many times, I must re-do exactly what my teammate did just to make sure everything is on the expected quality. Thus, not only affecting the progress of the game but also my academic progress in university. The only way to solve this second problem is by finishing my homework faster and use the resulting free time (no more relax) to develop the board game.

The last common problem is, having no money. I personally think that in the board game, you need to spend little more money to create the paper prototypes. I get the money by doing a project from my professor which is not related to my game at all. Another time I work as a dishwasher and cooker in a Muslim restaurant on my campus. I need to lift up to 30kg of a big pan to cook macaroni and rice. At that moment I’m so grateful that so many people out there are much unlucky than to me. It was at that moment too I love my family, my god, and the people out there more than ever. It was such a lesson of life back then.

How is the result?

So now, some of you may ask me if there is any good in taking a degree abroad while my game is not finished. Well, to be honest, the answer is same with the chicken-or-egg-first question. The first benefit I can take from these things is that it makes me do my job better and faster over the time. I realize that I was too lazy and clumsy back then, and I regret it. I will argue that these things also reshape my mentality and my way of thinking in the good term. Finally, all those things make me prepare to create my next games better than ever. Truly, the best knowledge is the experience.

Playday of Balap Kuliner at BGLib Solo, Indonesia. Photo by Heri Prasetya.

Finally, my game is published. It such a motivation boost to be more creative in the future. I know life can be shitty sometimes, but strong people are not built by the weak competition, do they?

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5 Things I Learn when Publishing My First Board Game

First of all, I’m not a native English speaker, so pardon me for the vocabulary and grammar. If you have any criticism of my writing, please let me know.

Choose the unique theme correctly

If you want to make a horror game, they wouldn’t be the kids as your target audience, would they? To make your game, you can begin either by choosing the target audience first or the theme first. But the thing is, make it reasonable and best fit for them. In Balap Kuliner, we start with the mechanics which the kids and the most family member can understand and play easily. We then choose the culinary theme since it will be accepted by any age. We also want to make a little puzzle within the game. So, we combine the culinary with the traffic signs as well. We use the symbol in real traffic signs and make them the symbol for the action cards. Since all of us familiar with the traffic signs, it will be easier for the players to understand and memorize the symbol of the action cards in Balap Kuliner. However, you can begin with the theme first and then decide the mechanics later on. Just keep in mind that the correct and unique theme will lead to the better player experience.

I’m slow. But, am I steady?

When I began creating Balap Kuliner, I’m still a bachelor student of computer science. I believe you all know how it’s feel when you are a student and doing another project not exactly related to your credits and interest. Yeah, you feel like your progress is slow AF (as frozen). It feels like I am going nowhere. I just want to say that we know as students, our project will be slower compared to them who already graduated. You know as well that some big people even left their university to build their own careers first and unable to continue their study at a moment. In my situation, I must graduate no matter what happened. In my case, I know my progress will always be slow. But the question I need to answer is, “am I steady/ consistent?”. In my free time at weekend I always do whatever I can do to create my game. Fortunately, it motivates me to finish my class homework faster. So, guys, no matter how much free time you have, if you really want to create a game, please just do it consistently even only for an hour in a week.

Small and fluid is better than big but crowded 

I have some experience in a little game startup and other businesses. As a summary, I like being alone or in a very small team rather than the big one. In my experience, I like to control and do things as my own preferences since I got cross knowledge from the different domains. The bigger team doesn’t mean better, especially for decision making and the quality control if you don’t know the strength and weakness of your team. For example, in some of my cases, I need to revise the design of the game based on the person that is (you can say) on the higher authority than me. Unfortunately, I’m more creative than that person. At that time I didn’t realize the new design will be worse than I did for the first time. It feels like that person is blowing the entire design process. That thing is the smallest problem I faced being in a crowd.

make the illustrator as your own team

I’m actually a programmer who can do little drawing as well. It benefits me to understand a basic process of illustration which makes the communication between the game designer and illustrator clearer. And because of that, I also understand what difficulties that the illustrator might face. So, sometimes I give the extended deadlines and extra tips to the experienced illustrators. And the results are waaaay better than I expected. Although not all the drawer will give you such results, you still need to respect them as part of your team.

Respect the  PUBLISHERS

Another story that I regret the most is when I fail to fulfill the appointment with a publisher. I have another game which on the very last stage of pitching to this publisher. Unfortunately, because of some conditions (most of them are because of my academic manner), I canceled my second appointments with the publisher. In the end, the publisher won’t reply any mail from me ever again. I really apologize to the publisher and realize that this publisher will put me on the blacklist for sure. So, if you really want to publish your game you need to give your 200%, or don’t go at the first place at all.

 

Culinary Traveling to Semarang through an exciting board game, Balap Kuliner!

May 19th, 2018 – Balap Kuliner will be released at BGLIB, Solo. Who would not want to take a walk while enjoying unique snacks of Semarang City? In Balap Kuliner we can walk around the city while looking for delicious snacks from the city of Semarang, Indonesia.

Balap Kuliner (literally means culinary race) tells about the local and foreign tourists who meet at a culinary festival in the city of Semarang. The tourists have to race to find delicious roti Ganjel Rel (Rabbit Buns), the sweetness of Wingko Babad (small Coconut Pancake), the delicious Bandeng Presto (Pressed-cook Milkfish), and the crispy but juicy Lumpia (Spring Rolls). The tourists have to struggle to find those delicious snacks. They have to find the fastest way to the store that sells the food. Not to mention they will face the heat of the weather and the crowded traffic jam in the downtown. Not only that, they also need to wait for the shuttle bus on the right timing to get them home and bring the delicious culinary safely.

“The theme we chose is Semarang culinary because we want to introduce the peculiar culinary and tourist areas in the city where we live. We make this game is mainly for families so that the parents and their children have more time to communicate with each other through the game. In addition, they will talk about food, right? Discussing delicious food, what a topic! Hahaha”, said Bagus as one of the designers.

Balap Kuliner is the first board game from Semarang. This board game was made by three alumni of UDINUS Semarang majoring in Informatics Engineering, they are Ardiawan Bagus Harisa, Reza Faiz Atta Rahman, and Reza Akbar Setyawan. The illustrations are done by illustrated children’s book illustrator, Dini Marlina, and young illustrator Abigail Tan. The designers hope that this boardgame can introduce the snacks and tourist sites of Semarang to the broader public.

Balap Kuliner is suitably played for 2-4 players, with age of 10 years old approximately. With the grid movement and card mechanics, this game is easy to play and only take 15-20 minutes for each game. The game itself contains components such as a game board, 2 shuttle bus tokens, 4 character tokens, 8 snack cards, 20 path cards, and 32 action cards.

If you are interested in this game, you can directly go to its page: Balap Kuliner FB Page and BGG page (to add soon).

Balap Kuliner is one of six boardgames chosen from the Board Game Challenge held by the publisher Kompas and Kummara in 2015. These six board games are published and distributed to Gramedia bookstores and some boardgame stores. The Balap Kuliner alone begin with 1000 copies produced for the first batch, and there is a possibility for further batches. One copy of Balap Kuliner is sold at a price of only IDR 259,000 (USD 18).

Balap Kuliner was actually first created in 2015 and was completed in 2018. It took long because the makers are still students back then. Usually, a board game can be made within six months to a year, including the development, production, and distribution process. The Balap Kuliner’s creators hope that they can be the pioneer in Semarang, and can trigger other creatives to compete to advance the creative industry in Semarang.

The core process of making boardgame consists of several stages. The first is the research of stories, mechanics, and target players. Then, through brainstormings, the team determines in more detail stories and mechanics that are best suited to target players. Afterward, the team make a paper prototype and test it to know the advantages and weaknesses of the current version of the board game. Repair and re-prototype over and over to find the most pleasing gameplay experience for players. Then, a mass production process is performed. Mass production process time is varied, depend on the number and the complexity of the game components. The values of the board game are usually determined by the quality of gameplay, the quality of printing, and the details of the board game components.

In each player’s turn, there are 4 phases need to do. The first is using card phase, where the player can use up to 2 action cards in his/her hand. The second phase is moving the character token, where the player can move his/her character token to the target tile as long as the paths are connected. The third phase is drawing action card phase, where the player draws cards from the action card deck until he/she has 4 action cards in his/her hand. The last phase is moving the shuttle bus token to indicate the end of player’s turn by choosing one shuttle bus token and move it clockwise. The player needs to find the snack cards and bring the snacks to the bus to win the game. The player can only carry 1 snack at a time.  Each of snack cards has a special ability that the player can use.

Contact Press: ardiawanbagusharisa@gmail.com

Download the press kit directly at https://goo.gl/gpKGQK