Tabletop Resources for Videogame Developers

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Dev, Karmaka | 2 Comments

Dave and I are relatively old hands in the videogame industry. Between AAA and indie projects we’ve each been at it for over 10 years. But, aside from some hobbyist design, neither of us knew much about the tabletop game industry until we got serious about publishing Karmaka.

Over the last 6 months we’ve done a lot of reading on the subject (surprise, surprise, there’s a ton of info on the web about it), and we thought we’d share our best finds here – the kind of resources we wished we had known about from the start. Most of our fellow videogame developers are in the same boat, and we thought this kind of thing might be useful for those looking to make the same leap. (Many tabletop developers are probably already familiar with these.)

The two in-depth resources I’ve found most useful are:

  • James Mathe’s website. He’s done some great post-mortems and analyses, but in my opinion the jewels are his various “guides”, such as his 10,000 foot view, Hitchhiker’s guides to manufacturers and distributors, a great list of reviewers, how to court publishers, etc.
  • Jamey Stegmaier’s blog, which focuses mainly on Kickstarter for boardgames, though there’s a spread of info about both KS and tabletop games in general. So much useful information there. I recommend reading pretty much every post (I did) if you’re considering running a KickStarter campaign. And if you’re like me, you’ve scratched your head wondering how to handle worldwide fulfillment/shipping from a manufacturer (possibly in China) to backers all over the world. If so, Jamey’s incredibly helpful guide and follow-up are essential reading.

There are plenty of blogs and sites out there that discuss tabletop game design. Interesting stuff, but since there’s a lot of overlap between that and videogame design, I’ll skip most of it and simply point to James Mathe’s overview where he presents a high-level introduction followed by links to tons of resources on the subject. (eg. Board Game Designers Forum, a great place to discuss tabletop design with other designers, and of course BoardGameGeek, which has not only the most complete board game database on the planet, but forums where you can discuss anything related to playing or creating board games.)

A great news feed I now follow is Cardboard Edison. I didn’t dig into the archives the way I did with James’s and Jamey’s blogs, but they’re a great way to stay on top of interesting news and resources as they appear.

I don’t tend to watch a lot of vidcasts, as most of them ramble too much for my tastes, but one great, new vidcast on the subject of creating and publishing a board game is The Forbidden Limb. Their casts are about 20 minutes apiece, and the density of useful information and advice they present is awesome.

Just like in the independent videogame scene, tabletop creators are amazingly supportive of each other and more than willing to share knowledge and advice. There’s so much more out there, but I think these are great, general starting points. (A huge thanks to their creators for all the time and effort they’ve put into creating them!) If you dig into these you’ll not only learn a ton, but find pointers to so many of the other amazing resources out there.

Are there any other “essential”, high-level resources that you think should be added to this list?


  1. Jeremy Commandeur
    February 7, 2015

    Thanks for listening to the Forbidden Limb podcast! Our goal is to point designers to resources and give practical advice so that new game designers can avoid making the same mistakes that most new tabletop designers make (card counts, designing everything in RGB, underestimating shipping, going overboard with stretch goals).

  2. eddybox
    February 7, 2015

    Thank *you*, Jeremy! You guys put a lot of quality info into your casts. Hopefully we manage to avoid some of those pitfalls! ;-)