10 Questions

Each month in the Inventor Newsletter I ask 10 Questions of an established inventor or game company. The results are posted below and will be updated monthly.

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AEG - Alderac Entertainment Group, (Sep '07)
as answered by Marcelo Figueroa
Q - What are AEG's greatest hits, and how would you describe your line of games overall?
A - First & foremost, would be the Legend Of The Five Rings Collectible Card Game. This has been our consistent seller for 13 years. After that would be our other CCG, Warlord: Saga Of The Storm. Our games, overall, have been fantasy based IP's in the form of collectible card games & role-playing games.

Q - Is there anything currently that you are looking for that is different than what you have done in the past?
A - Having published every type of game that is uniquely "hobby market," we felt that we were finally in a position to move onto to the next evolutionary stage of our company, which is why we created the division of our company that is responsible for the publishing of board games, card games, family games, educational games, etc.

Q - How many games do you or your company review in a year?
A - Well, since the word is just starting to get around that we're accepting submissions of board/card/family games, etc., we've only reviewed a handful of prototypes. This is also partly due to the fact that most non-hobby game inventors are a little hesitant to bring a prototype to a company that has only ever published hobby market games in the past. We're hoping that this reluctance changes over the next year or so as we publish more non-hobby market games.

Q - How many games does your company usually release in a year?
A - As far as new games, there have been none. We've maintained longevity for our CCG's & RPG's by a steady release schedule of expansions. However, for 2008, we have about eight non-hobby market games on the production schedule.

Q - Do you look at games by unknown inventors?
A - Absolutely! Since the decision to publish a game rests among an in-house jury, and I am the one who effectively demonstrates a prototype to them, I am the only one who knows who designed it ahead of time. I don't let the name or reputation of any designer influence the merit of any prototype that is brought to us. A design from an unknown inventor has gets equal consideration as those of a well known designer. In our selection process, I never tell the jury who the designer of the prototype is until they have rendered their decision.

Q - For beginning inventors, what would be the ideal way to approach and submit game ideas to you?
A - Pretty much like pitching a movie. Send me no more than a one page summary of the game, and then, if our in house jury likes the concept, we'll request a prototype. And I would definitely recommend this one thing, DO NOT approach us at a convention. If you want to meet at a convention, pre-arrange a meeting time.

Q - How long does it take from the time you receive a submission to the time you say 'yes' or 'no'?
A - Honestly, that's hard to say. Sometimes our in house jury will make a decision right away (good or bad), perhaps after only one playtest. Other times, we really like a game, but it might take several weeks or months to wrap our heads around how we want to market & sell the game if we were to publish it.

Q - Does it depend on the time of the year, and if 'yes', what times of the year are best to submit?
A - Time of year doesn't matter. When an inventor feels that their game is ready for our consideration, they may feel free to start the process.

Q - What is the most common mistake you see from inventors?
A - From all of the prototypes we have seen so far, it seems that it's easier to design within the status quo of what are popular themes & mechanics. What we're looking for is real innovation. For example, if I play a bidding game prototype, Medicci by Reiner Knizia is my mental benchmark. If I'd rather play Medicci than the prototype, then we've already hit a brick wall. That's not to say that the prototype was a bad game, more that it simply didn't innovate beyond my benchmark.

Also, just because a multi-player game can be played by two players, doesn't mean it's a good game to play with two players. If a game isn't any fun with two players or the dynamic of the game is changed so much that it's a different game with two player, then simply declare it a three or more player game.

One last thing, never ask me what we're looking for in a game design. We're not looking for any specific. We're looking at ALL games designs & concepts. So, if you're going to pitch me a game, make it something you like, something you believe in, something you would have fun playing if you didn't design it.

Q - If you were to give beginning inventors one bit of advice, what would it be?
A - Create, innovate, think outside of the box.


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