Michael (Arcane Tinmen)
09-16-2011, 06:45 AM
We are looking to produce a series of ”Help Docs” or ”How-To guides” and are wondering if some of our good community members out there might be interested in helping with this?
This is the thread on "How to do a great demo".
For info on the other help docs/threads, please go here: http://thespoils.com/spoils/view.php?pg=volunteers_help_docs
One guy should be the "author" of the doc and will as such be in charge of putting it together; but everybody can chime in on this thread!
09-24-2011, 11:34 AM
I have this document about half-way done. I expect to have the rough draft finished by next week.
10-08-2011, 09:16 PM
Well, while I have no document, here are some guidelines I've found helpful when learning to play other card games:
1. Assume the player has never heard of what Poker is. This demo isn't for people who've been playing MtG since they were 7 but for complete novices who don't even know what CCG stands for. Always keeping your audience' ignorance in mind will only make a more accessible, and hence better, demo. Remember, the purpose of this is to draw in new people not to confuse or overwhelm them with terminology nor to impress them with your own vast mental library about MtG. Ultimately the latter won't matter at all if the guy just tunes you out and decides The Spoils is too complicated and requires too much investment on their part to bother with.
2. Assume there is no one available to demo the game for the new player, even if there is someone. Ideally there's a veteran who can explain everything about the game but more often than not this situation won't exist. The demoer may not be up to the task of showing a novice how to playe, may forget a few key points that'll later on turn this potential player off of the game forever, or a number of other things that could turn your demo set into a mental torture device. It may even be best to assume the player doesn't have access to any resource where a demoer would normally be, such as a card shop or club, and is printing your demo set off of the website to try and teach himself the basics of this game. By assuming that he's completely alone here you'll also make it easier for demoers not used to giving tutorials to do what they're trying to do. After all it's hard to come up with stuff on the fly but easy to just follow a premade script.
3. Make sure you use a small number of specific cards. Showing off the options of this game without overwhelming the player is the key you're trying to go for. Making two purposely smaller decks, with one having maybe three or four more cards than the other, keeps the introduction short and simple, restricts the demo's builder to use only cards that best exhibit the general qualities of this game, and also forces them to choose cards that best reflect the strengths of The Spoils in contrast to those of Magic the Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh!. By having one deck contain several more cards than the other it shows how in this game decking out doesn't end the game and make you lose.
4. This plays to the above guideline but warrants its own number. Make it so that players can open up and print out a PDF file that contains the cards they'll need for this demo in one or two sheets of paper. As an introduction making it easy on both the demo-ers and demo-ees to get the materials they need to introduce this game for free is the best possible situation you can create. For its developers this also means that, if a player wants to continue playing the game, they'll need to find a starter deck or buy the cards they'll need in some other fashion. As less cards means less paper taken up for printing this is another good reason to limit the deck size. In fact, I'd even argue that you don't necessarily need full sized cards here since the basic idea isn't about reproducing the physical game accurately but, instead, imparting the ideas it represents accurately. In one fell swoop you'll garuntee anyone, be it sanctioned "The Spoilers" ambassador or low level, not even registered to the forums fan can get a taste of this game without difficulty and save all concerned the time they'd need in tracking down what cards you thought were best.
5. Choreograph the game, choosing which cards are best suited for your purpose. A demo set like this should include all you'd need for two people to get a taste of the game and should ultimately have a definite winner and loser. While some may denounce this as making the option element arbitrary I'd argue that, for a novice with no experience in it, it doesn't truly matter what choice they make or who wins or loses. It's all about showing people who aren't used to card games why The Spoils is fun. Giving them a small, pre-planned taste where they can see what this game is all about without having to think at all about it is by far the best way to introduce them. Remember that if you've done your job right then they'll want to throw your script out the window after playing with it a couple of times so that they can experiment with the cards themselves and begin learning the subtlties of the game. Having a guiding hand that doesn't require another human being also helps players who may not get it the first go around at the card shop or club and will want to take the set home with them to replay the match and see just what's going on. Also be sure to write down this script and make it accessible to both the demoer and the new player so things are simple and the player can review the match later without the cards or the demoer present. Assume they're the type that like to break down stuff you find excruciatingly obvious while on the bus, at the toilet, or someplace where using the cards is quite out of the question.
6. At the end of the demo set's script include information on where to find out information about the game. A link to the main website, a list of shops where they can buy the cards, everything you can think of that makes it easier for the potential player to expand their horizons and become a better player. Remember that you're ultimately trying to sell a product here to someone who probably has only the smallest of interest in it and forcing that person to invest time, energy, and effort into finding out more will only make them avoid it for easier games to get into, like Yu-Gi-Oh! for instance.
7. If you can, also include a short description of what the differences are of the various types of starter decks (or precons if you prefer that term) that the player can buy. Of the three methods that I've heard described before, between buying new booster packs, the starter deck, and the draft method, this is most likely the one they'll go to first. It's more economic, easier, and quicker than buying booster packs for one thing and, in regards to The Draft method, it doesn't assume you have some idea what you're doing before you create your deck. Remember, you're not talking to a seasoned gamer who remembers what the Mobile Suit Gundam card game was once upon a time but to someone who probably has only the vaguest of interest in what you're trying to introduce them to and is just as likely to ditch it in favor of a more accessible alternative. Assume they've no idea what you mean by "Banker Control Deck". Also by introducing these to them in short detail you're exposing them to new ideas about the game that may pique they're interest further. Just because a novice doesn't know what a Banker Control Deck is doesn't mean they don't think it sounds really cool.
8. Also, if you can, add some flair to the overall package. This section is quite possibly even more important than the actual tutorial itself since it is most likely to be the thing that captures the attention of anyone who downloads or picks up your demo set. As a writer for a gaming review website I can tell you from experience that the worst thing you can possibly do to any reader is give them a wall of text without a diversion of any sort to break up what you're writing about. It's why this site prefers an ambassador program over the mess that is the Basics Rules and Glossary sheet that's included with each starter deck. Or the torture device as I've come to call it. Add graphics, game world lore quotes, anything that breaks up the paragraphs and catches your audiences' eye. Don't have any delusions about this: no matter how much of a fan you may be of The Spoils when a potential player has games like Yu-Gi-Oh!, MtG, and a slew of other flashier alternatives to go with how your demo set looks will decide if they'll bother even glancing at it or not.
I hope these tips are useful in making something that'll expand this game to the far reaches of the globe.
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