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  • Gabe Barrett, founder of the BGDL

     Johan Falk updated 5 months ago 13 Members · 27 Posts
  • Gabe Barrett

    March 14, 2022 at 1:15 am

    This week it’s me, founder of the Board Game Design Lab and Barrett Publishing.

    Hit reply to ask me anything! (I will respond to your questions on Mar. 17th.)

    -Please limit your questions to one per person.

    -Please submit your question before 11:59pm PST on Mar 16th.

    • This discussion was modified 5 months ago by  Gabe Barrett.
  • Duncan Hecht

    March 14, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    What have you learned most about board game design from the process of running a podcast?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 6:46 pm

      No matter the artistic pursuit, discipline and consistency are two of the main factors in meaningful work. I’ve released a podcast episode on Wednesday for 280 weeks in a row. This consistency has created a rhythm in my life to the point where I don’t even have to schedule things or set reminders anymore. It’s like muscle memory at this point.

      Game design, writing books, etc. are super similar. The more consistent I am about pursuing those things, the more my life gets into a certain rhythm and the more I get done.

  • Ken C

    March 14, 2022 at 4:07 pm

    Hi Gabe,

    What rules or principles do you follow in order to design and develop/publish games while also having another occupation? How do you make both enterprises work in harmony?


    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 9:05 pm

      “Harmony” is a strong word, haha. You should see the duct tape and safety pins holding all this stuff together on the backend.

      I learned a long time ago that a solid schedule is probably the most valuable thing you can create. Schedule certain things for certain days/times, and then stick to it as best you can. It’s amazing what happens when you get consistent. Small steps daily turn into a long journey after a while.

      But it’s kind of like being a world class ballerina. If you go to a ballet and watch a ballerina go up on one toe, from a distance, it looks like she is balancing perfectly. However, if you get up close, you can see that she’s making a ton of micro-adjustments to stay “balanced.”

      I don’t buy the whole work-life balance idea. There is no 50/50. Sometimes, it’s 80/20 one way; other times it’s 70/30 the other way. (Sometimes is 110/-10, haha.) You just have to constantly make micro-adjustments to make sure you’re showing up for your family, friends, community, job, self, etc.

      It takes practice. It takes being honest with yourself and others. It takes sacrifice. It takes choosing which hills to climb, which hills to die on, and which hills to walk on by. But mainly it takes living a life that is intentional about all these things.

      Oh, and it definitely takes failing over and over again – then, getting back up to try and do things a bit better the next time.

  • Devon Mettlin

    March 15, 2022 at 11:23 am

    Hm. My only question is. Why are you soo good at this whole podcast thing? lol just kidding.

    My question is: If you were to identify a “failure” during your process in developing this podcast/group from the ground up, what would that “failure” be and how did you solve that problem, learn from it and then CRUSH it going forward in success?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 9:13 pm

      In my life in general, I’ve been trying to do too much. And while I wouldn’t call it a failure exactly, it’s meant that I can’t pursue a lot of things with excellence.

      So, I’m currently in the process of figuring out where my intersection of joy, talent, and usefulness is. (And which things I need to say happy trails to.)

      Instead of doing a bunch of things at a “good enough” level, I need to do a few things at an excellent level. I’ll report back soon with my results, haha.

  • Elliott Locke

    March 15, 2022 at 1:01 pm

    As an entreprenuer building a brand in the games industry. Which aspects of developement would you feel time is best spent on and which aspects are better to employ others and why?

    Example, the learning curve of a particular task being so great that the goal of that task would have been more cost effective to pay someone than the cost of your own time.

    (I hope that makes sense. I know what i mean 😀 )

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      Do what you’re best at and enjoy. Hire out the rest. (If you can.)

      My life got a lot better when I hired people to handle logistics, customer service, fulfillment, etc. I can do those things myself, but it’s not where my time is best spent, and I kinda hate all those things.

      Plus, bringing more people in to handle those things meant I could spend more time designing/developing games which made me happier and has allowed me to produce more games.

  • David Cosby

    March 15, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    Is there a group for “making all the pieces” for a board game? My initial prototype was build on paper and using poker chips for various parts. Now my 3D printer is going non-stop and I am waiting for it to melt through the floor. I looked at several sites both here and abroad to get the 166 pieces I need from a manufacturer. I would like to find out more about injection molding or any other process that gets the cost of parts down to pennies instaed of nickels and dimes.

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 9:17 pm

      Check out the Facebook group Martin’s Print-n-Play Hideaway. It’s got some of the friendliest gaming diy-ers on the internet, and I’m sure they’ll have some ideas/advice on how to create any piece you need.

      I don’t know much about injection molding, but a good manufacturer should be able to guide you on various ways to reduce the costs. I’ve worked a good bit with GameLand in China, and they’ve been really good about helping me figure out cost-saving measures.

  • Tiago Correia

    March 16, 2022 at 3:19 am

    Question: How do you manage it? BGDL community, the podcast, the publishing and the game design… plus everything else in your personal life?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:51 pm

      I schedule a ton of things, I’ve been able to automate some other things, and I’ve hired other people to handle a lot.

      I try to not get bogged down doing things that don’t move the needle, however, over the last few weeks, as life has gotten waaaaay busier, I’m realizing that I need to simplify some things and get more focused.

      I don’t currently have enough bandwidth to pursue everything on my plate with excellence, so I’m in the process of making some tough decisions about what gets cut.

  • Kyle Bruner

    March 16, 2022 at 1:45 pm

    What were the biggest challenges transitioning from shorter, more compact games like Hunted to a more sprawling, connected narrative experience with Robomon?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:47 pm

      From the business side of things, the difference in upfront costs is HUGE. Then, on top of that everything gets stretched out. Art takes longer, playtesting takes longer, writing takes longer, rulebook editing takes longer, so on and so forth.

      One of my main challenges has been just wrapping my arms around soooo many different things and keeping all the different aspects of the game moving forward. Just when I think I know the scope of the game, it gets a little bit bigger.

      I understand the Hunted system to the point that I can create a new game, start to finish, in about 2 weeks. RoboMon just hit 2 years, and the first 5 hours of gameplay still aren’t quite done. 😬

  • Ken C

    March 16, 2022 at 6:17 pm

  • Kendall Woffinden

    March 16, 2022 at 6:25 pm

    Wondering if you foresee ever doing a game with IP? Obviously pros and cons to that, but if anyone could get a license for a particular property I think Gabe Barrett would be a strong candidate.

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:41 pm

      Thanks, Kendall! As you can tell with the inspirations in my Hunted series, I would love to create some games based on action movies. I don’t foresee that phone ringing anytime soon, but if it does, I’ll be sure to answer, haha!

  • Dominique Garay

    March 16, 2022 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Gabe, thanks for reaching out! What game(s) have you been enjoying recently?


    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:23 pm

      Other than prototypes? haha. I’ve been mostly playing games with my kids recently. The Fuzzies is our current favorite. Other games hitting the table recently are Bang the Dice Game, Formula D, Castle Panic, and Throw Throw Burrito.

      Hopefully, I’ll be able to play some more adult geared games soon.

  • James Henderson

    March 16, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    Growing an email list is a difficult task. Can you share any specifics on how to setup your facebook ad set, and what “target” words to put in to focus the ad-set toward certain groups? I’d also love to hear strategies around social media ads in general.

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 8:03 pm

      That’s a million dollar conundrum, haha. If you haven’t heard the BGDL episodes with Andrew Lowen about marketing, you should definitely check those out as they provide a ton of ideas on how to approach email marketing, Facebook ads, etc.

      I don’t have a lot of expertise when it comes to Facebook ads as I hired that out several years ago. (Shout out to Next Level Web who has been doing a great job.)

      But the main thing is to be as specific as possible so that you don’t end up with a lot of bad leads. And the main thing part 2 is to use images that are so appealing that people stop scrolling. Without great images, the best targeting words in the world won’t matter.

  • Johan Falk

    March 17, 2022 at 12:19 am

    Hi Gabe

    Thanks so much for all the things you do for the board game design community.

    I’ve been thinking about approaches to or starting points in board game design. There are games starting with a mechanic, games starting with a theme, games starting with a target experience or even a target moment, and probably a number of other starting points that I haven’t heard about.

    Do you think that there are better and worse approaches to board game design? Or is just a matter of finding the approach that works for you, and for the type game that’s being created?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 7:59 pm

      Games starting with a title, games starting with a component, games starting with a licensed IP, haha. The list goes on and on for starting points.

      Like most creative ventures, there’s not necessarily a “right” or “wrong” place to start. Some starting points are more financially viable when it comes to product design, of course, and some approaches are easier than others.

      But it really comes down to personal preference. I’ve been working from an experience first approach a lot lately. I start off with how I want the player to feel and then work to mesh theme elements and mechanisms together to achieve that particular experience.

      My advice is to try lots of different approaches and see which one you enjoy most or which one you seem to be the best at. Then, lean into that.

      • Johan Falk

        March 18, 2022 at 1:17 am

        Thanks for taking the time for this! I enjoy reading your answers (to others questions as well).

  • Anthony Broussard

    March 17, 2022 at 7:22 am

    What is something you want to see in a solo game, but the design research/component development/pricing aren’t a good fit for it (yet?) In other words, is there a solo design you want to make but the conditions aren’t right (yet)?

    • Gabe Barrett

      March 17, 2022 at 7:54 pm

      I’ve always wanted to see a JRPG style solo board game. Something epic in nature with a great story, character development, interesting combat, lots of side quests, etc. Something like Final Fantasy the board game.

      I think the solo gaming community has grown enough now so that something like this would actually be viable in spite of the ~$75 price tag.

      I also always wanted to see a Pokemon style game brought to the tabletop which led to starting the RoboMon project a couple years ago. We’ll find out soon if it’s something the market is actually ready for, haha!

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