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Dashboard Forums Ask Me Anything Peter C. Hayward from Jellybean Games (Feb 17)

  • Peter C. Hayward from Jellybean Games (Feb 17)

     Frank Tedeschi updated 4 months, 2 weeks ago 12 Members · 26 Posts
  • Gabe Barrett

    February 13, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    Peter C. Hayward, founder of Jellybean Games and Blue Beard Entertainment joins us this week. Peter has been on the BGDL podcast for several episodes, and he’s honestly one of my favorite people in the gaming industry.

    He’s a designer, a writer, and a publisher with a ton of experience.

    Hit reply to ask him anything! (Peter will respond to your questions on Feb. 17th.)

    -Please limit your questions to one per person.

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

  • Gabe Barrett

    February 13, 2022 at 2:31 pm

    As someone who both designs and publishes games, what are your best 1-2 tips for making time during the week to work on games?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:35 am

      My absolute #1 tip is: forced deadlines.

      When I lived in Australia, I had a weekly playtest night. Anywhere from 3-5 friends would come and play my prototypes, and it meant that every single Wednesday, I had to have something new to show them.

      As a result, I’d stay up late on Tuesday nights so that we had something to play the next day. It wasn’t great for my sleep, but it meant that I was updating my prototypes once a week, no matter what.

      Nowadays I have a regular weekly playtest online, a real-life playtest once a month, and I try to sprinkle other playtests in whenever I can. Having that deadline means that I will have an update ready to test!

      When they playtests are online, I tend to make changes directly after the playtest, if able. That means I have a new version ready to go at all times…and often results in me setting up additional playtests because I don’t like having them sit there, untested, for too long.

  • Kyle Bruner

    February 13, 2022 at 7:54 pm

    What was the biggest lesson you learned from the sadly canceled campaign for Robotopia?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:37 am

      Pricing matters!

      That campaign was so poorly timed. For the past two months, I’d been mysteriously sleeping for 15+ hours each day, with no idea why. For the few hours each day that I was awake, my brain was foggy and I was struggling to just get basic life stuff done.

      I later got diagnosed with a hormonal deficiency, and after a few months of shots, I’m finally back to normal.

      Robotopia was the unfortunate victim of my illness. We should’ve caught the pricing issue, but I just didn’t have the wherewithal to do so! We’re getting new quotes now, and hope to relaunch in the next few months at a more affordable price.

  • Johan Falk

    February 14, 2022 at 2:09 am

    What would you say is the most important difference between today’s games and games 30 years ago (before Settlers of Catan)?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:42 am

      That’s a hard one to answer! The first thing that springs to mind is art – art was not a priority back in the 90’s (people were just happy to be playing a game that used the brain), but if you’re launching a game in 2022, neglecting art can be a death knell to the whole project.

      Obviously, most every mechanical aspect has improved since then; every designer today is standing on the shoulders of the giants who came before us. If you’re not spending the time to iron out the bugs and pain points of your 2022 design, I’d seriously sit down and question why!

      But I think the most important change is simply how flooded the market is. In 1995, a board game reviewer could realistically play every single new release of the year. Today, you’d have to be playing 10 games each and every day just to stand a chance!

      If you’re designing today, you have to TRULY stand out. You can’t just be last year’s game (or worse, last decade’s) with a slight tweak – you’re competing with hundreds of games being released in just the same month as yours. It’s great for consumers, but makes the work of a designer exponentially harder. But hey, that’s the gig!

  • Ben Morayta

    February 14, 2022 at 9:16 am

    As a designer and a publisher, do you often wear your “publisher’s hat” when deciding mechanisms and components for your designs, keeping costs low and production easy, but limiting your design even before your first prototypes, or do you design first without final components considerations, and then optimize when it’s time to do so?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:44 am

      Oh yeah I’m constantly thinking about that kind of thing. I generally don’t worry about it for the first prototype or two (it can take me a while to work out what the game even is) but once I’ve gotten a sense of the weight and tone of the game, I work hard to make sure the components match that expectation.

      Fortunately, I tend to design pretty component-light no matter what I’m doing, so it rarely becomes an issue. If I can cut a component, I always will – it makes me as happy as being efficient while playing a good Euro!

  • Nicholas Bartlett

    February 14, 2022 at 10:48 am

    My board game cafe’s Library is completely donated, mostly by me, but so far no onebhas donated a JellyBean game to our library. We even trade a gift card for games that arent in our library yet!
    Either no one has owned a Jellybean game, or no one wants to give their copy up, could be some other reasons too 🤔
    Which JellyBean game do you think represents tye brand, or which one donyou hhope people play first to get their appetite going?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:46 am

      The library is donated by you, and no one has donated a Jellybean game? Sounds like we know who to blame 😉

      To me, Village Pillage is the most-representative Jellybean Game. It’s light, fun, smart, clean, gorgeous, and everyone from non-gamers to children to heavy gamers have enjoyed it so far. It’s a classic “20 seconds to teach, hours of entertainment” kind of game.

      Goblin Teeth, too – it’s not my design, but someone came up to me at a con and said “Peter, you have to play Goblin Teeth. It’s the perfect Jellybean game and it doesn’t even know it!”

  • Devon Mettlin

    February 15, 2022 at 8:22 am

    Hey there Peter! What is the process you go through when determining who or what content creator you will want to bring on to talk about, preview or review your games? My wife and I have just started our own channel and we were wondering what the process was from a designer’s perspective and this may help us receive more review copies down the road. Thx!

    (P.S. We would love to review any of your games that play at that 2-player count, as our channel, BoardGameHype is entirely dedicated to reviewing from a 2-player perspective).

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 12:51 am

      Hey Devon! If you reach out to Pandasaurus, I’m sure they’d be happy to send you a copy of TTYKM (my two-player abstract). From our catalogue, The Lady and the Tiger and Jabberwocky are two collections of games, almost all of which are 2-player. Reach out to and he’ll send you a copy of each!

      The thing I’m looking for is reach (how many views do your videos get), type of game reviewed (if you mostly play Kingdom Death Monster, our line probably isn’t for you) but, above all, quality. I watch a lot of game reviews, and you’d be surprised how many are extremely awkward, get basic rules wrong, or – worst of all – fail to actually share their opinion of the game.

      If you can clearly express what you thought of the game, ideally while being entertaining, you’re ahead of the pack!

      The reviews I share publicly aren’t the most positive (though those are nice too), it’s the ones where I know people are going to have a good time watching it. My friends and family already like me and my game, it’s more important that I don’t waste their time by recommending a review that’s slow, boring, or uncomfortable to watch.

  • Frank Tedeschi

    February 15, 2022 at 9:22 pm

    Hey Peter! Can you provide a bit of advice on pitching games to publishers and why you think you’ve succeeded with your games like That Time You Killed Me?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:06 am

      Gabe how did this man get in, I thought you had standards on this forum.

      When I think a game is ready to pitch, the #1 thing I’m considering is – does this fit their brand? I mentioned Goblin Teeth in an above answer, which was the perfect Jellybean game (despite its designer looking and smelling almost exactly like a goblin).

      I’ve only had 3 games signed, so it’s definitely not my area of expertise, but in each case, I found a publisher whose catalogue matched the tone of the game I was pitching. Bugs on Rugs was signed by Kids Table Board Games; I pitched it to them because I knew that they liked light kid-friendly games and had done a bug theme before.

      That Time You Killed Me was pitched to Pandasaurus, because I knew they liked quirky themes and nice components.

      I should mention that not all my games get signed. Before we started publishing heavier games, I pitched Robotopia to my three bucket list publishers. They all played it and liked it, but each of them came back saying that it wasn’t quite right for their brand, so I’m not batting 100 (or however batting works in this country).

      • Frank Tedeschi

        February 18, 2022 at 11:58 am

        You’d be surprised how little effort it takes me to smell like a goblin.

  • Ren Vice

    February 16, 2022 at 1:03 am

    Since publishers often develop & adjust games (or want to work with the designer on development details), how do you know at what stage to pitch your game design to publishers? And as a publisher, what elements do you want to be complete or incomplete prior to designers pitching to you?

    Edit: Oh, I didn’t realise that my actual name would show up & that replies would be direct. Hi Peter! Thanks for inspiring my new hobby.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Ren Vice.
    • This reply was modified 4 months, 2 weeks ago by  Ren Vice.
    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:11 am

      Hi Ren! Very happy that you’re here.

      When to pitch is a tricky one. My friend (and frequent collaborator) Jeff Fraser believes in pitching as soon as the game has a good sense of what it is. A few years ago (so might not be representative of his current views) he told me that publisher meddle and tinker so much, you’re wasting your time if you give them a finished product. He’s also fine with multiple pitches over a longer period of time: pitch to see if they like the idea, and if they say “that’s fun, now fix these problems”, come back in a few months with changes, repeat until it’s signed.

      Personally, I like pitching something that could be published as-is and I’d be happy with it. It never is, of course, but I know that sometimes a publisher will just take the files you’ve sent, put it through graphic design, and print it, so I need to be completely confident in the game before I’m comfortable having it be signed.

      In terms of “how do you know”, I’ll give the answer I always give: when your playtesters (and you should be playtesting with as many groups as possible) insist on playing again. Not agree to playtest it again, not ask about the game a few weeks later, but say “Peter, I want to play this game again, when can I do this.”

      Another good question to ask is “how much would you pay for this?” – if people are being nice, they’ll say it’s ready to be published. If you ask them for a dollar figure, it activates a different part of their brain, and they start thinking “oh shit would I actually buy this game?”

  • Ken C

    February 16, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Hi Peter,

    I really enjoyed your BGDL interview with Gabe, listened to that one a few times, so thanks.

    In general, do publishers tend to reject games that a designer is small-scale self-publishing (selling a few copies), or is an existing audience/sales history a benefit? Or maybe neither?

    I have a few games I’d like to pitch, but I’d also like to get more people playing physical copies in the interim before they are ‘published’. Thanks!

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:13 am

      Ken, I have good news: that isn’t my only interview with Gabe! I think I’ve done 3 episodes now. You have two whole other episodes to look for 😉

      A few copies isn’t something I think most publishers will care about either way, though I know some publishers who won’t touch something that’s already come to Kickstarter.

      Generally speaking, I don’t think it’s worth the effort of full graphic design + art just to get a few more people playing it physically. You could probably save your money and go to a convention like Origins, and get it to the table a bunch more there.

  • Grant Kerwood

    February 16, 2022 at 9:09 pm

    Hey Peter, thank you for your time.

    how do you bridge the gap between generations? your games have a way of having an energy kids love, while not excluding parents.

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:17 am

      Hey Grant! What a lovely question – this is something we very much aim for at Jellybean Games. The goal is to be the Pixar of board games; stuff that you bring out for your kids, but enjoy even when playing with only adults.

      It’s not easy; the process can be a little like threading a needle. A lot of what we do applies generally to game design, but especially to multi-generational games: making sure that winning isn’t where all the fun comes from, for example. If a kid can trick a parent in a game, they’re less likely to care about winning or losing – in that moment, they got to do something cool and fun, and that’s what they’ll take away.

      Other tips would be: Keeping it simple while still containing interesting choices, focusing on what we call “Saturday morning cartoon themes”, and avoiding ‘feel-bad’ moments whenever possible. Except the cartoon one, these are elements I try to bring to every design, but it’s so much more important for Jellybean Games.

      Great question!

  • Jamie Sutanto

    February 17, 2022 at 12:32 am

    As an Australian, what do you think some of the best opportunities are to pitch games to publishers? It’s kinda the perfect time with COVID allowing for many online pitches, but in the future do you reckon it’s a necessity to travel the globe for conventions?

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:19 am

      Hey Jamie!

      I’ve never actually pitched from Australia (I live in LA!) but I can tell you that people like Jamey Stegmaier take pitches from anywhere in the world, as do most publishers I know. Get your game onto TTS if it isn’t already, and if you can catch their interest, they’ll play a game from wherever you live!

  • Gabe Barrett

    February 17, 2022 at 10:25 am

    Do you still hate cooperative games? haha
    Or can we expect a co-op game of your own design sometime soon? 🙃

    • Peter C. Hayward

      February 18, 2022 at 1:20 am

      So Gabe, there are two types of cooperative games…

      I’m yet to design a co-op, but since lockdown I’ve been designing a lot of sudoku puzzles, and that’s shifted my perspective a lot. It’s still not for me, but I can definitely see the appeal of solving a puzzle with someone else. I actually started work on a solo game after listening to your podcasts on the subject, and then later realized…a good solo game is just a few tweaks away from being a co-op.

      So, nothing yet, but…watch this space. 😉

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