Friday, July 14, 2017

Video Teaser Secrets - A Crash Course

Video teasers for your board games are important because you need to bring viewers and players into the world you have created. Once we put gamers inside the this new world, we must give them an emotional reason to stay there and an end goal to accomplish.

Think of board games or video games just like a movie or a good novel. We need to immerse viewers, readers, gamers into an unfamiliar world and we must strive to give them something or someone to root for.

Millennium Promo made with Filmora
Teasers are all about teasing viewers or in other words, enticing them with a scenario they want to be in and take part of or a character they would like to play or pretend to be.

It's a tall order for a short 30 second teaser, but it is precisely the teaser's brevity that really helps hook viewers because when a teaser is done right, it leaves them wanting more.

How do viewers get more? They visit the game website, they become curious, intrigued, and inspired to buy the game to see how it all plays out. The bottom line is simple. They know something about the beginning of this game and after seeing the teaser (or a longer video) they become more curious and consequently they need to experience the ending of the game. It's like an itch they need to scratch.

Let's break down the process of
creating an effective
30 second video teaser.

1. Your opening image or text should provoke questions or make viewers curious to find out more.
2. Follow with images that build your story.
3. Introduce your hero and his or her quest.
4. End your video in a fresh or unexpected way.
5. Don't give away the ending.
6. If possible include a free promo offer.

Like I said, this list is a tall order to fit into a 30 second teaser but it can be done, of course. First gather all the images you're going to use (about 15 to 20) and upload them to your favorite video editor. I recommend either iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, or Wondershare's Filmora.



Get your images in sequence and set the timing of each image accordingly. Give viewers enough time to process an image (about 1 or 2 seconds). Based on these time limits, 30 images would run for about 30 seconds. Although, most images should run for less than a second.

Make sure that your sequence of images tell a story or part of your story to be exact. Your story line can be linear or random. The point is that by the end of the video, viewers are intrigued enough and inspired enough to click for more because you have teased them just long enough for them to want to know the rest of the story or the end of the story.

Keep in mind that it's all about emotions. Your video should strive to evoke emotions and to provoke questions. You must keep your story a mystery. Reveal too much at your own risk. Remember this video is just a tease. It must raise questions, not provide answers.

Too many details will ruin your video. Keep it vague with a sense of mystery. Provoke thought and inspire viewers to click for more because they need closure.

For an in depth overview about producing effective videos, visit
Book Teasers Pub for much more.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Secret To Branding Your Board Games

Okay, let's keep this simple and to the point.

Branding is Positioning. Period.

Positioning is how consumers perceive and relate to your product or service.

BAYER aspirin is known as, The good for your heart medicine.
TYLENOL is known as, The strongest and safest pain medicine.
TIDE is known as, The most effective stain remover.

Each of these products is known for something they do specifically. Getting specific is the secret to strong branding because narrowing your market is far more effective than trying to be all things to all people. (Write that down.)

Book publishers have mastered the art of branding and the use of trade names with imprints. Imprints are segments of a publishing company that focus on a particular consumer demographic.

For example, Viking is an imprint of Penguin Group. Viking's brand focuses on consumer demographics for those who prefer good non-fiction such as biographies, historical, and contemporary stories.

Great! So how do you apply branding to board games?


If you plan on being a board game publisher, you must develop a mission statement of sorts for your games. For example, in my case (since I cannot speak for other publishers) when I started planning for Starship Games, I was focused on branding futuristic games or board games with space themes.

My reasoning behind this was that I wanted to put a positive spin on the future of Earth. I think most of us are cynical by nature and pessimistic by habit, so I wanted to turn that around and market games that focus on good and positive things as opposed to just war and destruction for the sake of sensationalizing events on a battlefield.

In fact my first space themed game was Warpd! This is a time-travel game with a positive twist. While this game is still in the development stages, I believe it will be more popular than Millennium, my second space or future-themed game.

While I love the Starship Brand (which happens to be the name of my graphic design business) I thought it was not specific enough and the word STAR reminds consumers of Star Wars, which is totally way too fictional and far-fetched for my taste so I changed it to Terra Nova Board Games.

What I like about Terra Nova, which literally means New Earth (Latin) is its inherent positive message. So there it is. You can't get more positive and more hopeful than a new Earth.

Of course, during the Apocalypse there is widespread destruction. That's the nature of the End of Days theme but the outcome, the end game (if you will) is the re-building of Earth into something new and better than before.

Let's keep in mind that the Apocalypse or Revelation (revealing a mystery) is historically Biblical. Obviously this is a heavy topic and should not be toyed with in my opinion. My goal then is to present these events as accurately as possible without going into detail. Why? because the details are too frightening and off-putting.

New logo (unfinished)

These are games, after all, so I must keep them historically relevant but relevant on the light and bright side.

Millennium is all about surviving a nuclear war. The details about nuclear war or how we got to that point are not relevant to this story. They are a part of the story (background information) that is left off screen because in this case, less is more.

Notice the tag line for this new logo. The dawn of a new age in gaming.

The purpose of your tag line is to sum up the mission of your brand. In this case, the tagline plays off the image, the dawn of, or something new in gaming.

If your branding does its job, it should convey to consumers that you have something different and something new to add to the gaming industry. Otherwise why would consumers bother looking into your games if they don't offer something they have not seen before.

So branding with the name Terra Nova, now serves a more specific purpose. It's all about a New Earth. That's the end game and Millennium is a good place, a good name to start with because we are not far from the start of the new Millennium (2000). Seventeen years into the 21st Century.

As you can see, your branding must encompass a wide spectrum of ideas but it must focus on a small segment of the population so it is distinctive enough to stand out, seem meaningful, and get noticed for the right reasons.

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I would love to write about your branding experiences here so if you have any questions about branding your games or other products, send me an email and I'll write a post about your branding idea and how to fine tune it for maximum effect.


Friday, June 30, 2017

The Importance of Themes in Board Games

As part of my continuing Blogumentary of the board game, Millennium, I'm now only days away from ordering my first prototype. It's funny how deadlines push you closer to your goals and the design of this box has already gone through about a half dozen different covers in a short six months.

As the game evolves, so does everything else along with it. Hopefully this will be the last design change before the game goes into full production mode in the coming months. It is a long process regardless of how you slice it.

First Prototype Design - Dark with a glimmer of hope.
The first box design was simple and way too dark. The mood I was trying to evoke was darkness and the end of something, End of Days.

As the game evolved I did an about-face and decided to focus on a new day and a bright future as opposed to a dark past and so all the colors and tones had to change accordingly.

As you can see with the latest design, it feels like something hopeful is on the horizon and that is by far a better outlook for the game.

The game went from a pessimistic POV to an optimistic one and I think that will give it the legs it needs to grow as quickly as possible.

Who can say what will be but I think it's a good bet to focus on the positive as opposed to lingering in darkness. This thought also led me to a stronger hook for the theme of the game and I was able to latch on to the new Millennium, being the year 2000 in this case because placing the game in the year 3000 is quite a stretch.

So in essence, the themes of the game build upon the year 2000 or Y2K as it was known at the time. For those of you who were too young at the turn of the new Millennium, there was some tension about everything digital and how computers, or more accurately, how certain processes governed by computers would adapt to this odd number.

Current Design - A hopeful future is already here.
Luckily, all the points of major crisis were successfully averted and the world went on functioning virtually without a hitch. Without a hitch until the year 2001 of September 11, that is. When 9/11 happened, the world and especially New York City, would never be the same.

It is on these themes of world destruction and world domination by ruthless and evil dictators and megalomaniacs that this board game hinges upon.

"You can't interest people in something they don't
give a damn about."

Quite a heavy topic but a most relevant one indeed. And that's hard to top. Global themes are here to stay for obvious reasons and apparently so are board games. That being said, it's my mission with Millennium to not only bring these themes to light but to shed some light into these dark and foreboding ideas and to provoke positive thought and hopefully positive change.

All that about a board game? Sure, why not? One of the most important checkboxes you need to check when it comes to product design is the product's relevancy and importance to consumers. Things have to matter so that people will care. It's just that simple.

You can't interest people in something they don't give a damn about. It won't work. Everyone is interested in global peace and a positive future so hence this game was born from that idea. Actually it's an old Hollywood trick. You build something around a name or a title not the other way around because certain titles or words have implicit themes built right into them.

It's known as a high concept in Hollywood

In this case I was searching for a word or name with a global theme and Millennium came to me instantly. Once I had the name, everything grew from there.

Certainly I'm not in favor of gratuitous violence in any way as so many video games or board games exploit this to every degree. Any acts of violence in this game are born strictly out of self defense and self preservation, survival.

When the Apocalypse comes in the Biblical sense of the word, it is literally every man, every woman and every child for themselves. Each of us must learn to survive however we can because those who have protected us in the past might not be around for us at the time.

So yes, themes are meaningful to stories and to board games just the same. They must be because without a strong central theme plus minor themes and subplots to support it, the spine of your story or game will not work.

Imagine something without a spine. An animal, a human, a story. Themes must act as strong yet flexible spines where you can attach everything so that it all makes sense.

A strong central theme is the most important structural element for your game.

Don't be caught dead with one.

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BTW, you'll notice a woman in Apocalyptic attire holding an Uzi on the cover and a train in the distance. A no-brainer. Pretty women with guns are a surefire bet.

Also, I forgot to mention that I put together a short teaser for Millennium. It only runs for about 40 seconds and this one comes with quite a kicker or should I say quite a blast at the ending. Still tweaking it but I'll post it soon.

Come on back for that because it's pretty funny.

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If you're enjoying this Blogumentary about the making of the board game Millennium, you can subscribe to this Blog or leave a comment below or in the Forum. (See the link above on the right.)

Your comments or questions are always welcome.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Millennium Board Game Trailer - Filmora, Behind The Scenes


It took me about 2 hours to put this video together (images and clips) and about a week to tweak it. That's the way most videos go. They are a process of elimination, trial and error.

Overall, I'm very happy with the results, although I wish this software wasn't so buggy. It tripped my computer several times and sometimes the timeline wouldn't sync with the music track so I had to close the program and reboot it.

It's not my first experience with Filmora from Wondershare but for the price ($59) I think they have a lot to offer. Previous to this software I had mastered Windows Movie Maker, which is not saying much but I had bought a batch of filters and effects for it and I was happy with the results. For me it was easy to use and I had memorized every shortcut and was able to produce videos in no time.

I still miss some of its features, like panning to any corner you wanted and being able to add up to 7 motion and special effects at the same time. The WMM Greenscreen was a bit glitchy but pretty decent overall. WMM had its good and usable features but lacked the array of filters and overlays that Filmora offers.

While I like to keep things simple,
I'm a sucker for special effects.

While I like to keep things simple, I'm a sucker for special effects whenever a scene calls for it. Like most software packages, Filmora comes with hundreds of effects and many overlays that are mostly suited for advertising or home movies.

What I really like and find useful are the static TV Filters and a good number of Cinematic effects and Lens Flare Filters. In this video I needed to show a series of events in the past and then transition to images of the future to setup the reveal shot for the Millennium logo.

To get those effects I made a short newsreel footage of events using the Static TV Filter (there are 5 different filters to choose from). They worked perfectly for the effect I was after. I could have added some film grain and other similar effects but since this was a flashback reel it wasn't necessary because it went by so fast.

The 7 images are set to .5 seconds each so they go by in a flash but you get the feeling of time lapse and what I'm trying to convey.

Here's a close-up screenshot of the actual Timeline with the images in the video.



The Filmora interface is fairly easy to work with and with limited practice you can put a video together rather quickly without too much effort and get some amazing results.

For me, Filmora's biggest drawback is the lack of panning and zooming filters. Panning is so important because it simulates camera angles and zooming is useful for establishing shots or pulling back to reveal a specific part of an image or scene. Without these effects at the proper speed, your video lacks a cinematic feel.

Am I asking for too much? I doubt it because I can think of dozens of effects I wish I could trade off for the ones I really need that already are included with this software package. I'm sure I can buy the effects I need separately but I haven't looked into that yet.

I had also considered using Sony's Vega Movie Studio 13 but I found it a bit technical for my taste. Otherwise it's a very good choice too.

I just needed to get this video finished so I can move on to other things, which I suppose are equally important. There's just so much to do and only about 18 hours a day to work with.

Let me know what you think of this video and if you have any questions about some of the effects, I'll be happy to Post about it next time.

If you're having trouble putting your videos together I have another blog dedicated to that entirely. You can read all about book trailers and video teasers here:
Book Teasers Pub, Book Trailers and Videos



Welcome Nerds! Do you Know Who This Is?

For those of you old enough to remember The Wonder Years TV Show or if you're into the Retro Channels, can you guess who this is?

It's Paul Pfeiffer! And yes, when I was around 13 I looked just like him. His picture is funnier than mine so I switched it out.

Trust me, we're twins.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

New FORUM for Board Game Nerd Alert!

I just wanted to share the debut of my brand new Forum for this blog. Funny thing is that I look like the King of Nerds in that photo I just posted. Check out the FORUM link below or on the right and jump right in and start a topic or just say hello.

Board Game Nerd Alert! Forum

I look forward to meeting you and many fellow board game developers and designers. It's going to be a blast!

I've never thought of myself as a nerd or a geek but my photo begs to differ. Who knew? Hey, it's all in good fun. Nerds and board game geeks rule!

Just a little background as a designer, I've been interested in graphic design most of my life and started my own graphics and advertising business back in 1995.

I had just started getting good clients in my home office when my divorce decree came into my life and hit me right between the eyes.

The details are probably typical of all divorces and it turns out my ex-wife and I have been back together for some time now.

Last Christmas my 2 boys got classic board games and we played Clue and Life, and all along I was thinking, "These games are pretty lame and not how I remember them when I was a kid."

So the light bulb went off and here I am a year later, deep into developing three board games. I have to say that I'm having the time of my life. I barely get any sleep and I look forward to working on my games every day, all day long. Yes, retirement does have some privileges.

For me it's not work. It's fun and a heck of a challenge trying to figure out the best game mechanics and graphics for each game. I really think I was born to do this because out of all the many design and copywriting jobs I've had over the years, this is by far my favorite.

I hope you will join me and together we can learn about this unique business and help each other along the way to making the best games in the world.

I'm committed to game development in a way I cannot explain. It's fun and it's addictive just as much as gaming is. And there's nothing else I'd rather do.

Join me today and together let's change Board Gaming for the better!

Play on!

I'm back to my game, Millennium. Working on my last tokens and a few of the cards.

A.R. Arias

BTW, I'm looking to interview on this blog any designer or developer who wants to talk about their games. Email me and let's have some fun with this!

starshipgrafix@outlook.com

Crucial Design Elements for Your Box Cover

When it comes to the front of your game box, there's no question you need to use images that engage your audience instantly.

Your Box-top must not only attract attention, it must tell a story and pique the viewers curiosity.
It's a lot to fit on a small 10 x 10 box. Let's break it down.

Current Millennium Game Box
First things first. When you look at a game box, the first thing it must accomplish is to catch your eye and create some level of excitement.

There are of course dozens of themes and relevant images you can use. Some themes are more popular than others and so on. What you want to say and what an audience wants to hear can be very different things. You must try to keep it fresh and as original as you can.

The point is that you must work on what excites you and hope your audience feels the same way. Because if you can't get excited about your project, I can assure you that no one else will.

I don't go as far as calling myself a Doomsday Prepper, but I am interested and concerned about our future, as many of us are. The End of Days, The Apocalypse, Doomsday, Dystopian Future, whatever you want to call it is not just a trendy topic, it is a reality we face every day. Most, if not all people can relate to it and are aware of its impending arrival.

Whether you believe in the Bible or the Book of Revelation, that's irrelevant. Our future is a global concern to one and all.

That's good news for anyone who is
interested in developing products
related to the future of Earth
because the future is inevitable.

That's good news for anyone who is interested in developing products related to the future of Earth because the future is inevitable. And as I like to think about it. We are living in three realms at the same time because today's present day will be the past tomorrow and beyond. And today is also the future we thought about only months ago. We are in the present time but in reality it is already past and future.

However, it is the future we are most interested in because it is a time we look forward to with the most hope. We cannot change the past, and we can only influence our present time to a degree. The future is something we can plan for and live for today. Without the hope for a better life in the near future, there really is no reason to get up in the morning.

Okay, so much for philosophical views. The point is that as far as games go, themes of the future are here to stay and should do well in the marketplace for a long time to come. That's important because topics come and go and trends can be fleeting. But the future is always in the back of our minds.

That being said, I believe with the proper marketing and promotion, themes about the Apocalypse are safe and sound, so to speak. These are themes that will always be relevant and therefore good for games and other products.

Front of box

The reason I changed my box is obvious. This is a better image than the last one. Simple enough. I always knew I would change it and was using the previous artwork as a placeholder. Although, I couldn't part with that art completely.

In fact I'm still using most of it except that I added another building to the right and Andrea is now standing there in front of the train with an Uzi in her hand. This is a dangerous place for a woman, after all so she's not taking any chances.

Your Box Cover Must Tell a Story

This image tells a better story and it is more eye-catching than the previous image, which was too green, too extreme a cliché and so I toned it down a bit. That building on the right happens to be a real building somewhere in downtown New York City.

It helps to add some authenticity to these images. After all you never know how many architects or city planners are watching. That sounds silly but as a student of architecture, I like to respect the profession for what it's worth.

Thanks to Photoshop's amazing filters and effects, I was able to easily convert this perfectly good building into a dilapidated ruin with just a few clicks. I then added fog and a blue filter to the whole scene just to tie in all the images.

I love the color blue especially here where you want to brighten what appears to be a very dark and ominous scene. If anything, I'm always trying to lighten up or brighten this theme with bright tones and not so many muted grunge effects just for the sake of the genre.

The Main Role of Your Images

There's always so much to consider. So much to weigh and ponder but keep in mind that the images you present on the cover must be an integral part of the story.

It's a lot like a first chapter in a novel. The images and feeling you create at the opening will reflect on the entire book and in this case the entire Millennium project.

The image on the left hidden in all that atmosphere is the original art tweaked for color correction and blurred to create even more distance and a more interesting perspective.

The short of it is this:
I want viewers to be immersed in this world instantly with one look. I want to pique their curiosity and I want them to ask themselves many questions about this opening scene, with just a glimpse of what is to come.

I think I'm on the right track.

Play on!

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My next post is about an important update to the Rule Book and how you can save on its printing cost plus a little trick I used to include collectible artwork that will instantly add value to your game for just pennies.

Stay tuned for that because this tip can literally make or break a game.

Also, I'll soon be posting the new Trailer for Millennium. It's pretty kick-ass and I'll break that down too and point out all the essential elements you must include to make your trailer a huge success.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.