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Physical games classification project Sticky

A topic by leafo created Feb 02, 2019 Views: 4,066 Replies: 100
Viewing posts 1 to 36
Admin (1 edit) (+13)

Recently I've noticed we've been getting a handful of people uploading their physical games to itch.io. I'm really happy to see this. The physical games section was kinda added as an afterthought though, so the filtering and classification options are very minimal. I'd like to improve that. I don't know much about the space as I do about digital games, so I'm asking for you help on how to organize things.

itch.io uses tags as its primary classification system, with some tags being part of groups that can be filtered together. The easiest way to see this would be to checkout the sidebar on our Games page, or see the Directory page. Here's things we need:

  • What categories should show up on the sidebar of the physical games section: https://itch.io/physical-games? These include high lever filters and important tags
  • What tags should we make available to suggest when people are creating their project pages? Many of the tags that are available in the drop-down now are digital game specific
  • We have a special Genre tag that is collected separately for digital games, should this exist for physical games, and what should they be?
  • What types of classifications should we have that aren't easily represented in this system? (Player count? I think we already have that for digital games so many the same thing can be used)

And lastly, please share anything else you can think of to make publishing physical games better on itch.io

(1 edit) (+12)

A couple of my biggest projects are digital projects that are meant to be used as utility apps for tabletop RPG games. How about "Tabletop Utility" for that tag and category. My projects have never felt right being labeled as just "Utility" on other app stores because usually "utility" apps are things like flashlights and calculators.

Other ideas for this classification of games and related apps.

tags:

  • print-and-play = a game that can be printed on paper and played.
  • tabletop game = a physical game played around a table with friends. Examples: board games and card games.
  • tabletop RPG = a physical game with rulebooks and guides where players role-play characters.
  • tabletop utility = a utility application meant to help with or be used with tabletop games.
  • tabletop materials = digital or print-and-play supplementary materials for other tabletop games. Examples: maps, premade characters, premade adventures

And a special note about license information because I know it could come up. Wizard's of the Coast, which owns the official Dungeons & Dragons product, has their own digital store for selling homemade supplementary materials. Their rule on this is that only materials published through their official store and sharing revenue with them can "tag" themselves and promote themselves using the label "D20". So that tag is strictly off the table, though you see it being used a lot when it shouldn't be. Similar is using the words "Dungeons and Dragons" or one of the other similar games that may be owned by a different publisher. That's why some tag their materials as "5e" which is short hand for 5th edition, but even that is a little on the line with how they specify their rules. "tabletop" is the safe tagging category, though it does encompass more than RPG games. I guess "tabletop" would be the genre category you mention.

(1 edit) (+34)

Hey Leaf, this is @swordpeddler from twitter. First of all thanks a whole hell of a lot for putting some spotlight on this; right now independent creator-publishers in tabletop games have basically one central market to sell our wares and a lot of us are looking for other places to go. There has been a huge push to move to itch for about a year now. Something that would help us out a lot is these better tags, and I have some suggestions. The biggest one is I think you should change "Physical Games" to "Tabletop Games" as the broadest, top level category—I think physical games is a fine descriptor but as a colloquialism it is less known.

These are my sidebar suggestions to keep it as neat as possible; these categories are broad strokes of the kinds of games and game accessories made for tables:

Roll and Write: these are solo-play tabletop games, not strictly roll playing games in the same sense as D&D is. A good example is this gem: https://metalsnail.itch.io/hall-of-the-dwarven-king

Role Playing Game: this is where you'd drop your regular, full games or so. Knave is a full RPG, and is the type of game that'd drop in to this category: https://questingbeast.itch.io/knave, as would Nora Blakes Endless Waltzhttps://neithernora.itch.io/endless-waltz, this one about snakes: https://kiramagrann.itch.io/a-cozy-den, or even https://makebigthings.itch.io/damntheman.

RPG Supplement: this is a category for things like adventures and campaign settings that are compatible with other, full RPGS. Existing  examples of this would be https://olobosk.itch.io/the-will-of-rot, https://cone.itch.io/coldwinter, or https://swordfishislands.itch.io/hot-springs-island.

Board Game: this would be your print & play games that are not RPGs, things like: https://randyo.itch.io/scoundrels, https://rockmanor.itch.io/maximum-apocalypse, or https://adriannovell.itch.io/magos-y-tabernas-printnplay.

Card Game: this is print & play card games like: https://evilisa.itch.io/qwap, https://offcutgames.itch.io/complicated-board-game-the-card-game, and https://terriv.itch.io/pusherkings.

Utility Apps: things made to support tabletop games like https://cone.itch.io/hex-kit.

Zines:  tabletop zines are wildly popular, and you're going to see a bunch of them uploaded to itch around March, when the "Zinequest" Kickstarter Event starts to fulfill. This is going to be a popular category!


I think you'll find a lot of people will want game-specific tags, so there is a good place to start. A lot of independently produced tabletop material is made to be compatible with existing games, so you'll see people want tags like this: PbtA, OGL, OSR, FitD and Fate. Those may be greek, but a lot of people are going to get it trust me. Other popular tags to cover all of the proposed categories would be wargame, solo, adventure, source bookprint & playcampaign settingcore rules, system neutral, rules lightgmlessmaphex crawlsocial, one page, and 2-players. I am sure other users will come up with some more good ones.

In tabletop games, most of the time when you see genre it means the same thing as it does in the literary world; so instead of adventure as a genre like you have in digital games, we would want stuff like fantasy, sci fi, post apocalypse, western, crime, horror, investigative, pulp adventure and stuff like that. I bet we could rustle up a good primer somewhere on that!

As far as classification goes, I think most of the categories, tags, and genre will cover what folks traditionally expect out of sorting tabletop games. Maybe someone else has better suggestions.

And finally I think the biggest thing I would love to see to make selling tabletop games through itch is an upfront way of selling a physical book; I know we can use the rewards tool but something more front and center might be cool? I'd also love, if possible, to be able to add more than one thing to a cart via the widget. But that's a heavy ask!

Again, thank you so much for replying to me on twitter and stepping up, I know a lot of people are looking at itch now as an alternative to what little there is now.

(+8)

I think Cone of Negative Energy nailed it.

(+3)

Sign me up for your newsletter, CONE.

(+4)

I completely agree with swordpeddler on this. I personally think the RPG Supplement category, where we can list supporting materials (so we don't have to list them as books/physical games), is the biggest thing on my wishlist. For example, I recently published Wacky Plot Hooks (https://zeshio.itch.io/wackyplothooks), which is like a 10 page supplement with adventuring ideas for people playing roleplaying games. It really doesn't fit anywhere at the moment, and expanding and defining the physical game category like swordpeddler mentions would be a dream for me.

Also, considering the indie ttrpg creator community has been growing year over year, I think making these changes will make the site a lot more friendly. I know a lot of people that feel like they're not getting represented/paid well on the other major marketplaces- and I think this would help everyone involved (itch and creators).

I appreciate your effort in this!

Zeshio

Strongly agree, especially with the idea of Tabletop being a better high level category than physical.  It's very common usage, for example Pax Unplugged is described as being a convention "for just the tabletop parts of Pax"   Festivals of Indie game I'd attended have had "digital" and "tabletop" tracks/rooms.

(+3)

I feel like "Tabletop Games" is too specific to be the top-level category. For example, LARPs are not generally considered tabletop games but are currently being included in the Physical Games category on Itch. I've seen "Analog Games" as  an umbrella category elsewhere that would include both.

(+11)

The two previous comments really nail everything, but I'd like to repeat: I know it might be a big ask, but being able to sell print copies of our games, meaning physical books, boxed boardgames, etc, would be very helpful!

Grasswatch Games is still looking for a store front through which we can sell our own copies of Sundown (as opposed to a service like Indie Press Revolution, which only lists stock that you ship to their warehouse) and having that option on itch would be amazing.

Thank you!!

(+5)

Yeah this would really seal the deal. A partnership with Lulu or Lightning Source would be awesome.

(+3)

What this person said.

I write RPGs, and what the current monopoly website offers is the ability to sell print-on-demand copies of books. It's pretty far outside itch's typical remit, but if you could somehow swing that then you'd have everything Drivethru offers with a lower cut of sales and an easier-to-use back-end.

Then we'd just have to drive our customers your way.

Admin(+5)

It's unlikely we'll have our own warehouses, printing, and shipping infrastructure any time soon (if at all). I'm definitely open to working with a third party though, so facilitate sending the purchase information and relevant files off to be shipped. If you know of any services like that please share. Thanks for your feedback.

(+4)

Oh no,

Yes all of that would be lovely, but

What I mean is the ability for me to keep stock at my home, take orders for them on itch, and then ship them myself. I'm just asking that itch could be a portal for handling that information - tagging a sale as a physical item sale, giving me the purchaser's address, and prompting me to ship product to them.

(+4)

Ingram Spark has a company called Lightning Source that I am pretty sure has a backend API to do this. Another site uses it to fuel their print on demand program. I have no clue if it is an exclusive agreement, but it's worth checking out. Another company that might be able to provide this is http://www.chicagopressmen.com/ but I am not sure.

(+3)

Warehousing wouldn't be the right way to proceed. Instead a partnership with someone that does print on demand would be appropriate -- a place that does just-in-time printing and shipping.

(+1)

DriveThruRPG basically subcontracts Print On Demand stuff to LightningSource. I don't know all the details of that, but when a customer puts in an order, LightningSource prints and ships and individual copy for them, so there's no warehousing per se.

But as others have said, being able to set an inventory on itch and ship out books myself--like I do with my zines on Etsy--would be nice too.  One of the big things with DTRPG is that I can let people order a POD book and get an electronic version for free at the same time (or set a discounted price to get both, but I just make the PDF free with a POD purchase), and it would be nice to have an automated way to offer that kind of combo through itch.

(1 edit) (+7)

I just posted the first game I've ever published independently here and am psyched to see this conversation. A lot of the most relevant stuff has already been said above, but categories for low prep, no prep, one-shot and campaign would be amazing for folks looking for games to fit specific life situations that come up fairly regularly.

Also, there's pretty big crossover between designers and players of tabletop RPGs and larps, so larp classification tags could also be very useful - things like, well, larp, as well as parlor, freeform, boffer, nordic. I'm not that deep in the classification system, but those are some broad categories that would be a not terrible place to start.

(+3)

larp, and &c. are all super good tags to go under the RPG category also. campaign would definitely fit in the supplement section (See Wizard Fighter Thief's post) but I agree that one shot, no prep, and low prep are good tags also.

I was thinking more of campaign as indicating designed for long term play, rather than a specific adventure, but I can see it's not the best terminology for that.

(+1)

I feel like for LARPs you really want the tags to be open-ended, since there's a remarkable lack of consensus as to what things like "parlor", "freeform", or "nordic" mean.

(+4)

It's important to be able to find games in the same medium, but often times folks who try to offer analog games have "related" games as digital, because they might share the tag "post-apacolyptic" or more notoriously, "rpg".

What I would really want to see is an easy way to distinguish analog games from digital games without relying on looking at a given tag. This also extends beyond games, as some folks use itch for tutorials, fonts, curriculum, and other resources that are related to games content as a whole.

There is a lot of other considerations with expanding itch to facilitate analog games, so by no means am I devaluing other people's very valid input.

Admin(+1)

Regarding making the distinction clear, is this on the particular product's page, or when browsing for it on the site?

(+3)

I was specifically referring to "Related Games" section. Honey Heist, for example, has Butterfly Soup & Night in the Woods in it's relates games. Great games, but not relevant because they're a different medium entirely.

Admin(+3)

I see, thanks for the example. We can definitely fix that.

(+5)

I'm pretty much going to second Cone of Negative Energy - except for one detail. I don't know how far we can nest things, but I think the distinction between Role Playing Game and RPG Supplement is very blurry _and_ also repeated in other areas, for example you might have a Board Game and a Board Game Extension or a Board Game Variant.

I think it'd be better to have a hierarchy or tags:

So, top level: Role Playing Game (this is the type of game).

Second level: Rule Book, Supplement, Adventure Module, Setting, etc.

(+4)

a good point;  for sure. could have the category just say RPG and then throw the supplement, core, etc into the tags

Or Tabletop RPG - or would LARP and such also fit in same category?

I don't normally see LARPs considered a type of RPG, but I'm sure others would disagree, and also some games can be played either as a tabletop or as a LARP.

(+4)

some more great tags comin' out of smart people's noggins in here. Alex McConnaughey brings up a really good point about live play games that should be considered, and maybe changing Physical Games to Tabletop Games isn't the smoothest move. I would definitely add "Live Action Games" to the category list, and use things like parlor, boffer, and what not as tags.

Admin(+2)

I like the idea of changing it to Tabletop Games because, as you said, no one is searching for "Physical Games" so it makes things harder to discover. If we switched to "Tabletop Games" what things do you think would be left out? Just Live Action Games or anything else? Maybe those categories are so small it makes sense for them to live in Misc with a tag.

From a pure like, google search usefulness standpoint changing the category to tabletop games is going to be the best change, yeah. I don't make LARPs or live action games. My understanding is they take up a small percentage of an already small market but have a massive overlap with tabletop communities.

(1 edit) (+2)

I know a lot of folks also use "analog games" as an umbrella term for board game, card games, tabletop RPGs, and larps. I think the thing that makes larps look like a smaller community is that there aren't huge companies that folks are creating supplemental materials for, or well known systems being hacked by various folks. I think the content that is being created by larp communities would fit in really well here, and it would be awkward/unintuitive to not include it in the category.

I've never heard of "analog games" - it makes sense - as opposite to digital games - but it doesn't seem a popular term.

Boundaries are fuzzy but I'd argue that escape-the-room games and sports might be things that one could publish on Itch that may or may not be considered Live Action Games.

(+10)

A lot of previous posts have touched on what we're all thinking and needing. I love itch.io in general, but when it comes to my tabletop RPG games / products (I make digital games as well, but ttrpgs currently form the bulk of my catalog) discoverability has been a problem on here. Having specific analog games / physical games tags would go a long way.

Making it easy for someone looking for ttrpgs / analog games / larps / etc. to find a full, comprehensive listing of those offerings would be fantastic. As it stands, I often can't  find my own games if I search by category alone, and I actually tag them as "physical games" as well as whatever other tags I find to be appropriate. Half the time, they don't show up at all if I click on physical games and scroll through from start to finish (I am not entirely sure why this is).

So basically, yeah, a comprehensive high level tag for physical games should list ALL physical games (sortable by date released, alphabetically, or etc.), and then lower level, more specific category tags should list ALL games tagged with that category. As for the categories themselves, here's a list off the top of my head. Some of these have definitely already been mentioned, but I can't imagine it hurts to reinforce / reiterate.

Formats:

- tabletop rpg / pen and paper rpg
- board game (print and play, most likely)
- GMless tabletop rpg
- Solitaire tabletop rpg (I think this has been referred to in a previous suggestion as Roll and Write)
- Dice based game
- Card based game
- Diceless  game
- Print and play game
- Live Action Role Playing Game / LARP (some subcategories: Parlor LARP, Freeform LARP, High Immersion, Low Immersion, Powers and Secrets LARP, Nordic LARP, etc. ... there are a lot of kind of LARPS, but I am far from a LARP afficianado, so I'm sure more research will reveal a more complete picture).
 - Micro-game
- Anthology
- TTRPG Supplement / Module / Adventure (sortable by system, and with an available "system agnostic / universal tag")
- Rules heavy game
- Rule light game
- Storytelling game
- World building game
- Old School Revival (OSR) - This one is maybe somewhere in between a genre and a format.

Some Common Game Systems / System Tags:

- Unique / Original System (super important!! - not everything is DnD or a hack of something else. Most of my games fall into this category.)
- Powered by the Apocalypse (Apocalypse World Hack) 
- Forged in the Dark (Blades in the Dark Hack)
- F.A.T.E.
- Gurps
- Savage Worlds
- Cypher System
- The Dark Eye
- Gumshoe
- Basic Roleplaying
- and so on. DnD / Shadowrun / etc. are obvious ones, probably.

Some Common Genres / Genre Tags: 

- Universal / Genre Agnostic (again, very important to make this its own, viable tag)
- OSR - (again, it's kind of a genre / format / philosophy, I guess?)
- Sword and Sorcery
- Cyberpunk
- Superheroes 
- Family friendly 
- Horror (Gothic, Cosmic, etc.)
- Heroic / Nonheroic
- Dungeon Crawl
- Basically, a lot of genres pretty much directly overlap with other media. So there's probably multiple analog games in every conceivable genre (or at least one).

None of the above was meant to be exhaustive. It's just the stuff that comes most immediately to mind. 

I think having the link to physical games show up on the front page is a great early step.  It'd be great to be able to search for all physical games currently on sale (currently, it won't let me do so, but that might also be because nothing is on sale?), and to have an accurate, easy to access "new releases" page for the top level category and any number of lower level categories (as it stands, this seems to be a feature, but it never works correctly for me ... again, don't know why).

Anyway, thanks for giving physical games more consideration. If my work had even a fraction of the discoverability on itch that it does on drivethru, it would likely make a tangible difference. Maybe nothing life changing, but every dollar and cent counts, honestly.

Aleks

(+3)

good points and lists! will say, there's not gunna be a need for many game specific tags, as a lot of those games don't allow 3rd party content. so like, unless SJG wants to port their entire store then we'll never need a gurps tag, same with d&d, shadowrun, dark eye, etc. but PbtA, FitD, OGL, etc though, definitely—these games are legal derivatives and standalone. in general though, game specific tags aren't really useful for independent creators unless they have a bevy of supplemental material pointing back to their core game. 

Agreed. I don't know 100% which systems do or don't have open SRDs / OGL / open licenses or whatnot. I guess in the indie space, PbtA is the one that comes up most often, with FitD coming in strong (but Blades was a PbtA hack too, I think, so it's  hacks, of hacks, of hacks). I think FATE games can be made under OGL also, though? Savage Worlds probably doesn't belong on that list, because now that I'm looking at it, their license seems to be only open-adjacent, at best. Anyway, yeah, definitely no need to include the big ones, but maybe some players / customers will find having a few of these categories useful. I don't know. I've heard that some folks are really particular, and just want to play PbtA games exclusively, or just play FATE exclusively, or whatnot, so they might be able to narrow things down a bit that way. 

(+8)

Hi! Most of my games are small zines or rulebooklets that are meant to be printed out. I also assemble them by hand on nice paper and mail them out to people.

It took me a while to find the Rewards system, but currently that’s the best thing on itch for selling separate things. (See http://mrfb.itch.io/standoff for an example of how I’m doing it.)

A few small changes to how that system works would make me really happy.

1.) When I get an email telling me I made a sale, let me know when there’s a reward associated with it! There’s surprisingly little messaging for “hey, you have to physically prepare a booklet and mail it out”

2.) I have a cache of about 5-20 of each of my games assembled and ready for mailing, but mostly I just have a giant stack of different kinds of paper, and I print and assemble booklets by hand when necessary. This is to say, an option for unlimited quantity rewards would be nice.

3.) A page somewhere where I can see all my currently unfulfilled rewards across all my projects. Maybe even with some kind of button to tell the purchaser that the thing is in the mail?

(+3)

yeah this is the good stuffs i am talking about. i don't think we need a completely new way to sell physical goods, just some more back end to make the process clearer. just a few tweaks to existing things to bend what exists to what we need.

(+1)

Yeah, I didn't even know this was an option. Just making this route a little more official and usable is what I was asking for.

Admin (1 edit) (+5)

Just an aside, the community copy thing you're doing is really cool.

I think all your suggestions for updates to the reward system are good.

(+1)

I'd like to +1 on the ideas for

  • A kind of traceability system for both ends (buyers and vendors can see "Your thing is ordered", "Your thing has been made", "Your thing has been posted") and a simple bulk-adjustment thing for that. Cause that system would SUCK if you had to change one-by-one manually rather than "do these 20, select 20 in the thing, change to been made".
  • Present the above stuff in a simple sheet? Something you could export to your preferred spreadsheet system of choice and use as your to-do-list if you're doing this across more than one platform.

I agree with these points. Right now the only thing itch.io doesn't offer me is a clear path to sell physical copies of games as add-ons with the PDF version. These small tweaks would make a huge difference.

Moderator(+5)

Hi there! I'm a game designer and publisher who's used Itch as a consumer and have been looking into hosting products here. I'm mostly chiming in to reiterate the good ideas other folks have shared. To clarify: I'm sharing info that I think is most relevent and efficient; there are lots of great ideas suggested but some of them may be edge cases.


Broad Designation: "Analog Games" and "Tabletop Games" are the most commonly used but whereas "Tabletop" only includes RPGs, board, and card games, "Analog" also includes LARPs and other kinds of games. Analog is probably the best best.

Sub-Sections:

  • Board Game
  • Card Game
  • LARP
  • Roleplaying Game
  • RPG Supplement
  • RPG Utility
  • Zine

Genres/Categories:

  • Campaign
  • Family Friendly
  • Fantasy
  • GMless/GMfull (GMless is more popular but GMfull has a decent sized following)
  • Horror
  • Low Prep
  • Micro Game
  • No Prep
  • One Shot
  • Post Apocalypse
  • Sci Fi
  • Solo RPG
  • Story Game/Storytelling Game
  • Superheroes
  • Western
  • Worldbuilding Game

3rd Party Publishing:

  • Cypher System
  • Fate
  • Forged in the Dark (FitD)
  • Open Game License (OGL)
  • OSR (Often "Old School Renaissance" but the acronym has basically moved past easy definition)
  • Powered by the Apocalypse (PbtA)
  • Savage Worlds Aces: for official licensees of the Savage Worlds RPG (may not be possible due to licensing restrictions; contact Pinnacle Entertainment Group for clarification)
  • Savage Worlds Adventurer's Guild (SWAG): for fan products for the Savage Worlds RPG (same potential licensing issues above apply)

Misc. Ideas

  • Print Products: I don't need to sell print products on Itch but the option would be nice. Working with a 3rd party like Lulu or Lightning Source would be amazing.
  • Mailing Lists: Not sure if Itch already has something like this but I'd like to be able to send an email to everyone who has purchased my products (only if they consent to receive email, of course).
  • Forum/Social Media: I've saved the biggest ask for last. Google+ an oasis for thousands of people in several parts of the RPG community but it's shutting down. Alternatives (facebook, Twitter, MeWe, Discord, Slack, etc.) all have interesting opportunities but none of them are a solid replacement. Some kind of (searchable!) forum or social media space where tabletop gamers could chat (grouped by discussion) and share news, blog posts, etc. would be truly wonderful.

Thanks so much for taking this step, Leaf! It's the thing that's made me finally decide to give publishing on Itch a try. Looking forward to what you come up with!

(+2)

Just to answer a question or two from my experience so people know they're included features:

You can email people who have purchased your product. They have to provide emails, and then itch has a system that allows you to email them a certain amount. I usually only do it when I have a new product out.

You can have forums for your products, but I agree, I wonder if we could have a forum for each of the major itch categories, which could foster some of the community that came from google +.

(+1)

Thanks a bunch for reaching out!

I'd say a common high level way of categorizing physical games would be:

  1. Tabletop board games
  2. Tabletop role playing games
  3. card games
  4. LARPS
  5. other

 My major interest is RPGs and as  people mentioned being able to tag with by systems such a Fate, PbtA,  FitD, Gumshoe etc. would be wonderful.

Of course, many designers create their own system, so have the option of creating some sort of imprint tab for one's own system would be great, and really helpful for the consumer to find all the rule books, rule expansions, settings, adventures, zines, maps, pawns and other material that are related.  Even for indie publishers, it's not unheard of to have more than one core game, so being able to sort by line could really help people find this.

It would be useful to have some way of categorizing the type of RPG: class-based, skill based, narrative, OSR, experimental

Universal would be a helpful tag--people do write content that is not tied to a specific system.  

In addition to the genres people have mentioned, I'd add pulp and mystery as being 

Thanks again!

                                        Mark

From what I've seen on other sites and conversations, I think "Universal" is more commonly used to describe games that have no specific genre in mind, whereas "Systemless" or "System-Agnostic" would be more accurate in describing material that you're describing.

I'm really encouraged to see this discussion, and while most of my potential suggestions have already been covered above, I just wanted to voice my support for this direction.

(+6)

Howdy! I started Emotional Mecha Jam.
People above have given reasonable, standard answers. I'd like to offer two other possibilities:

1) Make the tags freeform. This is one of the beauties of bandcamp.com: You can make tags for whatever. This means that you can find the big things everyone looks for (metal, rock, r&b, etc) but also that you can find intriguing and evolving microgenres as they evolve (vaporwave, pzacore, apocalyptic folk, aleatoric). I don't know if this is possible given your software, but imo would be optimal.


2) Sidestep the media-bound classification and make tags for emotional, mood, sexual, etc content in the style that Archive of Our Own (A03) and other fanfiction communities do it. When I'm looking for a game I don't care if it's a board game or a video game, I am trying to fill an emotional need. Do I need a game to make me happy? sad? jealous? Freeform tags solves this, but if your software doesn't allow for that, please expand all tagging options, across media to include this.

Admin(+3)
1) Make the tags freeform

Tags are already freeform! We have a list of suggested tags that we encourage people to use though, it's easier to find certain things when people agree on tagging conventions. This topic is about finding the right tags to suggest to people creating tabletop games and the like.

2) Sidestep the media-bound classification

Tags can be anything, but at the moment it's impossible to browse all content by a tag, you have to select a primary content type (game, book, etc.). I'll think about this for a future update.

(+3)

Something to consider for the starter tags leafo is looking for is that you don't necessarily want or need pin-point accuracy. You want your categories to be very broad and you want the tags that leafo adds to the suggestions to be just a smidgen more accurate than that. It's advantageous to creators to use terms that are common language and it can hurt you to use terms that are known in hyper specific circles or to game designing communities. If we want to work with Itch.io to bring a wider tabletop audience to the store for tabletop stuffs then we should be concerned about choosing tag terms that are known to that wider audience and easily recognizable.

And also keep in mind that tags are not set in stone; there would be the suggested ones and you can enter your own as well.

(+13)

Everything said here has been fantastic so far. I can't echo the comments enough.

The one thing I'd add is, a player count classification would be tremendously valuable, as a way to sort physical games across the entire category. It's something that isn't always readily apparent by description or tags, and can be a key selling feature for games designed towards certain group sizes. If I'm looking for single-player or two-player games, being able to quickly enter in that information would save me a ton of time.

Yeah, I'm super late to the party, but I came here to suggest this! I'd love to be able to look for one-player games, two-player games/duets, etc. It might also be good to have tags for "GM-less" and "GM-full" games!

(+9)

One minor thing perhaps, but it would be great if the representative image for the title could be the shape of a book instead of the shape of a computer monitor. As an option, I mean.

(+1)

True, I always wind up having to create another cover just to fit the itch format!

Yeah that simple graphical thing would be awesome to let people know which were physical and which were not.
Or another easy solution is to put a colour border around the item.
Red Border = Digital
Blue Border = Physical/Tabletop
Purple Border = Both Versions Available

(1 edit) (+4)

I sell a "physical game" RPG solely on itch, and think the platform works great for hosting and selling it, and I have no interest in using the certain monopoly RPG site. I'm glad to read all of this! Obv itch was designed as a digital gaming platform and tabletop people just kind of showed up and started using it, but there are a lot of benefits to us here over our other options.

My main concern about selling tabletop games on itch is discovery. Better classification in the "Physical games" category would be helpful, but looking at the itch front page, it seems to me that "Physical games" are treated as a completely separate entity from just "Games." Since itch is oriented around "Games" defined as digital games, that means all of that real estate on the front page for "Latest Featured Games" or "Fresh Games" only features digital games. (I do see physical games on the front page in the "Recommended for you" section, since I've browsed and purchased and sold them).

Maybe the Featured Games section could also include physical games, or maybe the front page could just have a separate section for a physical games spotlight. I think that would do a lot to make the site more inclusive of physical games and a better place to browse, buy, and sell them.

Moderator(+18)

Hey Leaf, it's DC. We recently spoke in a brief email exchange. 


Everything posted here has been on point, so I want to cover a different need. 

Having our own forum is wildly important due to the departure of Google+ in the coming months. Most established designers have used it as a tool to connect to the community at large, and we've had many failed attempts at replicating a similar space sense.

The two sides of the coin are that we have a place to begin transitioning tabletop RPG community communication to, while you receive a direct line to the creator base, much like this post. 

(+3)

I would love to see Itch grow as a broad tabletop/analog games community space. We would benefit from itch's established moderation practices and opportunities for intersection with digital games creators.

Thinking about not only the fact that we need a space, but what that space sense was in concrete terms, it strikes me that rich and vibrant online RPG communities like the one that formed on G+ (or historically, places like The Forge) have two qualities:

1. A shared and common space where a diversity of voices can be heard. That is, a shared timeline or a forum for people to speak into, where what you can see and who can see what you say is not silo-ed by who you follow and who or how many follow you.

2. Are driven primarily by conversation between and with designers, focused on facilitating the creative excitement, cross-pollination, and sense of possibility (see point 1) which motivates people in the community to become designers themselves and make new games.

I believe that these two are some of the major contributing factors to creating a rich creative environment for new forms of play to develop, and it is new forms of play which expand and enrich the community.

So I'm really excited about this forum!

(+2)

Hey Itch Peeps,

I got here through Cecil (CONE/SwordPeddler) and Olivia Hill.

The sort of stuff I'd want from this kind of thing would be...

  • A general Tabletop Game category
  • Tags for Roleplay Games, Card Games, and maybe for individuals RPG systems or suites of systems (if they will function like a cloud of searchable tags, rather than a categorical box)

The other big wishlist would be to have a way to do PoD type stuff. I know that you don't do physical material printing, but if there were ways to either do a bulk-order-and-ship (explained a bit more below) or a per-transaction-order-and-send that would be great.

Bulk Order & Ship

For printed stuff, there are usually economies of scale to be had in sending a large enough job to a printer. The pie-in-the-sky idea would be to have a kind of 'preorder' list that could be set up. When someone wants a physical thing, they go on a list and are not yet charged (like Kickstarter... pledge to buy but not yet pay) so that when the orders for that hit a certain volume the Creator can then hit "Charge and send to Printer" and then the usual PoD stuff would kick into gear.

If that idea is way outside what you'd want to do, then just garden variety PoD like you find at Lulu, or DTRPG, or similar would be fantastic.


Andrew C

(+6)

Hi

it seems to me that for board games, being able to sort by language is important. I can play games in English, but reading rules is too difficult...

(+1)

I'm not super sure about classifications for like search and stuff but it sure would be nice to have a "printable" file tag or something of the sort to differentiate printable materials from other files (like digital companion apps).

I wish I knew more about physical gaming as a whole, but I can put in my two cents and say that having a cooperative tag is important to me, as a person. I enjoy Sentinels of the Multiverse, Pandemic: The Cure, and other co-op games myself, and being able to find games like that is far more up my alley.

(+7)

Something I pointed out on Twitter and elsewhere in the last few days: A lot of creators don't have much or any experience with setting prices for a product, and would greatly benefit from some guidance there when putting their product up for sale. When you see that empty price box and you have to decide what you're going to charge for your game that you worked hard on, it can cause a lot of anxiety for people who maybe have never had to think about their game as being more than a labor of love, and that's hard to put a price on--but there are prices that customers are expecting to see for certain products, and creators should have the benefit of that insight.

Something to the tune of a Recommended Price selector with a few choices, as well as the option to set your own different price, might be helpful. Here's the break-down that I presented on Twitter and elsewhere:

  • Free - The Freebie: A sampling of something larger, intended to give players a taste of what the creator is capable of
  • $5 - The Quickie: A short or quick game that can be played repeatedly and with little time commitment
  • $10 - The One Shot: a longer, evening-length game that can be played with little or no preparation, with no requirement to play multiple sessions
  • $20 - The Campaign: a longer, multi-evening game that may require commitment from players to invest in an experience that does not end with the first session

Give the creators the option to set their own price (like they do now), but start with those four options as a way to give them a consistent starting point. (If a creator wants to set an alternative Minimum Price that is below their selected Recommended Price, continue to let them do that as well. Creators seem to have a better intuition about setting their minimum prices.)

This is an excellent suggestion and, honestly, I'd love to see this across all submissions on itch.

(+1)

I’d also like to have the ability to set prices like this for sub-products on the same page, rather than setting price levels.

Moderator (2 edits) (+10)

Edit 2/16/2019: Because this post got a decent number of likes I want to update the post since talking to some other designers changed my opinion. I'm leaving the original below for posterity.

Takuma made really good points: "Realizing that the way I approach my PWYW games is sort of like a marketing budget. You’re going to lose money on them, but they’re also ways for people to sample your work. So be deliberate with what you make PWYW, choose stuff that is representative of your work and popular!...But you also can’t spend all your money on marketing; making all your games PWYW is similar to that imo. Get people interested with a sample, and if they truly like what you’ve done they’ll pay for the other stuff!"

I also think there is evidence over the past month (since this post) that people are coming to itch.io more and willing to pay for products. So it seems like the best way to continue to address this is through a culture shift and the community advocating for better pay for games.

I still believe most games benefit from a set minimum price, but I appreciate the flexibility Takuma highlights with creators being strategic about possible pricing models.

So instead I would point to Dee's suggestion that there be suggestions or aids in helping creators set prices and think about this. Hopefully creating a community in the forums will also fill this need.

* * *

Original Post:

Other kinds of stuff I would want: if someone marks their game a fully released, they are required to set a minimum price for it.

It would establish a professional culture that helps designers, consumers, and the longevity of this site. Let me break down how.


1) I know many designers who prefer itch.io but make more money at DTRPG.

There are multiple reasons, but a culture of paying for games is part of it. Here are some numbers:

  • DTRPG game numbers:
    • PWYW: 5,876
    • Free: 1,675
    • Paid: 71,240.
  • Itch.io game numbers:
    • PWYW/Free: 1,238
    • Paid: 289

At DTRPG, no-cost games make up 9% of the total market, vs. this site where they make up 81% of the market. At this site, asking for a set cost creates a barrier for consumers to choose it, whereas it's the norm at DTRPG.

On the consumer side, many people have told me they take the free option to treat it as a "preview" with the intention to spend money if they like the game...but then forget to go back. Or think about going back, but that takes extra time/work, so they put it off.


2) Consumers would benefit from a clearer distinction between games as indicated by prices. 

I've talked to multiple consumers who feel pressured by PWYW because they don't know how much a game is worth, feel like designers should know and set a specific price, and deal with this uncertainty often by paying nothing. Additionally, there is a huge range in quality and complexity of games from "quick game jam idea I want to release but not refine" to "game in development for years with hours of playtesting and professional editing." The current "everything is free" pricing culture doesn't help separate these games.

Requiring a minimum price for games in the released category requires designers to think, "Is this worth asking for money at this stage, or should I set it as still in development".

Requiring everyone to set a price would also encourage designers to have to think more about, "What is my game worth and how do I set that price point?"


2a) Requiring a price would still allow for a wide range in prices. 

I think about Kindle books at Amazon. If I buy at $1.99 I assume it will be pretty amateur and don't get upset when that' the case. If I buy a $9.99 book, I assume it will be professional/publication level quality. There's room for all levels of games too...but right now pricing here is "free/PWYW" or "paid, hurt your numbers, also probably pretty low since that's what most people do because you already stand out for not going PWYW."


3) For the site's longevity, I assume more money would help y'all. 

If you required released games to cost something, you will make more money by shifting the culture and being attractive to people who feel stuck on DTRPG.

If itch.io really wanted to help designers and consumers, you could establish "suggested price" guidelines, e.g. "Full rulebook, $20-30; Supplements or Short Games $10-20; Micro-projects (e.g. <10 pages, not a full game): $5-10"

All of the above would assume we can still set our games as "in development" or something similar, which would not require a minimum price. 

(+4)

I just transitioned all of my titles over here, and I love everything I've seen so far. The comments above are excellent, and I want to see them implemented.

One thing that stands out to me is the formatting and aspect ratios of the cover images. TTRPG covers are usually 6x9" or 8.5x11". That means to get my stuff here on itch.io, I had to go and reformat 12 cover images (which sometimes produces really unflattering results) to have a page image for every game. I was able to upload the full cover as a "screenshot," sure, but being able to display the full cover on my main page would be even better.

What do you mean by "main page"? You may can already do what you want if you put the larger image in the "description" box on your project's page.

Admin(+1)

We had a similar issue with comics and we ended up coming with something that would scale your image to fit the cover while preserving the aspect ratio, and adding a blurred background behind it. You can see some examples here: https://itch.io/comics

If you think that's a good solution I can enable it for the physical games section.

It looks like the bulk of the comics on the first few pages opted to resize to fit itch's formatting, but for those physical game creators who don't want to do that, the blurred background is a good solution. 

(+3)

An advantage that itch.io would have over some of the other online stores that offer online selling of pdf supplement game content is that itch has an awesome client that you can install and it makes it easy to keep your downloads up to date. This could actually be a really cool thing for pdf supplement material because if a creator made updates or added content BOOM the owners of the product that have the itch client can see there is an update and download without any hassle.

(1 edit) (+2)

Oh and to add to my own thought. Itch also has already integrated support with Patreon. A lot of supplement  game content creators are on Patreon, so that's a win-win for them using itch to distribute.

(+1)

Excited about this, and to jump on the bandwagon, Cone pretty much nailed it as far as I'm concerned back there on the first page.

(+10)

Hey, so I was trying to set up a page for an RPG supplement earlier this week and one thing that stood out is that there's no (obvious?) way for me to do revenue sharing.

Aside from my tabletop development work I also write technical stuff and publish through Leanpub - one of the best features available there is the ability to add contributors to my books/projects and share revenue directly with those folks. Below is an example of the sort of UI I mean.

For a lot of us collaborating on projects it'd be super helpful to be able to do a transparent revenue split at the project level - this way we could say allocate 40% to the artist, 20% to the person who did layout, etc.

Another feature LeanPub has which I would love to see Itch adopt is the ability to earmark a percentage of royalties for non-profits. I am a contributing author/editor to a book series the royalties of which go straight to the non-profit instead of the authors - I would love to have a way to do this here for TTRPG projects.

Otherwise, pretty much echo everything else said in this thread and thanks for making an incredible platform!

(+2)

This feature would help out a lot with a few groups I've been chatting with who are looking to get Coop-Style publishing together.

If I could mash like and get that to +100 I would.

(+2)

This is a feature I know that's been requested before on itch. At one point, one of the itch developers previewed what it might look like on the site. Still hoping this becomes a real feature some day.

(+2)

It would be super useful to get an update on this or know if it was deprioritized.

(+2)

That's a really interesting idea. It also allows smaller businesses (like me!) to avoid having to deal with independent contractor/royalty payments to other artists, which means less tax paperwork. I'd be more willing to collaborate if this was a feature. Great idea!

(+2)

One thing I'd really appreciate is better ways of filtering/searching game jams to find ones that are explicitly open to physical games/tabletop RPGs/LARPs.

First-class support for specifying a range for "number of players" and "length of game", and searching for such things, would be great.

Being able to easily sell physical books or physical versions of other materials and ship them myself would also be great and allow a lot of flexibility for things like board games.

(+2)

New member here, just landing because the movement about ttrpg here.

First thing I saw seems pretty covered: "physical games" seems counter-intuitive if we talk about digital downloads (pdf/epub), maybe it's a term broadly used in the computer games subworld? If I see "physical games" I expect to find books (physical) and boardgames that are delivered in a box. Probably TTRPG (+ others) feels more intuitive, even if LARP product are somehow tangencial tthe category (are there LARP products people can buy?).

I'd go with some "TTRPG+" and once you click, some text explains you what to expect there.

Another thing I didn't see covered: Languages. Being non-English-native (Spanish/Catalan as main languages), it feels important to have some language filter alongside the "Genre" or whatever other filters are added. Although it's probable that English remains the unique language for years :S

There are currently LARPs for sale on itch.io (and not just ones by me). And there are tons of LARPs for sale on other websites.

There are also board and card games on itch.io, so I feel like TTRPG is not a great umbrella category.

Admin

Are you okay with the name "Physical games" as top level? We need something relatively short and easy to understand, so something descriptive or something with a lot of acronyms might not be best.

(2 edits)

Analog games would sound cool. Also it's the opposite of digital.

(+2)

I would push for Analog as the top category. I think it fits nicely and you can easily have two forums next to each other and people know what you're on about (i.e. Digital Game Dev and Analog Game Dev, etc)

On a customer level though, are most going to know what analog means? I'm mid 30's now, so it's a no brainer for me. But that's not necessarily a term that's thrown around in regular chat anymore. I'd worry that we're losing some of the customer base by calling it something people won't know and therefore won't click on. I think physical games would be ok if it was fleshed out and it had more of a prominent role on the front page with the rest of the digital content.

(+3)

I'm not sure physical games is any clearer than analog games. Physical games may seem misleading when most of these games are likely distributed as PDFs (and they may be played e.g. in an online chat), and I've seen analog games used elsewhere whereas I haven't seen physical games anywhere else.

(+1)

yep, that was my thought process to push for TTRPG (the tabletop part identifies as "something you play at the table" ), maybe "Tabletop + LARP" or use the "+" to identify as "there is more stuff related but we didn't knew how to categorize it".

It seems that there is no a super-easy answer (in certain light, this is good, this is a very diverse hobby even in outputs produced)

My vote would go toward Tabletop  because it has the broadest use -- there's even a Television show about "tabletop" games. Analog sounds cool, but it would be confusing to some. And Physical games sounds really weird to me.

(+1)

I don't mind a TableTop + category, I think that could be a good way of saying "here's the main category, but it also has other misc games that don't fit" (LARP, etc).

(6 edits) (+1)

High level filters for physical games

Here's a list I made by going through the list at https://boardgamegeek.com/browse/boardgamecategory and distilling it down to 5.

Everything fits into:

Strategy
Dexterity
Trivia
Puzzle
Card/dice game
Luck

(+2)

I don't think these terms are very useful for a lot of stuff, and as far as tabletop adventuring and role playing games go most would fit into all these categories or none. I like where you are at with aggregation though!

(6 edits)

At the core I think adventure games are strategy. But I did almost gave it it's own category myself when I made the list.

Strategy would be by far fullest and could use more subdivision.

Luck category would be needed for a few games.

Card/dice category could be removed (strategy/luck)

(+2)

That would be something pretty dependent on play style which is unique from table to table. As far common language game terms are defined 'strategy' has a pretty clear meaning at the table and in computer games. Likewise, I can see some utility in calling D&D a dice game, but it is nothing like another dice game I love which is cee-lo.

I know this is not the right place to ask this questions but I'm unable to to find the correct way of contacting the creator. I have having difficulties getting a tile set to align properly and no videos of the content have solved the issue. If you are seeing this and are able to help please contact me s.vonrader@gmail.com

(+1)

I agree with CONE in that the list tends to be non-exclusive, and in a sense, a bit too abstract for customers. I think more precise terms are ok, even if that means we have more categories.

Admin moved this topic to General
(+2)

I think the others above have pretty much covered it, so I'll just add a few extra points:

  • Rather than "OGL" as a tag, I think "5E OGL" would be more helpful - because a) it makes it clearer which game system applies and b) there is more than the one OGL. I think 3.5E had an OGL too? And so does Pathfinder, though that might have a different name.
  • "Physical game" can mean a few things. Most of what I write is RPGs and RPG supplements, but I also created a print and play that is more of a storytelling game. And there are some card games or board games in there as well. So maybe additional categories for those? I don't know what sort of labels would be helpful, so maybe someone else can make a suggestion.
  • Creator resources might be another useful category. I'm not sure if that's in scope of Itch, but I'm thinking things like stock art or templates for RPGs.
  • Is there a way to add print on demand functionality to Itch, such as partnering with another platform? Or even the option to purchase a hard copy and have the creator handle printing and shipping? This might be a longer term one, but I thought I'd put it out there.

Hope that's helpful.

(+1)

There are stock art type things for digital  games around Itch already. So it should be doable to have Itch selling stock art.

(+4)

Came up in another topic - would there be a way to be able to categorize game jams so you could tell at a glance is it's for physical/analog games, video/digital games, or open to both? I think game jams are going to be a pretty active place for analog designers, considering how the past month and a half has gone, and being able to tell which jams are open to us will likely be super relevant, for everyone using the site.

This would be very handy to have. For some jams, it's clear from their descriptions which kinds of games they accept, but it's not all--and you may have to dig through the description to find it. As someone who makes both video games and tabletop games, I'd find an easy way to split them incredibly helpful.

Moderator moved this topic to Discussion