Changes & Improvements Coming for August 2023 -- Community Newsletter Issue 15


Hey Reader!

Heather Newton here.

I'm borrowing the microphone from our usual newsletter writers to give you the inside story on all the changes and improvements the organizer team has put together for Protospiel Online August 2023. πŸ‘€πŸ‘€

As we've mentioned in recent newsletter issues, Discord's change of format on their usernames meant we needed to open the hood up and redevelop our custom registration bots.

This process has put our badge sales and registration out of commission for a long time, first because we were waiting for Discord to roll out the new usernames, then because we had to go through a lot of investigation, trial, and error as we figured out the details.

I'm happy to report that we've got the new registration process figured out, and badges for August 2023 are on sale now!

Early bird pricing and the Alumni discount are still active for a few more days -- ending Monday August 14 @ midnight EDT.

Get 'em while they're hot!

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Needing to rework our code base on short notice has definitely felt frustrating at times. AND this long pause in badge sales has been a perfect opportunity for us to build some new features and get some new offerings up for sale. πŸŽ‰

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What's New for August 2023?

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​Convention Sponsorships​
I've been working on building a sponsorship package in the background for many months. So, you can imagine my relief and excitement as I'm finally able to tell you: sponsorship packages are now available on the website! We've even received orders and gone through the process of placing our first couple of sponsors, who you'll find at the bottom of this very email if you scroll down and take a peek.

All convention sponsorships come with a pack of badge vouchers each valid for 1 badge registration within 1 year of issue. Sponsors are encouraged to use the vouchers to attend themselves or give them away through a contest, award, or any way they choose.

We've also built an Audience Share discount into our sponsorship pricing, which allows us to offer sponsorship packages at very affordable rates.

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Pre-Event Group Mentorship

We often hear from new attendees that it's a bit harrowing to navigate the event the first time around. It's also the case that most people are pleasantly surprised at how easily they get in the flow of things once the event opens and they are talking live with others.

Following Moderators' and Alumni's lead is a much easier way for most people to learn than through written instructions. Due to privacy concerns, we don't record activity in our server while the event is open, so new attendees haven't had a way to preview the experience.

Enter: Group mentorships hosted through our private team channels!

Up until now, we've used the team channels for the Shoutout-a-Palooza competition. Going forward, each team will have at least one group mentor to answer their questions via text chat in their small group team channel.

Some mentors will also host live calls on various topics in our new Mentor Calls Voice channel, available to all badge holders who join their team. Mentors may poll their team members to choose topics, pick their own topics, schedule the calls in advance, or run them more-or-less on the fly.

For our inaugural Mentor Call, I'm hosting a one-hour Ask Me Anything this Monday, August 14 @ 7:00pm EDT. August 2023 attendees who have joined their team can enter the call through the Mentor Calls Voice channel in our Discord server.
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Out with the Bingo Prize Pack and In with the Digital Swag Bag

Building the Convention Sponsorship offerings gave us time to think about what was and wasn't working with our process for coordinating the Bingo Prize Pack.

Starting with the August 2023 event, we'll transition to send all attendees a Digital Swag Bag via email on Friday of the convention weekend. The Swag Bag will feature logos for all of our sponsors followed by gifts and offers from sponsors and other partners. The Bingo game will remain in play, serving as a primary way attendees can earn entries in our post-event giveaway Twitch stream.

We suspect this setup will make it easier for attendees to find and use the offers that are most interesting to them, give more visibility to our sponsors, and take a good chunk of post-event tasks off our organizer team's plate.

If you're attending this time around, keep an eye on your email inbox and our announcements Discord channel to see what's included in our first ever Digital Swag Bag.

Saying Good-bye to Publisher and Press Badges

Now that we have sponsorships available for sale, we feel they will do a better job than badges of sharing publishers' and content creators' brands with our community.

We also feel removing these badge types makes our badges easier to shop for. After all, there are plenty of people who identify as designers, publishers, and content creators all at once. Now, when you purchase a badge, the only questions you need to answer are:
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Will you bring your own prototypes to test?
(yes = Designer, no = Playtester)
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Do you want to fund a scholarship seat to help someone else attend?
(yes = +Scholarship, no = basic badge options)

We haven't forgotten our ⏳ and 🎬 identifiers, though. Now, whichever type of badge you purchase, during registration, you can choose to identify yourself as a publisher or content creator, which will add the matching role(s) to your in-server Discord profile. Speaking of which...
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Self-Assignable Discord Roles

Both through the badge registration form and via a new channel in our server called #role-menu, attendees can add (or remove) roles to tag their member profiles with the weight of games they're interested to play and the digital tabletop platforms they are available to playtest on.

A small subset of these new self-assignable roles sign attendees up for notifications about our last major new feature I'll cover here:
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Pre-planned Playtest Posting in LFG!

While it's still true that there is no organizer-coordinated agenda for which prototypes will be playtested at what times, Designers can now send a Players Wanted post asking for a start time of up to 3 hours after the post comes into the #looking-for-a-game channel.

Posts that choose any time other than ASAP will create 2 posts - one in #looking-for-a-game as usual, and one in a new channel called #lfg-planning. The LFG moderator will open a discussion thread under each new post in #lfg-planning. Prospective playtesters can use this thread to ask the designer questions or coordinate on timing.

Players who want to join a pre-planned test will go to the #looking-for-a-game text channel and find a Players Wanted post asking for a pre-planned start time. When a post's start time is anything other than ASAP, adding a 'ready to join' thumb means the playtester believes they'll be ready join when the pre-planned time comes.

The designer and everyone who added their thumb will convene in the LFG Voice channel when the pre-planned time comes. The designer will tell the LFG moderator which pre-planned Players Wanted posting they are starting up, and the moderator will make a last call for people in LFG Voice to join any open seats, then send the group off to a table as usual.

It's our hope that this system will make it easier for designers with 90+ minute games to gather interested playtesters. It also gives anyone who's not quite ready to join LFG Voice a way to ask for pre-planned start time -- maybe after they finish the playtest they're already in or get done with something at home.

It's a bit like a Disney Parks Fastpass -- designers get to do other stuff while they wait for their Players Wanted post to gather the needed headcount.

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Okay, that was a lot! I probably could have filled up the last 2 or 3 newsletters with everything we've been working on. There was no time to write them, though -- I was too busy building all this stuff!

Hopefully y'all like it. πŸ’œ

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πŸ“£Announcements Announcements Annooouuuncements!

The time has finally arrived! If you didn't hear through our badge sales opening email announcement or via Discord, August 2023 badge sales are open!

Early bird pricing allows attendees to save $20 on a Designer badge or $10 on a Playtester badge. Plus, Alumni can save an extra 25% when they use the Alumni coupon code shared inside our Discord server. Both early bird pricing and the Alumni discount are available through Monday, August 14, 2023 @ midnight U.S. Eastern.

Early bird pricing also applies to our NEW Large Group Badge Bundle, which offers a bulk discount for sets of 10 or more Designer badges.

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Protospiel weekend is just around the corner! I'm excited to get the band together again for the weekend of Aug 25-27.

Happy playtesting!
~Heather

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P.S. If you have something you'd like to see featured in our Community Newsletter, you have 3 options -- either submit an official feature request, reply to this message, or post in the #πŸ™Œshare-your-wins channel in the Protospiel Online Discord server to let us know the details. We'd love to celebrate you!

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Hi! We're your Protospiel Online Content Team

We love helping our community of game designers and playtesters find encouragement and connection through our virtual conventions and the supporting content like our Twitch streams, YouTube channel, and Community Newsletter. It lights us up to see all the amazing milestones Protospiel community members are reaching with their game designs.

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