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Protospiel Online is a Prototype, too! -- Community Newsletter Issue 27

Published about 1 month ago • 5 min read

Hey Reader!

Heather Newton here.

When Protospiel Online attendees playtest with me and find out I'm the main person organizing the event, they sometimes ask me what prototypes I brought to test for the weekend. My response is that they've been playtesting my game the whole time they've been engaging with the convention.

I suspect plenty of people think I'm kidding when I say this. While I might say it with a bit of a chuckle, I do mean what I say. This session, I made the prototype listing for the convention itself with true stats on where I feel I am in the dev process, player count, etc. as a way of more fully standing in this truth.

The metagames at the convention -- like Bingo and Shoutout-a-palooza -- are the parts I design that are the most related to the tabletop games our attending designers bring to playtest, but they've been a fairly small part of what I work to build.

Sadly, the details of what I spend most of my time doing to keep Protospiel Online humming along are not as much fun to read about as game design theory and mechanisms. Suffice it to say, I'm up to my elbows in SAAS products (and have finally managed to beat most of them into submission by this point🎉). Over the last 10 months, I've been focused on using these tools to create a new suite of sponsorship offerings.

We launched our Convention Sponsorship option back in August 2023. This package includes 3 badge vouchers per sponsored session and logo placement in several high-traffic locations around our web properties. It's been great to have the opportunity to support and be supported by our first batch of sponsors -- and hear success stories like this one:

Sponsoring Protospiel Online helped me achieve success in building my own community, as well as furthered my brand identity in the tabletop space. It also was a great resource in allowing me to connect with designers and creators for potential future projects.

-Matthew Hocker, Coo' Games

After getting the Convention Sponsorship up and running, the "playtest feedback" I heard from a few different sources said sponsors would like a way to increase their visibility inside the Discord server during the convention. Taking this into consideration while keeping my own design goal of "no organized distractions from the playtesting" in mind, I developed a new class of sponsorships called Spotlight Sponsorships -- including 2 new types of placements we're offering for the first time in May 2024:

Hall Activity Spotlight Sponsorship

Once I heard the fourth or fifth suggestion to name our Halls after sponsors, I decided to explore whether a sponsorship could fit into the Hall sections in a way that felt right to me. (If you're really curios about all the details, you can read my analysis of what would or wouldn't work based on a combo of testing and my user experience design intuitions.)

In the end, I decided to add one activity forum channel to each Hall -- right above the "Create New Table" button designers press as they start each playtest. Equipping these with some bot-assisted activities makes them channels worth opening rather than a handful of sponsor names on empty channels giving us a longer channel list to scroll through.

Whether they are covered by a sponsor or not, we'll open these activity forum channels one week before the convention and keep them open for one week after. One perk for new attendees is that it will help them see where to expect the playtesting voice channels to appear once the convention opens. For attendees new and returning, it will offer some fun chat-based activities to do together before and after we gather through voice and video.

During the convention, Coffee Talk mods will direct the people in Coffee Talk Voice with them to play in the hall activity channels as an alternative to the text chat going on in #coffee-talk-text.

The Hall Activity Spotlight Sponsorships are available in a limited quantity. We have 4 spots left as of the time of this writing.

Attendee Poll Spotlight Sponsorship

The other suggestion I heard a few times was to allow sponsored posts in #coffee-talk-text. I've been hesitant about this in the past because I don't see a lot of value to sponsors or attendees to have announcements periodically pinging people in the server throughout the weekend.

Once I had the brainwave that POLL posts could simultaneously give the in-the-moment Coffee Talk Voice crew something interesting to talk about, let people interact with the poll sponsor's questions post-convention when they're done focusing on the playtests, give sponsors some simple visibility, AND let sponsors do a bit of market research, these seemed like a must-add. (With no need to add any annoying Discord pings!)

After building the first simple poll post, our early sponsors asked for a way to use the poll to drive traffic and/or conversions, so I added the option for sponsors to include a call to action message and link if they have something to share alongside their poll. This allows the poll to join the Digital Swag Bag promo gift donation as a way to make your offer visible to our Discord members and grow your following -- whether you're able to attend PO live or not.

I made this checklist and this FAQ answer to help anyone looking to create a poll pick their question(s) and gather their assets before making their purchase and submitting their sponsor info.

The Attendee Polls are also available in a limited quantity, but not quite as limited as the Hall Activities. We've got 57 spots left as of this writing. This placement option is also our most affordable sponsorship at only $27!

It took a long time to build and test all the systems that support these sponsorships, so I once again have to apologize for the short notice on a new feature. The deadline to submit info for any type of May 2024 sponsorship placement is this Monday April 29, 2024 at 10pm EDT.

I'm excited to partner with sponsors new and old as we take these new placement types for a playtest-drive this May 3-5. If you're attending, please do use our feedback form to share thoughts on your player experience.

📣Announcements Announcements Annooouuuncements!

There are several awesome in-person playtesting conventions on the horizon for May and June 2024. Check them out and see if any fit with your schedule and travel range:

Protospiel Knoxville is May 10-12 at the Maker Exchange in Knoxville, Tennessee

ProtoATL is May 16-19 at the Hilton Garden Inn Buckhead Atlanta

The inaugural Protospiel Twin Cities is May 31-June 2 at the Roseville Skating Center in Roseville, Minnesota

Protospiel Indy 2024 is May 24-26 at the Hamilton County 4-H Fairgrounds in Noblesville, Indiana

Protospiel Michigan is June 28-30 at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan

That’s it for now. Stay tuned for more awesome events, community opportunities, and updates about games tested at Protospiel!

~Heather

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, if you're a current attendee or alumni, post in the #🙌share-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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