I Am Soliciting Your Advice

6 September 2018 | 64 Comments

I get a lot of unsolicited advice.

I’m grateful that people around the world are willing to spend their time giving me unsolicited advice. I’m glad that they care, and in most cases, the advice comes from a good place. I understand that giving advice feels good.

But, to be honest, there are times when I’m looking for advice…and times when I’m not looking for advice. In fact, usually when I post a blog entry or a YouTube video, I end it with a question to set the tone for the conversation I’m interested in having. Yet inevitably someone will chime in with advice directed specifically at me instead of just joining the conversation. It’s a little weird.

How Often Do You Give Unsolicited Advice?

I think, though, that it’s important to be aware of how often we’re giving unsolicited advice. I’ve had times in my life with specific people where I just got in a habit of replying to everything they said with advice. When I finally became aware of it, I was disappointed in myself. I had somehow turned a friendship into an ongoing counseling session.

However, something happened the other day that inspired this blog entry. I had just finished recording a podcast with someone, and that person said, “Hey, can I give you some unsolicited advice?” He proceeded to give me a great tip about this website.

I came very close to missing out on some good advice simply because I didn’t ask for it. While I ask for advice quite frequently, but it’s almost always very targeted to a specific person/group and about a very specific topic. This was different, as I should have identified that I was talking to a really sharp person, and I should have said, “Do you have any general advice for me?” Or something like that. I should have opened the door instead of requiring them to knock.

I Am Soliciting Your Advice Today

Today I’d like to open the comments to unsolicited advice. I’m requesting advice from anyone about anything, as long as you post it publicly in the comments below. You can give me advice about this blog/website, my games, my company, social media, my YouTube channel, me personally, etc. Any topic is eligible, though this isn’t an opportunity to flat-out insult me. I may be a receptacle today, but not a punching bag.

I almost didn’t do this because it seems self-serving, which is the opposite goal of this blog in general–it’s here to give you value, not me. But I think there’s value in what I wrote about above (being aware of giving unsolicited advice and of how often you ask people for open advice), and I hope there’s value in what I’ll say next.

How to Give Advice

For me and for most people, if you want to increase the chances that I’ll really hear the advice and take it to heart, there’s a bad way to give it and a good way to give it. I write about this in detail here, but below is a quick summary:

An example of the bad way is: “Your writing sucks.”

This really isn’t even advice. It’s just an opinion, and it lacks detail, compassion, examples, and actionable steps.

Here’s an example of a good way: “Hey Jamey, I’ve really been enjoying your blog. However, I think sometimes the articles are too long, especially when I’m reading them on my phone. For example, your post on Monday took me 20 minutes to read. Have you thought about breaking up longer articles into smaller segments?”

This includes the following:

  • Conveying that my intentions are good.
  • Sharing my opinion as an opinion (potentially making it about you).
  • Providing an example.
  • Giving my advice as an actionable option.

Your Turn

So this is it–an open forum to give me advice. I promise that I will read every comment, and I am truly open to acting on any advice posted here. Though, to safeguard you against the fear of a defensive reply, I’m not going to reply to the advice presented here–I’m just going to read it and think about it. THANK YOU, though, for taking the time to share your insights with me today.

Also, if someone else comments with advice that you agree or disagree with, feel free to reply to their comment to reinforce it (or disagree politely).

***

Also read:

If you gain value from the 100 articles Jamey publishes on his blog each year, please consider championing this content!

64 Comments on “I Am Soliciting Your Advice

  1. My unsolicited feedback is to just keep doing what you’re doing. I get excited when I see emails from Stonemaier. Blog, Champions, or Ambassadors. I get excited when Stonemaier has a new game. I get excited to play all the Stonemaier games I already own. If you continue to do what you’re doing now, I’d be completely happy with that.

  2. Back in my 20-somethings, I remember giving a pottery teacher advice about how he should be teaching his class. In the middle of his class. I sometimes get nauseous thinking about how obnoxious I was that day. 😝 I appreciate your blogs. And how open you are for all of the people interested in what you do. I don’t have time to watch all your videos, and sometimes I know you’re going to touch on subjects that really interest me, so I almost wish they could be broken up into different sections so I can just forward to the chapter that I wanted to hear. But I know that’s not something that Facebook live affords us. Maybe someday! :)

  3. This is a bit of meta advice about this article itself! When I first saw it on Facebook, it did not include the title “I Am Soliciting Your Advice” and since it was just the first paragraph, I thought it was going to be an article asking people NOT to give you advice. However when I clicked through to the site and saw what the title was, I realized that you were actually asking for advice.

    I guess my advice would be to include your article title as well as the first paragraph on Facebook!

  4. Ask and you shall receive :)

    7 BITS OF SOLICITED ADVICE

    1. I feel this blog is very important to you, and important for this website. I feel the “Blog” link should not be hidden in “News” (especially on Mobile). It should be listed in the utility navigation before News.

    2. I feel you should tell people what type of games the code-names are to help set expectations. E.G. Combo is a tile laying game.

    3. Find rule books that you love, that were easy to read and gave you no trouble playing the game, then hire those rule book writers for the final draft of future rule books.

    4. Work with Ian O’Tool.

    5. Hire Paul Grogan (Gaming Rules!) for future complex game like Scythe and Euphoria. He does comprehensive rules videos, and can somehow make any game seem easy to learn.

    6. Push Stonemaier to achieve releasing 3 games a year. Then when you are comfortable with that try for 4 games per year to help grow the brand and generate more revenue to create more games.

    7. Almost always ignore advice as people have only thought about a subject for a few seconds compared to hours, days, or months that you have thought about it. Some advice could also be subconsciously biased, like someone asking you to make more great games.

    1. I second the first point about bringing the blog out of hiding. I read this quickly (i believe on facebook) and had to step away from my phone shortly after. I wanted to come back to say something but took a while to find the post (via mobile view). Ended up going to Google and searching stonemaier blog which brought it up. Another reply to follow…

    2. A. Gerald Fitzsimons, respectuflly, I think Paul does great videos, but I prefer Rodney’s tutorials to Paul’s. I think Rodney just has a knack of keeping it clear, concise and in as few minutes as are required. Again, all respect to Paul he did a terrific job with Gloomhaven. And that was a beast, no doubt.

    3. The change has already been made, but I want to affirm the suggestion of moving the Blog link out from News. I actually didn’t even realize it used to be under News, but I suppose that’s moot knowledge now.

      Most of the time I get here through the e-mail notification link. But there are times when I was using a different device, and if the blog post I wanted to read wasn’t under the recent posts list, I wasn’t sure how to get there without using Search or Google.

  5. You want me advice? I think you should come to Kansas City for a board game day. There are a lot of Stonemaier fans in KC and it isn’t too far of a drive for you. It would also be interesting to see if you can pick up on any differences between gamers in STL and KC. Not saying there are any, but you never know what you might pick up on. This would also give you some time to just play games since I know you’ve said you enjoy doing that more than anything and are always looking for opportunities to play more games. From a business perspective it gives you more visibility to gamers in a different area and allows you to introduce yourself, your business, and games to potentially new gamers.

    That’s just my advice. Looking forward to all the other unsolicited advice you get.

  6. Hi Jamey, this isn’t advice so much as a request. I’ve been listening to the audio version of your book and it’s loaded with great content. At the same time, it has been a few years since it was written. At some point, perhaps you could do a blog post on how much things have changed since then. KS has gotten crazy competitive, with established game designers launching games based upon licensed properties and such. I’m wondering if you feel like all the old rules still apply.

  7. First of all I would like to thank you for the huge amount of content which is so needed for new designers like me, methods and insights, the research you put in, stats you share, info you share, sources…all of it!

    Now to unsolicited advice, bro that cat of your on instagram is starting to freak me out! Too much cat, not enough game stories :). Don’t games you play have stories? Stuff you would say to a buddy if talking about the exciting game you just had. Well I love that stuff, maybe more people love it :).

    PS: i love cats, it’s not about that :D

    1. Jasen, I seriously almost wrote “More Biddy and Walter, plz!” .. I like cats. I like his cats. I think there is a lot of board game content on his IG too. The cats are so much a part of the videos too. I can’t imagine less Biddy and Walter, but I respect your opinion.

  8. My unsolicited advice isn’t so much for Jamey as it is for the community, especially newbies like me. I had just come off a less than impressive experience with a smaller/cheaper printer. The quality was fine, but the communication was awful, and I wasn’t dealing with that again. So when seeking out pricing to manufacture the first game for our new company, we went with who we thought was the best in terms of quality. Then we started getting advice that we’d be paying too much, and should look at Company X or Company Y. So I did.

    I looked at each alternative printer and checked out what games they had made. I noted the more popular games, then went to the BGG comments section of each game and searched the page for the words “quality” or “component” to see what people thought about the game quality. In nearly all cases, the perceived quality was 50/50. Meh.

    There was one small printing company that did stand out. Comments about their quality were always positive. That printer had the advantage of having a smaller minimum order quantity, so they are our going to be our go-to for short runs. They also allow us to lower our minimum funding goal on Kickstarter because of the lower MOQ, so we will probably always get a quote from them.

      1. I didn’t want to name names. Companies can change, we can all do better, and I didn’t want a permanent digital scar out there. My comment was really about the process I used to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        I’ll name the small printer that had consistently high marks for quality though, it was BangWee.

  9. My advice, keep doing what you’re doing! Okay, so that isn’t the greatest advice as it may not be specific enough. As you mentioned this could really mean anything… but no, I’m not referring to the way you style your hair or the way you dress. I’m referring to the way you run your business.

    My first experience with Stonemaier games was back when Scythe was originally released. I had missed the Kickstarter (I wasn’t really backing much back then) and ended up picking the game up from a local game store. The box was damage (had a punched hole right through the back of it) but the owner said you would replace it if I reached out to you. So I sent you an email. Your response was so genuine and down to earth I felt like I was dealing with a friend or colleague and not a business owner. You mentioned you didn’t typically replace boxes but were willing to give a discount (which I didn’t want cause i have type A personality and just wanted the game to be pristine) or take a look around Canada for something. I thought, why would he spend time on a piece of cardboard for some customer that is barely invested in his company.

    From this point on I’ve gone back and read a bunch of your blogs, have purchased every game, and have signed up to be a champion. I love the inclusiveness of this group and the overall attitude. The only thing holding me back from being an ambassador is, what I believe, will be the time commitment. With two kids and a third on the way I don’t have a lot of extracurricular time (although I can still manage a game night a week).

    Back to the advice, counter to what most people will probably say, don’t manufacture more games just for the sake of hitting 3 or 4 a year. The quality of games and type of games produced by Stonemaier has made them my favorite board game producer in the last couple years. Other companies have great hits and some really poor games. I know with Stonemaier I can expect good components and solid game play every time. Keep up the stringent criteria in your game selection, and keep designing amazing games! Keep up the great customer service and quick response times all over the internet. Keep up the “secrets”, and having quick releases from announcements (love the fact B2Castles has such a quick turnaround). In short, keep doing what you’re doing!

  10. Well Jamey your really barking up my alley. As a Texan I give a lot of unsolicited advice, thoughts, stories, and information. It is something I have been working on as I’ve learned (to my surprise) that I’m not as interesting as I think I am lol.

    I grew up in a family where if you didn’t speak your opinion loud and with confidence, you didn’t HAVE an opinion. This has lead me to talk aver people, interrupt, and talk at a high volume. Which naturally makes me look like a jerk, when really I’m trying to connect with people

    So my advice to anyone who shares in my struggle is to practice the skill of “mirroring” people in conversation. This practice alone had made me a much better listener and has improved a variety of relationships in my life.

    1. I would explain what mirroring is, but I feel ive gone on too long already. Wo if your interested I reccomend either googling it or checking “The Art Of People” which includes a great section on the practice of mirroring

      1. Zack, thanks for sharing this. I had a similar family. I’d say we should hang out, but I don’t know if we’d have our hearing left afterward. HAHA.

        Seriously though, thanks for sharing. That was wonderful of you to open up.

  11. Jamey,

    You never cease to amaze us all, and you’re far braver than most. I’m grateful that you’ve put this open call out there and I bet you’re gonna get some fun stuff! I’ve given you more than enough unsolicited advice during the years (it’s my personality type, it just is what it is, and I’m only 20% sorry for it. ; ), but since you asked, if there was one point I could repeat it would be this:

    Go to God.

    You’ll never find the peace that we all search for in successful blog entries, in top 10 on BGG games, in million dollar kickstarters, in a growing mailing list, in the comfort of friends and a well-built caring community alone. And while you’ll find much of it in a family that loves you, like you clearly have (hand selected by God, I’d say!), it’s only a shadow of the source of that love that a perfectly loving “F”ather can provide you. He chose you too. And he redeems all sufferings into glory if you let him. There is no suffering that can’t be redeemed.
    We were saved through suffering. Jesus Died on a Cross …and that turned out really well. ; )

    That’s my advice. It couldn’t possibly be more off-topic, but it’s also in reality “the” topic, and everything else is arguably the distraction / off-topic. It’s also really good news!

    Annie always says: “If God really exists, we have a duty to get to know Him as he is, just like we would a new friend.” and “If we really believe what we say we believe, why are we living the lives we’re living?”

    There’s so much more true Agape Love in this world that we’ve experienced thus far. It’s for me. It’s for your readers. It’s for you too.

    God Love you, Jamey, I know I do.

    With deepest sincerity and depth of friendship I haven’t fully earned,

    John

  12. Hello jamey! Of the articles i’ve read, i think you’re one of those chaps that generally talk sense and have well though through ideas/opinions (even if i don’t necessarily agree with all of them. I don’t like being in an echo-chamber).
    That being said, have you thought about contributing your voice into some sort of podcast/audio blog besides this blog? I feel like it’d reach out to more people; especially to those who are too lazy to read (i.e. people like myself), but have a decent chunk of commute time.
    I have actually noticed you popping up on some of the podcasts i listen to, but i feel like many of them have been just hosts who just agree to your views (i’m hoping to not sound disparaging, but i’m not a very good with words). I’d want to listen/read some sort of more a debate sort of say where you challenge your views/perspectives on say whether or not supporting existing “old” games is worth your effort vs emphasising new games (for example, euphoria has been out for a while now, and has effectively been overshadowed by a horde of other games. is working on an expansion for that going to be worth your effort vs releasing a new game?).

    Anyways, not that you’re going to reply, keep up the good work. There are plenty of folks like myself who scurry in the shadows, reading and not giving any sort of indication that its been taken in, and we appreciate it.

  13. I am not going to give you advice, but talk about a situation I had a few years back with unsolicited advice, and also a little about the advice I give in my job.

    So I have been working 20 years doing policy like work in child welfare. Our organization, in particular me, track how each state does a specific program to support children adopted from foster care, and I talk to about 1,000 folks a year as part of that work.

    In the last 9 years I started training on it, when I started I knew that I knew my content, but wasn’t sure how good I would be at presenting that to an audience. A few years in, and much more confidence in my presenting ability, I was approached by a parent who suggested I was good but could be better, and said she helped train people to be better trainer/presenters, this was unsolicited advice and really her trying to sell her services (to be honest). I felt that I didn’t really need that as I didn’t want a more formal or polished style that might come with her input, being informal (how I was raised by hippy parents) I think helps me connect with parents. I know that part of why I get good reviews is because of the information I am sharing is needed and wanted, but it is dry information and trying to make in more engaging does take some skill. Also my mother has a Ph.D. in Speech and Communications and she is good with my presentations.

    On to the advice, I get a lot of calls where people who are trying to navigate the system are looking for information and advice on what to do. The hard part is that I have a lot of information, but what they should do is ultimately up to them. So when I give advice in this context, it is really about informing people so they can make the best and informed decision for themselves and their families. That is how I approach my professionally giving advice, even though it doesn’t translate well to your situation, mostly because they are soliciting the advice.

    Obviously your post made me think about a few things ;)

  14. I see no one has taken advantage of this unique opportunity yet. My only advice for Jamey is he should take all of his fans out for an amazing dinner out on the town.

    For real, though, excellent job. I learn more from you, than you can learn from me. What you’ve built in Stonemaier, in many was, has become something I look to as a standard for how a board game company should be run. You are a constant source of high quality content, games, and positivity. Keep it up. Let me know when you want unsolicited encouragement, and I’ll give you a longer blurb!

    1. I had the same experience as Dan of seeing no comments when I clicked on the See All Comments link in the email copy of this blog post several times during the day of the blog post. I found that surprising, but then the many earlier comments first appeared right after I posted my first comment early the next morning. I’m now thinking that I’ve missed other comments on posts where I never commented.

    1. It’s so hard not to comment on these! Though this one I feel the need to do so, as out of context, people may not understand. I’m adopted, and I write about it on occasion on my personal blog. It isn’t something I hide, but it’s very normal to me, so it isn’t something I think about very often unless someone brings it up.

      If anyone reading through these is curious about my adoption story, scroll down to the last section on this page to see some articles about it written by me, my parents, and my biological mother: http://jameystegmaier.com/about-2/

      1. First let me start by saying that I was not insinuating that you were trying to hide the fact that you were adopted. I too was adopted and think of it as a normal aspect of my life that, unless specifically asked about it, I don’t really talk about because it’s not a defining feature to me.

        Let me give an example of what I mean by speaking more openly. I met my biological parents when I was 17 and have an ok relationship with them, but it’s hard to integrate into someones life when they haven’t been around for that amount of time. I also have a family member who adopted twins when they were babies. Several weeks ago this family member reached out to me because one of the kids, now 16, had met their biological father several times and started calling him dad. They were feeling some rejection when they would hear this and wanted my opinion. I told them that, in my case, it was never about rejecting one parent for another, but more about my identity and understanding who I was and where I came from.

        It can be tough and terrifying when your child wants to meet their biological parents. before my I met my bio parents, my mom was convinced that I was replacing her. That clearly was not the case, but because I had gone through that, I knew exactly where this family member was coming from. That’s all I mean by being open about being adopted. You may have experiences that help others who are going through a similar situation and are not wanting to be open about it.

      2. Jamey’s moving adoption story is so relevant to who he is; he received the ‘giving gene’ from his birth mother and it was nurtured by his adoptive parents. His is the story of an ideal approach to adoption by all parties involved—all so worth reading!

  15. I love your posts, I don’t always have time to read them.
    Out of every 10 or 20 or so I forward them to my boss or a friend because I think they should read this too. I could do it more often, but then it feels like spamming them, they can subscribe for themselves.

    I do not have an advice, merely an observation of something being compared that I am not sure can be compared in the way you do it.

    You sometimes mention what you pay your freelancers/contractors (? I am not familiar with the term for it in the US)
    I am not going into the numbers here, but you compare the hourly rate you pay to an minimum hourly rate people get when they work for a salary.

    I would work for less an hour if it was a salary… : )
    Part of my taxes and insurances would be paid for.
    Business trips (visiting conventions, hotels, airfares) would be paid for
    iPad, phone, laptop, internet access, office space…
    I’d have regular hours, vacation time, bonusses…
    And I would have a lot less stress. :D

    I am not complaining.
    I love my job (some of it thanks to you, you allowed me to pick your brain on this a few years back)
    I love the companies and the people I work for and the freedom.
    But apart from my job, I need to sort my own taxes, insurances, expenses and pay all of that from the hourly rate I am making.

    At least… I do hope that the lowest number you mention is not a free lance hourly rate…?
    Just to make sure…
    I am not wanting to openly discuss numbers here at all.

  16. Great message/blog/email/post, I’m not sure which this is which is the point of my commenting. I struggle to ask for help/advice. If I don’t know or understand something I tend to spend hours/days trying to figure it out myself when a simple request could resolve my perplexion rather more swiftly. I shall resolve to ask for advice more readily. Sorry I have none for you Jamey. (Currently working my way towards a January launch)

  17. Ok, being just back from vacation, I will give you the advice that screams in my head every time I see you say something about your work schedule.

    I had my life-goal dream job by the age of 27. It involved working 10- to 12-hour days. I loved it. And then I was totally burnt out and done by age 30.

    Take vacations.
    Delegate.
    Meditate.
    Make time to fall in love when the opportunity presents itself.
    Pursue one passion besides your work.

    Stepping away from work and clearing your head for significant chunks of time — within each day and for longer chunks of time on a regular basis — will make you more creative and productive when you come back, and it will lower your risk of heart disease and depression.

    We want you in this for the long haul! <3

  18. The first thought that occurred to me here was pretty antithetical to the entire purpose of this post, and in turn also invalidates my own statement, but I’ll do it anyway…don’t listen to people on the internet. Well okay, listen to them sometimes, and you obviously do, but don’t put too much stock in anything a complete stranger on (insert social media platform) says about you or something you’ve done. Given how you started this post, I’m sure you’re well aware of this already, but everyone on the internet always thinks they can do what you do better than you, and they’ll tell you so, in the least tactful, most nitpicky manner possible, and in most cases, don’t even bother packaging it with any helpful advice or at least “this is what I would have done instead.”

  19. This is just a suggestion of something I’d find useful rather than advice. I’d welcome a blog post, where readers could ask you for advice on something not already answered in your posts. I know you read Comments for all your old blog posts, so readers could ask when they confronted a problem for which they thought you might have an answer. It would be limited to requests for advice consisting of specific short answers, which would exclude the equivalent of consultations. (But as I wrote that last sentence, I thought that you could have another post something like, ‘If you had a consultation with me, what would you ask?’, where Comments might give you ideas for future blog posts.)

  20. I like what you are trying to do with you youtube videos, but I’ve only watched a few over the past couple years. My main barrier is the audio quality. Idk what it is, it just feels like it could be better.

    1. Could you listen to the most recent video and let me know what you think of the audio quality? I agree that it hasn’t been great at times, but I think I’ve fixed most of the issues (but maybe not)–it would just help to have a current assessment just in case you’ve only heard the older videos. :) https://youtu.be/c4a7v7sTWzM

      1. The new ones compared to older ones (Favorite Long Games video) is only about 10% to my ears. The humming noise seems less. Not as good as Rahdo’s audio. I’m not a pro when it comes to sound. Perhaps Richard could give you some tips, on what mic to buy and where not to place the mic (e.g. on a desk with a noise computer).

      2. Hi Jamey, it’s been a while since our last conversation – I mostly ask you for things, so I am quite excited at the opportunity to offer an advice if you haven’t already talked to Richard about it (Richard rules!! Thank you, always!!!).

        I watched your newer videos, and I did notice the improved audio quality. But if you want to sound better, you’ll have to look into getting a lavalier mic. Good ones are pricey so it really depends on what you are comfortable.

        If I were creating the type of videos you do, I would look into investing on a Sennheiser ME 2 (don’t forget the tie clip). You can always google other brands and check out their reviews. Personally, I would stick with Sennheiser, Sony, or Rhodes if you must.

        The upside is that audio technology is much more mature/stable than video, so a good quality lav mic will last you for years and years if you take good care of it.

        Finally, I really admire the way you run everything and how you are always seeking ways to make things better. Just like Lombardi says, “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

        P.S. Feel free to email/text/call if you are really considering it. It would be my pleasure to assist you in the process. And I’ve been meaning to chat with you about a certain documentary as well. ;-)

  21. My current stance on advice giving is heavily influenced by my experience as a former psychology practitioner and current elder.

    I have not been a habitual advice giver. For psychology clients, including those who came seeking advice, my goal was to help them find the answers through their own resources and develop the confidence to act accordingly. (Less experienced colleagues who came for advice re their own practice often found the answers they sought while formulating what they would ask me.)

    But now I am subject to the common inclination of elders to pass on our favorite ground-down axes (aka “seasoned” advice), which we elevate in our own minds to the status of “wisdom.” In my case, I suspect it will sneak into the ways I try to make my upcoming blog posts personally relevant to my readers.

  22. I’m not sure what advice I could give you at least not in business and game design. Despite the I’ve a degree in game design I’ve no where near the practical knowledge you have. So instead I’ll leave my own anecdote on unsolicited advice.

    I’ve worked off and on in the fitness industry, and it is rife with unsolicited advice. Some of which can be dangerous. I’ve seen predominantly men who lift recreationally with no education in the field make comments over and over. I’ve seen them tell an athlete who holds an American record in squats his squat is all wrong. I’ve seen extremely dangerous nutrition advice given to people who don’t know not to listen to it.

    Funny enough I read today how men have a psychological drive to seem like they are experts on the topic at hand. Much like male lions fight to establish dominance male humans seem to instead attempt to establish their dominance intellectually. At least according to what i read today.

    So I guess I will end this with some general advice, before we give advice, no matter who we are, we should stop a minute and ask ourselves are we actually knowledgeable enough to give that advice, and is that advice warranted.

    Cheers!

  23. Funny! You are open to unsolicited advice about you personally? Before I give that bc I can’t really think of anything…I will say as the public face of your company you do an outstanding job of customer service and brand engagement on social media. Bravo! All companies should follow your lead esp. as you grant interviews to all kinds of folks not just big gaming outlets. It creates goodwill in the community and a good reputation.
    How about some fashion advice? 😊 We can’t see the back of your hair but if you are going for a disconnected undercut not sure if the person cutting your hair is doing the fade correctly (says the mom of 2 boys). Top needs to be longer and the sides shorter—but who knows what haircut you are going for. Also my other advice is workout with Les Mills on demand. So much cheaper than a gym membership!

    You’ve got Chutzpah—not sure I’d openly ask for unsolicited advice from a vast swath of strangers on the internet!

  24. Wow, your advice request really sticks in my mind. The post is two days old, yet my unconscious is still raining thoughts about it in the shower. So please take into account that said thoughts may be all wet.

    It doesn’t make sense to me to worry about whether doing something might be somewhat self-serving. No motivation is 100% pure—e.g., IMO, even the most loving relationships harbor some ambivalence. Besides, I don’t know about you, but I much rather give to others than ask them for something. So in that sense, the giving is more self-serving than the reverse. Also, it may be mainly or partially an attempt to get my givings appreciated, gain a following, etc.

  25. Yaaay. I have one thing. That’s maybe two things in one.

    The Kickstarter lessons blog and your blog are amazing. I’ve shaped my view towards game design/publishing and even though Kickstarter is not available in my country (sadface) I’ve learned a lot.

    So with that said, kickstarterlessons.com shouldn’t be just a bunch of links under the SM website. Same for this blog, it deserves so much more. Maybe the whole Stonemaier website could use some refreshing in the modern web world, with custom written website and design, instead of WordPress – I am a web developer, so as I’ve said, I am always ready to help Stonemaier if needed. :)

  26. I watched your Gencon interview with The Dice Tower’s Jason Levine in which you mentioned working on a Zelda: Breath of the Wild inspired game. Given that BotW is currently my favorite single-player video game of all time, and given that I thoroughly enjoy Scythe, Viticulture and Charterstone, I was thrilled to hear of this idea. My advice would be to take your time and make it the best game it can possibly be. Also, if it makes sense with the mechanics and theme, it would be incredible to pair it with the Zelda license. Quality, Nintendo-inspired hobby games are basically nonexistent, and I would be thrilled to support two of my favorite companies with 1 outstanding product.

    1. Thanks Arturo! I just wanted to note something here to clear up some potential confusion. While my game is an open-world cooperative exploration/adventure game inspired by the open-world elements of exploration and discovery, it’s not at all a Zelda game. I’m definitely taking my time with it to get it right, but I’ve already invested heavily (in many ways) in creating my own world, so it will not be a Zelda game. Sorry about that!

  27. On the news page Dilkrom asked a very interesting question. Dilkrom noticed that you create the art first and then the graphic design. Which is the opposite of what is thought at universities, and what is done outside of the small board game industry.

    You can see that almost every board game company does art first, even first timers. There are only handful of board game companies that do it the way every other successful product-based company does it, graphic structure/layout first.

    Graphic design can be expensive so I see your logic. Ian O’Toole does both, graphic design and art. He starts with economical graphic design first, and then art and icons afterwards. He creates a white-label graphic design fist (just layouts for everything), no art, no lovely icons. When the structure is right then the fancy stuff starts.

    Graphic design is difficult to “get”, it’s like being an architect drawing out the blueprints of a building and then making the structure of the building visually appealing, the shapes of concrete etc. First comes the blueprint. Being an artist is like being an interior decorator. Hiring an interior decorator first would limit the skills of the architect for both of his/her jobs. I find that architects and graphic designers prefer to make layouts (they are highly trained for this) and artists like to paint beautifully on what material they have, rather than the other way around.

    I wonder if you could learn from this or at least experiment with it with one game. Have the graphic designer create low cost white-labels (blueprints/layouts), then an artist to create art within those blueprints, and finally the graphic designer comes back to create those lovely icons. I find games done like this are even more of a draw than a game with fantastic components.

    Because so many board game companies do it interior decorator first, by getting blueprints created first it could be another easy brand differentiation for Stonemaier Games. The only board game companies that come to mind that do it like big non-board game companies, are CMON and Iello. There might be 1 or 2 more that I can’t think of. I can’t say Eagle Gryphon Games because it just happened to them, for a few games, they did not decide to do that.

    1. You bring up some good points here, and it actually is true that my graphic designer does some layout work before the art for specific components. Like, our artist for a new game is ready to begin working on the game board, but my graphic designer needs to create the layout first.

      I was primarily just saying that the final graphic design and typesetting isn’t done until the gameplay is complete–otherwise you’re creating a lot of redundancy.

      1. It didn’t make sense to me earlier. That makes more sense as the graphic design of Stonemaier Games is already at a nice level.

        My suggestion of giving more “power” to an amazing graphic designer would be just for taking it to that different special level, to the same level as the art of Scythe and Euphoria. Above great to a truly outstanding unique level. It’s subjective but lots of games look like my favorite game, Viticulture. How many look like Scythe and Euphoria? Graphic design can be the same.

        There really is no “need” to do it (unlike the blog link). I only suggest it to you as I know you have one of the highest standards in board games. I feel Stonemaier is on the path to becoming the Apple Inc of board games. Although, the art and so on can never equal your customer service as nothing else could reach that level.

        1. Ironically, Euphoria was where I learned this lesson about layout the hard way. :) I had the artist create the art for the board before Christine created the layout, so she had to base the layout on the art instead of the other way around. The result is a board that goes in a lot of different directions and can be overwhelming to new players.

          1. :) That’s interesting. It does look totally overwhelming, like the Scythe player boards before the first play. Now I have to mention that the actual game-design of the Scythe player board is fascinatingly elegant, very impressive.

  28. Hi Jamey, always love your blog. Somehow your cats are riveting characters. If you could consider setting up activities for them in the background that would be great. Some might say it is a distraction, but I think it would add another level of depth to the video.

    Keep up the good work!

  29. Hi Jamey. First of all, I own and have enjoyed all of your games since first backing Euphoria however long ago that was. However, there is one thing that I feel doesn’t quite work perfectly for me I’m a number of them – specifically Euphoria, Viticulture and Scythe – and that is that they feel to have an arbitrary end point (this is, to a degree, true of Charterstone, but with that being a timed mechanism rather than an achievement mechanism, it feels more satisfying).

    If I take Viticulture as a primary example, the game ends when a player reaches 25 points (from memory), but why is this? Because that’s about the right number to maintain a satisfactory game length? For me, and acknowledging that this is personal experience rather than anything more, this produces a bit of an “oh, it’s over” ending rather than something more satisfying.

    Likewise, with Euphoria and Scythe the game ends on the placement of the 6th (?) star. Here it’s perhaps even less satisfying for me. The games are pretty strong in their narrative but the ending of the game feels unrelated to that narrative, more just a way to make the game stop.

    So where is the advice here? I appreciate that designing and developing a game is difficult, detailed and complex but I feel that a little more of that time needs to spent on the ending, not just the journey.

    Off the top of my head – for Scythe and Euphoria it could just be about adding to the story that the stars you put down are not just achievements but are representing swaying of some overruling council or some such and that denotes your faction now having the greatest influence and finally taking control of the game world. There may be some tweaks that would need to be made to make this all tie in but it would mean that the stars mean something beyond just representing things you’ve done.

    In Viticulture, I think you’ve acknowledged that elements of the game design were related to Fresco. In Fresco the game end is triggered when most of the chapel is painted – a natural ending. Perhaps Viticulture could be based around fulfilling public orders rather than private ones, meaning a limited number of orders are open to the players to fulfil and once those orders are fulfilled (or all bar X) the final round is triggered. With a sensible enough reason for the orders being required this would generate a more natural game ending than the arbitrary nature of reaching 25 points.

    So the advice is that when designing perhaps look to include *why* you need to do X to end the game, not just at *what* X is, and weave that into the story somehow.

    I hope that’s not too harsh. For Viticulture in particular this is nit-picking at its finest, and I do really enjoy all the games in their entirety, but this little capper would elevate the games for me one final level.

  30. Is there a way for to put the number of comments on the blog landing page as well? It would speed up having to click on each one before seeing how much conversation has taken place and the time needed to read through said topic.

  31. Hi Jamey! I love the public Facebook groups for each game, but sometimes I get sneak peeks at info as an ambassador and/or Champion. I itch to discuss and speculate with others that know this “secret” info too. Would it be possible to create closed, private Facebook groups for Ambassadors and Champions? I could see a danger being that it could draw interactions away from the more public forums and create cliques, but I think it much more likely it will foster enthusiasm, passion, and community. Thanks for opening up a channel for unsolicited feedback!

    1. Joshua: It’s a good idea, and I’ve certainly thought about it. I manage one such group (for the Stonemaier Games Design Day), and I’ve had trouble adding people en masse, though maybe copy and paste will work. I’ll test it on a small scale next month and expand it if it works.

Leave a Comment

© 2018 Stonemaier Games