It’s a debate for another day but I presume we all know why we’re WRITING our games.

The related question is – why would anyone want to BUY our games?
A key aspect to this is – do you know your game’s unique selling point?
I do.
Another related question – with the plethora of RPGs out there, how do you know it’s unique? How do you know someone hasn’t done it before?
(Engage smug mode) I don’t have to worry about this because I’m lucky enough to have created and (co) authored a seminal game.
However, in general I’d say it doesn’t matter. You can’t buy and read every available rule set just to check your unique idea hasn’t already been used. Reasonableness comes in.
If you’re knowingly using this FATE thing everyone cracks on about, then credit it. If you think anything you use is your original creation then claim it.
Write down your USP (s) – they’re vital for back of the book blurb, marketing and – if I’m standing at a UKRPDC stand at a convention surrounded by all of our books – a list of everyone’s USPs will really help.
My Superhero games – Golden Heroes (1982) and Squadron UK (2012) – share several USPs. However, the main one is that the character generation system is perfect blend of random rolling and player design. It is, by far, the best Superhero character creation system available.
For info, my “seminal” game is Golden Heroes. I can look at games such as 1st edition Marvel Superheroes, Mutants and Masterminds and Icons and find bits where we did it first in GH. (Disengage smug mode.)

9 thoughts on “USP

  1. “if I’m standing at a UKRPDC stand at a convention surrounded by all of our books – a list of everyone’s USPs will really help.”
    Sci-Fi Beta Kappa’s USP is the dice engine, with its yes system for task resolution, and the conversion of ‘demerits’ into a ‘demerit dice pool’ that the GM rolls on their turn to determine the ultimate fate of Alien House. The fact that the PCs can simply get on with stuff without worrying about whether or not they’ve succeeded in their actions, combined with the fact that the demerits (the negative consequences of their actions) feed into the narrative (forex GM, ‘In your haste to get into the house you break the door off its hinges- right, now you lot have got to get another door’) make for a high degree of creativity, both on the part of the players and the GM.

    *What’s Sci-Fi Beta Kappa? Don’t worry, announcement approaches, watch this space… Well, not this one, obviously.

  2. Very good point, I hadn’t really thought about talking about other people’s games (I’m bad enough trying to pitch my own).
    A short pitch for the USP and also an FAQ maybe, if you can predict the follow up questions that could come.

  3. Great post, especially about having a blurb that helps others to pitch your game.

    In my day job I have some dealings with the corporate intranet, which tends to be badly written because we’re scientists, not professional writers. For wiki construction I bang on about the Nielsen-Norman group’s free articles, especially “How Users Read On The Web” ( Granted we’re talking here about verbal communication and summary text on the back of a book — but all the stuff about concise text, keywords, bullets points and avoiding “promotional language” (aka male bovine faeces) is great whatever communication you do.

    I’m guessing that there will be some times I won’t get to explain to the other stallholders what my game is about and just have to hand them a crib sheet, so being able to write a concise elevator pitch for fellow UKRPDC members — even if I don’t communicate the same way with the customers — could be handy.

    FWIW I know my games’ USP and I’m working on a pitch, but I have a slightly different marketing issue — whether I can market on system alone, or if I need a default setting. Something for another post.

    • wrt “How Users Read On The Web” I have found from watching playtests that this is how people read rules during games. If you want your game to be play-able by people who don’t already know the rules then this is something to remember.

  4. When I’m on a stand at a convention surrounded by everyone’s books, I’ll be lucky to have a price list. If I’ve got a description of the game it’s a bonus. If I have the USP it’s great.

    I doubt if we’ll get to the stage of knowing WHY everyone wrote their games – what their core beliefs are etc. Be good if we could.

    Actually, this explains a couple of things. I’ve had offers to publish SqUK more widely. However, the people offering didn’t even READ the game. I thought they were buying into their memories of GH and SqUK is a different game. Now I’m thinking they were trying to by ME not my game. I’m not sure how I feel about that…….

    But back to your point. Having watched the video I wonder – I know WHAT the UKRPDC is and HOW it hopes to do things. But WHY does it exist?

    If you can get to the stage where I know WHY everyone made their games it’d be pretty in red

  5. I can see how from the sales point of view one may want to push a USP. Still, if you reflect on your favourite game, isn’t it really the full package that counts, the harmonious balance of the parts rather than one or two signature features?

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