I have been giving some consideration lately to my so-called elevator speech regarding Ruins of Elysia, because basically, I’ve been told I suck at it. On a similar note, as I have been play testing with gamers of varying backgrounds I have come to identify certain parts of the way in which I described my game to people as “industry speak.” This sentence is rife with it: I’ve always described my game as a character based deck-builder on a modular map, but I didn’t realize how much there is to unpack in that sentence for those unfamiliar with industry speak. Now, modular map by itself isn’t that hard to understand, but deck-builder is surprisingly ambiguous.
First, to my surprise, there are gamers who have never played or heard the term “deck-builder.” And for those who have, the term is still ambiguous. This is because the term “deck-builder” can, if used loosely, refer to two types of games. The first, and the original being Magic the Gathering. This is because players “built” their deck before they play a game.
The second, and my intended meaning, is as a mechanic. Oh boy, more to unpack right there! If you’ve played enough games (and if you’re reading this, this will be akin to telling you the sky is blue) you begin to notice you can start to lump games into a category based on what you do in the game on your turn. Let’s compare Monopoly, Sorry, Champions of Midgard, and Agricola. In Sorry and Monopoly, you roll dice and then move your player piece that number of spaces on the board. First, notice how this describes both games. This is a mechanic (in this case called “roll and move”) and is a part of how the game operates. Champions of Midgard and Agricola have multiple player tokens, and placing them on a certain space on the board activates some in game function that lets you gain a resource or perform an action. This mechanic is called “worker placement.”
So, let’s get back on track. When I described my game as a “deck-builder”, I thought said description was as mundane as the words differentiating types of vehicles, such as “car” or “truck,” but said term became ambiguous with the inception of Dominion. Dominion put the process of building the deck front and center and the “mechanic” of building the deck became the game.
Now, given that my overall goal is to sell the game, and only about half of my target market is going to use words like “game mechanics” to describe the game, my elevator speech ought not to include “industry speak.” But that got me thinking. What if we went the other way? What would the most ridiculous, industry speak laden elevator speech sound (or look in this case) like? Let’s have some fun!
Ruins of Elysia is a turn-based, non-legacy, deck-building and tile-laying game with high replayability for 1-4 players per unit sold where a player utilizes deck-building to control and upgrade their character. Players play cards and move their character standee to lay tiles in order to create a modular map. Instead of victory points, winning is determined by meeting the requirements on any of the displayed objective cards that are set up at the beginning of the game and they encourage players to employ a multitude of possibly conflicting strategies to win.
That’s not so bad, is it?
I actually had to write the non-industry speak version first:
Ruins of Elysia is a fantasy adventure game where 1-4 players (per box) explore a vast, modular map and improve their characters by adding cards to their personal decks as they compete or cooperate to complete any one of an array of displayed objective cards set out during setup. The game encourages an endless variety of player interaction and due to the games very modular nature, the game will be different every time you play it.