An Exciting Update: IGA 3.0 is Coming!

Long-time IGA members will remember a period in 2016 when we were really starting to hit our stride as a company. We were growing faster than we could handle, and our website and other technology was not up to the task. To solve this problem, Matt went pretty much radio-silent for four months, tore IGA down to the studs and rebuilt it for the better, and the current IGA website is the result of that effort.

Four years later, IGA continues to grow at a pace that our technology and our staffing level hasn’t been keeping up with. Everything is working, but *not quite as well as it should* or not with all of the great bells and whistles we’ve thought up over the years. We’ve added things as time has gone on, but adding all the new features that weren’t part of the original design has made the site a little challenging to navigate, things aren’t integrated as tightly as they could be, and some needs just weren’t anticipated.

We’ve also got the benefit of four more years of industry experience, tons of great feedback from members and minions alike, and a slew of new wild ideas, and we think it’s about time we turned the tabletop industry on its ear.

Again.

Starting August 1, Matt Holden (IGA’s Executive Director and chief technologist) will be stepping back from daily customer support duties to focus on the development of an entirely new, redesigned-from-the-ground-up Indie Game Alliance. Part of that will be a brand-new website that is already under development. But it’s not just the code that’s getting redone; we’re taking every single IGA service and feature, analyzing what works and what doesn’t, applying seven years’ worth of experience and feedback to it, and “cranking it up to eleven.” We’ll be adding a host of brand-new services to the IGA portfolio, and designing each service to seamlessly integrate and augment all of the others for a cohesive IGA experience that is simultaneously simpler and more powerful than ever before.

Over the course of the next few months leading up to launch, we’ll be offering previews of the IGA 3.0 experience, and asking for your feedback. We want to make sure that IGA 3.0 lives up to all this hype! We’re looking for a few members and a few Minions to join a focus group to get bleeding-edge previews, give early feedback, and help us test things.

We’ll be announcing new features as we go, but most of the new stuff will launch simultaneously with IGA 3.0. A few of them will find their way into the world before then, though, and who knows, before this is all done, Matt just might answer the #1 most frequently-asked IGA question… “What IS Project Pharos?” (It’s NOT the new IGA website.)

Want a sneak-preview of the goodies to come? Here’s two:

Playtesting Network 3.0

We asked for your feedback on what feature needed love first, and you overwhelmingly told us the playtesting system could use some improvements. We agree. We’re pleased to report that active development is underway for our third-generation playtesting service, **which will be developed in the IGA 2.0 system** so that it can be utilized right away with COVID still impacting our industry. We’ll do a full write-up on this as it launches, but here’s the highlights:

  • Not only will digital platforms (Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, etc.) be permitted for official playtests, we’re rearranging things such that the system *prefers* digital playtests over other means, so as to save members time and money on prototypes. (That’s right, no more “four prototype minimum”!)
  • Each game under playtest will get a mailing list automatically generated, so that designers and playtesters can communicate in real time about playtests under way; no more “would you pass a message” stuff. Plus, it’s easier to schedule playtests between volunteers and the designer, or just between volunteers. Have non-IGA playtesters? You can add them to the IGA-hosted mailing list, too.
  • Playtest groups will last until they’re closed by the designers, meaning a playtest is no longer “five plays and you’re done” — encouraging longer-term engagement with the playtest crew working on your games.
  • We’re turning the detailed final report that minions would complete after their last playthrough into the default survey for all playtest games, meaning you’ll get that level of detail on *every playthrough* rather than only at the end. So, what about the final report?
  • Minions no longer need to do a final report! Since the playtest ends when the designer ends it, and they get the feedback every time the game is played, there’s no longer a need for the final report. So, when do the Minions get their bonus Loot Points?
  • Playtesters are encouraged to stick with a game as it evolves. Therefore, instead of a triple-Loot Point bonus once when the final report is submitted, Minions will earn triple Loot Points on all plays of a playtest game as long as they report a minimum of three plays of that game in a calendar month. Play it three times next month? Get the bonus AGAIN! Rinse, repeat, until the designer says the game is ready for Kickstarter!
  • If four Minions playtest a game together, which one gets to report the playtest and claim the Loot Points? We answer that question all the time. So, let’s answer it once and for all, the way we should have in the beginning — ALL OF THEM. Play with your fellow Minions in a playtest environment? If all of you fill out a report and a survey, you all get the Loot Points and that single play counts toward your three plays for all of the players in the game.

We expect this project to be completed sometime in 3Q 2020.

An Easier Way to File Demos

We love our designer and publisher members, and we try to add goodies for them as often as we can. But Minions, we haven’t forgotten you! We’re pleased to announce that we have, in active beta testing, a mobile app for iOS and Android devices for filing demo reports! This app further simplifies the interface for demo reporting, gathering player surveys, adding convention and venue details, and submitting photos, and even lets you track your Loot Points so you can see how much great swag you’re racking up! Email us if you want to get on the testing team. Our unending thanks to Minion Austin Hunter, who has worked tirelessly for the last two months building this app for us. He’s done a fantastic job!

So, what about customer service?

Matt’s stepping back from customer service to focus on coding, but IGA members already know and love his replacement on the front lines. Victoria Holden, our convention director, is expanding her duties to include most front-line customer service and Minion assistance. If you’ve met Victoria at one of our many convention appearances, you know she’s a blast to work with — and now you get to do it all year round while grumpy ol’ Matt retreats to the lab to resume having very long arguments with computers over proper pixel placement.

We know that in the past, a great many members and Minions have grown accustomed to sending Matt a message on Facebook directly or emailing him directly when they need help. We respectfully request that you now redirect any support questions you may have to any of the following official support channels, all of which Victoria will be monitoring during our support hours of 9AM to 5PM Eastern Monday-Friday:

Matt’s personal contact methods will continue to be monitored, but support requests sent to his direct email or Facebook will likely be significantly delayed – so if you want a quicker answer (and likely a less-frazzled one), use the methods above to talk to Victoria.

Also, please note that some members – particularly those with Gmail addresses – have been reporting that some of our emails have been going into spam filters. We are working to resolve this issue, but in the meantime, please whitelist the indiegamealliance.com domain to make sure you are getting our support responses, demo reports and newsletters.

Matt will still be doing consultation sessions, but these will be by appointment for the remainder of 2020. IGA Lite and Pro members can book a 2-hour session at http://igamatt.youcanbook.me. We will be adding more appointment slots in the coming days.

A note from Matt:
I’m really excited about what’s coming next for IGA, and I can’t wait to share it all with you as it continues to take shape. I’ll miss interacting with you all as much as we’re used to for the next few months, but you’re all in the best of hands with Victoria, and I’m not going to *completely* disappear in the interim. This is a massive undertaking, and one which I do not begin lightly — but I am supremely confident that when IGA 3.0 is ready, it will have been worth the work and the wait. Catch you on the flip side — and do me a favor and get rid of COVID-19 while I’m gone, k?

“2020 Is Halfway Over!” Celebration Sale Extended

Hey, #TeamIGA! Great news for those of you who are looking to level up your game, but just blew your budget at Gen Con Online: Our “2020 is Halfway Over!” Celebration Sale has been extended through August 31, so if you’d like to upgrade to an annual IGA Pro membership, now is the time to do it!

As a reminder, IGA Pro members get access to our blind playtesting network, our 990-member demo team (which will hopefully be coming back to full strength soon, curse you, COVID!), guaranteed distribution availability, Kickstarter consultation, and over 50 member discounts on manufacturing, fulfillment, pledge management, advertising, professional services and more.

Normally, IGA Pro membership runs $30 a month or $300 a year – so, pay for 10 months, get two free. However, during this event, an annual Pro subscription runs $270, so you’re getting a whole extra free month of service.

Not looking to self-publish? IGA also offers IGA Lite for Designers, a no-frills membership that includes prototyping discounts, playtest support and publisher matchmaking tools, for just $10 a month.

Check out IGA Pro and Lite at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/studios/pro.php. Ready to upgrade? Do so from your Studio Dashboard at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/subscription.php!

Indie Game Alliance Announces “PLAY UNCONVENTIONALLY”, A Free, 100% Online Gaming Convention

ORLANDO, FL – The Indie Game Alliance (IGA), a service-oriented guild of more than 1,350 independent tabletop game designers and publishers, announced today that it will be hosting Play Unconventionally 2020, a fully online tabletop gaming convention experience, from May 23 – 25, 2020. The convention will be free for all exhibitors and attendees. Signups are open now at http://www.playunconventionally.com.

The Virtual Exhibit Hall will feature popular streamers running engaging, entertaining demo plays of exhibitor games in one of the Exhibit Hall streams. Purchases of game and accessories will be made through Play Unconventionally’s dedicated online store to facilitate order consolidation and reduce shipping costs. A portion of all exhibit hall purchases will benefit the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, to assist those in the gaming community who are struggling.

Play Unconventionally 2020 will also feature events for unpublished designers, including virtual playtesting, a fully online publisher speed dating event, and interactive video panels. The show’s community track features an artists’ alley for linking Etsy, DeviantArt, and other such shops for handmade and one-off items, a cosplay contest, a diversity lounge, math trades, and a virtual flea market for game swaps.

Play Unconventionally’s community will be hosted primarily through its Discord server located at http://www.playunconventionally.com/discord. This server is open now, and prospective attendees or exhibitors are welcome to join now, familiarize themselves with plans, and ask questions. The Discord has dedicated lobbies for matchmaking for online play through Tabletopia, Tabletop Simulator, Board Game Arena, Vorpal Board, Roll20.net and Astral Tabletop, as well as mobile and PC ports and unstructured play-over-webcam. A print-and-play archive has also been established for those wishing to try out prototype games and offer feedback to the designers.

“In these challenging and uncertain times, it is critical that all of us in the tabletop community come together and support each other. It is our fervent hope that Play Unconventionally will give exhibitors, artists, and attendees alike the opportunity to recapture some of the joy — and in the case of game publishers, some of the revenue — of our favorite conventions,” said Matt Holden, executive director of the Indie Game Alliance.

IGA Statement on Coronavirus/COVID-19

Greetings. We hope, in this time of concern and mass closings, you’re hunkered down with a great game or 20. We felt that it was prudent to share some thoughts on the impact of the coronavirus on our operations. All of these positions are subject to change as more information becomes available.

IGA only has two full-time staff members, Matt and Victoria. Because we’re married, if one of us gets sick it’s pretty much a guarantee that the other will. So far so good on that front, just some sniffles we’re chalking up to allergies and huffing hand sanitizer, and we are taking all reasonable precautions available to us to try to keep it that way. Victoria always works from home. Matt has a day job, which has not as yet made the decision to move to remote work. Fortunately, it’s a fairly small office that doesn’t have public traffic, so the risk is relatively low.

If we come down with COVID-19 we will likely be off the radar for 2-3 weeks minimum (bearing in mind that both of us are in the high-risk category due to other chronic health conditions we have.) We have asked a few volunteers who help out occasionally to be prepared to pitch in as best they can with customer service requests if one or both of us gets sick, and we will endeavor to stay as connected as we can during that time.

Important Notes for Minions
Minions MAY continue to run demos in any public place they wish, if they wish to do so. This is entirely up to you. If you do decide to demo, you are STRONGLY encouraged to follow all preventative measures recommended by the CDC and to check their website often for updates. Carry hand sanitizer (if you can find any) and wash your hands after EVERY play.

DO NOT run or attend demo events if you are sick or feel as if you may be getting sick, or if you know you’ve been exposed to someone who is. PLEASE DO NOT run or attend demo events if you are a member of one of the high-risk groups identified by the CDC. Minions reserve the right to politely refuse to demo for or play games with someone who appears to be sick. We recommend, if you’re choosing to demo during this time, taking precautions such as sleeving your cards so that they can be wiped down between plays. Gloves may not be a bad idea. We’re hearing conflicting information about whether, and which kinds, of masks are effective.

Minions are expected to abide by all laws and executive orders regarding closures of events and limitations on gathering sizes during this outbreak. We fully understand that there is a wide spectrum of anxiety levels about this thing, and we will support your decision if you decide to back out of conventions you may have planned to attend or pause your demoing until this is under control. We believe that game demos are pretty darn important — but this is life and death for a lot of us. We ask that Minions keep us actively in the loop about your convention schedule and any changes made to it.

Minions are also reminded of our Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia demo partnerships, which are a great way to earn Loot Points with no exposure whatsoever.

We are waiving all deadlines for playtests until further notice, but you are reminded that unlike demos, playtests MAY be reported from your private home, so even if you are self-quarantined, these still can be completed in most cases (it may be tougher with a party game, for instance). The “your playtest is late” emails will still come, as they are automated, but you may ignore them until further notice and just do the best you can.

The IGA reward store continues to be open and we will ship rewards in as timely a fashion as we are able.

For Member Designers and Publishers
Members are asked to bear with us during this time of uncertainty. We are doing our best to stay on top of everything, but help and money have both been harder to find than usual, and it wasn’t easy before.

IGA is not just a service you pay for, like a Netflix subscription. We’re a guild, and that means we as a community are invested in the longevity and success of every one of our members. We are actively searching for any and every avenue within our means to help our members weather this crisis. I wish we could do more than we currently are, and we are open to any suggestion whatsoever about ways we can use whatever resources, reach, or skill we have to make things easier for you.

We are working on a few ideas already, and we’re actively making the connections and doing the research to see if we can make them happen. We’ll share more if and when these ideas come to fruition, but obviously this is happening fast and we are all shooting from the hip here.

We know this is a terrifying time for all small business owners – which very much includes Victoria and me – but I want you to know, right now, from the hand and heart of IGA’s founder, we have your back now and always. As long as IGA exists, YOU ARE NOT IN THIS ALONE. We strongly encourage our members to work together during this time, too. Support each other any way you can.

As mentioned above, we will be extending deadlines on playtesting to give volunteers more time to work around situations they may be facing as a result of this unprecedented event. Some Minions are very likely going to be hesitant to get out and run demos, and between that and depressed convention sales, it’s going to be a rough few months statistics-wise.

Likewise, pitching games to publishers will be a pretty tough slog for the next few months.  We’ll do our best to do it online and with sell sheets and video chats, but most of our pitching is done at conventions, which are quite up in the air at this point. Speaking of which…

IGA’s Convention Schedule

We were in the process of pulling together our Minions’ 2020 convention schedule when all of this blew up. Victoria and I  have already had a few local conventions that we planned on attending personally wind up canceled so far. At this point, any effort to document our convention schedule for our volunteers is somewhat moot until we know what is going on with those shows, so our upcoming convention list is going to look a little bare for a bit.

At present, the two big conventions we’re nervously watching are Origins and Gen Con. What happens with these shows is still up in the air and very much out of our control, but right now we are planning as if everything is still on schedule for both of these shows.

If the conventions go on as planned, IGA WILL attend and perform convention services as normal, with the one exception being if Matt and/or Victoria are personally infected.

We acknowledge that the uncertainty surrounding the conventions has led to a hesitation to purchase demo time or other convention services. Rest assured: If the conventions are canceled or IGA is for some reason unable to attend, IGA will refund or credit every cent paid for convention services to the members that purchased them. Should we get to that point, affected members may choose one of the following two options:

* A full refund, which we may need a little time to process because we often don’t have a very large cash reserve on hand

* An account credit of 120% of the amount you paid for the convention services, to be used toward your Pro/Lite subscription or future convention services once society stops collapsing

We had planned on launching our “rent a minion” service to help folks out in booths this year. Given the uncertainty surrounding the conventions and volunteer signups, we are going to delay that rollout until at least the BGG.con/PAX Unplugged window in the fall.

We expect that even if the cons continue as planned, attendance and sales will be down at least somewhat. There comes a point where that is beyond IGA’s control and we think we are probably there. We are encouraged by finally getting our first distribution sale under our belts, but some of our partner distributors are talking about shutting down operations for a bit as well, which will obviously impact what we’re doing here.

Contingencies, Backup Plans and Other Thoughts

We are discussing a few ideas with various members of the industry to try to ramp up online promotions of games to try to take the sting out of this for our members. We strongly recommend investing in creating a Tabletop Simulator or Tabletopia version of your game to be able to conduct demos, especially if you are planning a Kickstarter soon. If you are planning a Kickstarter during convention season, it may behoove you to consider waiting to launch.

Members and Minions are both STRONGLY encouraged to join our Facebook groups (www.facebook.com/groups/IGAMinions for Minions and www.facebook.com/groups/IGADevLounge for members) and our Discord server (www.indiegamealliance.com/discord) to get access to the absolute latest information about the situation and our plans.

The next few months are going to be tough on all of us. Please try to remember that IGA is just as small of a business, with just as many challenges and risks, as our members’ own companies are. We are all in this together, and we ask for mutual patience and understanding as we all try to find a way to get through the rough weeks and months to come. In life as in tabletop gaming, pandemics are co-op games, so let’s all work together and see if we can’t win this thing.

Most importantly, stay safe out there. Take care of your families, your friends, and your loved ones. We will be here when this is all said and done, and before you know it, we’ll all be back to the table.

IGA renews partnership with Print and Play Games

IGA is proud to announce that we’ve renewed our partnership with Print and Play Games, a premier provider of both prototype printing and full-turnkey service. Print and Play offers fantastic quality and can do turnaround of as little as 48 hours.

IGA Pro and Lite members save 5% off of all orders at Print and Play, and an additional 5% off orders exceeding $200. If you’re prototyping a game now, this benefit alone could easily be enough for your entire year of Pro to pay for itself — plus you get access to all these other amazing benefits!

Pro and Lite members can find the updated coupon codes to use at the Print and Play partner page.

2020 Convention Services on sale now!

It’s here! Sign up for convention support at Escape Winter Convention, Gen Con and Origins Game Fair with IGA now! We’ve also listened to your feedback from the recent survey, and we’ve cut the prices on ALL convention services significantly. IGA Pro members save an extra 10% on top of that, too!

Plus, with our newly redesigned Convention Service Store, you can now book the exact time you want – no more asking for a time and waiting to be scheduled!

Important to note: IGA Pro and Lite members have an exclusive window to purchase Gen Con and Origins time. We’ve waived it for EWC because EWC is a very short run — it was a last-minute add to our schedule and the show is in late February, so you’ll need to act now if you want representation there. As for Origins and Gen Con — if you want first access to the best timeslots, you can always upgrade to Pro now!

Book time now from your Studio Dashboard at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/studio/conservice!

IGA adds new benefit for its entire community with TicketsAtWork

IGA’s pleased to unveil, for the first time, a benefit partnership that impacts all members of our community – designers and publishers, minions, conventions and retailers, freelancers, and more. We’ve partnered up with TicketsAtWork to offer all of our community members some fantastic deals on — well, fun!

TicketsAtWork is most famous for its discounts on admission to theme parks and attractions and tickets to everything from movies to Broadway shows, concerts and sporting events – and don’t get us wrong, it’s pretty awesome for that! But in addition, TicketsAtWork can save you big on hotels and rental cars, which we hope will be a huge help to members and Minions traveling to conventions. You can also score discounts on things like AAA memberships, Sams Club memberships, and even new and used cars.

If you have an IndieGameAlliance.com account, you’re eligible for this benefit. If you’re a member publisher, retailer, distributor, partner or convention, you may extend this benefit to your employees and/or volunteers as an additional perk of employment. It’s open to IGA Minions and freelancers, too — we strongly recommend that Minions not book hotel stays for conventions without checking it out. Signing up for an account costs you nothing; there’s no buy in or setup fee.

To get started, simply to go ticketsatwork.com and create an account. When prompted for a company code, enter IGAFUN and check out the ridiculous deals. It’s that simple. You can save an extra $10 off your first ticket or hotel purchase with the promo code 10Welcome at checkout. If you need help, they’ve got a call center that’s open pretty much around the clock.

Matt’s been a TicketsAtWork member for 13 years, and he’s super excited for IGA to have grown large enough to be eligible to sign up and bring this benefit to you all!

More details can be found here.

IGA’s Minion Manual is Live!

One of the longest-requested features of the IGA site is live at long last. IGA now has a comprehensive Minion Manual! Minions and potential Minions can browse this living reference to learn or refresh themselves on such topics as:

  • Filing a demo report
  • Policies for demos
  • Caring for your game library
  • Learning about options available to our members
  • How to get credit for referring new Minions
  • Public Minion profiles and Achievements
  • Collecting demo surveys
  • Volunteering at conventions, including hotel and badge allocations
  • Running special events like publisher speed dating, Tabletop Day, and Extra Life
  • Our playtesting program
  • Account management
  • Minion code of conduct

… and more! Particularly observant Minions might find a way to earn a new achievement as well.

Minions should consider all policies in this guide to be in force, and that you are responsible for upholding all policies and procedures described within.

IGA would like to extend a huge thanks to Minion Kurt Winkler, who wrote 90% of this guide over the last few weeks and brought a project that has been on the to-do list for 57 months to completion in just a matter of weeks. Thanks for all you do, Kurt!

Designer / Publisher Member Manual Coming Soon!

Members, don’t fret!

Matt and Kurt are working on a manual for you next!

The Member Manual will include details on how to use every nook and cranny of the IGA website and service offerings to maximize the value we deliver to you for your subscription and take your game to the next level. Look for the Member Manual in early March!

IGA selected as Organized Play Provider for Dice Throne

We’re thrilled to announce that IGA member Roxley Game Laboratory has chosen IGA to run its new Organized Play Program for its smash-hit title, Dice Throne!

Roxley has merged its existing Diceroy corps with the IGA Minion team. Minions may join the ranks of the Diceroys by signing up with Roxley at diceroys.dicethrone.com. Existing Diceroys will need to sign up for the Minion program on indiegamealliance.com. Diceroys are required to join the Roxley Discord server.

Minions that participate in the Diceroy program will be eligible for great swag for running Dice Throne tournaments at their local conventions and game stores. Of course, Diceroys joining the Minion program are eligible to demo not just Dice Throne, but any of our other 1100+ member publishers’ games.

As a result of this merger, In the past week, IGA’s demo force has grown in size by over 6%, with 43 new Minions signing up, and we’re now just shy of 800 volunteers worldwide. This is the sort of impact that happens when IGA members take the time to drive their fans to the demo program — remember, a larger team means more demos for everyone!

Roxley is the first of hopefully many members to take advantage of IGA for organized play. If you are a member interested in implementing organized play through IGA, please contact Matt at mholden@indiegamealliance.com to discuss.

Introducing our Updated Invoice Module

Hey there! We’ve just rolled out our new, vastly improved invoice module. You can check it out at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/invoices.

Previously, this page only showed you “manual” invoice we generated for one-off charges, but I frequently get requests for re-sent invoices for subscription charges, store orders, or convention service purchases. Now, you can see all of these in one place, conveniently date-sorted, at any time.

We’ve also added some other useful data to the invoice page, such as direct links to related store orders, subscription details, and card information. Remember, IGA does not store any information on your credit card details; Stripe handles all of that. 

If you need to add some data to your invoices, for example, a VAT number or IČO number, you can now do so on your Account Profile located at https://www.indiegamealliance.com/account/profile.

Any data you add here will then get appended to the Invoice To section of your invoices.

Unfortunately, we can’t easily add it to the emailed Stripe receipt, but you can always get it from your invoice history.

We hope this new module will help our members that have more stringent accounting requirements.  As always, this is new code, so please let us know if you have any issues with it.