Feb 8, 2006

My First Response from a Publisher

The first company to respond to my initial round of submissions was Out of the Box Publishing. Out of the Box is best known for Apples to Apples.

However, looking at their game catalog I saw that they did make some small and inexpensive light-strategy games, which is what I always intended Programmer: Battle for Bandwidth to be. In addition, none of these games had a theme anywhere close to mine. This is actually a good thing. If my game appealed to exactly the same demographics as their current lineup, it would be pointless for them to publish it; they would be cannibalizing their own customer base.

This is the e-mail I received on July 29th, 2005 from Mark Alan Osterhaus, president of the company:

Thank you for submitting your COMPUTER PROGRAMMING card game for our consideration. If possible, please email the rules for further consideration.

I hadn’t at that point thought to start writing a rulebook, so I immediately set upon writing one for Programmer. As I said here, I copied my rulebook’s structure and explanatory methodology from the rulebook for San Juan. The new graphics for the rulebook were created in MS-Paint, as I felt diagrams for a version that was meant to explain the game to a publisher were better off clean and simple and to spend time creating aesthetically pleasing ones in Photoshop were just not worth the effort. When I showed actual cards from the game in the rulebook, I did use the images for the cards from Photoshop because they looked nice and were already done, so the only changes I had to do were to resize them to fit in the rulebook layout.

These graphics were all inserted into a Microsoft Word document. I then converted this to a PDF file so that I did not have to worry about their software compatibility or printer settings affecting their ability to view and print the rulebook as I saw it on my computer, as I referred to locations of graphics with respect to the text and didn’t want the locations to shift. The final product was not pretty in the least, but it was as functional as could be hoped for. I sent the following e-mail to Mark with the rulebook attached:
Thank you for your quick response. My current draft of the rulebook is attached in PDF format. I am not an experienced rulebook-writer, (I usually just teach people verbally how to play this game) so please forgive it's less-than-perfect layout and phrasing. If it is unclear in any way, I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Thank you again!

Michael R. Keller
Tomorrow I’ll figure out a way to post the rulebook here. This will also be the first full ruleset that I will have posted on this blog, so you guys can get an idea of my work as a game designer wannabe. Note that the rules you will see are no longer the current rules of the game. Major mechanical changes have been made since then. But it was the first game that I thought worthy of submission to publishers, so it is an important sample.


  1. How long did it take to hear back from Out of the Box? I submitted to them and still waiting.

  2. The delay between my first e-mail and their request for the rulebook was two days.