Richard A. Bartle's consultancy web site.
I'm a professional game design consultant specialising in, but not limited to, online games.
Half my time I'm a games industry consultant.
Half my time I'm Professor of Game Design at the University of Essex, UK.
This page concerns the former. I mention the latter merely in an effort to impress you. This also may work.
My primary strength is creativity. I'm exceptional at integrating ideas, whether mine or yours.
My secondary strength is communication. I'm good at explaining things. I'm an entertaining speaker (not that you'd know it from this web page).
My tertiary strength is longevity. I've been in the computer games industry since 1978. I've seen it all before.
This is my main area of expertise. I cover all aspects of online game design (MMO, social and mobile), but am usually asked to do one of the following:
Pre-productionGive a long-view pep talk
ProductionRepair broken designs
OperationPrepare a post-mortem
I work with all revenue models, and for transitions between revenue models.
A relatively recent addition to the services I offer concerns games that have an agenda beyond the traditional one of being fun. This includes games for marketing, games for branding, Serious Games, Games with a Purpose, Transformational Games and Gamification.
I've been engaged as a consultant in all of the above areas. They certainly need professional advice...
I sit on advisory boards for a number of organisations, but don't take on new such responsibilities if they conflict with existing ones.
I regularly give invited presentations at industry events and centres of learning; see here for a sample. I'm a charismatic and authoritative speaker, but you guessed that already, right?
Unless I'm requested to repeat an earlier presentation, I write bespoke ones.
In addition to presentations, I also run workshops. I don't keep these online, because I do tend to repurpose large parts of them (they take longer to prepare). I can and do put together new workshops if I don't have a suitable one at the ready.
Most of my workshops last half a day. Here's a sample of topics:
Game designIn this, participants are given a set of unusual components (Lego roof tiles, 52 playing cards all of which are jokers, Penguin book covers, blank dice — that kind of thing) and led through the decisions they need to make to design a game using them.
Game system designHere, participants are shown a game system and encouraged to play then design for it. Following this, they design their own game system.
Game production and developmentThis is a game in which participants all role-play being the producer of a start-up game studio. I have two versions, with different NPCs and events.
Game criticismThis is the game-design-as-art workshop. Participants play a board game, then criticise it, then criticise a digital game they've recently played, then we discuss their critiques to their great embarrassment.
Although I'm relatively flexible, clients usually prefer one of two approaches (or, for longer consultancies, a combination of both):
Site visitHere, I visit the site to meet the people involved. There will invariably be meetings, often demonstrations, possibly presentations, occasionally cake. If the visit is the mainstay of the consultancy, I'll write a report upon my return.
Remote workingIn this variation, I'm emailed documentation upon which I comment. In most cases, there will be a phone or Skype call to explain the context and what's required. This format can have a fast turnaround and works well across multiple time zones.
Around a quarter of the time, what I'm asked to do is participatory: helping to hammer out an initial design specification, say, or creating a concept for a game to sell hand soap. The remainder is analytical, reviewing what has been achieved (or otherwise) and making recommendations. Surprisingly often, clients know already what needs to be done but call me in to be told anyway.
I don't show my client list. Many (although by no means all) developers regard it as a sign of weakness to call in a consultant, if not immediately then sometime later. As a precaution, I don't name any of them. Also, seemingly against standard industry practice, I keep to non-disclosure agreements. If you don't believe me when I say I've done work for major developers, you're probably not going to trust my advice anyway.
I'm occasionally asked to do work in areas that are outside my expertise. When that happens, I'll usually recommend someone else who can do a better job than me:
MMO Patent queriesI can help with prior-art patent queries as they relate to MUD, but that's quite a narrow focus. You'd probably be better off contacting F. Randall Farmer, who has extensive data and a wealth of experience at his fingertips.
MMO ProductionIt's too long since I did any production and it's not something that I enjoy anyway. You should seek out someone like Gordon Walton or Jessica Mulligan instead. Both have been in (what's now) the MMO industry since the early 1980s and have produced several well-known titles each.
Mobile GamesOn occasion, I am asked for strategic advice about the mobile game industry. If this is what you want, I suggest you ask Eric Goldberg, who has been working with mobile games since 2000 (and game publishing and games-as-a-service for considerably longer). He has in-depth knowledge of pretty well the whole of the games industry, from board games through PC games, social games and mobile games to MMOs.
Game ProductionErnest Adams is a good person to contact if you want some non-MMO production work done. He's a good person to contact in general for game industry consultancy, as he's equally at home with design and public speaking, too.
MonetisationI'm sometimes asked to help with monetising MMOs in a (so-called) free-to-play environment. I can certainly help here from a design perspective, but if you want numbers to plug into your spreadsheet then you might want to get in touch with Nicholas Lovell of Gamesbrief.
There are other people I would have no hesitation in recommending for additional areas, but I'd be lying if I said I was regularly approached for advice on contracts, community management, data analysis or the business side of game development.
I work either per-hour, per-day or a flat fee, depending on the project and what best suits the client. I don't work for a sliver of your company in shares.
Contact me for more information.
These are the most convenient ways to contact me:
Spam-evading emailsee here.
My everyday blog.
My general web site.
My satellite web site.
The old MUSE Ltd. web site.
Copyright © Richard Bartle (firstname.lastname@example.org).