Monday, April 30, 2018

Fun Da Mental Games

Fun Da Mental Games is the name I decided on for my personal gaming business.

It is now official through the local business office, which does have an expense to go along with it but helps to legitimize what I am trying to do, and provides additional options later on when it comes to advertising, earning Kickstarter funds, and creating a business bank account separate from my own personal accounts.

These are all things highly suggested through the various podcasts/articles I have exposed myself to, and helps to build a professional profile for a true business.

As part of the BGDL game idea submission I have also created a business card to accompany it, as per the below.

Looking forward to developing Legends of Novus, and Dragon's Fate, as the first two company games over the expanse of this year.

Dragon's Fate will be a very simple, single player card game with minimalistic art and a low budget/cost to the consumer.

Legends of Novus is to be an artistic, enjoyable adventure game for 2-5 players (maybe even a solo option).  It will cost much more due to art, game board, tokens, and a game box.

The future is exciting if I can make these two games come to life!

Fun, Fantasy, Strategy.  That is what Fun Da Mental Games is all about.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Revising Timelines

A while back I planned some basic timelines for Legends of Novus, before I had spent countless hours reading articles, listening to podcasts, watching Kickstarter successes and failures, and interacting with the facebook game communities.
Now that I have developed a greater awareness of the scope of board game making (anyone could throw together a crappy game, but I mean a GOOD board game), I am updating my personal goals for game creation for LoN...

By end of April 2018 - Creatures reformatted to new design... I have about ten left to do, so those will be done by end of day tomorrow. Achieved!!

By May 1st - Also finish Sell Sheet and submit my Game Design to BGDL for the contest.  Achieved!!

By May 10th - All Classes reformatted to new design

By May 15th - All Location cards reformatted to new design

By May 30th - All Reward cards reformatted to new design

By June 15th - All Adventure cards reformatted to new design

These are aggressive timelines, given that every single card is being managed individually in Photoshop then applied to InDesign for proper manufacture file settings.  I am sure there is a faster and more efficient method, but I believe it would require coding knowledge that I am not ready to acquire at this point in time.

I recently created QUEST creatures that can be sought out on the gameboard map, rather than random encounters with extremely difficult creatures... here are the QUEST creatures:

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Listening to Feedback

When you ask for feedback you have to be careful... especially online... because you will get it!

My sell sheet was consistently  said to be disorganized, wordy, and hard to identify what was important.

Onto version 2, fewer words, fewer sections, more to the point.

Will send it for feedback again, really trying to get it right for the BGDL contest submission!

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Sell Sheet

For BGDL contest I had to design a Sell Sheet for the game...
Criteria is:
Sell Sheet is 8.5 by 11 page that includes contact info, the hook, pictures of the game on the table,

Sell Sheet Definition (21:27-24:45): One page visual resume that summarizes your game and makes it memorable to the publisher. Key facts should be included, as you would find in the pitch:
  • Bullet points of the mechanic of the game. Write out the events that it has been play tested at.
  • Put your credits of other published games (on the back of the sell sheet).
  • Leave at least half of the back blank for publishers to take notes.
  • Have a picture of the game laid out, like you see in kickstarters, all the components displayed.
  • If there is a unique component or mechanic that should be displayed too (examples around 24:20).
  • Half of the sell sheet should be images and the other half should be text. Do not make a wall of text!
  • Short bullet point and overview of your game.
  • Contact information

I am not completely done, but here is a first try ... Using Photoshop!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Figuring out Adobe

Well, if you have read prior posts you will know I tried to get many different applications to work in the development of this game.
Turns out Photoshop is just the be all end all of design...
InDesign is great, but to best pair up with talented artists in a digital world, Photoshop is the easiest point of contact/transference.

I have now begun retemplating all of my card files in a Photoshop file, designed by the talented Lead Artist, so that I can progress with new playtest cards for the next phase of game testing.
I am confident that the base game design is very functional, so I think with these enhanced image cards it will  go a long way to the "feel" of the game.

It is still critical to transfer to InDesign afterwards, but that can be done with an Export to JPEG then a Place of JPEG into the ID template, then exported once more as a PDFx.  The quality is looking pretty fine, so I think this may be the final method of card creation.

Also, new Website design!  Andrea Butera, the lead artist, has been willingly pouring his talent into this game and I could not be happier with what he is bringing to Novus.

I am very excited about the future possibilities of this game now that I feel the card design is back on track and the art is progressing very well!!!

Monday, April 23, 2018

Map Testing

Did some additional personal playtesting utilizing the Map and the new 3 round combat rule with d20 dice for determining whether the character wins or loses the round.  The map helped speed up the game by creating alternative ways to earn XP, and helping define a path to higher level creatures in the later points of the game.
The cool thing about the map is having control over your direction, and you game strategy.  Still some ideas to add in to the lands themselves to add variety and thought into the game, but the path seems right.

Now I am working on creating Drive Thru Card files to be able to eventually get all cards printed professionally, trying to get them made in time for the BGDL contest.  They will want a fully functional prototype game, and I think it will look better with true cards instead of sleeved cards as the backs and the game setup go a long way in the look/feel of a prototype game.

First I have to get passed round 1 and 2 of game cuts though, so I still have to make a professional map board (via staples for now) and some map tokens (crokinole chips with icons on them?)

Lots to do in May to prep for June if it works out!

Friday, April 20, 2018

Beginnings of a Business

As I get deeper and deeper into my plans for board game design, and publication later on, I need to establish a business strategy and communication path for those I plan to interact with.

One of these requirements is a business name... for that I have decided on:

Fun Da Mental Games

Fundamental is a great word, and broken down into three words helps make it unique, and creates some meaning behind the word, ie Fun and Mental (the Da can be interpreted however you wish;)

A business card is also needed, so for now I have created an online business card via the free option in Evaunt:
Time to put some time and energy into today's announcement, a BGDL game design challenge for 2018, the first of its kind!  I like the design stages Gabe has put into place and am looking forward to creating a prototype game in time for the deadline (provided I make it through his first and second round cuts for best game designs!).

This will take even more time and energy than I had planned in such a short timespan, but the visibility it will provide to gamers, and the feedback that the game could receive to make it better, is well worth the effort in my mind!

Question is... Can I design BOTH a single player game AND this game for both of the challenges now in place?  Time will tell....

Here is another piece of art being developed for Legends of Novus though, more great effort from Andrea Butera!

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Creating a Concept

Creating a concept for a game can be challenging, as with every idea comes more ideas, more mechanics, more options, and sometimes more trouble.
To get through a 3 month start to finish game creation for this GameCrafter challenge I am confining myself to some specific rules:
  • Solo game mode only (the rules say it can be a multiplayer game with a solo variant to submit, I don't have time to explore that)
  • Cards only ... By restricting the game tools to ONLY have cards I must think "inside the box" of cards, so those way out ideas won't interfere with my focus on the game
  • Time Sensitive ... My goal is to make a solo game that takes less than 30 minutes to play start to finish (once you are experienced with the game).  This makes playtesting faster for me, and for willing participants in the game world.
  • Simple Design ... I cannot afford to use external art for this game, it needs to be simple icons and art.  I may even go cartoony on this one as it drastically reduces drawing/coloring time and I may be able to figure them out myself...  My large game design NEEDS a professional digital artist, this one does not.
Today I brainstormed some more, and now that I have a core rules concept, card total estimate, and basic combat/card design, it was time to draw on some magic lands to bring the game to its first state of life...
So over the weekend I plan to get all of the cards written out in sharpie on MTG lands (I've got lots to spare!), then playtest several times over the next week and tweak the card values to become something reasonable, but challenging to beat.

Back to the game now, thanks for reading!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

I think it's a sign...

Today, like everyday since I began this Game Development adventure, I was listening to a podcast.  
It was about a "Super Backer" on kickstarter and what he looks for in new games.
One of the things that came up was the Creators history, as it pertains to prior game creations, successfully backed projects, and what the creator has themselves backed in the past.
This alone was good to hear, but then in a different podcast from another group I heard how important it is for a game designer to have their first game be a low-key project with low costs, to at least get through one successful game launch to understand production, shipping, customer discussion, etc.

Then, while browsing through the different Facebook groups about games that I am now a part of I saw a post from GameCrafter about their latest game design challenge... a Solo Game Challenge.

Given that I encountered all three of these messages this morning while going about dishes, cleaning, cooking, and travelling to do other tasks (Library, Haircut, Doctor visit), I took it as a sign.

I need to make a small game before I try to take on this bigger game project that I am so excited about.  Legends of Novus IS going to be a great game, and it's going to generate a ton of backers and a legacy... I can just feel it.  But its not the right time yet.

So, plans/agenda is shifting a bit.  I am still going to work on LoN, it is near and dear to my heart and I want to share it with the world, and will spend time on it to develop the cards/files on InDesign to prepare for the future while also playtesting.  But...

I am going to create a Solo Game that is 100% card based, no dice/tokens/maps/meeples/etc.  This keeps the cost as cheap as possible, and makes it faster for production and easier to ship.  The game idea, when complete, will be created in GameCrafter so that it is eligible for the contest (which offers some fair rewards and recognition in the gaming community).
The game can also be submitted to Kickstarter, which I would set at a relatively low funding goal to make sure it launches.  The game will already be ready for production, and would just need backer funding to be able to purchase the quantities.
This develops my reputation, gets my game company name out there, and provides me with some hands on experience with the KS platform and all that goes along with post-game production/shipping.

What is the game idea you ask?  I spent most of the day (after the Signs merged this morning) wracking my brain for some ideas and I believe I have one that is pretty interesting...  More on that in the days/weeks to come...
A little hint - its based on a Dragon

Sunday, April 15, 2018

GameSmiths Review

A while ago I reached out to GameSmiths to have some official playtesting completed, rather than rely solely on volunteers to maybe give feedback.  This group has done this many many times for many many games.
It was a small investment, but well worth it!  I would highly recommend this group to review any game before going into KS or mass production!
Below is an excerpt of the Facebook post I sent to the group to thank them...

Thank you GameSmiths for the excellent service you provided. From the pre-game review where you read the rules and talked out the game setup and turn sequence, to the in-depth complete play through of the game (loved hearing the pain when the Remove Curse actually had a negative impact on one character!), to the final Design Review video. You guys were detailed, passionate, professional, and yet still had some fun and laughs with each other. I would highly recommend your team to anyone seeking to get solid feedback and suggestions on a game before attempting to launch it to a broader audience or kickstart it. Based on your feedback, and others, I have some great ideas on what can be done to polish off areas of the game in the future!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Adobe Owns Me

Well I tried to make the free apps work.
GIMP, Inkscape, Krita, etc.  But after reaching out to a few game manufacturers it seems like InDesign is one of the better ways to save the best quality file images.
The PNG/PDFs I was creating with Inkscape were just not the same definition/quality that they would need.  And I find that when working with artists they often use adobe products/files, which makes importing their art/icons/template suggestions much easier.

I have tried the 7 day free trial for several days now, and I do love the program so I will end up paying the $20USD per month to have access to ID and PS.

Now that I do, its time to get back into re-designing every single card I have... A long process indeed.

Also, I came up with another idea for the future state of the game... but it involves a game board.  Was trying to stay away from the board at first, but now I realize that my map of Novus can actually be the board, and players will travel across it to reach the different locations, thereby invoking a sense of control over their character destinies (instead of the random card drawing that was happening).

One more thing... Battle mechanic needs to change based on a few players thoughts that combat was too quick, and too static.  Given that the game is based on DnD, I am going to incorporate D20 rolls into the game.  Not 100% how yet, but my initial thought is that each combat consists of 3 attack "rounds" in which the player and creature roll a d20 (the acting player can just roll two different color dice).  They each add their combat modifier(s) to the rolls to determine who wins the round.  Whomever wins two out of three rounds wins.  AND a player may choose to escape in mid combat (ie after the first or second rounds).
This creates more interesting and interactive battles, the chance for Tragic Fails or Epic Strikes (rolling a 1 or 20 on the die), and allows the rare chance for goblins and rats to win a battle against a powered up character.

Lots of thinking and suggestions today, a shout out to Jon Mott from the US who took 30 minutes of his day to chat with me on the phone about his playtesting session with his friends!  Thanks very much Jon, greatly appreciated.

Pics are of InDesign, and a few new card visions..

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Cleaner Card Formats

Through the support and advice of an artist I was provided with a cleaner card template to try using for a few of my card frames.
So far I believe they do look more professional than my original inkscape designs, and may decide to use them for final frames if the feedback is positive.

Here's a couple examples....

Monday, April 9, 2018

A Mass Volume Quote

A few weeks ago I sent in a submission to Panda Games out of curiosity of what my game could cost if it were mass produced overseas in China.
An often mentioned company that does this is Panda Games, their website does not provide immediate costs (or any costs for that matter), but it is pretty easy to create a profile and request a quote.
The minimum quantity you can quote for is 1,500 units, which is what I did.  It was kind of neat to see the difference in price through mass production overseas vs mild production within North America.  I won't quote any businesses exact prices, but I can see overseas shows a significant decrease in costs (keeping in mind production time/delivery time would significantly increase, with potential for additional shipping charges and taxes).

When developing a Kickstarter plan I think I will have to have a plan to produce in both, then based on how many backers support the game (if any!), that can help determine where it is the most time and cost effective place to produce it.

I noticed a recent kickstarter card based solo game still has 15 days left in the campaign and has already raised over $250,000 with over 8,000 backers.  Pretty crazy!

Thanks for the quote Panda, it truly helps to develop a cost / sell formula to plan for how much I could afford to spend on packaging, art, shipping, etc now that I have a ballpark figure to go with!

Sunday, April 8, 2018

An Artist who share a passion for Fantasy

During my quest to build this game, build this world, and share it with others I have met a very talented artist from Italy.
I discovered Andrea by searching the Artstation website for fantasy related images.  Although his page did not have a ton of art, it had some good concepts and what I felt was great potential.

Have a look:

Finding an artist is only the beginning though.  From there you need to be able to feel comfortable discussing your project with them, seeing if they even have an interest in a multi-art project, and ordering some example/individual art to see what they are capable of on-demand.

I am very happy to say Andrea is a true Fantasy fan, who seems to enjoy the world I am creating, and can create some pretty solid creature art in a short amount of time.  Together we have agreed to a total of 15 cards to get the game images developed for a potential Kickstarter promotion later this year.  Based on how these turn out, Andrea could very well become the complete game artist (with one of his friends) for this creation, which I think would be fantastic in terms of supporting a budding new artist in another part of the world.

Below are a few examples of his sketches/coloring so far, which I am very pleased with!  Thank you Andrea for replying to my initial email, and working within my budget to help change this game from an idea to a reality!

Saturday, April 7, 2018

A Friendly Kickstarter Chat

This afternoon I reached out to a recently funded Kickstarter game designer, Taylor Hayward.  It was his first campaign for a game, and he was able to achieve $14k for a card game, with 607 backers.  To me this was a pretty solid success story, and I was thankful that he was willing to chat with me on the phone for 15 minutes.
Taylor shared a few things with me, and was very gracious with his time and honest about his responses.  I will keep the summary of his keys to success to three simple points though...
  1. ART - The game art is critical to your success.  No matter how good your game may be, the art is the finishing seller of your product.  It needs to stand out, and it needs to connect with your audience.
  2. HOW TO PLAY - Your campaign page needs to stand out visually, but more importantly it needs to show potential backers how to play the game... in an interesting and visual way.  They should be able to learn the basics of your game simply by scrolling through your campaign page.
  3. COMMUNICATION - You need to get the word out about your game, kickstarter launch, and constant posts/discussion about your game throughout the campaign.  Taylor highly recommended using one of the Kickstarter Experts that are available to support you (at a % fee of your fundraising).
I will attach a pic of Taylors game below, and I want to extend a thank you to him again for taking time out of his day to share his Kickstarter experience with me.

An elegant, highly unique, portable, strategy card game set in ancient Northern Europe.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

A short break

Sometimes you need to take a break from work, usually a vacation but sometimes just a few days off helps as well.  Over the next few days I will be taking time off work and from in-depth game design, but I will still be putting some time in each night towards Character creation and World creation from a story perspective (hard to do anything else when the laptop is being left at home). 

In every book and podcast I have read/listened to they all say to devote time every single day to bringing your project to life.  I plan to live by that philosophy, as I think the longer you put something off or ignore it, the more likely you are to keep ignoring it.  In addition to writing story and character ideas I will also be reading up on Game Design blog posts, articles, etc.  In particular I need to find out how to best attempt to create the game at a minimal cost, so that it can be sold at the lowest potential consumer price (without having cheap cards/art though).

Now I'm heading off to enjoy the mountains for a few days in Lake Louise and Banff, always a great place to ease the mind.  I also find it helps with thinking of new story and game ideas when you are away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

See below a photo of Lake Louise area, and a few preliminary pieces of art some of my colleagues are working on specifically for this game!  One artist is working on Creatures while another is working on Characters.  Loving what they are doing so far!!

Probably won't put up a new post until Sunday now...

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Problems with GameCrafter Prototype

As I mentioned a few posts ago, I had placed an order for a preliminary game through GameCrafter.  It turns out they look closely at all files and determined that some of my cards had images not approved for use (example, one magic helmet had a helmet from an iconic video game).

Looks like I have to create more generic images in order to print some real cards, or I could keep using sleeved printouts until I have more playtesting data to work with.

One more obstacle to overcome!

Currently I am working on establishing a cost analysis for pre-Kickstarter investment costs, and post-Kickstarter game costs.  Other than game production, the most significant cost will be the Art.  I am trying to work with talented artists at discounted rates to provide a few sample cards for the kickstarter project (a few of each card type is enough to show backers what they can expect to see in the finished game, and how the basic turns work with real-card examples).

One artist provided me with a preview of her art, since it is not quite finished yet and we haven't finalized payment, I will not announce her name just yet, but I do plan to post the image and name of the first few pieces of commissioned art as I feel recognition is important for these talented individuals.

Personally, I think she is very talented and I am looking forward to the finished product, and seeing what she can do with the Hydra card as well!