Saturday, June 30, 2018

Friday Night Playtest

Playtests can be a daunting concept when playing with strangers at a local game store, but it can be very rewarding in different ways as well.
Tonight I had the chance to play LoN with the store owner, a complete stranger that was there for game night, and my son. We had a limited amount of time to play, so it created a rush through the game explanation and right into a learn by turn kind of game.  This playtest turned out to be quite fun, with high interaction with the players and some exciting moments for each player at the table.
There are some key learnings about managing Quest cards, Locatin rules, and a few small typos that can be corrected now also.
The concepts of the Location Guide vs Cards won out, and the expansion of the Character Sheet to include an XP tracker, special game cards,

I hope to do some more testing, probably on TTS, to get additional info about people’s thoughtd on the game.  So far things are looking to be moving ahead, and now there are some new aspects to to keep fine tuning.  The podcasts and articles are correct when they say that playtesting your game is the BEST way to develop it and work out the issues.  I'm looking forward to plenty more playtests over the summer, while developing an email list and potential followers for the game and the KS launch in the fall.

Also, check out the great new art piece by Andrea Butera, it is Asmakai, the Mindcrushing Demon.  He appears to have a mastery over magic, and a very confident look about him.  Nice work Andrea!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Prototype has arrived

The GameCrafter prototype has arrived!  I love the feeling of getting a tangible professional looking prototype on my table to interact and play with.  The early versions that were handmade were fun, but there is something special about a finished looking game that adds to the fun of it!

After playing through a few times there are some clear changes that will need to be made to some text and descriptions, but overall it plays well and is a fun experience for my son and I.  The true test will be when I bring it the the game store this Friday.

If you want to see how the components look, or some of my comments on the creation and components, check out the youtube Unboxing / Explanation video I put together...

Friday, June 22, 2018

Calculating Costs

When it comes to becoming a game designer, and wanting to create exciting, fun, replayable games for people across the world it is hard to take a step back and look at financials.  Alas, it is a necessary evil in order to make the long term plans work.

For my example, I need to develop not only awareness for FunDaMental Games, but also generate some kind of minimal profit while doing so in order to pay for the cost of game design (ie Photoshop/InDesign, printing tests, gamecrafter demos, professional playtests, etc).

I have looked into a few different options, and right now I think the best option is to keep developing a basic card game, with a strong theme and hook.  It is the cheapest way to design a game, the easiest to print/play and get playtesters, and the cheapest to ship post KS.

First estimates show that if I can develop Duel of the Dragons into a 36 to 45 card game (vs 18 cards) I can safely retail it for approx. $15 (including North American shipping), at an estimated cost of about $12 per game (packaging, content, and shipment costs, but could be less if high volume of backers).
This would equate to $3 profit per game, so if even 100 people backed the game that would generate $300 profit (off of $1,500 in sales).  That is pretty low margin, but at least its not a negative value.

I have to keep in mind this costs me time, and that is essentially free of charge.  Preparing and shipping 100 games would take a while, but definitely something I am wanting to do should the game show that kind of success.

The difficult part is what do you do if it is 5x more successful than you plan for, IE if I were to get 500 backers unexpectedly how would I manage the shipments/preparation of boxes?  I guess the answer is to either create a better in-house process using family members, or alternatively I could source a shipment co-ordinator (thus creating another expense).

Lots to think about there, I will be reading up a fair amount on this over the next month to try and be productive, cost efficient, and be a reliable creator for any backers who give a first time creator a try!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A first outsider Playtest

Tonight I was able to playtest my game for the first time with a person I have never met or interacted with before, which really helped test the game in a different mental space.

The playtest was completed via Tabletop Simulator, and the volunteer was a very helpful man named Michael, from the UK.  Amazing to connect with a stranger from another continent in my adventure in the boardgame community!  Thank you Board Game Designer League for helping facilitate the Discord channel that got us connected in the first place.

Connecting took a few trial and errors at first due to gameplay issues, but after about 10 minutes we were into the discussion of the game and then into turns.  He was truly blind testing as he had not read the rulebook in advance and knew nothing about the game.  That being said, it took us well over an hour to play a full game through, then have some discussion on what could change.

He provided some great insight on a few aspects of the game, some of which I think are great ideas to implement, others are possibilities but not certain yet until I test some more.  Some core changes I agree with are:
  • Instead of three separate win conditions, instead utilize the Quest and GP win options as ways to alternatively win XP vs combat alone.  This still supports alternative strategies to winning, but keeps the scoring and endcame consistent between all players.
  • Reduce the "Nothing Happens" traveller icon on the d6 travel die to just one side instead of 2.  Make the other side something else (ie gain GP)
  • Consider reducing the number of restricted item cards, but introduce abilities on some magical items that can only be active by specific classes (can still use the icon to represent this in the text box)
This playtest was extremely beneficial and I look forward to trying it again with someone else to see what comments are similar, or other new comments.

Like you hear in any articles or podcasts, playtest sessions like these truly help shine light into the dark and gritty corners of your game that can make it unfun (Ie rolling nothing on travel die several turns in a row).

Below is a pic of our game in action, thank you Michael!

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Duel of the Dragons

Decided on a title for the Microgame, Dragon vs Dragon seemed a bit corny so I am going with Duel of the Dragons.  Helped quickly identify what the game is about, and sounds entertaining as well in my opinion.

About 20 people are testing it out, but no major feedback just yet.  I am very interested in fleshing out the abilities and the statistics and would like to get this one printed and sent to reviewers in July if I can get it worked out right.

Not 100% sure if the contest is the right way to go, as then I would lose all publishing rights to it and would only collect funds if the contest runner sold copies of it...  Would prefer to strike it out on my own with a very limited print run and minor KS campaign.  It would help get my feet wet in understanding how to run a KS campaign, and how to do personal shipping (as I would expect the number of backers to be less than 100 with the image/content the game has).

I am only planning on providing 4 unique pieces of art in the game, 4 dragons provided by a talented digital artist, Nicula Mircea, for a very fair price.  The combat cards will be very generic, allowing for minimal cost for me and thus minimal cost for the potential backers.

I have no idea if I should bother with any extra tiers for funding as I don't think it would be necessary for what I am trying to accomplish, but will have to think on it.

Exciting no matter how it turns out!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Aggro Week!

If anyone has ever played MTG you probably know what "Aggro" means.  For those that don't, its basically going all out on the offense with no time for resting and contemplating future actions.  Most well known in Red and White decks.

This week was an Aggro week for me from the moment I read about the 18 card minigame contest, and how it tethered into my goal to have a small introductory game to create a business/game designer awareness for FunDaMental Games and to develop some kind of gamer following prior to Legends of Novus release later this year.

So I spent a lot of time testing out different concepts of the game (self playtests), and then once I found a concept that seemed to make sense I busted out InDesign and went to town.  In a large game it would be better to stick to simple concepts, but with 18 cards I felt safe putting forth some more attractive visual designs.  Just put together some simple dragon icons from Photoshop and imported to InDesign, then put together the card abilities, etc.
Printed, playtested alone a bit more, then got my son into a few playtests.  He loves math, and loves analyzing potential outcomes, so it was a perfect fit for him.  We were able to play a few games together, and he also did some Solo modes (not as fun, but still entertains the mind with fantasy and math together).

Next was getting a rulebook together, and this is with constraint as well as it is limited to 4 poker sized cards front/back for the contest.  Made quite a few errors in the first rules print (had typed it up at 2am on a worknight), but after the first playtester provided their insight it was quickly corrected.

Now there are over 20 people downloading and playtesting it this week.  Whether it is good or bad, it is still amazing that so many great gamers out there are willing to take time to communicate, print, play, and provide feedback to a complete stranger for the sake of future game development.

A very busy and exciting week, with lots of development, emails, social media, etc.  And still working on Legends of Novus, my core project, in the background.  It is officially shipped from GameCrafter, so as soon as it hits the mailbox its time for an Unboxing video to share with the community!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

18 Card Minigame Contest

So another shiny object came into view last night, and as a creative person who is easily inspired to do other things, it caught my attention immediately.
It was yet another game design contest, this one requiring a 12-18 card minigame that cannot use any other components.  Very restrictive, yes, but also kind of liberating knowing that you CANNOT use tokens, minis, gameboards, dice, etc.  And for a new and aspirational game designer this was an opportunity I just could not resist.
My brain start churning, searching for what could be done, and it brought me back to another contest I was considering, that has not yet become overdue, for a single player game concept.  The idea I had for that game was a Dragon based card game about developing your Dragon to survive combat and encounters against a world set out to destroy it.
I thought on it for a bit, then altered the basic principle down to an 18 card concept (vs the 100 card concept originally planned).  How much easier is it to create card files and gather art for just 18 cards!

6 hours later (last night plus some time this morning), and I have a core idea templated and prototype printed to playtest.  No good game can happen in that short of time, I completely understand that, but if the concept and basic mechanics of the game work it is easy to adjust the rules and statistics in the game after that.

So tomorrow, my day off, will have some time devoted to personal playtesting, then setting up an easy to download Print and Play file to offer select players through the FB network I am part of.  With such a quick game and so little to print, I am sure some of the avid PnP fans out there will give it a try, then provide me with some malicious and thought provoking feedback to improve the game over the course of the next month before the July 12th deadline for submission.

Can't hurt to try, and gets my name/game thoughts out into the Board Game community...

The sketchings of a madman done at 1am last night are attached, have fun interpreting them!  This is how I predesign anything I create... Pen and Paper are so much easier to start with than a word document or Photoshop...

Then below that are the initial PnP PDFs I have created to prototype the personal playtesting...

Rules are in my head, eventually to follow.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Updating Goals

Its that time again, a self review of development and goal progress.  Back in mid-May I had a few ambitious targets.  Many of them were achieved, but then I did some card adjustments again that set me back at least a week.  Sometime that happens, and all we can do is accept, learn, adapt, and forge ahead.
As of today 80% of the game is ready for a PnP, with just the Rewards and a few odds and ends left to update to new file system.
Tabletop Simulator is live, but I have only played alone so far, waiting for some playtests with closer acquaintances before testing it out in the deep vortex of the real world!

Today I spent some time educating myself about how to create an RPG world book.  I was trying to find a way to have an early KS game, and still want one, but I also did not want to back off from LoN as it is so important to build this brand for the introduction of what FunDaMental games is all about.

If I can find a way to create a world book that can adapt to 5e (DnD), and PathFinder I think it can really make its way out in the world as an exciting fantasy world, then grow as a boardgame also.  This may all be a pipedream, but to me its a fun one and gives my a destination for all the backstory I want to place into the boardame but can't due to space and business reasons.

Now it comes down to creating content, and applying art within said content, a creative endeavor that I am excited to walk down!

Thursday, June 7, 2018

So many options

When I first started into this game design venture back in February my entire thought was to get one game out to people that I felt would be a fun adventure in a fantasy setting.  Since then I've spent over 300 hours working on developing a game designer profile, betting a strong base game in place with Legends of Novus, creating a business bank account and website, and developing my knowledge through articles, podcasts, and interactions with others.
It has been a fun and intense ride so far, and along the way I keep seeing other opportunities that are out there.  It is very difficult to not veer off track of my initial goal to pursue other things, such as mini games, card games, rpgs, etc.  There is so much out there that people want to play and invest in that the future is limitless.
I write all this to say that it is important to stay focused, to commit to 1-3 goals that you are truly committed to, in order for any of them to see success.  It is a principle from 4DX leadership, and pertains to game design just as easily.
So to clarify things for myself, and document a commitment I would like to pursue over the course of this year, I would like to complete 3 projects by the end of the year.  This is ambitious, considering I do this part time late at night with some additional hours on days off, but I feel it is important to have these broader goals above and beyond my week to week goals.

My most important focus is the further development, playtesting, marketing, and Kickstarting of this tabletop adventure game that I think will be well received once it hits the market.

A startup game, with a simple base mechanic that is very strategic, covered in a fantasy theme with a comical element to it.  The title is for concept only, something more compelling will come up!

3 - 5e WORLD BOOK, Based on Legends of Novus locations, creatures, and history.  I think having this in tandem with the tabletop game could be a very interesting pair of items for the tabletop players out there that enjoy RPGs and Tabletop games, and could help cross people over into both.

As for dates, I will insert those at a later time.  The important thing to start with was identifying my "Wildly Important Goals" for the year, WIGS, as part of my 4DX identification process.  These 3 products will become the basis of what FunDaMental Games is, a core understanding of the fantasy world its products will be developed in, and that it is about fun & strategy intertwined in high fantasy worlds.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Busy week in review

After some challenging discoveries and file managing, and about five to six hours worth of figuring it all out, Legends of Novus is now live on Tabletop Simulator (for self and friends only at this point).

I love the way the cards and map look in this digital format, and excited to playtest with some people over the coming weeks!

Also ordered the prototype of the game through GameCrafter, that will be awesome to get into my hands.

This past week involved a LOT of playing with Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  Trying to find ways to reach out into different groups that might be most interested in a game like this.  Finding likes and followers is not easy, and I want to make sure that the content I send out is someone appealing, either its content or its visual.

Things seem to be on track for my timelines, as all cards are now set, and the milestones achieved above are important to the progress of the game and my company.  So.. Whats next?

-Playtest the game on TTS with friends and strangers before allowing public to use
-Wait for the physical game to be delivered, then plan a date for the local game store to do some playtesting (Pandora's Boox & Tea)
- Develop my pre-Legends game, it needs to be something that plays in 15-20 minutes, costs less than $20 for backers, and showcases some good art but limited in quantity to be affordable.  The success of one game will make a big difference in Legends success

The fun of developing and planning continues, but I am highly engaged and absolutely LOVE spending as much time as I can in this field.  My 20 years in retail, combined with my 30 years in fantasy and gaming, could be an interesting merge this year!

Pic is a glimpse of the completed Tabletop Simulator setup.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Level Up

Made some big strides this week!

All game cards are now updated to latest card styles, which means they were ready for a GameCrafter print to get some REAL cards (up until this point have only played with home-printed or staples printed cards).  I am confident in the image and abilities of most cards, so felt comfortable creating a nice looking prototype to bring to game stores and show on video of the game in action.

Also, now that all images are prepared in JPEGs/PNGs in photoshop as well, I can export/download into Tabletop simulator for online playing.  I am having some troubles with crop sizes, but its late and I'm tired so I am guessing there is an easy fix to that.

Also had a game idea that is a bit more straight forward than my solo Dragon Fate game that I have been pondering.  This one would be a two player card game in the same concept as Othello, but certain cards have game changing abilities that would have to be deployed strategically to maximize their value.  I will brainstorm that one a bit more, then create a digital copy to play around with.  Could be a fun first production game, just need to add a fantasy twist to keep it inline with my Business Strategy of sticking with Fantasy!

The designing fun continues!!