Sunday, October 28, 2018

Box Art Opinions

When I began in Game Design I knew that designing the right types of components, having the right amount of players/game time, and having fun and interesting mechanics would be critical to the games success.
What I didn't plan on was how many thoughts and opinions are out there in regards to the actual game box.  When you think about it this is the one thing people can look at in the stores, should your product be sold in a game store.  The cover has to be eye catching, intriguing, and make a player who likes your genre want to grab it, look at it in closer detail, and most importantly, make them want to flip it over to see the back.
The back has to be the equivalent of an excellent sales sheet.  It needs to show the theme, it needs to highlight core mechanics, it should have a great visual of what makes your game special and different, and a list of contents can help as well.
The tough part about both of these is that players also want to read as little as possible.  Time is precious and images speak much louder than words.
I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out what piece of art looks the best on a box, best represents the fantasy setting, and will make people really want to pick it up and look at it (or in the case of online it needs to make them want to click for more information).  At one point I had considered the Dragon art, but that seemed to cliche' and overdone in this type of game.
For the back it takes even more time and consideration, and I'm pretty sure I need to start from scratch to make it work properly.
I write this post just to let game designers know that what you think might be a simple copy/past of an image and a logo may actually take you several hours of work, and several re-dos to best market online and in physical stores.
I have used Reddit, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to get some gamer insight for this topic, and each time there are multiple opinions and suggestions.
A few that have stuck out are:

  • One large image is best, if you try to make a collage of images or scattered images the feedback is not good.  If you have an artist create a piece that is an intentional combination of people/creatures that is fine, but it should be one piece of art (not a photoshop mash up).
  • The name of the game should stand out very clear, and somewhat centered on the box.
  • Your name, artist name, and company name are not required on the box cover.  If you can make it work then great but don't let it be more important than the game you are trying to market.
  • List of contents on back of box, with a visual of full game laid out on a table for player perspective.
  • Brief backstory of the game world (if any).
  • Clarification of why your game stands out and is different from other the tens of thousands of games in existence.
Good luck when you design your game box images, when its complete it does feel like a milestone has been achieved!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Re-revised Card Designs

After multiple posts through IG, FB, Twitter, and Reddit I have redesigned the Creature cards for Legends of Novus several times.  Each iteration in time consuming to edit/change the cards, even though most share the base template it still requires effort to tweak text size, icons, and image sizes.

I believe, after about 10-12 revisions since the game started, I may have found a design I want to stick with.  The main issue this creates is that the rest of the cards are in a different style, not as focused on the art as it is on the text/values of the cards.
This will take some time playing around with to see what the best way to manage this is.  Do I redesign ALL the cards, are have the two different graphic styles?

I think putting out more posts with concept ideas is the best way to figure this out.  So many great gamers and designers/publishers out there that seem happy to give their valuable opinions.  Their responses may require me to redesign those cards as well, but everything is worth it to deliver a game people enjoy looking at and interacting with.

Here is the latest version, and most likely final, for Creatures...

Friday, October 19, 2018

The Waiting Game

I'm not sure if there is anything more frustrating in game creation than waiting for approvals and shipments from manufacturers.
I have been stuck waiting to see the final card products from DTC before ordering the 60 decks required to fulfill all KS orders, and it feels like it takes forever!
As soon as that comes in then Duel of the Dragons will be submitted, with hopes of receiving all decks by mid November.
The funding from KS appeared in my bank yesterday so the process only too about 16 days from end of funding to receiving the funds, not bad!

Now the final decision to ship out games in bubble envelopes flat packed will come to the test soon.  Really depends on how the Post Office will feel about its weight and how it is described.  The tests I had done pre-KS had the costs between 3-5 dollars, but the post office may challenge that based on the inner contents.

In the meantime, I am working on KS pages and new card graphics for LoN to give it a more Artsy vibe to the game (instead of the structured/boxed look originally used).  This new look is getting much better feedback from groups/individuals, so will likely stick with this one.

Also trying to grow the FB group to exceed 100 members.  It is a challenge as people generally don't want to add yet another group to their updates/pages, but I am hoping the content of my posts shows enough to grab fantasy lovers attention and want to join and see more.

A good chat with Panda Games took place on Thursday as well, helped clarify questions I had on costs, timelines, fulfillment minimums, etc.  Decided from that convo alone that miniatures are too pricey to venture into with in my first few games...

Friday, October 12, 2018

Spellbook'd PnP Testing

During a long drive to and from the relatives this Thanksgiving I had a lot of windshield time to think about gaming.  I thought a lot about the Kickstarter I am currently manufacturing, its an exciting process but a lot of waiting in between submissions, proofs, and later the final products.  Thought a lot about my big game, Legends of Novus, as well but not much I could do about it on the drives.
So that left imagining up a new game...
That's where Spellbook'd was derived from.  I had the initial concept a few months ago but left it as a thought in the notes app of my iPhone.  Now it is becoming reality with card ideas, mechanics, and even a printout of some basic cards.
I've now playtested it about a dozen times and found most of it works out well, had a few wording issues and two spells to adjust, but otherwise it seems to be playing as expected.
Now it needs some outsider influence, some experienced PnP gamers are willing to give it a try so I am excited to see what they think of the initial game and where it goes from here.

Meanwhile, need to go back and finish up the Creature cards of Legends of Novus, build up new videos, and began the future Kickstarter page in preparation for early next year.  A call is planned with a mass manufacturer to see how costs and files are needed (postponed from last week).  That can really help with the planning piece too.

Here is a simple logo thrown together to identify the Spellbook'd game.  It will change for sure, but for now it helps to share an image and title with people that might be interested in it..

Monday, October 8, 2018

KS Fulfillment Begins and Planning for LoN next year

It has only been 12 days since my first KS ended, and funds have not been sent to my account yet but I have promised my backers a short turnaround for delivery (to have in time for Christmas).  Backers have been very positive and responsive to surveys and emails, which makes my role as a game fulfiller quite a bit easier.
Duel of the Dragons is quite a small game and is very easy to modify card images/graphics at the printers demand.  I have probably adjusted files at least ten times in the past three weeks based on manufacturer needs as well as personal edits.  I can picture this being very frustrating if this were a larger game with multiple non-card components (such as Legends of Novus).
For this very reason I plan to have conversations with a mass producer this week to discuss exactly what file types/sizes/timelines they would have in order to manufacture Legends of Novus in the most efficient manner they can, with as little editing as possible next year.
I am very excited to bring that project to life, but am also trying to balance my time with completing Duel of the Dragons, and even devoting time to yet another game creation based on some inspiration I had recently.
I did not want to get started on another project, but once it got in my head I was afraid to ignore it and let the inspiration dissipate.  It would be a card based game again, this time with player tiles, gemstones, and tokens as components.  It would take longer to play the DotD, but less time and less complications with creation than LoN.
I actually spent two nights over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend designing prototype cards on InDesign, printed them, and used a paper cutter to get them to size.  Playtested two games so far and will be working out some kinks, then will reach out to fans of Print and Plays to see if they want to give the game a whirl.
Later this week LoN will get creature file updates, and I will be revisiting the game board design to allow less "dead" space on board and be easier for players to navigate.

Hard to believe I have been working on game design for over 7 months now!  Such an interesting and fun hobby, not just for designing but also for playing.  In fact, just got Castles of Burgundy as a Birthday gift a few days ago and spent 4 hours playing it to see what the experience was all about and why it is so highly ranked.  I enjoyed the game, albeit a bit long to play, and am sure after a few more plays I will glean some great game design insight from it!

Time to devout some more time back to Novus though, as I would like to spend a substantial amount of time making a Playthrough video, an animated Kickstarter video using real game artwork, and gather feedback and adjust the game if needed based on blind playtests planned for this month.

Here is a screenshot of the latest game prototype, tentatively named Spellbook'd.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

First Kickstarter Post Synopsis

     I am extremely happy to report that my first KS, through FunDaMental Games, became successfully funded far beyond my expectations!  There was a strong initial support, funding in the first 2.5 days of the launch, then a lull for a few days, then a gradual climb upwards from there.
     By the end of the KS it was 260% funded to the $500 goal, with one stretch goal achieved.  Considering I have never promoted or sold a game to the public before, and this is a first creation on KS, this felt like an accomplishment to be proud of.
     I learned a few lessons from this KS, both before the launch, during the campaign, and now some post launch thoughts.  Here are a few I can share with you:
  • The video is crucial, and I don't think I put enough time or energy into it.  Also I did not add a personal touch, which could have been something as simple as 10 seconds of me introducing FunDaMental games.  Of the 215 people that played the video only 21% of people completed it, which meant it may not have been compelling/interesting enough.  That would equate to 46 backers if only full video watchers backed the game, so at least the video was not the sole selling point, but it was important and I would like to improve on this for the next game (while staying within the time limit).
  • Having a physical copy of Pledge rewards would make it a much more visual experience to promote those pledge levels.  I had offered holographic cards based on research and videos I had watched of the card making company, but I hadn't actually ordered the product until a week before launching the KS.  This meant that the cards didn't arrive until the night before my KS ended.  I think the holographic cards actually encouraged a lot of last minute backers due to the video posting of them, and this really should have been included from the start of the campaign as a key visual selling point.
  • Ship wherever you can, and advertise this well!  I limited shipping to US/Canada for free, and options for four other countries in the pledge details.  At least five backers mentioned this limitation for them, which means likely 25 more just didn't bother with the campaign since they could not back it at a physical level anyway.  Figure out logistics and other shipment costs as early as you can, and make it an option (even if it is very expensive), then anyone could back the game if they chose to pay those shipping fees.
  • If you are going to run a Facebook Ad or other Ad process you will want to have it reviewed/planned for at least a week out.  I ended up with a credit to do an add on Facebook, but didn't request it until the day before the campaign ended.  They did not review the request in time to advertise, so I ended up not advertising on any paid channels.  If this were completed it may have resulted in more backers near the end of the project.
  • Checking for backers and pledge increases is addictive... find your zen and try to avoid looking at the app every five minutes.  Plan to look for funding updates and backer q's every two hours, and use your time more effectively.
  • The Backer reports are pretty useful to look at and can help push your campaign/game event  to be more enticing to others.
Those are just a few to share first hand.  Thanks for reading!
Successfully raised CA$ 1,302 with 82 backers