Monthly Archives: June 2016

Sweeping changes

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Sometimes in my games I have to make sweeping changes. It’s tricky to do too much at once because any one thing that gets modified requires the remaining components to still be consistent and work with that card or rule. Avoiding contradictory cards/rules is one of the more challenging pieces of designing the game elements. Still, I can’t just change one thing at a time and get a prototype back because cost wise, it’s more efficient to get as many things done at once so you don’t have to go back for more changes later. The end result is you have to be pretty certain about your game updates and make sure to also modify corresponding rules/cards that are impacted by the changes.

One huge game change is a rule decision about the action cards. I decided to be more particular about how people can use them.  When designing games, I don’t want to run the decisions of players too much or limit what they can do. However, it can create confusion when there aren’t enough guidelines. Even if it is all laid out in the rules, without being specific enough about how to use cards and limiting what can be done, players may disagree on game play and that’s not fun in a game.

With that, I decided to limit Action cards to just be played on one’s turn. Before, it was also on another player’s turn. I was going for players being able to help each other out. However, from the events, a major piece of feedback was that not everyone enjoyed the amount of assistance that could be provided during battle. So to balance the confusion of how/when to use action cards and the abundance of help one could give another player, action cards have to be played on one’s own turn and only battle items can be used to assist another player. So only one of the two types of cards can now be used to assist other players, making it less of a situation where one player wins for another. It feels like a better balance to me.

So, speaking of sweeping changes, in this round here are some others: One-time Use cards moving forward will be referred to Battle Items. 1 action card was moved to yard items, 3 action cards moved to battle items, 4 battle items were moved to action cards, and 1 yard item was moved to battle items, and 1 attachment was modified based on the changes. Several other cards were modified slightly to adjust to these changes. Instead of 6 there are now 5 thrown items, but the same number of each type of item (attachment/action/battle/yard). I essentially played Jenga with the cards to make them fit more efficiently, to give it the most organized structure where I hadn’t before.

Also, the game name will change and that will be announced soon. I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Phoenix Comicon!!!

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Seriously, in my brain, this was THE big show!! My local, huge convention with a large gaming area and lots of people I know. SO! The night before the big show comes and I gather up all three different kinds of ribbons, all of the buttons, there were about a dozen different kinds, the two tall table signs, the 6 short table signs, the two banners, fabric, button maker, two white boards, the lip balm, and various miscellaneous items. Oh, and clothes. I packed for the show and we’re ready to go!

Showed up before gaming programming began while Game Central was getting itself sorted. I asked if B-1 and B-2, the tables I was assigned, could be next to the escalators. I assumed they would be based on the location and the numbers (There was no A-1/A-2, as B represented the board gaming section specifically). They had no qualms about it. I still don’t know if that was already what they were going to do, or if it was done in part because of the recommendation/request, but it worked out great for our tables. Right next to the escalators so people saw it first thing coming into gaming and walking toward the food section and coming down the elevator. It was perfect!

I set up my two banners next to the table. However, Meeple Games had their banners up in the same area and they were much nicer, much larger, but it didn’t stop me. I was just happy to have mine there. We had two tables. One dedicated solely for Battle Gnomes the whole time, and the other table was for Nocturnes, Book Collectors, and Parks. The organizers preferred breaks between games, but I asked them to let us do back to back games since we would have GMs there the whole time. I think that was a good move, since we were nonstop busy, but the breaks would have been nice. Each GM, there were six of us, got their 12 hours of games.

Scheduling was strange because we didn’t start games on the hours that we were assigned for, we just kept running games over and over on the tables and if one left while there was a game going, the new GM took it over. That started when early on I snagged some sign in sheets from Game Central. I forgot the policy was to have people sign up at the front (game central) and then get to their tables. So for the course of the weekend, we just had the sign in sheets at our table and it was a first come, first serve basis. I think it frustrated some people, but we didn’t want to not run games if people were there and interested in playing. A couple times over the course of the weekend a game did start on the hour, as expected with a break before it between games. I am of the opinion that we gained a lot more players than we lost by keeping it running. I don’t know that we lost any, really, just that people took the hover over the table until the game is ready approach.

Further, I tried to accommodate people the best I could. I’d run a side game if I could and a couple of times I loaned the game to someone I knew if they wanted to play it outside of hours we were running the games. I also ran games before and after scheduled hours if there was interest. Pretty much the idea was exposure and that was excellent. We had a large group of people show up for a 6pm game of Nocturnes around 5:15pm. They found a table off to the side to wait. When the game Parks ended at 5:30, I went ahead and talked to the GM who agreed we could/should start Nocturnes early so they could get into it sooner rather than later. Otherwise, my GM would have just been waiting for the next game and so would they. It was a good match.

The lip balm was a fun extra thing to have. Not something people expected. My gnome artist laughed when he saw the gnome on it and said, “I’ve made it! My art is on lip balm!” Haha, that was great for me. The buttons were pretty popular, along with the ribbons. Those all were great. We used one of the GM’s cameras for most photos, but a photographer I know went ahead and took pictures of the game and the group. I made a lot of other contacts playing the game, and we got over a hundred email addresses for when the Kickstarter comes out.

As for me, I pretty much was awake early enough to get to the tables around 9am Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I kept the schedule to end 8pm/10pm and on Sunday 4pm. Games were still in their swing Thurs-Sat when we were done on schedule but I wanted the GMs to have fun so didn’t schedule them for those hours. Besides, we always had traffic so I was fine with the hours we chose. I tried to sleep around midnight each night. Saturday night was fun, one of the GMs, Denise, had a social gathering in her room and most of the GMs were in there. It was celebratory because of how great the weekend had gone. The games had nonstop interest and people enjoyed the swag. The GMs had a huge boost. Unfortunately, I was exhausted and barely able to stay awake so had to crash out before the others.

So, to recap, we had swag and signage. We ran games fairly nonstop (not a single block of time didn’t have games go off). People were interested, lots of emails, lots of people taking the business cards and swag. Positive feedback was abundant, all the GMs showed up for their shifts so it wasn’t problematic at all there, we got some good pictures taken, and it was pretty exhausting in a fun, productive way. I couldn’t have asked for it to go better! I had people throughout the weekend tell me they had heard good things, or comment on how full my tables always 😀 Which is fantastic. I didn’t spend too much personal time with others, but did see lots of lovely folks. I even sent an invitation to be a GM for me to two different individuals, one I was planning to talk to even before the event and one that I met at the event who was eager and excited. Looking back though, I’m pretty lucky that I had 5 other people agree to run my games because that really was the kicker. I appreciate the heck out of my GMs. So all in all, great show! I learned a lot, and got a lot from it, it was definitely worth all the time and attention put into it. 🙂

Phoenix Comicon planning

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I wanted it to be a huge showing. I knew so many people involved in the show itself and that would be attending. This is my home base. To not do well would be like a politician losing their home state – not good, not good at all! This is the crowd that should want to support me, and that I want to do well by! I knew the layout and how things worked – so I should do well here of all places. Further, when I setup for having games at Phoenix Comicon, the plan was to do the Kickstarter within a week after. So I put my attention on doing well.

About six weeks before PHXCC, I realized I was TOO busy with things to complete a prototype of my Dungeon Break, I had to contact the gaming director and tell her I needed that modified. We went from five to four games on the schedule. It literally made me cry. I hate not following through on a thing. I wanted to have all five games done, and I absolutely love that one, but haven’t been able to finish the development of it. If I had done it, it would have consumed the whole month before Phoenix Comicon (and in my brain the Kickstarter) so had to set it aside. Even my GMs were sad, but understood.

I was very focused on the Kickstarter too, and set the 3 upcoming convention plans aside. For the pending KS, I was trying to update Battle Gnomes and promote it in other avenues, mostly online. I was also researching and reading dozens of articles on best practices for both a Kickstarter and game design. That had been a thing since the start, but as I grew anxious I read more. I did get lost in all the things I was doing from setting up events outside of this one, training GMs on the games, editing Battle Gnomes, reaching out to various reviewers and trying to get someone to bite the line, along with several little things.

For various reasons, on May 11th I decided to postpone the Kickstarter. It made me very sad to make that decision also, but, I had to do what was best in the long run. People call me impatient because I want to move forward to being done, and I want the success NOW, and I want to publish and do the things… but, I’m just trying to avoid taking too long. People who take too long I want to get a move on things. I also want to do that strategically. I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by moving too quickly, without enough marketing.

Alright, down to four games, one month until Phoenix Comicon, no Kickstarter, but two other out of state conventions prior to PHXCC in three weeks. At this time, I was focused on gathering my GMs to teach them the games, that was something we would do for several hours on several days. I also went ahead and updated all four of the games, cleaned them up for any changes I could make before the event. I brainstormed, with the help of my team, different items to bring to the conventions. I wanted ALL THE ITEMS. I looked at every type of promotional item, scoured the websites. I was looking at bags, fans, toys, bracelets, necklaces, shirts, pens, and everything else! However, my support team reminded me that MAYBE it wasn’t ALL necessary. So I decided to think more critically about what was actually needed. I decided matching shirts, lanyards, and buttons specific to my GMs was a fun idea. I knew they’d like it, and they would look professional. For people playing the games, chapstick, ribbons and buttons were sufficient. Big buttons with fun text and ribbons that promote the games and company. The chapstick was just fun, especially in the hottest state of the U.S. It had a cute little gnome on it.

I also wanted the table to stand out. My sister prepared two standing banners for me, and I decided we needed table signs to be seen. Also, I wanted a unique table cloth so I just grabbed some cheap, green fabric. I wanted to do posters, but decided it wouldn’t be worth the cost for a one time show and they aren’t always easy to reuse. So, I nixed it. Two banners, table stands, and tall signs that show what games are being played at those locations. Along with ribbons and buttons. That was my signage, and I was hoping it would be enough. It had everything that we could need, I was just hoping it would feel “full.” Like we brought a good showing. We were ready. I knew if it didn’t look GREAT that I would leave the site and get things to really spruce it up! However, that wasn’t even close to being an issue. Our showing was as good as it possibly could be, and I didn’t spend extra money on unnecessary things. The prep worked, 4 games worked, and the team did well. More on that in the Phoenix Comicon blog.


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Event Dates: May 27th-30th

I decided to go to Gamex, a Strategicon event, after talking to a friend who offered an assistance in introducing me to folks out there. I did this when I was also preparing for LVL Up Expo and looking for any game exposure I could get before Phoenix Comicon. Fortunately, this experience was significantly more productive. I made plans to fly in and… well, that was all I had. I was going to show up and hope for the best. I hadn’t been to this show and the schedule was already set so I figured I would bring my games at attempt to promote them. I’d also fly in because I didn’t want to be exhausted by a 6-7 hour solo drive.

However, once I came back from LVL Up, I realized how challenging it would be to go it alone and simply sit trying to generate interest for the games. I got some last minute luck though because less than a week before go time, two of my GMs (Tim and Corey) and the girlfriend of one, offered to drive up to LA and help me out!!! I decided to keep my flight so I could be there the whole time, and they were going to meet me at the end of day one, and help out that Saturday and Sunday.

I flew in a few hours before the show begun, meandered around the area. The event itself reminded me of some of the first conventions I’d been to but a bit larger. Those events, like this one, had the hotel and convention all in the same space and focused on one main type of thing, such as gaming. I didn’t know anyone initially and my friend wasn’t available. I wasn’t entirely comfortable talking to people at first but got the hang of it. I met several game designers who were setting up their spaces. I would walk over and just chat with them.

That night, I was invited to a “game designer” VIP meet and greet. It was nice to be invited, and introduced to folks. I thought it was just slightly early for that because even though I know the games will be published, they have yet to be. In the hotel suite we were in I did get to see a few other game designers from Phoenix like the folks from Meeple Games. There were a few game developers, and I got to speak to people about their experiences giving their ideas to a game company or developing a game idea that had been established by a contracted party. It is usually not “have idea for game, go through the work of making and designing the game, market the game” all done by one person. I’m hoping I can work with others later on, but right now it seems to be a necessary evil where I’m at in the process.

The next two days my GMs came in and we were matching polos (I thought they were awesome). I made up some standing table signs; it wasn’t much but it was something. I hadn’t done any significant prep work for this event which I regretted somewhat after. I could have had items in sooner for it but my eyes were on the local show, Phoenix Comicon. Next time! However, we didn’t entirely need it. Tim Aldridge, one of the GMs brought people to the tables we had taken over during the event. Oh, about that, there was a section with a few other game designers and some extra tables. They didn’t mind us joining them, everything in the industry has been very cool and helpful. Anyway, so Tim got us people who were walking by to check out the games. It seems to be his GM superpower. He is also a solid GM to have. My other GM, Corey, also worked hard those two days and we introduced several people to the games. It felt like a huge success based on the feedback we got from the players. I did make a few notes on some light game modifications while I was there.

We were busy fairly nonstop Saturday and Sunday, until I had to leave Sunday around 6pm. I was meeting a friend who is working on a mobile app for Battle Gnomes. Because she lives in L.A. I felt I needed to take time to meet with her about the game in person. That’s an exciting proposition. Her fiancé works on them and they’re going to do that as a project. We also found an amazing place for crepes that were more like meals. Seriously, the size of my face. It was right across from a place that had Japanese fused American Burgers. Weird, but delicious. I liked both places so much I’ll link to them, if any readers (okay, I know, it will be a while before I get readers) are ever in L.A. Freaking amazing food.

Anyway, the next morning the group of us had breakfast at Denny’s, then my GMs took off to go sight-seeing. I was happy that they could have fun while helping me out. Sure I got their badges, but beyond that, they were really doing me a huge favor. They went and saw a lot of cool things. I stayed, interacted with a couple of people again, and met even more new people before leaving for my flight. I met one guy who had self-published a game with his brother but upon reflection would have considered going the Kickstarter route if he had it to do again. Still, he was doing pretty well with his game and is even going to GenCon. Not long after, I took off for the airport, several hours before my flight. I was exhausted. I just wanted to sleep in a chair waiting for my plane. I think not for lack of sleep as much as the amount of mental and emotional stimulation being around so many people.

That’s my review. I tried to not let it get out of control elaborate, still working on how to blog but practice makes perfect. Or something like that. Anyhow, I’m linking the various game companies and places that were just awesome. Very considerate and helpful, and those are the companies I think are best to support.

And with that, I made it home, having two days left to prepare for Phoenix Comicon. That was a wild ride, and a different post.

Gamex Convention:

Helpful game companies:

Tasty Food Places!

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