Author Archives: Tiffany

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Personal Transitions

Category : Uncategorized

As the owner/game designer of Branum Games, I also work with several others to make things work out. I have Game Masters and artists and people that work with me to accomplish business goals/tasks. However, I generally am involved in each part of the process. At this time, I am going to be moving across the country to a state I have never been to, where I don’t have friends or connections. It sounds like a great place, Maryland, but I won’t have any footing for my company.

With that, I have to leave my company behind in Arizona. I won’t stop it, I’ll continue it and run it from Maryland. I have too many upcoming events, friends, fans, and options in Arizona to shift things. The plan is ultimately California, but I have all those same things in California. I can’t move everything to Maryland; that won’t make sense. Especially since it’s not a permanent move. This transition of mine will change how things are run for Branum Games. I’ll be delegating, but others on the team will be doing even more if all goes well. I think it should be fine, and they’re all prepared for what’s going on. But of course I’m nervous, and there will be plenty of unknown hurdles.

So far, I’ve scheduled GMs for each of this year’s remaining AZ events. Further, I have initiated three new GMs for us to train and work with. They seem great, and eager. Next, I have my product here accessible by team members I trust. I’ll bring enough with me to Maryland, but also leave plenty here for local events and promotion. I will also leave all GM and promo materials here since this is where my big events are, at least for the next year. We should be all set. It’s a lot to think about, all the moving pieces, but I think we’ve prepared for all the big things. I hope our ongoing supporters will continue to be awesome.


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WesterCon!

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For the last four days I’ve been at WesterCon/LepreCon/CONflagration/Conalope.

It has a long name for a reason. So, WesterCon 70 combined with LepreCon 43, which also combined with CONflagration which is on it’s 7th year. Conalope is the name of this particular WesterCon event and is specific to the theme of the event, which is celebrating the alien landing in Roswell, NM. You with me so far? Excellent.  Something special about this event is that it was at the location of my very first convention, 14 years ago. Now that I’m leaving the state, it’s a bit poetic that I end my tour here at that location. It’s also an event similar to the one I started with (HexaCon).

So I went to this event with just one GM, Jonathan Jackson. He killed it, he was incredibly helpful and a champ throughout the weekend. We just showed up Saturday and Sunday and ran games throughout. It wound up being for not just the attendees, but also for GMs and staff. I loved the chance to show them the games too. On Monday night, I was able to come to run a round table discussion, same with Tuesday morning. Both times I wasn’t sure if people would attend, and both times I was mistaken. There was solid discussion in both situations. There’s no video of it; it wasn’t that kind of panel/discussion. It was intimate, and I enjoyed delving into the topics. They were: Male versus female oriented games, and RPGs versus tabletop games.

Overall, the convention was great for us, and I think people there enjoyed trying out the games and discussing things in our round tables. It was motivating for me to proceed in setting up for other conventions coming up, some with organizers from this event. While WesterCon is a traveling event and will be in Colorado next year, I hope to attend again and continue supporting the conventions such as LepreCon and Conflagration.


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Summer Breeze

Category : Uncategorized

The summer is off to a slow start. I mean, we did Phoenix Comicon which is huge, but after that is always a quiet time for us in Arizona. It’s nearly impossible to get much interest even from the most dedicated to the cause. So, I always wait a few weeks before really getting things underway. We have several upcoming conventions and my current task is to assign GMs to events I can’t go to.

I am moving out of the state, but now we have product and too many good opportunities locally to not make a showing. I’ll begin having GMs going to events without me. To get bigger as a company, this is clearly necessary. As mentioned, GMs in all areas would be AWESOME. Gotta get to that point though, and I guess letting go here helps.

Right now, we have several events coming up and a KickStarter. Of course, as mentioned things are very quiet on all fronts as people rest from the biggest convention for us of the year. I did get together post-con with the group for some down time and a pool party. Otherwise, I gotta let them hang for a bit. Then I’ll start back full force on the plans. That’s where it’s all at right now. Various pieces are in the air, and everything just feels very slow. It’ll pick up, I’m sure. Always does.


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Kickstarter Completion

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Battle Gnomes 2016 Kickstarter

I have to say, I am so very excited about wrapping this up. I was able to get several individuals their games during Phoenix Comicon; and right now, others have games on the way to them. I am almost completely done fulfilling the obligations of the Kickstarter and my promises to the backers, six months later. It is not long for a Kickstarter, but it is longer than I wanted.

I am considering doing another Kickstarter soon, now that I know the pitfalls and can expedite things. I hope I don’t lose the faith of the backers from the first Kickstarter because the product came in later than I anticipated. I know for Kickstarter it is pretty good to only be a couple months late, but it’s not what I wanted and I hope to predict my timeframes better. I am determined to be reliable for people who are supportive.

For now, I’ll wrap this project up and start preparing for the next. Kickstarter is a great way to get capital for game production so it seems a useful next step on a few of the other games. We’ll see what happens with timing and specifics; I’ll be in touch online. I know one thing, once everyone has their rewards it’ll be a sigh of relief.

 


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Phoenix Comicon 2017!

Category : Uncategorized

The event ended two days ago (March 28th was the last day) and I spent all of yesterday unpacking and organizing everything post-con. Now I can plan more thoroughly for upcoming events, but I promised a recap and here it is!

group

The Panels

We had three panels at Phoenix Comicon. I did my first panel related to Branum games earlier this year at Strategicon, and my second at this event. Even though the company had three panels, I was personally on just one of them. I wanted to encourage team members to share their experiences and knowledge via panel submissions and it went well. All of them were on Thursday, with the last one ending during the first hour of gaming and just before our table opening up so we started with these panels for the weekend.

  • The Branum Games Artists did the first panel. Two of the three have other artistic outlets, so Branum Games isn’t the only thing they’ve worked on but it was the link between them. Their panel was about doing artwork specifically for tabletop games. The panel was at 10:30AM on Thursday, about an hour after the show started. We expected no one to show up for it since it was such an off time. I mean, we did hope for about a dozen people. Instead, we got a full room with people standing around the sides at the back of the room. It was a great turnout, and a very successful panel. The artists had information that the crowd really wanted to learn about. I’d love to see this panel run again.

artist

 

  • The second panel at 1:30pm Thursday was my Careers in the Gaming Industry panel. I was once again concerned about attendance, but it did not turn out to be an issue. We had a lot of people who showed up for it. I shared the stage with a gaming artist from Chain Reaction Studios, and the owners of Magic Meeple Games. The focus was to be different kinds of careers and roles in the industry. I tried to be thorough, and to create career options for the audience, sharing the different necessary things for people to contribute. Some people want to be involved, and aren’t sure what part they could play. We fortunately got it recorded so I’ll be able to post the panel on YouTube and here on the website.

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  • The third panel at 3pm that day was interesting because it was from the volunteer gaming staff members. They had not before done a panel, unlike members of the previous two panels. There was slightly less interest, because it was still Thursday which is a slow day. Also, I found the two industry panels that involve learning more about how to get involved were more attractive to the guests. I do not know if PHXCC will permit us to run this panel again; I think that it would have to be modified because it ran a little bit shorter than expected even with 4 presenters. At the very least, these team members have experience now and we can modify future staff panels as necessary. It was an excellent learning experience and I’m glad my team was able to present.

The Games

Over in the Hyatt, we started at 3pm in the gaming area. We had 3 tables featuring six of our games; two in particular were assigned to each table. We had Battle Gnomes on the same table as House Monsters because both are so cute; we had Steam Masters and Book Collectors on the same table; they seem to appeal to the same audience. On B-3, we have Dungeon Break and Nocturnes which are slightly more adult.

floor

We didn’t go nonstop like last year because Game Central enforced hour long breaks in the schedule. It made it look less full, but it was good to have the third table. The 8 GMs all showed up for their shifts; and we had a fun new banner. The only other real news is that we were taking and encouraging feedback on the newer of the games, and got some great comments.

The most challenging thing about having the games played is not having them for sale. When people get upset they can’t purchase the games, I feel both proud, and bad that I am not at that point yet. I’ll get there, but it still feels crummy that if I just had the product, I could sell it! We’ll get there.

The Table

This year we had our first PHXCC Exhibitor Table! 😮 It was my first time being a vendor. Because I was watching the table and the gaming area, along with any random errands, I only put myself on the schedule for a few hours on Saturday. However, I wound up being at the table for a lot more time than that. I’m getting used to the promoting/table stuff. Unfortunately, it also meant I lost my voice at the end of the weekend. It was a great learning experience; the setup, and planning techniques that will help in future vending experiences. It went quite well. We didn’t have as many visual aids as most other booths but our banner was strong enough to make a statement, along with a teal tablecloth. It was enough to look full (along with a table stand and the games). I hope to have more for the future but it’s good to know which items fill the space for now.

table

Everything went off just fine. I mean, there were some timing issues, but we resolved them without too much challenge. The thing is to just be responsive quickly when issues come up, and to not be emotionally reactive. By Sunday, I had almost lost my voice and was pretty tired but the weekend was a success. We had more going on, but things felt more comfortable this year than before. Let’s hope that keeps being a thing. Once again I got support from my team, and from people in the community which I greatly appreciated. It really helped us carry on throughout the exhausting event. 🙂

 


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Upcoming Phoenix Comicon!

Category : Uncategorized

The biggest show for us of the year is coming up! It’s not a gaming specific show, but gamers in Arizona who go to conventions usually go to this one, along with a lot of people who have other hobbies and might be interested in what we have to offer. Phoenix Comicon is a fun, huge show and we have had a lot of support from them and their attendees.

Gaming
This year, we’ll have 3 gaming tables in the Hyatt to demo the games at instead of 2. This means 1 more gaming table for us to play games at! I have 8 GMs this year instead of the 6 from last year, and scheduled more breaks for the tables. This year, we will play 3 games that we played from last year (Battle Gnomes, Nocturnes, and Book Collectors). We will also be playing House Monsters which is a completed game, and there are two games we are bringing specifically as prototypes. This means we will be seeking feedback from the game players regarding game play. These are Steam Masters and Dungeon Break.

Exhibitor Table
I also have an Artist’s Alley table that came up unexpectedly. It was given up by another, and they offered it to me. Next year I’ll get my own. The downside is that the original recipient has been getting the emails, and will be in the program book. I’ve still been getting the information, but the program book listing would have been nice. Next year we will definitely get one of our own. Now, I am still waiting on games to arrive but they should be here next week. The event is next week; so, I may get them before the event or during the event. I haven’t made promises to anyone about selling games at the event, because I don’t have them yet in hand. I hope that can happen. Otherwise, it’s a promo table and we optimize the use of it.

Panels
I’m so excited about our three panels this year. All are on Thursday. They aren’t specific to Branum Games, but I wanted to make sure we sponsored a few gaming panels and share what we’ve learned:

Artists in the Gaming Industry. Thursday May 25th. 10:30am.
Hosted by: Branum Games Artists.
Panelists: Jeff Perryman, Emma Lysyk, & Erik Vinal

How to be  Grunt: Gaming Staff. Thursday May 25th. 1:30pm.
Hosted by: Branum Games Staff.
Panelists: Corey Stillwell, Whitney Stillwell, Tim Aldridge, and Shawn Dempsey.

Careers in the Gaming Industry. Thursday May 25th 3pm.
Hosted by: Branum Games & Magic Meeple Games.
Panelists: Tiffany Branum, Jeff Perryman, and Patricia Stedman

After PHXCC is over, I’ll post updates and of course I’ll upload pictures on social media. I hope that supporters will come to our panels or play our games; I love seeing people who enjoy what we do! I’m super excited, I’ll post after the con!


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New Team Members

Category : Uncategorized

Over the last 3 months, I’ve adopted 4 new Game Masters. Two of them from the gaming group of a couple current GMs, and two others who were friends of GMs and previously played the games independently of each other, and their GM friends. There’s actually an adorable story about a couple that got together online, one of my new GMs and one of my previous ones, and in talking they realized they had met before while playing Nocturnes at Game Depot.

So, I had to expand my Game Masters. One decided not to be a GM again this year, to have more time to be at the table, answer questions, fill in for no shows, and so on. So, I am not personally running games. That left us two short for PHXCC. And really, having more people who want to run the games is only a good thing.

I’d like to get GMs in other locations; that would be exciting. I can’t be in all places at all times, and should probably put more effort into exciting and motivating others to be part of the team. Right now, I have 9 Game Masters, and 2 back up Game Masters (they prefer to do other things, but are available for that purpose as needed). I don’t just have people run the games, though, I make sure we meet and train on it.  Figuring out the best way to make this work outside of AZ will be one of the most effective methods of getting the games played in other conventions and states. That structure organization will be next on the list of things to do.


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Battle Gnomes Update

Category : Uncategorized

Hi there,

If you’ve been following, you know that Battle Gnomes is the game we successfully Kickstarted six months ago. We are now waiting for the shipment to arrive from our manufacturer, Panda Manufacturing. The are in China so it does take a while. We got an early copy from them (to approve) and it’s beautiful. I’m excited. It looks much more polished, especially after some box updates that graphic artist Emma Lysyk did on it. Made a big difference to the feel of the game. I think I could see it on a game shelf somewhere and isn’t that the idea?

Once we get those copies in, our first priority is sending copies to the Kickstarter backers. Next, we have two goals. The first is to send game copies to reviewers all over the nation. This is a little late, as we should have done this before but I definitely like the updated copies better. It should have been done before the Kickstarter but I felt pressed for time. It was a learning experience, to be sure. Anyhow, sending game copies all over to any one who will review it. The other thing we want to do is sell game copies at Phoenix Comicon at the end of May. We should be able to get game copies to backers prior to then, and can bring extras to the event and sell them. I know people who didn’t support the Kickstarter would still purchase the game in support of us at this time. I hope the timing works out for this.

Right now, in many regards, it’s a waiting game. Once the above is done (backers get games, reviewers get games and do reviews, extra copies begin to get sold), my sole intention is to get into distribution. I am primarily hoping the reviews will push that option over the edge. It’s going to be a second push of the game. I don’t know that I did it effectively for the first go around, but here we go again! It’s time to revise the Battle Gnomes enthusiasm, and get into distribution!

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First BG Panel

Category : Uncategorized

On February 19th, the 3rd day of OrcCon, I completed my first panel since starting Branum Games! I was only able to make the one day convention that weekend, but I intend to do more Strategicons. It’s a good setup, and the people are great.

When Justin and I found the room 15 minutes early, the lights were off and it was being used for streaming an anime. Further, it was a bit far from the other event areas. The first thing I worried about was it staying empty. It didn’t feel like a panel room so I wasn’t sure if I was in the right place, or if people would come find us. So I turned on the lights and waited anxiously. Part of me was thinking that if no one showed up, well, it would be a great practice panel run just for fun, but without me being nervous about public speaking.

My jitters were gone pretty soon, even as people began to enter the room. It wasn’t a huge audience, but I realized I was excited to see people show up. Ian Stedman from Magic Meeple Games joined me. The topic was to discuss KickStarters. He’s been involved with 3, and of course I completed Battle Gnomes last October.  There was also a camera crew there, but, that’s a different thing altogether. They were working on their own project. I personally asked Justin to film it because of my intent to record more of the experience. As anyone can tell from my inability to blog very often, recording the experiences so far has been rather touch and go.

As for the panel itself, I created some talking points, which helped. We started out talking about our own experiences with Kickstarter, and that creators should be involved in the community before asking others to support one of their own. Further, I recommended that people work on some one else’s project before doing one of their own. That way they get a behind the scenes look at the project creation experiences beforehand. We also talked about why a person would use a Kickstarter, including the obvious reason for funding and another reason which is marketing. Further, there was discussion over the process of Kickstarter which is far too long to do a blog post about, but we briefly reviewed what it looked like in our unique situations. It was nice that people were engaged in what we had to say, and for Ian and I to have different stories to tell. The panel is on the Branum Games youtube channel for more specifics.

After we had gone over what was planned, we invited questions from the audience. I remembered being in that audience and asking questions when I was preparing for my own first KickStarter and that hit me. It’s a cool thing to transition from learner to…. well, someone with a bit of experience passing it on. I still have a lot of audiences to sit in but being able to pass what I learn and experience along the way to others is actually a great feeling. I want to do more panels now and talk to more people in those seats. So yeah, I left there feeling more confident than going in, and wanting to talk to more people who want to do things I’ve done. It was scary at first, but totally rewarding and a neat experience.   🙂

 

 


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Playtesting & Video

Category : Uncategorized

About a week ago I had a videographer, Jeremiah, record a playtesting session for the game Dungeon Break. We did this at the home of the Head GM, Corey Stillwell. Despite some technical difficulties, it should be good on the video side. Regardless, it was a good experience for the playtest itself. I’m hopeful it will be an available video to put on the Branum Games channel of YouTube. It’s been brought to our attention several times that recording the experiences and process would be beneficial for us and others. Jeremiah also took some time before and after the playtesting to talk to team members individually about their experiences with the group. I’m glad about that; it’s a super tight nit group. Though honestly, this company experience has brought everyone closer. We mostly all friends before, and now we’re much closer than generic friend status and have begun to spend the holidays together. It’s been a good two years.

So, the focus of the video was the playtest. My playtest team got to check out the game and provide feedback about what worked or didn’t. They seemed to have a lot of fun figuring out the game and discussing how to make it better. I enjoy getting feedback from my team members. They have a lot of good input. It’s an initial playtest, of course. Once the more obvious things get cleaned up regarding the game, the easy things to spot, then we clear up the minor discrepancies. And when it isn’t obvious to us, we bring it to the public and they will have a chance to find something our team missed.

I know also that they like to be heard. Their feedback can be found in any of the games. Suggestions they’ve made, and issues they’ve noted that I wound up ironing out based on their findings. They are invaluable as my first line of defense for the games to be smooth. I try to encourage any thoughts that come up. Tim Aldridge is one of my GMs, and I enjoy how often he has a thought or suggestion. I appreciate that about him. That day, several folks were on point for providing feedback. It was a fun day of figuring out the game, and eating Corey’s food. He makes amazing food for us when we go there often.

Anyhow, for each of the games, of course extensive playtesting is necessary. I usually have these guys test it out multiple times, and in multiple revisions, then I bring it to new audiences to find new things that can be made better. These folks really are my “first line of defense.” If it doesn’t get through them smoothly, it doesn’t get to a larger playtest audience. The first six months of doing all this I was mostly working alone. It was when I started seeing who would be interested in running games about a year and a half ago that a team started to form. In preparing for the convention, they also became a critical part of the game construction process. Even though I was determined to be independent and pursue Branum Games as effectively as possible solo if necessary, being part of a team has been more rewarding and fun than I anticipated. I’ve loved having a group to rely on and enjoy things with.


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THE GAMES

Battle Gnomes

Check out these battling Gnomes here!

Book Collectors

Collect the most impressive assortment of books among your friends here!

Dungeon Break!

Escapees must avoid getting thrown back into the dungeon! Check out how here!

Nocturnes

Be ready to experience your greatest fears here!

Parks

Create the best theme park ever right here!