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Phoenix Fan Fest

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Review

Phoenix Comicon has changed its name to Phoenix Fan Fest. Once again, we had a great time at the largest fan event in Arizona! We loved it. We didn’t have a booth this year, but were in the gaming space again. This year the gaming space changed locations but my team went with the flow as always and did great with the new area. We ran Battle Gnomes, Book Collectors, Nocturnes, and House Monsters. We kept the number of games limited but players enjoyed their experiences as always.

I had a chance to represent Branum Games in four panels this year. I love to share the experiences I’ve had with potential designers. I did a Kickstarter panel with Charlie Bink, game designer of Trekking the National Parks. We also did a game design panel which went over well. I had different panels with my artists. One was about artwork in gaming, a popular panel. I was there as a resource but it was mostly their panel (Emma Lysyk & Jeff Perryman). We also did the panel Jobs in Gaming, another useful and interesting one. Panel videos should be posted by the end of the summer to the Branum Games YouTube channel.

There were no hiccups; everyone showed up, ran the games. It was fun. The format of the convention was slightly different with increased security but that can only be considered a good thing. Entry and exit was much easier and faster. We’ll continue attending this event in the years to come.

Update. This convention in the future will now be Phoenix Fan Fusion.


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Plans and Panels

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Phoenix Comic Fest is coming up, and I am planning to attend the annual event. It has a new Gaming Director and the area will be different than the team is used to. I may not always attend since I no longer live in Arizona, but this year I’ll definitely be going and representing what I’ve done so far. Although things have been slower lately, I want to keep the name, brand, and games in people’s minds especially for when my next Kickstarter goes live. I am hoping it will be within months, but there are some things holding it up I have to resolve first. I just want to be prepared for it to be a thing.

Once again, I’ll be doing panels at the event. I enjoy panels because I love presenting useful information to those looking to soak up information. I have attended a lot of panels to learn more about what I’m doing, and the ones that can present tangible, useful strategies or the right kind of motivation are the best. Many panels are just about the panelists wanting to hear themselves talk. They don’t always think about what is useful or entertaining to the audience. It’s a very isolated thing to talk about a strategy one has used that can’t be extrapolated to a large group of listeners.

I am also going to be on the panels with a few other knowledgeable individuals. I prefer doing panels with others and have only done solo panels twice. One was a roundtable last summer at a smaller convention where about 10 of us gathered to discuss the topic (gender in games). Being so low key, that was great for me. The other solo panel I was in front of a small room of people so I pulled the chair closer to the audience. I provided my insights and we had a pretty extensive, and effective, q & a session. I love that I’ve done so much research about the gaming industry that even tactics I haven’t tried, I’m still familiar with them as options and can present those to others they may work better for.

For PCF, Phoenix Comic Fest, I have two panels that are related more to making games and have Charlie Bink with me. He’s another Arizona game designer. The other two panels are about art and jobs in the industry, and require people in positions different than mine to provide a different perspective so I have Emma Lysyk and Jeff Perryman on those. I enjoy all these individuals, so the panels should be a good time. I have some experience on discussing each of these topics in the past so that will be a fun piece of the upcoming convention I hope. Videos will posted on them online afterward.


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Happy Spring!

Category : Uncategorized

Moved again across country! It makes entrepreneurship challenging, to say the least.

I am posting this brief update. There are very few changes to announce; a couple games have stalled because artists have dropped, and making new arrangements is actually very difficult. The artwork might be the most challenging piece of being a game designer. As for Battle Gnomes, I have copies left that are being sold on Amazon. I would like to move it into distribution, but I’d have to update the artwork and graphic design. I just have to make sure I have the best artistic situation for it.

Since I’ve moved three times in the last year, keeping on top of progress has been especially hard. I have my day job, and of course Branum Games. I plan to hit the reset button on pushing forward new games and cleaning up my first one.

Those are in the works. For now, BG is still up and good to go, with future updates possible. New games will hopefully emerge within the next few months once I’m settled and artwork is optimized. More info out soon, probably after our next big show. Phoenix Comic Fest always rejuvenates me and the company.


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Happy New Year!

Category : Uncategorized

As we optimistically enter another year for the company, we have focused on setting up certain goals listed below. Our plans are mostly in flux, since my living situation is in limbo. Some great options exist, and now I’m working to get the best one. However, it does put our specific timeline on hold. We do know what we’d like to be a part of this year if time and funds permit. Even doing decent, as an indie business each event and promotional method is costly and may not be effective for the company’s success.

2018 Goals:
House Monsters Kickstarter campaign
– Game is complete
– Some reviews are in; can use more
– Marketing  is the big thing necessary for this
Complete Nocturnes, Steam Masters, and Book Collectors
– Nocturnes was considered done but now undergoing changes. New art desired.
– Steam Masters primarily waiting on artwork
– Book Collectors minor edits and potential artwork
Pursue a Battle Gnomes open distribution channel
– Currently using Amazon and conventions for sales
– Distribution would increase store options
Make the YouTube channel useful and consistently upload videos
– Add footage from before not currently up
– Create new insights into both game creation and company maintenance
Review, improve, and expand the brand
– Review company goals and align games with those better
– Expand brand awareness outside of the current fanbase

I wanted to share these with people for a few reasons. First, I like people seeing the process. As we grow, it’s nice to tell a story about that growth. Second is to reinforce to current followers that we’re continuing to make progress, create goals, and do more in the upcoming year.


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Happy Holidays

Category : Uncategorized

Near the end of each year things get quieter on several levels for Branum Games. Primarily, we don’t do as many events to demo and sell the games, artists become busier with family and friend events, and social media promotion takes  small a hit in favor of the season. I enjoy not moving as fast, this like what summer break is for teenagers. It’s important to regroup.

I have still kept busy, if not quite as busy. In fact, we’ve sold more games from Amazon with the holiday season. That has been an exciting bump in numbers that I’m happy to keep up. Promotion after the new year will need some work, but I have some time to make 2018 plans for that.

I also enjoyed donating games to a variety of charities including: Kids Need to Read, the Phoenix Children’s Hospital, and Sunshine Acres Orphanage. That was a fun part of my holidays. Each group seemed a bit surprised; I was surprised it hadn”t happened more for them. Games and kids seem like an obvious match.

A unique experience I got during this time was being part of an educational video for kids. One of my GMs reached out to me about participating in a video series where several career paths were highlighted, and this one was specifically for doing game design. I was informed it was for 8th graders in California.

Happy Holidays, I’ll be in touch after the New Year!


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Metatopia Followup!

Category : Uncategorized

Hello BG Fans!

I have just had an amazing experience at a convention I’d never been to before. It was as fun and informative as I’d hoped it would be. This event is Metatopia and was held in Morristown, New Jersey. The organizers are those of Double Exposure. They do a variety of events meant in large part to encourage and network game designers and industry insiders.

Metatopia is an interesting event because all the game events are in some form of prototype status. There are Alpha and Beta tests: Alpha tests may not even be playable because of how early they are on in development while Beta tests are closer to completion but could use a varying amount of work. Most of the games do not have artwork yet. There are also Hi-Tests available, which have experienced gamers playing. Everyone who plays the games is also there to provide feedback. It’s a giant playtesting game convention.

I brought with me two Beta games to playtest (Nocturnes and Steam Masters), and was a playtester for three. I learned a lot and have decided to make a few big decisions about both games. Surprisingly to me, the larger changes will be made to Nocturnes which I thought was just about completed. Steam Masters required less change at this point. The three I played were interesting but I find that people make things more complex than they need to be. There are extra layers often added superfluously. Don’t get me wrong, both designers and hobbyist gamers often love this; it’s simply not my cup of tea. I like getting to the point with just a handful of clever and interesting mechanics.

There were also panels at the event. They were interesting; not quite what I had anticipated, but resulted in several interactions afterward discussing the topic matter. Speaking of interacting, that was my favorite part of the event. I got to socialize with a number of people throughout the event. It was comfortable getting to chat with others since that was a known reason why we were all there. I had fun with it, and again, that is most likely my favorite piece of the event. Of course I learned a lot from the panels and for my games, but I enjoyed that part the most.

I hope I can go again in the future. You never know what or where the company will be a year in advance but hopefully I can be there again next year. I liked the culture, the events, and the organization of it. It was definitely my highlight event of the fall.


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House Monsters

Category : Uncategorized

Hello!

For this last month we had aimed for an October Kickstarter run of the game House Monsters. The video we had was super cute, and I thought the page itself was simple but charming. Unfortunately, we did have a couple of delays in starting the KS process. I also noticed before we began our Kickstarter that there had been a few monster games popping up. I get it, right time of year and all. I just wonder if we hit the scene a little late.

Regarding the Kickstarter, I had determined that the timing was wrong. Even if it had funded, it wouldn’t be at the level I was hoping for. We’d be shipping out a couple hundred copies while having a few thousand to contend with based on manufacturing details. I have decided to postpone both the Kickstarter and the manufacturing of the game for the time being.

We may aim to do a Kickstarter for this game in the spring after some more promotion or we will find another avenue. I am comfortable with this decision. Nothing had been resting on this financially yet so postponing will not cause concern. I want to consider the best strategy for this game.

There is a little bit of disappointment to postponing a Kickstarter or beginning any process and realizing it either isn’t what you are certain you want, or that you need to do it different. My process for House Monsters must be either modified or improved on. I’ll be considering it and keeping an eye on the situation moving forward.


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First Northeast Event!

Category : Uncategorized

We’ve successfully completed our first event in the Northeast! Last weekend I went to a convention in Washington, DC. It was my first time in DC and it was amazing! It was an excellent event, and a beautiful event. I love when I can do a convention in a new place and explore the surrounding area while at it.

At this particular event, I was scheduled for two panels and a handful of game sessions. The games were specifically added to the educational track because of the nature of their mechanics. Personally, I love that the mechanics can be used in that way. I was able to bring along Justin, who volunteered film both of the panels.

Day One
The event was located in the heart of Georgetown University. I was coming from 3 hours away, so had to drive in that morning. It was actually a very pretty drive which helped it not be as tiring. Once I got to the location, it took some walking from the street to reach the specific building it was located in. It was fortunately a beautiful campus so the walk was nice. The weather that time of year and changing leaves made it relaxing.

When I showed up on Day One, I went straight to the panel room. It was a four person panel organized by another woman I hadn’t met. I came in the room, met the other three panelists for the first time, and we began. It was a Kickstarter Successes and Failures panel. The woman who organized it, Leslie, was friendly, and served both as the moderator and panel speaker. All four of us had run Kickstarters before and were discussing the pitfalls, challenges, and things that we learned from our experiences. It was excellent and you can check it out here.

After that Justin and I meandered a bit, checking out the variety of games. There was a prominent DC game store, Labyrinth, there. I setup an arrangement with them to sell the Battle Gnomes game for me throughout the weekend. The tables were in rows, and clearly marked. There were promotional industry tables and demo tables for scheduled games. In the hall was an area set for free form impromptu games. The impromptu games were also next to the educational games, where we were stationed. Finally, we made sure to demo and discuss with those who visited the section our games.

We left the event a little before it ended around 6pm so that we could check out the White House before sunset. I wanted as many pictures as possible, and didn’t know my next chance to get them. So we drove about 20 minutes to that area and got there with plenty of time to take a lot of pictures of the White House and several other monuments. It was a picturesque 1.5hrs because we arrived just before dusk, and stayed until after it got dark. I wouldn’t have personally stayed much longer anyway, so to see the day to night transition was perfect.

Day Two
Day Two was also excellent. With plenty of sleep the night before, and not having to drive nearly as far, I arrived with a spring in my step. Once again Justin came along to film my Day 2 panel. Before the panel I mostly mingled and chatted with random attendees, explaining to them the games I brought and what I do. I talked to one lovely woman who was working on a genetics based learning game. Unfortunately, it relied on more random, or luck based, mechanics. To the extent that can be avoided, it should be. Especially in learning games where another layer is the strategy component.

The highlight of the day revolved around my solo polo. I was nervous, especially when the small room was filled with people eager to hear what I had to say. The topic was on how to have a game go from being an idea to being a tangible, possibly sellable, product. I had it in my mind the most important discussion points. Instead of sitting behind the table, which is meant for 4-5 people, I pulled a chair in front of the table and made it more of a discussion environment. The way I did this panel was discussing a talking point then opening up to questions, and then going into the next talking point. The attendees were very enthusiastic, had lots of questions, and seemed to appreciate the knowledge presented. You can see what we recorded here.

After the panel, I talked with several still enthusiastic burgeoning designers who had questions. We had to end because the next panel group was coming, but I felt the discussion could have proceeded for awhile longer easily. I was happy to feel as valued for what I have learned in the industry so far. Afterward I went to a couple of other panels before heading home. It was a rather short event, but packed and worth both the drive and effort.


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Northeast Events

Category : Uncategorized

As previously mentioned, life has taken me to Maryland. I’ve left people to take care of conventions and local events in Arizona. I miss being there for those events and meeting with the GMs even though I’ve only been gone a month. So,  I am already missing my stronghold, but decided the best next thing is to plan for the future in this region.

I am currently living in Ocean City, and while it’s beautiful, the nearest game store is about 40 minutes away in Salisbury and conventions are all several hours away. The closest event is about 2.5 hours away so I can drive there and back in a day if necessary. I have to be careful about what I sign up to participate in; events that are too far require a hotel room. It’ll be harder here not having people to go to events with me to help or even just keep company. I’ll have to choose between selling games, running games, and whether or not I’ll have time to also do panels and/or socialize with gamers and designers.

So at this time I have about six events lined up for the second half of the year. I’m pretty confident these are all events that I’ll be at, but in what capacity I’m not yet certain. I’ve added them to my schedule, and it’s actually very exciting to anticipate showing up at events in states I’ve never been to. I can meet a lot of people, and do some sightseeing. Unfortunately, I’m limited by my work schedule. Events have to be limited to 2 days because I cannot take off a work day often.

I won’t lie, I’m a bit nervous. I have a wide cast safety net in Arizona and California. This is a good opportunity, but cause for anxiety also. If all goes well, I’ll have been at events in AZ, CA, DE, MD, PA, DC, and NJ by the end of the year. 😮 That part is especially exciting to think about. So now, just have to balance out the upcoming events, what I can reasonably do, and the other things that I have to put my attention on. To anyone reading this, wish me luck – everything is expanding in it’s own time.


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Amazon

Category : Uncategorized

We are a go!

I’ve got an account up on Amazon for Branum Games.We have Battle Gnomes up for sale and will proceed with putting up the other games as they are completed. I wanted to make sure it was accessible before blasting games out to reviewers. I don’t want a review out there, and interest, but not have the games available for purchase.

I also want Battle Gnomes where it needs to be prior to my next Kickstarter. So the current plan is: to now get the game in the hands of reviewers, continue bringing the games to places/conventions to get sold, talk to game stores about getting them in at this time, and ultimately get into distribution. I have an artist working on some visual updates for the game, and another working on turning into a mobile app. These things are longer term.

And with that, available for purchase and for all intents and purposes completed, Battle Gnomes is all set for the time being. I have other games and projects to focus on, while continuing to maintain this one moving forward. 🙂

 


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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!