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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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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!

Category : Uncategorized

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

Category : Uncategorized

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.

18768400_1850582258536237_5514211813028682302_o

  • 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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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!