Monday, October 19

One

Can you describe a game in one word? 


Tactical?

Could be a game you’re designing or a favourite. 

Hard isn’t it? 

Theme probably isn’t a good choice. Egypt

Yeah that’s not exciting me in the slightest. 

Mechanics probably aren’t the way to go either. Auction

Could be one of hundreds. 

Perhaps emotion is the way to go. How does the game make you feel? Tense. Brutal. Unforgiving. Chaotic. Hilarious. Spiteful. Anticipation. 

How would you describe your game in one word? Or your favourite game?

If you’re designing a game, can you make a one-word design brief? Something to hold in your head while you playtest and hone it?

Monday, October 12

Growth

I started Reiver Games in 2006 with £1,000 of our family savings. That's a lot of money. I was lucky that we were able to gamble it - but it’s not enough. I turned it into £4,800 in two years. That wasn't enough.

I 'invested' £12,000 of my life insurance in Reiver Games. That wasn't enough.

I got a bank loan to cover Carpe Astra, another £13,000 I think. That wasn't enough,

The bank loan repayments killed Reiver Games. That and a lack of sales. I lost most of my 'investment'.

£30,000 in total. Not enough.

So I did it again.

I started Eurydice Games three years ago with £1,000 of our family savings again. But it's not enough.

Kickstarter is a game changer. We've been able to slowly change that initial £1,000 into tens of thousands of pounds of assets. Without the major commitment. Without the bank loan.

In our first year we sold £1,217 of Zombology. In our second we sold £12,857 of (mostly) FlickFleet and Zombology. This year our orders have more than tripled. 

Doing alright!

Though due to supplier woes we've not been able to 'sell' half of that.

3,167% growth in three years. Happy with that.

Monday, October 5

Small Fortune

Want to make a small fortune in board games? Start with a large one.

Linnaea Mallette

That's the joke. 

But I've done that. I got MS. My life insurance paid out. I wanted to go pro. I paid off most of our mortgage (on a tiny 1-bed flat), put some aside to live on and 'invested' £12,000 in Reiver Games. And I threw away two years' salary and pension contributions. To end up with £4,000.

We don't do it for the money. It's not going to make us rich.

I don't want to be rich anyway. There are way too many people in poverty to make coveting personal wealth something I'd be ok with.

I want to make things. Things that make other people happy.

I want people to share moments of joy using the things I've made.

Parents and their kids. Friends. Families. Sharing a moment of joy. Our creation the catalyst.

That sounds pretentious doesn't it?

We get messages from our backers and customers. About how much they love the game. Them and their kids. Them and their mates at Games Night.

That’s worth a fortune.

Monday, September 28

Consequences

Due to COVID-19 people are flying less. Which is great for the planet. 

But it means a lot fewer international flights. There's less room in the holds for international airmail. Prices are going up. By up to 35% for heavier packages. 

US postal prices had already jumped a couple of months ago. 

We've already taken payment for our Kickstarter - we'll have to swallow the increase for now. 

It’s getting expensive

How much business will we do outside Europe when shipping as almost as much as the game itself? 

Brexit is not going to help as European customers will have to pay import taxes. 

We're going to have to look at what we do and make some changes. 

Soon our website prices need to go up. If you live outside Europe and want to take advantage of the old prices, they'll remain on the website for another week, then we'll pass the increases on.

Monday, September 21

Contract

Last week was rubbish. This one was better.

I've designed lots of games. Most of them are rubbish. Or broken. Or at best mediocre.

A few, I believe, have merit. I've invested my time, my effort and my money in self-publishing those. Self-publishing. It’s a bit of a vanity project isn’t it?

I've also signed and published other designers' games. Under contract. Games I felt were good enough to invest my time, effort and money in. Objectively. I didn’t have an emotional connection to them - these weren’t my babies.

US Army / Public Domain

I've never had a game published by someone else. Signed a contract with another publisher. Had someone decide my game was good enough for them to invest their time, effort and money in. Crossed that hurdle.

I'm not sure why that seems significant. But it does.

I've been publishing games since 2006. Six titles. Thousands of sales.

A few years ago a (non-industry) friend got a board game published. I was proud and happy for him.

And a tiny bit jealous.

This week I signed a contract. From a publisher. Might I cross that hurdle?

Monday, September 14

Nadir

I ran another board games publisher once. Reiver Games. It failed. Over weeks. And then months. And then fatally.

I spent those weeks and months a failure. Watching the bank loan repayments and warehousing bleeding my company dry. Unable to create the sales I needed to keep it alive. Each day despondent, trying ideas that didn't cost much, watching those ideas fail. The money seeping out week by week.

It hurt.


That's how last Wednesday felt too.

I love Kickstarter. Without it, FlickFleet wouldn't exist and Eurydice Games wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as it has been.

But I hate Kickstarter. The minute your campaign finishes, you're in debt. Way before you get the money, you owe hundreds (or thousands if you're lucky) of people. They've lent you their hard-earned cash. And you owe them. That weighs on me - I hate being in debt. What if I get hit by a bus? What if Paul's house burns down? 

Those debts weigh on me. I'm sure that's why we've fulfilled early until now. The weight of those debts pressing us to get the rewards out and the debts paid as fast as we can. I hate Kickstarter.  

Fulfilling early is unusual. We've done it twice. It has become part of our identity - the crazy guys who hand-craft games in their garage and fulfill early.

But a supplier let us down on Wednesday. The order was eight days late and when I finally got through to them, it was delayed until next month. We'd miss a deadline. 150 debts that we'd pay late. Not early.

It’s my fault really. I should have baked more slack into the project. I didn’t.

We've lost our identity. Now we're just crazy guys. Late like everyone else.

We told our backers Thursday, once we'd had a chance to explore some other options. They were very supportive. I love Kickstarter. The community it creates around your project. 

The ad went live on Wednesday too. It didn't lead to any sales either.

Monday, September 7

Serendipity

Sometimes you get lucky. 

Back in June I barely left the house because my MS made me vulnerable to COVID-19. Paul was laid up with it for three weeks. Our website was shut since we couldn’t ship anything. Oh, and the conventions we were hoping to sell our left-over stock at were all cancelled. 

Things looked bleak.

Then I saw a post on LinkedIn for advertising grants worth £3,000 for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

It took ten minutes to apply. I wrote them a sob story. All true of course.

And we won!

Our ad runs this week in the Metro newspaper in London and south-east England.

Never thought we'd do a print ad

I’ve no idea what to expect. It’s completely untargetted but they print over 400,000 copies. Four hundred. Thousand.

I’ve spent the week making some first edition stock in case we get some orders.