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.


Monday, August 31

Getting Personal

Through all three of our Kickstarters we've offered standard and deluxe editions of whatever FlickFleet material we are crowdfunding. The games are small hand-made runs (I don't want to be sitting on thousands of games in stock that drains our account through the cost of warehousing), so how do we make the deluxe ones deluxe?

The contents are almost exactly the same - the deluxe game has an extra set of dice, and everything deluxe has a little shiny sticker on it. But that's hardly earth-shattering. 

The biggest difference is that the deluxe ships are all laser-etched as well as laser-cut. It allows us to add details and the names of the ships (which can be useful in bigger battles).


Plus it looks really cool!

The etching takes a lot of time and requires a lot more work from Paul (to ensure the ships with the right names make it into each box). So they cost more.

But we wanted to make them more special - really worth the extra cost. We number them (x/400) and write a little inscription on the inside of the box lid. And we both sign them. I've no idea if that's a selling point or if people appreciate it, but it makes them more unique. 

We also offer the chance to personalise it too. Have John* or The Smiths* inside the box lid. About a third of deluxe backers take us up on that. Usually with something like those above. But some people have fun with it and that makes me happy. Here are a few favourites from this campaign*:

The Imperium Triumphant!

To Bill And Ted, may all your battles be epic!

To the everlasting glory of Queen Jane and the Smith Star Empire

By Grabthar's hammer!

We also make them first and deliver them first too.

We must be doing something right. Over two-thirds of our backers in the last campaign wanted the deluxe version.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.


Monday, August 24

Fulfilment Begins...

I got nothing Eurydice Games-related done at all last week as we had five days camping in Scotland and then on our return we were getting ready for and then having my eldest daughter's birthday celebrations (with no party :-( ).

With my week off behind me, my focus is now on fulfilling our latest Kickstarter. The supplier orders are all in progress, the printing has arrived and been delivered to Paul, but we’re still waiting on acrylic and wooden bits. 

Paul’s been able to make a head start on the laser cutting regardless as we have plenty of acrylic earmarked for unfinished base games and expansions, so he’s been making the add-ons from that while he waits for the new order to arrive (though we have no black, so the legendary pilots haven’t been started yet). 

I’ll be making and sending the game-only rewards from my house, so I’ve 26 games to make over the next month or so. The first couple of rewards have already gone in the post :-). Meanwhile Paul is doing the rewards that include expansions and/or add-ons - He’s making great progress on the add-on cutting and already has all the games and expansions ready to go. 

The other thing that will be filling my time while Paul continues his Herculean cutting task is spreadsheets. I need to get all the orders from Kickstarter and Gamefound and combine them and get the shipping addresses into the right shape. I’m approaching halfway through that task with a good few hours still to go. After that it’ll be catching up on the books and invoices - fun!

Monday, August 17

Spend, Spend, Spend!

Last week was all about spending the money we got from the last Kickstarter. The printing was ordered, proofed and then collected and delivered to Paul on Friday. The acrylic for the ships has been ordered too, as have the wooden bits and baggies. We still need a couple of other orders placing: some more deluxe stickers and some more packaging materials, but the major things are now underway. 

A car’s load of FlickFleet printing!

I met Paul on Friday evening for half an hour’s socially distant chat and to hand over the printing in a motorway service station car park. It was great to see him in person for the first time in months and months. We got to catch up, but also to do some scheming about what projects to work on next and how to spend the money we raised during this most recent Kickstarter that we haven’t already spent or earmarked for posting the rewards. 

But this week I’m camping in Scotland again, so it will all have to wait for a few more days!

Monday, August 10

Production Begins!

With the pledge manager almost completed we’re now in a position where we’ve a pretty good idea of what we need to make to fulfill this latest Kickstarter. 

Last week I was getting quotes for the printing, the wooden bits and the acrylic. Two of those have now arrived and the printing has begun. The wooden bits order should be placed and paid for shortly. 

The outlier in all this is the acrylic. And there’s a risk there. Every shop on the planet seems to have put up acrylic till screens recently, so there’s a chance the acrylic supplier we use is either short on stock or swamped with orders. 

Hopefully we’ll find out shortly that neither of these are the case! In the meantime, I have a lot of orders to go through, invoices to create and games to make and Paul has an awful lot more laser-cutting and bagging to do when all the bits arrive.