Monday, January 15

On the Road Again

Last week in the US was a partial success from a Eurydice Games point of view. I arrived on Monday afternoon and after being up since 10pm the night before (US time) went to the office, to an early dinner and then to bed (at 6:30pm!). Which was just as well, since I was up at 1:30am on Tuesday to do a podcast Interview with Jack Eddy from The Cardboard Herald at 2am (which was 10pm for him in Alaska!). It was a great chat that lasted over an hour and Jack tells me it will be available in a few weeks. Hopefully the jet lag, lack of sleep and early start don't make me sound too stupid!

I had hoped to find a Games group that I could join on Wednesday night, but despite asking on twitter, Google+, BGG and Meetup I was unable to find a group in time. I awoke at 4:30 (I don't travel well!) on Thursday, my last day in Massachusetts to a message from Chip Beauvais (designer of Universal Rule) telling me about a group that would have been perfect for the previous evening :-/ I'll definitely join them on my next trip to Massachusetts (I get there three or four times a year).

Thursday I flew down to Raleigh/Durham for further work meetings on Friday. But I had Thursday evening free. This was fortuitous since I had thought that W. Eric Martin (editor of BGG News) lived in Massachusetts so I'd looked him up on BGG only to find he lives near Raleigh! I'd met Eric a few times during my Reiver Games days and was keen to show him Zombology and get his feedback on my FlickFleet prototype. He's started a series of short video interviews of board game creatives too, so I agreed to another interview and we were both happy. It was a great evening. Eric turned up with his very professional looking video equipment and then after a short video interview we chatted about Zombology and played a couple of games of FlickFleet. Eric also had some great ideas about FlickFleet too.

He shoots! (photo courtesy of W. Eric Martin)

I got back on Saturday morning, and this afternoon I'm off again to Manchester this time for an early meeting tomorrow. I'm going to swing by Tabletop Manchester and hopefully get to play Zombology with a few people and maybe even get a few sales - I'll also be taking FlickFleet too.

I need to play more games of Zombology with people - it's going to be critical to helping me hit my targets and sell the games, which I need to do to fund the publishing of FlickFleet later.

Monday, January 8

Media Week!

I'm travelling to near Boston, MA for work this week as I do a few times a year. This time I've arranged a couple of things Eurydice Games-related to do in my spare time during my trip. As usual I'll probably be awake from very early in the morning (jet-lag is not my friend) so I'll have some time to spend doing some work on the website and the FlickFleet rules too.

This month I need to get a few new FlickFleet prototypes made: updating mine, one for my co-designer Paul, plus one for Todd (who won my NaGa DeMon competition back in November) and a couple for far flung playtesters. I need to re-write the rules to reflect the changes Paul and I made just before Christmas and order more perspex, dice & wooden tokens and get some greyboard to make the boxes - all of which I can do in the early hours from my hotel room in America. When I get back I'll have to get the laser-cutting done, print the new ship cards (hampered by the fact that my printer is now broken) and assemble the prototypes ready for shipping.

I also want to make some improvements to the website (I need to add a page linking to the Zombology reviews and BGG, plus add a few more customer testimonials) and I need to pay the charities the money I pledged as part of my Charity December promotion.

But the most exciting part of the trip is a couple of interviews I'm doing. Tuesday morning I'm being interviewed by Jack Eddy of The Cardboard Herald (it's much easier when I'm on US Eastern time than when I'm at home seeing as he's in Alaska, nine hours behind GMT!) and then on Thursday I'm meeting up with W. Eric Martin, the editor of BoardGameGeek News. I met him a couple of times while I was running Reiver Games, at the UK Games Expo and again at Essen, but I last met him in the flesh about 8 years ago. Eric lives fairly close to our office in North Carolina, so while I'm down there on Thursday and Friday I'm going to meet up with him to show him Zombology and my FlickFleet prototype (with old ship cards - stupid broken printer!) and do a video interview too.

Hopefully both of these efforts will help raise the profile of me and Eurydice Games and might even lead to a couple of sales further down the line. For now though I need to go and catch a flight!

Monday, January 1

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone! I wish you all a happy, healthy and successful 2018!

2017 was a momentous year for me. Not only was my second daughter born during it, but I also started my second board game publishing company making hand-crafted board and card games. Question: What kind of idiot starts a company months after the birth of their child, when they already know how much work is involved in starting a company, hand-crafting games and raising a baby? Answer: My kind of idiot.

It's been hard work (as I knew it would be), but it's been rewarding on both fronts. Daughter the Second is now mostly sitting up, eating real food and still sleeping like a baby (i.e. badly). Eurydice Games is off to a great start: Zombology has got some great reviews on BGG, a decent average score and I've sold nearly a quarter of the print run and made a third. I've also got another game that's coming on really well too in FlickFleet.

Unlike last time round I've got a Business Plan, and according to that things aren't quite on track - I hit my 2017 sales target but I didn't get all the games I wanted to make in December made (it was a busy month with some work travel, work meetings and evening events, Christmas holidays and some particularly poor sleep from the baby, so I had few evenings available for crafting and I was often too knackered on those evenings to do it. I think I'll reduce my construction targets in 2018, I'm still aiming to make all the games within a year of the launch of Zombology in September 2017 though.

One of the things that has changed since I ran my first company is Kickstarter, and it has democratised the publication of board games, allowing every person and their dog to publish a game - so the marketplace is a lot more crowded. It's no longer possible to have a fairly basic website and shout at the internet via twitter and Google+ and expect your games to sell out. I need to do things differently.

There's a bunch of people out there who really like Zombology, and a bunch more who will love it if they come across it, but with all the Kickstarter noise that's pretty unlikely. The most successful route to sales that I've had so far has been actually playing it with people - I need to ensure that I'm introducing new people to Zombology every month and hopefully that'll allow me to keep hitting my targets. I'm also hoping to step up my media efforts (a forthcoming trip to the US is going to feature a podcast segment and a video interview). I need to get to conventions and games clubs and introduce people to it on a much wider scale - there's a goal for 2018!

Monday, December 25

Merry Christmas!

A very short blog post today, just to say Merry Christmas to you all. I hope you've had a great 2017, but regardless I wish you an even better 2018.

In the meantime, I hope you have a great week, get loads of gaming in, and just a quick reminder that I'm giving £5 to charity for every sale of Zombology this month - it's not too late to get a copy of Zombology and also choose which of the five charities I've selected gets the £5.

Monday, December 18

FlickFleet Level Up

As I mentioned last week, FlickFleet has been pretty much static for a few months now. I've been playing it quite a lot and it's been getting great feedback, but I don't want to just throw it out the door as soon as people start enjoying it, I want to make it awesome.

To do that requires trying out new ideas and keeping those that improve things, while discarding those that don't. The problem up until now has been what ideas to try. Usually in the early stages of designing a game it's so hideously broken that it's obvious what needs improving. With FlickFleet, it's been perfectly playable almost since the beginning and there's been nothing obviously wrong with it. People have said 'It's great fun', 'I prefer it to X-Wing Miniatures' and 'I prefer it to Flick 'Em Up'. All of which is nice, but doesn't really help improve things.

Can you spot the new stuff?

I took it down to Paul's this weekend and I was keen to play it with Paul and see if he had any ideas. Paul's been instrumental in the original idea and several early improvements, so I was hoping to rely on him again for more inspiration.

There were a couple of things about the game as was that were a bit weaker than the rest:

  • The turn order was a layer of complication, and led to things like Dreadnought-launched fighters often getting destroyed before they could act.
  • The game turned into a bit of a grind when you were down to your last few ships as you battered away at each other without doing much damage.
  • The destroyers were a bit boring as all they really did was move and shoot.
  • Once a ship lost its Engineering location it potentially became a floating hulk quite quickly.

Paul and I played a game with the existing rules, talked about a couple of ideas I'd had (free turn order with activation tokens, giving the destroyers shields) and then spent a good half an hour talking about some other options, before trying a new version. The new version was a lot more fun, so my task now is to get the new rules written up and order the bits to make a few more prototypes - one for Paul, a new one for me and a couple for some people who are interested in playtesting for me.

I also need to get some more Zombology sales. December has been very slow, despite my charity donation offer. What I need to do really is put aside some time to go and play it with people, as that has definitely been my best route to sales (whether among friends or strangers).

Monday, December 11

Winding Down

Last week was a quiet one. After a busy and demanding week in Belgium the week before, I took some time to catch up on sleep (when I could - Daughter the Second is not sleeping well at the moment, so I spent a fair chunk of the week up in the night or early with her). So I made no progress on Zombology until the weekend - there's no chance at all that I'll hit my quarterly production target, but there's still a good chance of hitting my sales target.

The highlights of the week were FlickFleet related. I made it along to Newcastle Playtest (for only the second time since the birth of Daughter the Second back in May) and we played four games of FlickFleet. The feedback was good again ('better than Flick 'Em Up'!) and there was nothing glaringly wrong, but a couple of ideas surfaced and I started to try those out. At the end of Games Night I got another play in using one of those and I think it could be an improvement.

FlickFleet at Newcastle Playtest
FlickFleet at Newcastle Playtest

Since Thursday night's play at the end of Games Night I've finally had some inspiration for several more changes - I'm looking forward to trying those out shortly. I've also been collecting some market research via Google+ and twitter polls!

This week is also pretty busy (we've a big meeting at work with a couple of nights out including our office Christmas party), but I'm hoping to get some gaming in at the weekend when we head down to York to visit Paul and his family. Paul was instrumental in the first idea of FlickFleet, so I'm hoping to show him the progress I've made too.

Monday, December 4

NaGa DeMon 2017 - Part 9: Complete

My goal during NaGa DeMon this year, as with a couple of the previous years that I've taken part in, was to make concrete progress on a game idea, while benefitting from the wisdom of the crowd to help me consider things from a different angle.

At the beginning of the month I had played FlickFleet a grand total of 7 times, but versions with wildly different levels of maturity and none with all the pieces I thought I needed to give a true reflection of the game in my head.

During the month of November I played it another 9 times, all with the components I wanted and all were very well received. I got some great ideas on production, feedback on the rules (which I wrote up of the first time) and I even started designing the box. As with previous years the competition I ran started off very well with lots of interest and then things tailed off a bit in the second half of the month - I struggle to retain people's interest! We did get one late entrant, Steve who gave me some great information about scroll saws and then further advice in a follow up email, but Todd carried it in the end.

The final scores were:

10Officer CadetNot A Cyborg Zircher
6Very Petty OfficerGames Book
5Very Petty OfficerSteven Davis
4Ensign (Expendable) 3rd ClassChris Preston
3Ensign (Expendable) 3rd ClassMike Jones
2Ensign (Expendable) 3rd Class7isprime
1Red ShirtEric Francis

So Todd, I'll be reaching out shortly to get some contact details to arrange delivery of your prototype, which probably won't arrive until January I'm afraid.