Monday, September 17

An Unconventional Kickstarter

If you've been a reader of this blog for a while you'll know I'm very wary of Kickstarter. So why exactly are we Kickstarting FlickFleet?

The short answer is we can't afford not to. Zombology has broken even now, but I've still a decent stock pile to sell through, and a large chunk of the money I've recouped on Zombology sales has been invested in FlickFleet development - I have less cash on hand now than I started with. And FlickFleet is a far more expensive game to manufacturing than Zombology. Zombology is just a card game with a box, 108 cards and a rules sheet. FlickFleet has acrylic ships, wooden bits, ship dashboards, dice, a rulebook and a box.

I think FlickFleet is the most fun and approachable of the six games I've published, but if there's one thing Reiver Games taught me, it's that I don't want to be getting a bank loan to fund a large print run of FlickFleet to find out I've judged it wrong again and I'm left with a big pile of stock and little money coming in while we haemorrhage money through warehousing costs and bank loan repayments.

A photo for the box back

Kickstarter gives us a chance to judge the size of the market for FlickFleet and size our print run accordingly. It also lets us change the shape of the print run as the campaign becomes more successful.

I'm hopeless at marketing, so my best guess is that we'll fund somewhere between 50% and 125% of our target. We're setting that low in an attempt to increase our chances of success - but that brings other challenges. To reduce the target to the minimum, we're aiming for a hand-crafted run of 500 copies (half the minimum order of our professional manufacturer). So to do this we'll need to pay the kickstarter cut, then buy the raw materials for 500 games and we'll need to do the laser-cutting ourselves, so we also need a laser-cutter.

In the unlikely event that something miraculous happens and we're much more successful, the Stretch Goals are aimed at improving components for everyone (not adding in expansions and extra bits we haven't had time to properly test). And at some point the time and effort it would take us to make the hand-crafted boxes and dashboards, plus bag all the wooden components and laser cut the ships would be prohibitive - so we'll have to switch over to professional manufacturing (of at least the box, dashboards, rules and wooden bits - the status of the laser-cutting is still under investigation).

Have you seen a kickstarter that switches from hand-crafted to professionally manufactured as a Stretch Goal?

Monday, September 10

Moving Goalposts

I’m back from my two week blogging hiatus! During that time I’ve had a week long holiday, an impromptu camping weekend and a visit from my FlickFleet co-designer, Paul and his family.

Progress on the FlickFleet Kickstarter has picked up in the last week, but in total has been slower than I’d like, hindered by some terrible nights’ sleep while The Toddler had bad cough and fever.

But now that the holidays are over and The Toddler is on the mend, things are looking up. This weekend, during Paul’s visit, we discussed the kickstarter in some depth and then spent Saturday night with my mate Wilka taking some photos of the game and its components and recording the footage for the kickstarter video (with a new shorter script crafted minutes before Wilka arrived) and a videoed play-through of the game.


All the FlickFleet components

The kickstarter page is taking shape finally, it’s mostly there now, pending a few images of the game, a few more reviews and some images for the stretch and social goals. I’ll be soliciting feedback on it shortly.

We had hoped to bring it to Kickstarter last week, but we’ve clearly missed that. I’ve pushed it back to the 24th, but we’re not going to be ready for that either - so we’re now aiming for mid-October. Hopefully we’ll hit that one! But as everyone says, it’s better to wait until you’re ready than rush out a half-finished campaign to hit an arbitrary deadline you’ve given yourself.

Still disappointing though :-(

Monday, August 20

Holiday

I’ll keep this brief this week - I’m on holiday with the family in Northumberland - north of Newcastle where I live. Before I left I made some progress on the Kickstarter page for FlickFleet, finished a first draft of a script for the Kickstarter video (and recorded a very rough test to see how long it was - answer: too long).

While we’re away I’m hoping to get some games in with the family and when I return both Paul and I will be back from our respective holidays, so we should be able to make decent progress on getting FlickFleet ready.

Do you have any thoughts on the video (obviously the quality will be much better on the final one!)? What should we cut?

Monday, August 13

Kickstarter - The Rollercoaster

We’re hoping to bring FlickFleet to Kickstarter in September. The original plan was to launch on Tuesday 4th, but with out of sync family holidays and a lot going on in August, I think it’s going to have to slip back to later in the month. I’m still hopefully that we can launch in September though. The video is one of the main stumbling blocks - I’d like it to feature both of us, which means finding a day that we’re both available and so is my mate with all the kit.

The source of my current worries

So we’re still several weeks away from launch but the emotional rollercoaster has already started. Some of this is similar to the other games I’ve published as either Reiver Games or Eurydice Games: will people like my game? Can I find enough customers to make it, at least, break even?

But Kickstarter brings a couple of new dimensions to it - the month of unknowns and the debt.

Every previous game I’ve made I know exactly what I’m getting into at launch, either hand-crafting or ordering a fixed number of games at a fixed cost. I know how many hours of crafting are on the horizon and how many copies I need to sell at what margin. It could be terrifying, risky or fairly safe, but I know what it is. I know how much money is at risk and I know what my crafting future looks like. With Kickstarter however, until the campaign closes you’ve no idea what you’re on the hook for. How many backers will I get? How many copies will I have to make? What will my margins be? All of this is up in the air until the campaign closes. It’s even worse for us as we’ve set a two stage campaign - to keep the target low we’re planning a small hand-crafted run. But there’s a stretch goal to get the boxes, rules, dashboards and wooden pieces professionally manufactured and assembled. If we get close to that we’re still on the hook for hand-crafting everything. For a lot of copies. Even if we hit the stretch goal we may need to do the laser cutting ourselves (I’m still investigating options for a very large run of laser-cutting, but one of the reasons we're doing the laser-cutting ourselves is to keep costs down - there doesn't seem to be any economies of scale for laser-cutting). I’m not sure what my preferred outcome is - scrape over the funding target, just hit the professional stretch goal or something else.

In addition, there's the fact that you owe a lot of people a lot of stuff. I'm okay with the idea of crowdfunding - it makes FlickFleet a possibility, but as I've said before I'm uncomfortable about taking people's money up front. They're paying for a copy (or two!) of the game. They know it'll be a while. They must be comfortable with that or they wouldn't back it. But I've never taken money for something that's not ready yet. Even pre-orders for my previous games were just a request - I didn't take any money until I had a game ready to ship to them. I lost a few pre-orders that way, but I was more comfortable with that than owing someone for something that's an unspecified amount of time from completion. I'm hoping the discomfort around owing people games will encourage me to crank them out as quick as possible.

Exciting times. It’s not keeping me up at night yet, but it’s certainly occupying a lot of my thinking during my evenings and weekends.

Monday, August 6

Crunch Time

We're hoping to Kickstart FlickFleet in September. There's still loads to do though, so that timeline is getting tight and Paul's currently out of the country on holiday and I'll be heading off on holiday at the end of next week.

We've set up the limited company and are now getting the bank account and related guff together, while working on the Kickstarter page text and images, scripting the videos and the box art. It's all feeling pretty hectic now.

I've also been trying to build up some Zombology stock as there may well be another stocking order shortly from Travelling Man (York is getting very low on stock) and I'd like to have a decent pile ahead of the kickstarter so we can focus on FlickFleet afterwards (assuming it funds). We're offering Zombology as an add-on which allows you to get it with much cheaper shipping.

I thought my laptop power lead had died this week, which limited my options at home (lots of those tasks are hard/impossible to do on an iPad or phone), but it seems to be working fine here (I brought it to work this morning in order a replacement power lead for it). Maybe the power socket had broken - who knows.

Here's the next iteration of the box art, it's coming together slowly - what do you think?



Latest iteration


Previous iteration


First concept

Monday, July 30

Let’s Get Limited

My first games company, Reiver Games, was legally a Sole Trader - the company didn’t exist as a legal entity, it was just me, using a trading name. Had anyone sued me back in the day it would have been my personal assets (house, car, etc.) that would have been at risk.

Eurydice has been exactly the same until now - while selling a small number of hand-crafted games I thought the risk was quite low, but with Kickstarter coming up in just over a month I’ve decided to do things properly. I’m going to form a limited company (a separate legal entity) and incorporate Eurydice Games Ltd. Paul, my FlickFleet co-designer and long time Reiver Games play tester is coming on board too as another Director.

I need to get the company founded and a bank account set up as well as get the Kickstarter page together and finish getting quotes for manufacturing and shipping the various different manufacturing options. Paul has done a first draft of the Kickstarter page, so that’s coming together nicely.

Time is progressing apace, I’ve lots to do, and a holiday to take, plus I need to get Zombology back in stock too (I keep running out :-) ). Must crack on...

P.S. Don’t forget we’re running a scenarios

Monday, July 23

Win a Deluxe Copy of FlickFleet!

FlickFleet, our new 2-player space battle dexterity game, has two modes of play: pre-defined scenarios and free play where both players design a fleet that has a particular points value.


A draft of the FlickFleet box

I really prefer the scenario play and one of the things Paul (my co-designer) and I would really like to see is a large body of community designed scenarios available to play.

In an effort to kickstart (see what I did there?) that collection of scenarios ahead of the September Kickstarter for the game, we’re running a competition - with a first prize of a deluxe copy of the game.

Now very few of you have a copy of the game, so we’re not expecting expertly crafted, perfectly balanced scenarios, instead, we’re looking for ideas. The game is set in humanity’s far future when a totalitarian Imperium of Earth bestrides the galaxy. Sick of the endless oppression an Uprising has formed and they are starting to wage a civil war in an attempt to free the citizens from the yoke of tyranny.

To enter the competition, read the rules and see the examples on pages 11-15, read the capabilities of the different types of ships and then submit an entry by emailing jack@eurydicegames.co.uk with your scenario in that format. You can write your scenario from the perspective of the Imperium or the Uprising and include as many of the ships that come in the game as you want.

Entries will be judged on:
  • The scenario setting
  • Interesting asymmetry or special rules
  • With bonus points available for using common household items as scenery.

You will not be marked down for an unbalanced scenario, as we will playtest, balance and publish the best ones (with attribution!).

Entries must be received by midnight (UK time) on 31st August 2018. Winners will be chosen by me and Paul (the game designers) and will be announced by the end of September. If you choose to back FlickFleet and are declared a winner we will refund your pledge. The winner will win a deluxe copy of FlickFleet including free worldwide delivery. If we are successfully funded, second and third places will win a standard copy of FlickFleet with free delivery.

We reserve the right to publish any of the scenarios to our website (attributed to the submitter) after playtesting and tweaking for balance.

Good luck!