Thursday, July 12

Border Reivers is Dead, Long Live Border Reivers

Eleven months to the day after I released Border Reivers I have finally shipped the last two copies. A couple of copies were left on order for the last couple of months and they've finally been claimed. It's all done. I'm not quite sure how to feel.

I'm proud of the game, its good reviews and the production quality I achieved making the game by hand. I've learnt a lot about how to manufacture, promote and sell games over the last year. Is it the perfect game? No, of course not. I've already got some ideas about how it could be improved, and when I send off the prototype copy to the other publisher that's interested I'll probably include those ideas in the copy.

Here's a quick round up of my lessons learnt over the last fifteen months producing Border Reivers.

Things That Went Well
  • I sold out. In less than the twelve months I had set myself as a goal. I was confident that I could sell fifty, but one hundred was definitely outside my comfort zone.
  • Americans bought the game. The exchange rate is awful at the moment, but still over twenty Americans coughed up the $80 to get the game and get it delivered over the Atlantic.
  • Production Quality. I had no idea what the finished game would look like until I finished the first copy, but when I did I was extremely pleased, and the production quality has received universally good feedback.
  • Publicity. When I plugged the game on BoardGameGeek, a story ran on Boardgame News and I was interviewed in the Yorkshire Post I got interest and sales, I need to keep doing this, but in a way that doesn't spam people.
  • Convention Attendance. The game was well received at the conventions I went to, and I usually had no difficulty finding people to play the game. Plus sales at conventions weren't subject to PayPal fees :-)
  • PayPal. The fees ate into my profit, but probably 60% of my sales were over the internet and PayPal made that possible.
  • Spares. The printer sent me more sheets than I asked for (about 5-10%).
Things That Went Badly
  • Cocking up. I cocked up four copies, which cost me £120 in sales. As time went on I became better at it, but at the beginning I cocked up a lot of pieces.
  • No spares. The wooden pieces supplier sent me around the right number of pieces, and some of those were knackered, as such it was these that stopped me making more copies.
  • Tiles. The tiles were a bitch to make, the gluing was unpleasant, slow and could only be done outside, which meant I had to arrange to use a friend's yard/garage, then the cutting out hurt and was slow and error prone. The 2mm thick greyboard gave them a nice solidity, but made the cutting out awkward to say the least.
  • Recycling. Because of the glue and the lamination I couldn't recycle some of my cut-offs. The spare card not used for the boxes was alright, but pretty much nothing else.
  • Time. I had difficulty fitting the construction around my full-time job and personal life. Reiver Games has been pretty much my life for the last year and a bit and that's not fair on my family or friends.
What To Change
  • Lamination. It was an accident that It's Alive! is not laminated, but the quality is fine (I think, correct me if I'm wrong), and it means that I had money free to get some of the boxes professionally made, and all my scraps are recyclable.
  • Avoid thick card components. It wasn't fun making them.
  • Time Management. Somehow spend less 'spare' time on future projects - not sure how to achieve this one.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who bought a copy of Border Reivers; who gave me feedback (both positive and negative); who gave me moral support or who helped me in some fashion and those who plugged Border Reivers/Reiver Games whether professionally or not. It's been a blast and I'm looking forward to publishing (and designing) more games in the future.

In other news, after months of tunnel vision on It's Alive! I've finally got some enthusiasm about Jorvik again. I've made some blank cards to take to London next week which will allow me to make another prototype and do some solo-playtesting while I'm away. I've had some ideas to improve the interaction of the players further and to simplify things a bit. One of the problems we had with the last prototype was being stuck with a few cards you couldn't play - hopefully that problem has been solved.

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