Monday, November 28

Hello? Hello? Anyone here?

Well, it's been nearly six months since Reiver Games officially shut down. The email addresses and website will be disappearing this week probably, the bank accounts are shut and the only time my games are mentioned on BGG is people trying to offload their copies in trades or auctions.

It's Alive! is now available on the iPad (a version which the designer arranged, I gave him the rights to the game and let them use the artwork for free, but otherwise had nothing to do with it).

I've moved back to Newcastle upon Tyne, where I lived when I first designed Border Reivers (hence the northeast theme), and I'm back working for the company I worked for at that time again too. I'm still into games, hosting a regular weekly gaming night at our house and trying to get along to Newcastle Gamers when my busy schedule allows.

Games design-wise I've done almost nothing for a while now, I've had a couple of ideas over the last few months, but it's been hard to drum up any enthusiasm for anything with the spectre of Reiver Games hanging over me, reminding me how bad I was at it. In the meantime, I've been moping around the house clearly bored: "In need of a hobby".

Until yesterday. Yesterday was a day of driving, at the end of a weekend of driving. The Wife and I were coming back from Bristol where we'd been visiting family and we had a five and a half hour drive on which to amuse ourselves (I was supposed to be driving, but driving-schmiving). We got to talking about Reiver Games and The Wife asked how sad I was about it. I admitted that I was disappointed that I couldn't make it work, and that every now and again I thought about how I could have done it differently: smaller print runs, not make the leap from hobby self-publisher to selling to distributors and trying to make a living from it in one go, etc. And then something weird happened.

You could do it again, you know. As a hobby. I'd help.

Wow. In the (para-phrased) words of Wash from Firefly: "Good wife". I'd tried. I'd failed. Miserably. To the tune of several thousand pounds of (almost) our money. And The Wife was willing to let me try again!

We got talking about the sorts of games I'd make if I had a chance to do it again differently. We talked about the sorts of games I think sell really well and the sorts of games she likes. And then I had an idea. It sprung from something she said and suddenly my mind was whirring with game ideas, I had a fairly well-formed concept in my head and I was fleshing out mechanics and card examples in my head instead of the things I should have been doing (like sticking to my lane and avoiding HGVs). It's Codename: Vacuum by the way, more to come on that front hopefully (especially if anyone is listening!).

So where now? I'm designing again, and I've got a load of enthusiasm back. I'm making notes and hoping to do some prototyping in the next couple of days. Will I have another go at a publishing company? Probably not. But the possibility is there and you never know. I'd certainly do things differently this time round and I know so much more than I did when I started Reiver Games, so it would definitely be less of an uphill struggle.

Reboots seem popular these days (Star Trek, X-Men: First Class, the new Spiderman), maybe I should hop on the bandwagon...


Brenden said...

Aren't supportive wives wonderful? Great to hear about the enthusiasm. Good luck with whatever direction you take with Reiver Games.

Jack said...

Hiya Brenden,

Reiver Games is definitely dead, I guess my options are:

Mess around designing for a bit, then give up;
Design a game and submit it for publication elsewhere;
Start a new publishing company with a different ethos and goal;

Those are in decreasing likelihood order.



Neil said...

Good luck with whatever you decide. As someone who has been involved in (a very limited sense) "self-publishing" I read your blog with interest.

I'd certainly be interested in hearing how any future projects go, and while you seem to consider Reiver Games dead - remember that you made games from an idea to a final product which you had made in box-loads. To a lot of us this was way more success than we ever managed.

So do not look on it as a failure - especially with your wife being so supportive - look upon Reiver Games as the first attempt, from which you have learned many lessons, and go forth into the future with head held high!

Good gaming!

Eric Hanuise said...

Amazing news, good to hear that there's still some life in these projets of yours!
I picked up a copy of carpe Astra at essen this year, and thought what a pity, too bad it's over. Now it ain't over anymore :)

NB Please do get in touch via email : eric dot hanuise -at- flatlinedmages /dot/ com
There's a project I'd like to discuss with you, if you're somehow thinking of getting involved in the boardgaming biz again :)

eric hanuise said...

erm, flatlinedgames, not flatlinedmages - sorry about the fit of dislexya ;)

Jack said...

Hiya Neil,

Thanks for the kind words and your support, the support I got from the gaming community made a huge difference, not only in my achievements, but also in how I felt about the whole thing.


Glad I've brightened your day :) I'll drop you an email - you've piqued my interest :)



Mal said...

"I'd tried. I'd failed. Miserably."

That is SO not true. As far as I see it, it was a great success over a limited time. Anything but a failure.

And I thought I was self-effacing!

Looking forward to seeing more blog posts coming through about the new idea. Who knows - maybe I'll even get my name in the credits of another game yet. ;)

Jack said...

Hiya Mal,

I'm thinking in real terms. The company lost money. Lots of money. Although the games sold well initially, they didn't sell well enough to cover their costs (except the early hand-made ones which sold out and doubled their investment).

As for playtesting, you're at the front of the queue...



Philip said...

I'm very happy about your new enthusiasm! Think about how much more you know now as compared to a few years ago--you're nearly an expert! Not to mention all the other people you managed to inspire along the way (myself included). The bottom line is: You only fail if you quit trying. I look forward to hearing more game news from you!

P.S. - Kickstarter is a game-changer. At least for the next few years.

Roberto said...

Hi Jack,
Yes, somebody here: I'll be checking your posts as I did during the Reiver Games times; I like the way you share your experiences.
It's good to know that you want to come back.
Best of luck!

Chris Sharp said...

I'm glad to hear that you have re-found your passion! I wish the best of luck to you, and I hope that you always find the will to do the things you love.

Should we be following you somewhere else to hear any thoughts or musings you will share in the future?

Jack said...

Hiya Philip, Roberto and Chris,

Nice to know there's still people listening! I'm going to start blogging here again, similar format to last time, so I hope what I have to say is interesting/inspiring/useful to someone!



Josh said...


I found your blog about a month ago, and since read every single post. It was a really great read!

Whatever you decide to do with your future, do not think of what you did with the company as a failure. On the last day of life, money will mean very very little to you. But the experiences you've had and the people you've met along the way will be priceless. I know I would love to have done what you have.

As a side note, I'm DYING to play a game of border drivers!! Is there anyway I can purchase a copy, or maybe even some sort of print and play scenario? I'm more than happy to play for it either way. Ive read your play sessions of it so much I just have to try it!!

Jack said...

Hiya Josh,

Glad you enjoyed the blog so far and good point about the company. As for Border Reivers, I'm considering doing a second version (I've some ideas in that direction), but in the short term your best bet is to ask on BoardGameGeek and see if anyone would be interested in parting with their copy.



Anonymous said...

I'm really bad at keeping tabs on blogs. I was gaming with a friend recently and he mentioned you had started talking about designing games again.

I'd say I wish you luck, but you don't need that. I wish you peace of mind and joy, with your design process. I hope you find fun in your design process and let things progress.

If you do some indie release some time, I hope you put me down as a pre-order for it.

Happy Gaming,


Jack said...

Hiya Mike,

Thanks for your support and also your confidence in me, it's both very flattering and a little alarming!