I've been thinking more and more about making games again and, in particular, returning to the glory days of Reiver Games when I made games by hand, selling out of print runs within a year.
The first couple of years of Reiver Games were very successful by any margin - my print runs sold out and I doubled my stake each year. With the sudden influx of cash from my life insurance I was able to reconsider my position so I quit my job and starting trying to run Reiver Games as a real publisher. I spent a couple of years doing that full-time, not drawing a salary and publishing games professionally. The games were manufactured by professional companies and I started selling through shops and distributors. In many ways I continued to be successful, getting my games picked up by twenty-one distributors on three continents, and selling thousands of games. But the sales were coming in too slowly and I hadn't invested enough capital to make two simultaneous print runs, so when the second edition of It's Alive! was delayed at the manufacturers I took out a bank loan to fund Carpe Astra. The bank loan fees, along with the costs of warehousing my games, were such a constant drain on my finances for the next few years that I eventually ran out of cash. In hindsight I should have delayed Carpe Astra, it needed more work and ended up being the least successful of my games.
The first couple of years of Reiver Games spanned July 2006-2008. Way before Kickstarter and the boom of social media. Many things have changed beyond recognition in the last eleven years. Not least my personal situation, I've gone from being a carefree young man to a father of one with another child on the way and from being a fit martial artist to having an incurable disease to being essentially healthy again thanks to a clinical trial of a new treatment.
Clearly I'm unable to just give up my job for a laugh these days - so that is not an option. With a baby on the way I'll have very limited time around my full-time job to spend on running a company - I'll certainly not be making games that take three hours to construct by hand like I did with Border Reivers - my first game.
I've learnt a lot about game design over that time, and I'm sure that both Zombology and the current version of Codename: Vacuum are better games than my other efforts (Border Reivers and Carpe Astra) and possibly even comparable to It's Alive!, the most successful game I published. I sold nearly 3,500 copies of that, so surely selling 100 copies of a hand-made run wouldn't be that difficult?
With all these changes, especially the changes in the marketplace that have occurred since Kickstarter overhauled the way games are made, I wonder whether there's still a market for small runs of hand-made games. The biggest problem I foresee would be how do I make people aware of my games? How do I be heard over the endless clamour of Kickstarter announcements? With a young family and a full-time job, I'll have very limited time for marketing activities and I'll not be shlepping round shops and cons like I did the first time round. What about me and my games will pique peoples' interest enough to get them to take an interest in (and possibly buy) my games?
That's the question I would need to answer before I set things in motion. Any advice or help would be greatly appreciated!