Monday, November 12

Off to a Promising Start

We're just under 5 days into our FlickFleet Kickstarter campaign and it's pretty intense. It seems to be going well so far (just over 40%) and there have been a couple of surprises.

First up is the deluxe editions are way more popular that we were expecting - I hoped we'd get a few pledges at that level by the end but they all went withing 15 hours! Crazy. After discussion with Paul (who will be doing the laser cutting) we've just added a few more with a later delivery date (though still ahead of the standard copies).

Prototype deluxe ships

The other thing is the number of backers we're getting directly from Kickstarter. It's over 40% which really surprised me, especially as we've not made any top picks lists or anything.

Anyway, it's all going pretty well I think, but I could really do with some sleep! Hopefully I'll get a decent night on Tuesday when I'm away for work (and getting interviewed by Gabe Barrett from The Board Game Design Lab for his podcast!).

Thursday, November 8

We're Live!

After months of wrangling with the Kickstarter page and trying to get to grips with the concept and best practices of crowdfunding, FlickFleet is finally live on Kickstarter.


We're about 6 hours in at time of writing, with 20% of the target pledged - huge thanks to all the early backers - Paul and I really appreciate your support.

Please take a look at the page and share with anyone you think would enjoy it.

Right, I'm off to bed now - I've not slept much in days and today's excitement has done for me!

Monday, November 5

Three Days!

I’m currently on holiday (writing this while The Toddler naps) so I’ll keep this brief!

FlickFleet is coming to Kickstarter on Thursday, hopefully about 4pm UK time. It’s our first time on Kickstarter and despite the slow growth of our mailing list and a number of very excited people by far the biggest risk is that we won’t have enough backers to hit our target.

If you are intending to back it (thanks!), please do so early to help give us the appearance of momentum which might encourage others to join in. If you don’t wish to back the project, please share it with one or two people who you think might be interested - it might be the difference between success and failure!

Thanks for all your support!

Monday, October 29

What Have I Got to Show for 15 Months?

I’m shutting down the Sole Trading company ‘Jackson Pope trading as Eurydice Games’ and transferring my assets to Eurydice Games Ltd. ahead of the FlickFleet Kickstarter in a couple of weeks time. It seems like a good time to take stock of the first 15 months of Eurydice Games.


I started the company in August 2017 with a £1,000 ‘investment’. I say investment in quotes because it was money I was putting into the company and at risk, but I wasn’t expecting a great return from it, I certainly wasn’t treating this like a stock market investment - but I didn’t want it to be a vanity project where I threw money at games that no one wanted to buy or play.

Fifteen months in and I have just under £600 in the company, so from a cash flow point of view it’s been unsuccessful. if you consider the £355 of Zombology materials I still have in stock then the company has made a loss - I’ve spent a year turning £1,000 into £930. Oh, and I’ve worked probably 150 hours of my free time for no recompense either. So woefully unsuccessful.

So why on earth am I carrying on? The one thing those numbers don’t take account of is FlickFleet. I’ve spent nearly £500 getting FlickFleet ready for market, and obviously FlickFleet hasn’t yet had a chance to recoup any of that. If you treat that as value (R&D investment?) then things look a little rosier: £1,000 to £1,420 in fifteen months, which is a pretty reasonable rate of return. Of course, if FlickFleet fails to fund and we pull the plug on it then that's wasted money, so I can't rely on it.

We're now 10 days from FlickFleet arriving on Kickstarter, so I don't have long to wait to find out...

Monday, October 22

Hear Ye! Hear Ye! FlickFleet is Coming!

This week has mostly been marketing. Which I am notoriously bad at. I’ve been trying to drum up interest and build up my mailing list ahead of the FlickFleet Kickstarter on 8th November.


A FlickFleet game in progress

I’ve written a press release and I’m halfway through distributing it to a load of board game websites (and a couple of local press that might be interested). I’ve also been arranging a load of podcasts and interviews to try to involve as many people’s audiences as possible. We’re also planning to get some flyers printed that we’re hoping to distribute to a number of UK games shops. Excitement is building. I hope it’s not too slow for a successful Kickstarter...

The limited company bank account is finally set up (this was one of the things that blocked earlier Kickstarter launch dates), so now we just need to get internet and mobile banking set up and we can start using it.

I’ve also been getting more feedback on the Kickstarter page and updating that and getting a couple of outstanding tasks around production worked out too.

It’s all very busy, and at this point it’s hard to tell whether it’s working or not. I guess we’ll know a couple of days into the campaign!

Monday, October 15

The Keyboard That Launched 1,000 Ships

I'm no Helen of Troy. Let's get that out of the way to start off with.

Last week was a good one. I've updated my Facebook and Twitter banner images with a FlickFleet pre-launch banner and also officially launched the Kickstarter campaign (coming 8th November) on Facebook, Google+ and twitter. Several people have said they're in, which is great - especially the new ones, but we're still some way from the 120 backers or so we need in the first couple of days to make it look like the project is going to succeed. The next 3.5 weeks are all about trying to drive the number of early backers up.


We've approached a couple of people about levelling up the box design, so hopefully we'll have something prettier ready for Kickstarter in November. And we're also working on a new version of the video with the real music track at an appropriate level and a couple of still images with the game name and details.

To finish off the week I went to Newcastle Gamers for the first time in months and played a bunch of games. We started as a group of four playing High Society, HMS Dolores and Kingdomino and then Drew left and we were down to three. I offered Las Vegas, Zombology, Hanabi, and For Sale to the other two guys and they chose Zombology (at this point unaware I was the designer and hand-crafter of the game). We played and 2/3 of us won with Tea. They asked for another game and the same 2 of us won with Tea again. At which point they wanted to confirm the science of tea, so we played a third game and again the same pair won with Tea! Crazy. Anyway at that point I wanted to head off so I revealed I was the designer and hand-crafter behind the game and they both bought a copy! I'm down to just two copies at home now!

This week I need to focus on getting the final video up there, picking a box artist, and sharing the press release with as many people as possible - we need to get people's eyes on the project! Any help you can provide sharing the project with people you think would like it is much appreciated - thanks in advance!

Monday, October 8

Kickstarter Voice

You get a wide range of companies and people on Kickstarter, whether doing games or something else.

There’s the large and successful companies with their videos that are incredibly polished, full of rendered animations plus high quality photos and copy. At the other end of the scale there are projects that are something that’s been cobbled together by someone by themselves - video on a laptop or iPad and fairly simple text and basic photos.

With FlickFleet we’re trying to tread the middle path. I don’t want to invest tens of thousands of pounds in the advertising and content of the page, but I don’t want us to appear too homebrew either. We’ve not got a massive fan base ready to pounce on the Kickstarter, so we need to look professional enough to be credible to people who don’t know us.


The Kickstarter page taking shape

I’ve got experience hand-crafting games and getting games professionally manufactured for me and a back catalogue of five games that I’ve published in various quantities that speak to my credibility.

Here’s a preview link to the Kickstarter page (with rough draft of the video and box art - still works in progress). What are your thoughts? Does it come across as credible? Too homebrew? Too professional? Do we sound like people you would trust to invest in?

All feedback gratefully appreciated!

Monday, October 1

Tabletop Gaming Live: Fears Unrealised

Back in June I ran a Hand-Crafting Games seminar at the UK Games Expo. I'd pitched it as a chance to watch me make a copy of Zombology live while I talked about my experiences running two games companies, but it became apparent before the event that I wouldn't be able to finish making a game in time (it takes 40 minutes when I'm focussing and I only had an hour, but that was only 50 minutes once 5 minutes had been shaved off either end to allow people coming and going). On the day I gave people the choice of watching me frantically crafting in an attempt to finish or to focus more on the talking and they chose the latter, so that's what I did and in the 50 minutes I managed to make half a box and cut out a few cards. I waffle a lot it turns out.


Alexandra Palace is pretty!

Shortly afterwards, the guys from Tabletop Gaming Magazine approached me about repeating my seminar at Tabletop Gaming Live, a new convention they were running in London in September. I leapt at the chance.

As we liaised via email in the run up to the show I told them I'd struggled to get much done in the hour at the Expo, so they gave me two whole hours of their single seminar track! Wow!

The show was on the last couple of days, so I've spent most of my weekend there. London, it turns out, is a long way from Newcastle, so first I arranged with Paul (my FlickFleet co-designer) to stay at his Saturday night. So after The Toddler was asleep I set off, arriving at Paul's just before 10pm. We had a brief chat and then I headed off to bed as we'd set our alarms for 5am. On a Sunday. Joy.

Up, showered and breakfasted we set off at 6am for the 3.5 drive from York to north London (did I mention it's a long way?). The first differences I noticed between this and the Expo were the little things. As a speaker I had a parking pass for free parking in a secure car park abutting the venue (my car was literally 10 feet from the venue wall). This was great. At the Expo I'd ended up parked a good distance from the venue, so I'd carted my bag of tricks (which weighed a ton!) around all day - no fun at all. My hand was killing me before I'd even started the cutting. Yesterday however, we went in blissfully unencumbered - safe in the knowledge that it would only take a few minutes to get all my stuff from the car before my seminar at 2pm.

I spent a few hours wandering round the trade hall, chatting to people I'd previously only met online, introducing myself and my games to a few shops who were there and having a chat with Caezar from Alley Cat Games about the Kickstarter consulting he does. It was all good. Plus it was a great opportunity to hang out with Paul, who I don't see anywhere near as much as I'd like any more (we used to live just round the corner from each other, now we're 100 miles apart).

But the time for my seminar was approaching and I had some concerns.

At the Expo (a much bigger show) I'd managed to get nine people to my seminar. Two of those were mates I'd know for years, one was a Zombology customer and another a guy I knew from twitter. Tabletop Gaming Live was clearly a much smaller show and Sunday was apparently much quieter than the day before. Would anyone come to my seminar at all? The seminar space was in a massive room, of which about a quarter was set aside for the seminars - the rest was open gaming and a cafe. Would I be stood up there, mic'd up, chatting to Paul as the sole audience member while loads of uninterested people around the room were wondering what on earth was going on? A serious risk.

I was also beginning to regret the two hours slot. 2 hours is a long time. A very long time. Especially when you're at a convention looking to try and play and buy games. If an audience turned up, how long would I be able to hold their attention? 30 mins? An hour?

As it turned out I needn't have worried. There must have been 30-40 people at the start and even at the 1.5 hour mark when I finished making the game (I actually finished it!), there were probably 15-20 people still there. A good proportion of those subscribed to our mailing list and I sold seven copies of Zombology (I only sold one at the Expo seminar - to the guy I knew from twitter) - so it was a huge success.

Then I had the 6 hour drive home, via York to drop Paul off. A great, but very tiring day!

Monday, September 24

Solid Progress at Last

Since returning from our holiday a few weeks ago I’ve been struggling to make decent progress on FlickFleet. We’ve taken some impromptu holiday, had friends to visit and weathered a long baby cold which led to sleepless nights and hence curtailed evenings.

This week I had a work trip to Manchester that was supposed to include a couple of nights in a hotel (it ended up being only one as a storm blocked all trains out of Newcastle on Wednesday evening).

With six hours of train travel and an evening in a hotel I managed make a huge amount of progress. I’ve now finished the Kickstarter page first draft and we’ve a rough cut of the video too. I’ve written a press release and am about halfway through updating the website with changes reflecting the move to a limited company. I’ve also finally completed the bank account application for the limited company too.


Kickstarter preview is ready!

The next step is to get some eyes on the Kickstarter page and get some feedback and finish off the website changes and make those live.

Finally, next weekend is Tabletop Gaming Live at Alexandra Palace in London. Paul and I will be there on Sunday (with FlickFleet and Zombology) and I’ll be repeating my hand-crafting seminar from 2-4pm. I’m hoping that with a bit longer I can answer more questions and make more of the game without having to rush the final bit. If you’re going, please come along and say hi!

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!

Monday, July 16

FlickFleet Status Report

Things have been pretty busy again this week, mostly FlickFleet focused, but also starting to build up some Zombology stock again (I ran out at the end of June).

Zombology and FlickFleet both taking shape

I’m hoping to get FlickFleet on Kickstarter in September, but to do that there’s a number things I need to get sorted first. Last week I finished off the FlickFleet preview copies and posted three of them to the US. I also made two upgrade kits that turn blind playtesting prototypes into preview copies. I’ll be getting an upgrade kit and the last two preview copies in the post on Tuesday. That’s the last FlickFleet crafting I have to do for a while.

The other things I need to do are to do the Kickstarter page and the video (which my mate Wilka is going to help with) and some company stuff.

Until now Eurydice Games has been a trading name for me. Legally the company is me as an individual. Paul, my FlickFleet co-designer and one of my main Reiver Games playtesters wants in, so he and I will be forming a limited company in the next few weeks.

From a marketing point of view I need to properly ‘launch’ FlickFleet on BGG, and in a few other places and then the last two things are to finish the box design and get some more info up on the website.

In other news, next week I'll be in Travelling Man in Manchester demoing (and selling!) Zombology. I'll be there from 6:30pm on Tuesday 24th July. If that's local to you come down meet me!

Seven weeks to go! I’d better crack on...

Monday, July 9

The Scale of Retail

In these days of wall-to-wall Kickstarters it’s easy to forget how critical retail (both online and through FLGSs) is to the success of a game.

Back when I ran Reiver Games I started off with small hand-crafted runs (like I’m doing once again with Eurydice Games). When my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis led to a life insurance payout I decided I wanted to be a ‘professional’ publisher selling through shops and distributors. I went from selling 100-300 copy print runs to 2,000-3,000 copy runs - which in fairness I didn’t sell out of and I ended up getting rid of a load to liquidators.

With large print runs comes economies of scale, which is just as well since selling through proper channels means more people take a cut: Shops want to buy at half retail plus tax (they have to fund staff, expensive retail locations, absorb the sales tax and want to make a profit), so distributors want to pay 40%. The ideal manufacturing cost is hence 20% of retail (so a game that retails for £50 should cost you £10 to make).

With small print runs you can’t afford to sell to distributors and even selling to retail is a stretch so my whole business plan this time round was based on selling through my website and at clubs and conventions.

As feared, it’s difficult to get people’s attention in the age of Kickstarter and sales have been slower than I would have liked via my website. Sales face-to-face have been pretty good, but I don’t have a lot of time to go to conventions since weekends are my family time and I don’t want to be skipping loads of them to attend conventions. I’ve tried to make it to clubs when I can (sales have been great at Newcastle Gamers) and where possible I’ve tried to include a trip to a local club during my work trips.

But sales are slow.

A couple of months ago I popped into my FLGS, Travelling Man, and spoke to the staff about my game. They have a small press section that is full of hand-drawn comics that are printed at home and thought Zombology would be a good fit for it. By pricing the game at £13 we found a price where it was cheaper than buying it from my website including UK shipping and my cut after they had taken theirs was not too low. They took them on Sale or Return, so I only invoice them for copies sold - so there’s no risk for them of unsold stock and hence lost investment.

Zombology in retail!

In the first month they sold two of their three copies and in the second another two (I’d restocked them back up to three). Last month I met them at the UK Games Expo (I knew several guys from the chain from my Reiver Game days) and their MD wanted to take another 12 copies - four each for the remaining three shops in the chain. That month across the four stores they sold five.

It helps that I’m the only game in the section and that the box design is strong (thanks to advice on BGG), but still this is off to a great start.

Over the last ten months I’ve sold 83 copies of Zombology. Nine of those (over 10%!) have been through retail in the last three months. Despite not wanting to go into retail this time round - it just goes to show that you need to be able to adapt your plans as you gain more data.

FlickFleet is another case in point of adaptability - I was adamant I didn’t want to use Kickstarter, but the only way FlickFleet will see the light of day at a reasonable price is through Kickstarter funding of the laser-cutter so that I can do the laser cutting myself.

What changes have you made to make your game a reality or more successful?

Monday, July 2

A Successful week in America

I spent most of last week in America for work, what little time I had in the UK was spent with my family and my parents who had come up for the weekend to help with the kids while I was away.

Monday I had an hour in Newcastle airport which I spent writing last week’s blog post and then an hour’s flight to Amsterdam where I was delayed for an hour and a half. I used my layover to work on the FlickFleet box illustration, starting with the smallest ship, trying to come up with a style that I though would scale up well to the larger ships. I do most of my game art as vector art (in InDesign and Illustrator) which is more forgiving as you can constantly tweak the vectors until you’re happy with them. Consequently I’m not very au fait with Photoshop - the pixel art part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud suite. As such I spent a large part of that time referring to Google or online tutorial videos to work out how to use the tools which are all subtly different from the other apps.

My flight was delayed and then my taxi to the office broke down, which meant that I missed the meetings I was supposed to attend on arrival, but to be honest that was a blessing as I’d been up since 10pm Sunday (US time) and been travelling for 16 hours, instead I could have a quick dinner and go straight to bed at 7pm!

I expected that, so I had booked a podcast interview with Jack Eddy of The Cardboard Herald for 2am on Tuesday (which felt like 7am to me and was 10pm for him in Alaska! We’d done the same thing on my previous trip in January and it was great to have a catch up chat covering a wide range of topics. Jack says the interview will be released in a couple of weeks, so keep an eye out for that.

When that finished at 3am I spent a few more hours on the box illustration before heading into the office. Tuesday and Wednesday were a customer meeting with dinner on Tuesday evening, but I had Wednesday evening off, so I had arranged to nip into Cambridge (just across the river from Boston, where I had lived in the winter of 2000-01). I managed to get a lift from the office into Boston with a colleague after work and on the way in we chatted and I explained I was going to a games club. When we arrived at her house she invited me in to wait for my Uber over to Cambridge and as I waited she introduced me to her husband - a gamer! We chatted about games and the club I was attending for a few minutes and then I got the Uber to Pandemonium Books in Cambridge. After a brief stroll round the store I ambled over to the games club and grabbed some dinner in a cafe next door.

The club was a spin off of Beantown Gamers, specifically comprised of people who like lighter games - what an awesome fit for Zombology (10 minutes) and FlickFleet (10-20 minutes). It was an unusually busy session with about 25 attendees so we quick split into multiple groups. We started with Crossfire a super quick social deduction game that was alright, and then since I’d posted a comment in the meetup page that I was there to demo games we played Zombology, which we had a full team of eight players for. After a couple of games we split up again but not before I’d sold a couple of the six games I’d brought with me.

A second group of six wanted to play, so we played again, this time four times, and I made a couple more sales. Then another shuffle and a final group of five, one of whom bought a copy. At that point someone wanted to play FlickFleet, but it was 10pm and I was shattered and faced a long ride back to my hotel, so I called it a night. Five sales in an evening - what a great outcome!

Thursday morning I did another early morning podcast, this time with Brian Schneider of Behind the Indies. Fortunately Brian and I were both in the same time zone, so we chatted at the much more reasonable time of 6am, which was good after a late night and continued jet lag. Brian’s podcast will apparently be available tonight!

When I reached the office I told the colleague who’d given me a lift that I’d survived the evening (we’d joked about meeting internet strangers and the associated risks!) and that I’d had a great evening and sold all but one copy. Which she promptly snapped up as a birthday gift for her husband! I went home empty-handed :-)

With the large Sale or Return stocking order I got from Travelling Man at the Expo and now this I only had 1.5 finished copies of Zombology in stock. I sold two via twitter on Friday evening, so Sunday night I had to finish the second one so I could post them both at lunchtime today. Saturday I rang round the Travelling Man stores to find out how many they'd sold so I could invoice them for the sales. They'd sold five (including two in a store that had only received their stock that week!). So June (which was looking rubbish for sales when I went to the US) ended up being my best month for sales since I finished fulfilling the pre-orders!


The Zombology stockpile is empty!

I'm now completely out of Zombology stock - so crafting is called for! I also need to finish the FlickFleet preview copies and get those in the post to give the reviewers as long as possible to form an opinion and review it ahead of our Kickstarter.

Monday, June 25

Meet Me in Cambridge, MA!

It's been a busy week, but a productive and slightly ill one. I finally heard back from my printer on Monday and was able to send him the files for the FlickFleet preview copies. I sent them on Tuesday (after a bit more work on them in my lunch breaks on Monday and Tuesday).

The art for the ship dashboards is potentially final (pending any negative feedback!) and the rules are mostly there apart from the illustration - which is the one from the box. The box still needs quite a lot of work - the illustration on the front is essentially a sketch at this point, there's no photo on the back and the players/age/time icons are all text at this point. At some point you need to just push the button though, and with my short-notice trip to the US this week I needed to get the art to the printers as soon as possible so that the previewers could get their hands on the game with plenty of time to review it ahead of the Kickstarter I've currently got planned for September. I've run the stuff I've done so far past The Wife, who has a good eye for these things, and my dad, who was an art teacher for 35 years) and they both think it looks good, so I'm reasonably happy at this point:


The first preview copy of FlickFleet

With the files out of the way I could join lunchtime games club in the office on Thursday (for the first time in months!) and then Thursday evening was Games Night - I played eight games on Thursday!

Friday evening I swung by the printers on my way home and collected the printed files. My plan was to spend Friday evening cutting out all the ship dashboards and wrapping a few of the preview copy boxes with their labels. Instead I felt a bit rough all the way home and then was sick while The Wife was getting the girls to bed. I went to be early myself having done nothing - not even cleaned up the house.

Saturday my parents were due to arrive in the afternoon and thanks to my laziness the night before the house was a tip. The Wife took the girls out for the morning and I (still feeling pretty rough) pootled round gently tidying up (pausing only to cut out the ship dashboards for and wrap the box of my personal FlickFleet copy - ready to take to America). My parents arrived in the evening and by that point I was starting to feel a bit less ill, though by 7:45pm I was so shattered I went to bed!

Sunday was a perfect day. I felt fine, and my parents and the four of us went to the beach for the day. It was glorious weather, hot but not too hot and sunny with a light breeze - we spent four or five hours on the beach, building sandcastles, playing in the (rather cold) sea, lounging around and eating ice cream. It was awesome.

Then I was up at 3am this morning (I'm writing this at 5am in an airport cafe!) for my trip to the US. I'll be in the US all week, getting home on Friday. The good thing about this is as a terrible traveller I'll be on UK time all week (until the day I come home of course), so I'll have the jet lag hours of 2-6am every day to work on the box illustration or the kickstarter. It should be a productive week!

While in the US I'm heading to Beantown Light Gamers evening at the Cambridge Center Foyer, 345 Main St, Cambridge, MA on Wednesday (27th) evening. I should be there no later than 7pm, so if you're Boston-based please come along and say hi - I'll be demoing Zombology (I'll also have a few copies for sale at $13 which saves $8 on international shipping) and FlickFleet - now's you chance to try it out ahead of the Kickstarter!

Monday, June 18

Kickstarter Rush

I'm hoping to bring FlickFleet to Kickstarter in September, which means I'm just over two months away from D-Day. Which means it's getting exciting at Eurydice HQ. At the moment I'm trying to get five copies of FlickFleet ready to post to previewers so I've got some reviews and quotes for the Kickstarter launch. I've got the greyboard (I've stolen some from Zombology for the moment) so I've made the box blanks this week. I've also received the wooden bits so I've bagged up all the bits ready to put in the games. I've received the acrylic and am ready to start the laser cutting, but my usual laser cutting guy is in Boston (where I'll be shortly) so I'm hoping my mate Wilka can do it instead - he's recently got one too.

All that remains is the printing. I've spent the last few lunch times working on the art. The ship dashboards were finished at the beginning of the week and I've been working on the rules (tidying up a couple of rules, streamlining some of the wording and starting to make it pretty). The last thing is the box. The box art has been started on my iPad, but I need to get it onto the box and also onto the front page of the rules. I'd like to make it more attractive, but I'm running out of time to do that as I'd like to give the reviewers a couple of months with the game so they get plenty of time to get a decent feel for the game. It takes a week or two for the games to get to the US (where several of the reviewers are based) so I need to get them out very soon. Ideally today.


You can see what I'm going for here, but there's lots left to do

The printers have been having some issues, so I've not got a quote yet, but even if I had I'd like to do a bit more work on the illustration. So the art is now urgent. This has been further complicated by a trip to Boston next week that appeared on the horizon last Wednesday. 10 days notice. So, I need to crack on.

As a result, today's blog post is short so that I can get a little more art done (I'm writing this on Sunday night).

Monday, June 11

Half-time, Change Ends

I turned 42 last week, and I recently read that the life expectancy for a male born in the UK in 1976 is 83, so half-time! Ok, so multiple sclerosis reduces my life-expectancy by a bit, but I’m reasonably healthy and my MS is still in remission, so we’ll go with 83.

Time for a mid-life crisis. I should be remortgaging the house to buy hair transplants and a bright red Ferrari. Arguably, starting a second board game publishing company two months after my second daughter was born and six years after my first one failed and cost me a load of (insurance) money is my mid-life crisis. Clearly, I’m not very good at mid-life crises.

Interestingly, it’s only in the last few months that I’ve come to some revelations about myself. Shame it’s taken me 42 years to work them out!

My memories of my childhood are very sketchy (possibly MS-related, possibly not), but one of the few things I do remember is writing computer games on the BBC Electron my dad borrowed from his school during the summer holidays. I was 10.

Although I’ve spent most of the intervening 32 years coding professional and/or as a hobby I do not consider coding a core part of my personality. I miss it, now that I no longer do it as part of my job, but games design fills the same hole for me.

I’ve recently started another company (technically I’ve been self-employed or part of a start-up five times) but I do not consider myself an entrepreneur. I’m too risk-averse and bad at marketing.

The two core parts of my personality that I can trace back to those earliest memories are gamer and maker. I’ve been a very keen (obsessive?) computer gamer, Magic player (on at least three separate occasions), role player, miniatures gamer and board gamer over the last 30 years.

I’ve made (bits of) computer games, miniature games scenery, DnD scenery, LARP costumes, painted minis, mobile apps, board game prototypes and over 500 high-quality hand-made board games for sale. Making things makes me happy, certainly happier than reading and watching TV.

Board game design is a happy blend of the two - I get to make prototypes and then play them and then make changes and play them again. I start companies to make those games, not to get rich or famous but, because I love making the games by hand and doing the graphic design - after I’ve done all that it seems a shame to leave the games in a cupboard unplayed.

Obviously I want to be a good husband to The Wife and a good parent to The Daughters too, but those are more recent things - I can’t trace them back through my childhood.

Now that I have this knowledge about myself, what can I do differently in the second half of my life to further boost my happiness and life satisfaction? That’s the next thing to consider...

Monday, June 4

Back in the UKGE

Yesterday I attended the UK Games Expo for the first time since 2009. I attended the first three UK Games Expos in 2007, '08 and '09 as an exhibitor with Reiver Games selling Border Reivers, It's Alive! (first and second editions) and finally Carpe Astra and Sumeria. I also exhibited at Spiel in Essen in 2008 & '09. Until yesterday I'd not been back to a large games convention, just attending Beer and Pretzels a few times with my friend Terry.

In the year I last attended there were 1,800 unique attendees and 2,500 total attendees (where one person came on several days). This year those figures were approximately 21,700 and 39,000 - a growth of 12-15 times over the last nine years and 30% up on last year (again!). It's now huge and feels very different to how it did back in the day.

One of the reasons I've not attended for the last eight years is that I am not a target punter for this at all. I don't buy a lot of games - my collection hovers around 100 games, and each year I give a few away and buy a few more - usually things I've played several times and really enjoy. I am not a Cultist of the New, most of my games collection is 5+ years old and has been played tens (or even hundreds!) of times. So a big trade show where you can buy the latest games is not pitched at me at all.

I ended up just going for the day on Sunday, adding another 400 miles of driving (Newcastle to York on Saturday night to stay the night with my FlickFleet co-designer and long-time playtester and friend Paul) and then York to Birmingham and Birmingham back to York with Paul a brief snack and toilet stop at Paul's and then back to Newcastle. This was on top of a week that I'd driven 750 miles with the whole family (including notably a five year old and a one year old). It was a lot of driving. But totally worth it!

I've mentioned already that I don't buy many games, but I did buy three:

My UK Games Expo 2018 HaulMy UK Games Expo 2018 Haul

I've been looking for Santorini for a while (I think it was out of print at Christmas), so when I saw it on the Games Lore stand I snapped it up (after a brief chat with Paul, the boss who I know of old) despite the fact I've never played it. I also bought the Crime and Punishment expansion for Firefly (more stories and misbehaving cards!) and Fuji Flush (which Paul brought up last time he visited and we played a lot). Total spend just under £50.

The main thing I got from the Expo was a chance to catch up with old friends: Games Lore, Surprised Stare Games, Ragnar Brothers, Steve and Nabil from Travelling Man (who picked up another 12 copies of Zombology on Sale or Return for the other three stores - the Newcastle store has already sold four copies). Plus Brett Gilbert (designer of Elysium, Professor Evil and the Citadel of Time, and a bunch of other cool games). I also ran into the aforementioned Terry and our mutual friend Graham, who I'd not seen for quite a while (I missed Beer and Pretzels this and last year).

I also got to meet numerous internet friends for the first time: Matt Dunstan and Rob Harper from Playtest UK, Robin Bates from Coaching for Geeks, Heinze & Rachel from Semi-Coop and Chisel. It's nice to meet people for real!

The morning was spent wandering round chatting to people carting round a very heavy bag containing everything I needed for my seminar and some stock in case anyone wanted some afterwards. I was very happy to put it down before my seminar, and as soon as it was over I ran it back to the car, just taking a few copies of Zombology just in case (as it turns out it was too few, I had to go back to the car to get more for Travelling Man!).

In the middle of the day I had my Made by Hand seminar where I had intended to live craft a copy of Zombology. It takes me 42 minutes when I'm focussing on it, which I thought was doable in an hour, but then I found out I only had 50 minutes. So instead I offered the audience (only eight people, including Terry and Paul) the choice of that or more talk and definitely not finishing it. They chose the latter. As it turns out that was very wise. I wittered on and ended up with the box half-finished with only ten minutes left! I quickly did a bit about the cards and then wrapped up with a rather lacklustre 'anyone want a copy' sales pitch. I sold one, and then got a twitter DM from someone apologising for missing it and asking to meet up to buy a copy, so two in total (plus the 12 to Travelling Man on Sale or Return, so I came home with 6 of the 12 I took). Sales were disappointing, but pretty good considering the small audience (lots of whom already owned it!). The seminar was well-received and several people were taking lots of notes, so I must have done something right! The biggest wrong was joking about 'are there any first-aiders in the audience?' and then cutting myself with my knife. Things to remember for next time: black jeans hide the bloodstains!

There were a few things that surprised me. Most notably the number of stands that were just demoing a game that was on (or coming soon to) Kickstarter. I hadn't considered attending without a decent pile of stock to sell - to just write off the several hundred pounds cost of attending (booth, travel, hotel, food, etc.) as a marketing expense when you could be selling games to cover the costs didn't even occur to me. There were also lots of stands that were selling non-games (gaming tables, dice, dice bags, soap, dice towers and box inserts, etc.). Finally, probably the weirdest thing of all was that in the seven hours I was there I didn't play any games. The reason why I prefer Beer and Pretzels as a punter is that there I spend the whole time gaming with chums (mostly Terry) and very little time wandering around/schmoozing.

As a punter, one day was definitely enough for me. Hopefully next year (assuming our Kickstarter is successful and I've fulfilled it ahead of the Expo) I'll be back for all three days as an exhibitor again!

Monday, May 28

A Day in the Life

I’m currently on holiday for a week, touring the UK, in car with a baby and a five year old. For reference, no we not ‘nearly there yet’. This blog post was written before we left and then scheduled to go live on Monday morning as usual. Hopefully it worked.

I thought people might be interested in a day in the life of a games designer, self publisher and parent in full time employment, so that the subject of this week’s blog.

My days usually start between 5 and 5:30 when The Baby finally ‘wakes up’. I say this in quotes because, like her sister before her, she’s a terrible sleeper and wakes hourly from about 11pm. I help out with a few of those, but The Wife bears the brunt of it, so come 5am it is definitely my turn. My day doesn’t start with meditation, a quick workout and then blitzing emails and a brainstorming session like most internet business gurus, instead it starts with 30-60 minutes of passing a series of soft toys to a baby who is far more conscious than I am while I stagger blearily into wakefulness.

At 6 the day begins as we shower, have a family breakfast and get the girls ready before I head off to work around 8. I walk to work (it’s just over 2.5 miles each way which I do at a breakneck pace as it’s my only exercise). The walks in and home are a great opportunity to think about the games I’m designing, graphic design and art ideas and company stuff in general.

Most days I spend my 30 minute lunch break on something games related: updating the website, graphic design, art or playtesting, or something similar.

I leave work between 5 and 5:30 most days and usually get home from work around six and get to spend 30-60 minutes with the girls before bedtimes begin. This sometimes includes a family dinner, but often The Wife and I will eat once they are down as the girls will have eaten earlier.

At seven, while The Wife gets The Baby to sleep, I get Daughter the First ready for bed and read her stories. Once The Baby is asleep she takes over and I head downstairs to clean up. The cleaning and dinner take until 8:30-9 most nights, then we have some free time!

Now as I’ve mentioned already, The Baby sleeps really badly, and The Wife takes the brunt of it, so I help out where I can in the night. If I go to bed at 10 I’ll get 7-7.5 hours of broken sleep. I’m one of those guys who needs eight hours, so I’m never really functioning on all cylinders. But ten pm is doable as long as I get one or two earlier nights a week (Games Night on Thursday usually means getting to bed after 11, which hurts).

So I get 1-1.5 hours a night for fun. I want to spend several of these with The Wife, Games Night takes up one most weeks, so I get 2-4.5 hours a week for Eurydice Games! A batch of six copies of Zombology takes 4.5 hours to make, so with a following wind I can make one batch a week (it’s been one a month for the last few months as I’ve been focussing on FlickFleet instead).

I’m looking forward to The Baby sleeping better, so I can extend my evenings later and get more done in fewer evenings so I can spend more time with The Wife too.

Hopefully we’ve less than a year to wait!

Monday, May 21

Hectic Couple of Weeks

It was Beer and Pretzels this weekend, a convention I’ve attended a lot over the last ten years, usually with my mate Terry, whose games group I was a member of when we lived down south (‘09-‘11). I missed it last year as The Baby was due within a week of it, and this year I’ve had to skip it again as it’s just before a crazy week.

Next weekend we drive to Oxford for a wedding, then Salisbury for a holiday with my whole family (16 of us!) then drive home just in time for me to drive to Birmingham for The UK Games Expo. I’ll only be at the Expo on Sunday for the day (where, shameless plug, I’ll be giving a seminar on hand-crafting games during which I’ll craft a copy of Zombology from scratch - Sunday, 1-2pm in the Piazza Small).

Last week and this week have been very busy as a result, but it’s been great to make some decent progress after months of sleep-deprived survival.

I’ve been trying to get 13 more copies of Zombology finished so I’ve got some stock for the Expo, so I’ve spent my evenings on that after the girls are asleep and I’ve cleaned up and eaten. At the same time I’ve spent my lunchbreaks at work on FlickFleet art. Last week it was the ship dashboards, which are nearly finished now, next up is making the rule book prettier and finishing a first rough cut of the box art.

Here’s a look at the latest dashboard style - any feedback? I’d love to know what you like and what you don’t!

Monday, May 14

How To: Craft a Tray and Lid Box

Last week on Google+ long time reader Derek asked for more details on how to make game boxes. So here's a detailed tutorial on how I made the boxes for Border Reivers, It's Alive 1st Edition and the two hand-crafted versions of Zombology I've done. It's quite long, but there's lots of pictures to break it up!

If you found this interesting and are planning on attending the UK Games Expo at the beginnging of June in Birmingham you can see me hand-craft a copy of Zombology from scratch in front of a live audience! My Made by Hand seminar is 1-2pm on Sunday 3rd June in the Piazza Small.

For this tutorial you'll need a good ruler with a steel cutting edge (ideally that lies flat with the cutting surface) and a clear scale for measuring, a self-healing cutting mat and a sharp knife (I use an Xacto-style knife with snap off blades).

So, let's get started. The first thing you'll need to do is choose a box size. For this I strongly recommend choosing a game you own and making your box that size. There's three good reasons for this:

  • You can empty that game's box and check the bits fit in ok


  • Games look cool on the shelf if they are all the same size - it's easier to store them and stores to stock them


  • If you want your game to go into manufacturing, using a standard box size saves you the cost of tooling new dies for the box blanks and labels, shipping crates, etc.



  • My personal philosophy is that the game box should be the smallest one that the components can comfortably fit in, but if you're hoping to go into retail your box needs to reflect your MSRP. Being the only £25 game on the small games shelf really hurt sales of Sumeria. Once you know your manufacturing cost, times that by five and go into a game store - how big are the boxes for games that cost that much?

    Once you've picked a box size, measure the width (W), height (H) and depth (D - the distance between the lid opening and the top of the lid) of the box lid. The dimensions of your box blank (BW and BH) are W+2*D by H+2*D. You need two rectangles of greyboard (chipboard I think in the US and Canada) that size. I usually use 750micron (0.75 millimetres thick) greyboard for a small box or light game and 1250micron (1.25 millimetres thick) for heavy or larger games.


    On that greyboard measure out two rectangles that are BW by BH. Then draw lines that are D in from every edge on one of them (this is your box lid). For the tray the lines need to be further in, for a 750micron thick box you can draw them D + 1mm in, for 1.25micron greyboard you'll need D + 2mm. Making the box blanks the same total size means that the tray is smaller, but taller than the lid - this means you have a small amount of tray showing when the lid is on, so it's easier to open the box.


    The next step is to cut the small squares out from each corner of the tray and lid blanks, and to score (gently scratch with a knife - not all the way through) the remaining bits of the lines you drew.


    Now turn the blanks over so the drawn and scored lines are underneath and fold the sides of the tray and lid up along the scored lines.


    The final step of making the blanks is to tape the box corners. I use Scotch Magic Tape for this as it has a nice matt surface that the label sticks to nicely.


    For a prototype I'll often stop there:


    But for a hand-crafted game you want this to look like a real game that's been professionally manufactured. So you need labels. In the old days I used to get these printed onto paper (and then professionally laminated for durability) and then glue them on by coating them in watered down PVA glue. This is an awful idea - don't do that! For a smaller game where high fidelity isn't critical you can print onto label paper (I think you can get it in up to A4/Letter size), but I've started using Vinyl labels (also professionally laminated) for Zombology which are awesome (if expensive). Your box art will need to be W+2*D+30mm by H+2*H+30mm so that there's 15mm of label on each side to wrap over the box into the inside. Do the box label art (and getting it all the right way up!) is enough content for another post, needless to say you'll have to get this right!


    My next step is to cut out the labels. You want the long edges to go from the corners of the box top/bottom straight out to the edge of the label (you can make them 2 or 3mm narrower at the label edge if you want - this makes the wrap slightly smoother on the inside, but it slows down cutting a bit as you can't do both cuts at the same time without moving the ruler). The shorter edges need to go from the corners of the box tray/lid 45° to the depth of the box, before going straight out to the label edge - see below:


    Once you've cut out the labels, take the box lid label and the box lid blank (be careful at this point - the box blank lid and tray look almost identical!). Remove the label backing and place it face down. Place the box blank on top, being very careful to line up all four corners of the box blank with the corners cut into the label. Press down firmly across the whole blank surface to get a good adhesion to the label.


    The next step is to do the shorter sides. Roll the blank onto one short side, pressing firmly along the blank to make sure it adheres well to the label. Now cut from just inside the corner of the box to the label edge (so the cut goes slightly towards the middle of label edge), and then again towards the corner of the label where the 45° cut turns towards the label edge. You want to err towards the 45° cut at this point, you don't want any label ending above the blank edge when you wrap the label over the corners.


    Now starting in the middle and working out towards the corners, pinch the label over the edge of the blank. Make sure the label sticks really well both on the inside and the outside of the box edge.


    You can now wrap the two diagonally cut pieces round the corners of the box - this strengthens the box corners and also ensures that none of the greyboard will be visible on the corners. Repeat the last four steps on the other short side.


    Next up are the long edges. Roll the box blank onto one of the long edges and press down firmly along the edge to ensure the label sticks well across the whole edge.


    Starting in the middle again and working out towards the corners, pinch the label over the edge of the blank. Make sure the label sticks really well both on the inside and the outside of the box edge. If you cut the long edge straight out to the label edge you might need to pay attention to pressing the label into the corners on the inside, which is less of a problem if you cut the label slightly in towards the middle. Repeat this process on the other long edge.


    Repeat this process on the box tray and Hey Presto! you have a professional looking tray and lid box!


    I hope this was helpful - let me know in the comments if you'd like any more details or another How To post on something else (e.g. box art layout).

    Monday, May 7

    Brief but Thankful

    I usually write my blog posts in my lunch break at work or, failing that, at the weekend. This week I’ve spent my lunch breaks finishing off my new website (any feedback appreciated!) and this weekend we’re going away to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! So needless to say I’ll not be spending a decent chunk of our holiday writing a long blog post!

    So this is a short one to say: in your quest to be successful at designing games (or whatever else it is that you want to achieve) make sure you have a support network. One or more people who love you and want you to be happy and succeed. They could be a partner, spouse, parent, child, sibling or best mate. Find them and treasure them - their support is priceless.

    And thank you to The Wife for being mine for the last 21 years!

    Monday, April 30

    All At Once

    April was going pretty slowly in terms of Zombology sales, I’d been focusing on FlickFleet again (and learning about Kickstarter! - Jamey Stegmaier’s book is great by the way), and although I’d made a batch of Zombology I’d not sold any at all. My sales targets are pretty low and I’d already missed last quarter’s by a little, so I wasn’t relishing the chance to slip back by another whole month. I popped into my local FLGS, Travelling Man and they have a small press shelf where people who hand-craft comics can sell their wares. They were willing to take on Zombology too. I chose a price - £12.99, similar to other similarly-sized games in the store, and it has the benefit that it’s cheaper for the customer than buying it from my website with UK shipping, but means that after the shop’s cut the take home for me is similar to a web sale after PayPal fees and shipping.


    Price of place on the Small Press shelf

    I gave them three copies on sale or return on Thursday and by Monday they’d already sold one! This was the start of a great week. I got another order on Tuesday while on the train to Manchester for work and then sold a couple to people I’d met through work on Friday and then another online order on Friday evening. Saturday one of my tweets went unexpectedly ‘viral’ (viral for me - it got a bunch of RTs from people I don’t know including John Kovalic, the artist of Munchkin) and I got a couple more orders - including my first Print and Play one!

    Saturday I also made it along to Newcastle Gamers for their International Tabletop Day session - I just joined for a couple of hours in the evening, but I got to play a few games of mine and Sentinels of the Multiverse for the first time (I wasn’t a fan - maybe we had an unusual set-up or draw, but it felt very mechanical).

    Finally, this morning when I checked with Travelling Man they'd sold another one too, so I delivered them another two and invoiced them for the two copies they've sold. I've ended April ahead of target!

    This week I’ve got Newcastle Playtest on Tuesday and then Games Night on Thursday before a weekend away to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary! Time flies!

    Monday, April 23

    Final Changes

    This week has been all about tweaking FlickFleet. There are now three blindplaytesting copies in three different countries. Three sets of people trying to learn the game from my rulebook and then provide feedback on the rulebook and the game. The first set of feedback has come in with some great suggestions for improving the rulebook and some comments about the game.

    The playtester found the game fundamentally fun and loved a few bits about it, but there were a couple of things he didn't enjoy. The biggest problem he has was that it is possible to get yourself into a situation where victory is impossible for one of the players. I'd seen this happen a few times - it's an asymmetric game, so the players often have different forces, and some of the ships need to be played in a particular way to be successful (e.g. carriers need to launch their fighters and bombers quickly as they are weak on their own) and the ramming rules were an attempt to dealt with this, but clearly for new players without my experience (or strategy advice) the problem was bigger than I realised.



    Clearly this situation is no fun at all for the loser and not much fun for the winner, so it was something that needed addressing. The playtester had even volunteered a couple of suggestions that he thought might fixed the problem - which was great.

    As a designer you will get a lot of suggestions about your game. Some will be great, some will be rubbish. Some will be great, but take your game in a direction you are unhappy with. One of the things you need to be good at is to take the suggestions (and where not spelled out work out the root issue) and then decide what to do with them. Are they a good idea? Do they take your game in a direction you are happy with? What's the problem the suggestion is trying to fix? Is there a better or different solution to that problem you should also consider? Is that problem just that the the game is not the suggester's type of game? Perhaps the suggester's perceived problem is not a problem in your eyes, or something you are happy to live with? As creator of the game, the editorial control lies with you until you sign it over to a publisher.

    As it turns out the problems spotted by the playtester were an issue and something I wanted to address. Paul (my co-designer) and I talked it over and we had an alternative solution that we've been trying out this week (and over the weekend while Paul was visiting with his family). It seems at first blush that our solution improves the game and largely addresses the problem. As a result of this feedback the game has improved, despite the fact we didn't go with the playtester's suggestion. Hopefully, he will find our solution addresses the problem as he experienced it too.

    Remember that playtesters suggestions are valid, and are shaped by their experience of your game. But the control lies with you. Are you happy to leave the problem they experience un-addressed? If not, is their suggestion the best resolution to the problem they experienced? It might be. Or it might not. You decide!

    Monday, April 16

    Lots Going On

    After last week's Kickstarter revelation I've had a week of many different tasks.

    Before I can Kickstart the game I need to get the rules finished, the ship dashboards done and do the box art. I've a rough cut of the ship dashboards already, and a first stab at the rules that are currently being blind playtested in three separate countries. The box is very much a rough sketch though.

    This week, during the hours of 5-6:30 I've taken The Baby downstairs a couple of times to give The Wife a bit more sleep. A couple of times The Baby has gone back to sleep so I've had an hour or so sat on the sofa in the dark with my iPad. I bought the Procreate drawing app and I've been having a play with that to flesh out the box art. One of its coolest features is that it automatically builds a time-lapse video of your work. It's so cool I've created an Instagram account to share it!

    Started sketching out a #FlickFleet box illustration

    A post shared by Jackson Pope (@jacksonpopeeg) on



    I'm not an artist by any stretch of the imagination (to the chagrin of my father who was an art teacher for nearly 35 years), but one of the ways I'll keep costs down on the hand-made run of FlickFleet is by doing the art myself (possible stretch goal if it's wildly successful: professional art! By an actual artist!). Using an app like Procreate that lets me tweak things as I go is definitely my best chance of coming up with something acceptable. I've invested in an Apple Pencil to allow me to do the finer work (my large hands aren't designed for fingertip art on a tablet!). I've also taken to watching/listening to Procreate tutorials while washing up! Now that's multi-tasking!

    In addition to this early morning shift I've been using my lunch breaks at work to revisit my website. It was a pretty hurried effort last autumn while simultaneously trying to get Zombology off the ground and when I showed it to my friend Wilka he described it as 'retro', which clearly meant old-fashioned and a bit rubbish. I've not had much time to work on it recently, but I've been refreshing it a bit this last week. Hopefully there'll be a refresh coming in the next week or two.

    All in all, pretty busy!