Monday, September 21

Contract

Last week was rubbish. This one was better.

I've designed lots of games. Most of them are rubbish. Or broken. Or at best mediocre.

A few, I believe, have merit. I've invested my time, my effort and my money in self-publishing those. Self-publishing. It’s a bit of a vanity project isn’t it?

I've also signed and published other designers' games. Under contract. Games I felt were good enough to invest my time, effort and money in. Objectively. I didn’t have an emotional connection to them - these weren’t my babies.

US Army / Public Domain

I've never had a game published by someone else. Signed a contract with another publisher. Had someone decide my game was good enough for them to invest their time, effort and money in. Crossed that hurdle.

I'm not sure why that seems significant. But it does.

I've been publishing games since 2006. Six titles. Thousands of sales.

A few years ago a (non-industry) friend got a board game published. I was proud and happy for him.

And a tiny bit jealous.

This week I signed a contract. From a publisher. Might I cross that hurdle?

Monday, September 14

Nadir

I ran another board games publisher once. Reiver Games. It failed. Over weeks. And then months. And then fatally.

I spent those weeks and months a failure. Watching the bank loan repayments and warehousing bleeding my company dry. Unable to create the sales I needed to keep it alive. Each day despondent, trying ideas that didn't cost much, watching those ideas fail. The money seeping out week by week.

It hurt.


That's how last Wednesday felt too.

I love Kickstarter. Without it, FlickFleet wouldn't exist and Eurydice Games wouldn't be anywhere near as successful as it has been.

But I hate Kickstarter. The minute your campaign finishes, you're in debt. Way before you get the money, you owe hundreds (or thousands if you're lucky) of people. They've lent you their hard-earned cash. And you owe them. That weighs on me - I hate being in debt. What if I get hit by a bus? What if Paul's house burns down? 

Those debts weigh on me. I'm sure that's why we've fulfilled early until now. The weight of those debts pressing us to get the rewards out and the debts paid as fast as we can. I hate Kickstarter.  

Fulfilling early is unusual. We've done it twice. It has become part of our identity - the crazy guys who hand-craft games in their garage and fulfill early.

But a supplier let us down on Wednesday. The order was eight days late and when I finally got through to them, it was delayed until next month. We'd miss a deadline. 150 debts that we'd pay late. Not early.

It’s my fault really. I should have baked more slack into the project. I didn’t.

We've lost our identity. Now we're just crazy guys. Late like everyone else.

We told our backers Thursday, once we'd had a chance to explore some other options. They were very supportive. I love Kickstarter. The community it creates around your project. 

The ad went live on Wednesday too. It didn't lead to any sales either.

Monday, September 7

Serendipity

Sometimes you get lucky. 

Back in June I barely left the house because my MS made me vulnerable to COVID-19. Paul was laid up with it for three weeks. Our website was shut since we couldn’t ship anything. Oh, and the conventions we were hoping to sell our left-over stock at were all cancelled. 

Things looked bleak.

Then I saw a post on LinkedIn for advertising grants worth £3,000 for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

It took ten minutes to apply. I wrote them a sob story. All true of course.

And we won!

Our ad runs this week in the Metro newspaper in London and south-east England.

Never thought we'd do a print ad

I’ve no idea what to expect. It’s completely untargetted but they print over 400,000 copies. Four hundred. Thousand.

I’ve spent the week making some first edition stock in case we get some orders.


Monday, August 31

Getting Personal

Through all three of our Kickstarters we've offered standard and deluxe editions of whatever FlickFleet material we are crowdfunding. The games are small hand-made runs (I don't want to be sitting on thousands of games in stock that drains our account through the cost of warehousing), so how do we make the deluxe ones deluxe?

The contents are almost exactly the same - the deluxe game has an extra set of dice, and everything deluxe has a little shiny sticker on it. But that's hardly earth-shattering. 

The biggest difference is that the deluxe ships are all laser-etched as well as laser-cut. It allows us to add details and the names of the ships (which can be useful in bigger battles).


Plus it looks really cool!

The etching takes a lot of time and requires a lot more work from Paul (to ensure the ships with the right names make it into each box). So they cost more.

But we wanted to make them more special - really worth the extra cost. We number them (x/400) and write a little inscription on the inside of the box lid. And we both sign them. I've no idea if that's a selling point or if people appreciate it, but it makes them more unique. 

We also offer the chance to personalise it too. Have John* or The Smiths* inside the box lid. About a third of deluxe backers take us up on that. Usually with something like those above. But some people have fun with it and that makes me happy. Here are a few favourites from this campaign*:

The Imperium Triumphant!

To Bill And Ted, may all your battles be epic!

To the everlasting glory of Queen Jane and the Smith Star Empire

By Grabthar's hammer!

We also make them first and deliver them first too.

We must be doing something right. Over two-thirds of our backers in the last campaign wanted the deluxe version.

*Names changed to protect the innocent.


Monday, August 24

Fulfilment Begins...

I got nothing Eurydice Games-related done at all last week as we had five days camping in Scotland and then on our return we were getting ready for and then having my eldest daughter's birthday celebrations (with no party :-( ).

With my week off behind me, my focus is now on fulfilling our latest Kickstarter. The supplier orders are all in progress, the printing has arrived and been delivered to Paul, but we’re still waiting on acrylic and wooden bits. 

Paul’s been able to make a head start on the laser cutting regardless as we have plenty of acrylic earmarked for unfinished base games and expansions, so he’s been making the add-ons from that while he waits for the new order to arrive (though we have no black, so the legendary pilots haven’t been started yet). 

I’ll be making and sending the game-only rewards from my house, so I’ve 26 games to make over the next month or so. The first couple of rewards have already gone in the post :-). Meanwhile Paul is doing the rewards that include expansions and/or add-ons - He’s making great progress on the add-on cutting and already has all the games and expansions ready to go. 

The other thing that will be filling my time while Paul continues his Herculean cutting task is spreadsheets. I need to get all the orders from Kickstarter and Gamefound and combine them and get the shipping addresses into the right shape. I’m approaching halfway through that task with a good few hours still to go. After that it’ll be catching up on the books and invoices - fun!

Monday, August 17

Spend, Spend, Spend!

Last week was all about spending the money we got from the last Kickstarter. The printing was ordered, proofed and then collected and delivered to Paul on Friday. The acrylic for the ships has been ordered too, as have the wooden bits and baggies. We still need a couple of other orders placing: some more deluxe stickers and some more packaging materials, but the major things are now underway. 

A car’s load of FlickFleet printing!

I met Paul on Friday evening for half an hour’s socially distant chat and to hand over the printing in a motorway service station car park. It was great to see him in person for the first time in months and months. We got to catch up, but also to do some scheming about what projects to work on next and how to spend the money we raised during this most recent Kickstarter that we haven’t already spent or earmarked for posting the rewards. 

But this week I’m camping in Scotland again, so it will all have to wait for a few more days!

Monday, August 10

Production Begins!

With the pledge manager almost completed we’re now in a position where we’ve a pretty good idea of what we need to make to fulfill this latest Kickstarter. 

Last week I was getting quotes for the printing, the wooden bits and the acrylic. Two of those have now arrived and the printing has begun. The wooden bits order should be placed and paid for shortly. 

The outlier in all this is the acrylic. And there’s a risk there. Every shop on the planet seems to have put up acrylic till screens recently, so there’s a chance the acrylic supplier we use is either short on stock or swamped with orders. 

Hopefully we’ll find out shortly that neither of these are the case! In the meantime, I have a lot of orders to go through, invoices to create and games to make and Paul has an awful lot more laser-cutting and bagging to do when all the bits arrive.

Monday, August 3

Past Jack Says: Tough Week

I usually write my blog posts on the weekend or before work on a Monday. I’m currently in Scotland in a tent though, and have been since Friday, so this one was written last Thursday on a train. 

Last week ended up being very stressful. I did manage to get the P&P files finished and posted, but that was the least of our worries. We found out on Monday that our 11 year old car had probably been written off in the shunt that my wife received on the previous Friday. 

With the holiday looming we needed a replacement car pretty quickly (ours didn’t look badly damaged, but apparently the reinforcement beam behind the bumper had caved in). So I ended up taking a decent chunk of the week off work trying to rapidly find and buy a replacement car. 

Could have done without that. 

Anyway, as far as The Box of Flicks goes we’re still on track. I’ll be closing the pledge manager tonight when I get home (hopefully everyone will have placed their orders by then - at time of writing there’s still 33 outstanding. 

Once we know exactly what’s been ordered we can go ahead and order the acrylic, wooden bits and dashboards and get cracking on the production. The next target is all the deluxe rewards by the end of September and there’s rather a lot of them! At least all the games and expansions are done and it’s just the add-ons we need to do.

Monday, July 27

Print and Play Week

The print and play pledges from our recent Kickstarter are due this Friday. I’ve done the dashboards (corrections pending) and the rules (with a proof-reader). 

I’ve got three nights to lay out all the ships on the acrylic sheets, record exactly how many wooden bits they need and then write up the instructions and send them all out. I need to do it by Wednesday as I’ve got Games Night on Thursday hopefully and we’re going camping on Friday. I think it should be fine time-wise, but ask me again on Thursday! 

The good news is that almost all of this is stuff I need to do for the full print run too. 

In the meantime, Paul has been busy designing the etching layer for the ships and laying out the ships on the big sheets of acrylic we need to cut (multiple sets at a time). When I get back from camping the pledge manager will be closed so we will know how many copies of things we need to make and we’ll be able to place the orders for the bits we need. 

We’ve a few busy weeks ahead of us!

Monday, July 20

The Busy Time

With the Kickstarter all wrapped up we now enter the period when I’m very busy (Paul’s very busy period is pending the acrylic for the add-ons arriving).

I’m currently doing the pledge manager, dashboard graphic design, rules graphic design and the orders of bits and acrylic.

The graphic design is top of the list as we have to provide the Print and Play files (including the dashboards and rules) by the end of July. And I’m away at the very end of July, so I have to provide them by the 29th.

The first new dashboard design in progress...

We can’t place the orders until the pledge manager is finished (3rd of August), but I can be almost ready to go before then since the pledge manager is slowing down now and, unlike Kickstarter, we aren’t expecting a last minute rush of orders.

Then it’ll be catch up on the books. We’ve had a lot of orders through the pledge manager, so there’s a decent backlog of work piling up there :-(


Monday, July 13

The Game Has Changed!

Our Kickstarter is now finished and raised a staggering £18,724. Ok, that’s nothing compared to the $10,000,000 Frosthaven raised, but for us it’s a game changer. 

I started Eurydice Games in Sept 2017 with £1,000 of our family savings. I promptly spent almost all of that on the materials to make 200 copies of Zombology by hand. 

Paul joined in August 2018 and we ran a Kickstarter which raised £12,127, which we promptly spent on a laser cutter and the raw materials for 400 copies of FlickFleet. The few thousand pounds left over only just covered the cost of shipping the rewards. 

Before running our second Kickstarter in late 2019 I had to lend the company another £500 to cover advertising the campaign (which raised £13,164). Again that money was ploughed into materials for another 400 copies of FlickFleet and 400 expansions. After the campaign was fulfilled we had a few hundred pounds left. 

This campaign was supposed to be a little thing, hence the crazy low target, little preparation and lack of planned advertising (when we saw it take off we did run some Facebook ads). It did way better than we expected. Way better. We ended up selling 112 games and 76 expansions through the campaign. Those are things we have already made and are currently sat in their boxes behind Paul’s sofa. We’ve already paid for them. 
Ready to go to a loving home!

We also had backers for 160 all add-ons pledges, which we need to buy materials for and obviously there’s a load of shipping to pay for too, but once the campaign is fulfilled we will have cash in the bank for the first time. Thousands of pounds of it. 

Until now we’ve been doing almost everything ourselves - because we couldn’t afford to do otherwise. I’ve done the books, the website, social media, marketing, advertising, run the Kickstarters, pledge manager and the graphic design/product development. Paul has spent countless (more than me!) hours cranking out games in his garage. 

We now have options. Is it worth paying a professional to do some of those things? They would certainly do a better job than me at many of them. Paul and I are making a shopping list to prioritise! :-)

As an aside, those of you who have been reading this blog for the last 14 years will know Eurydice Games is not my first publishing company. Reiver Games ran from 2006-2011 and for a couple of years I tried to do it professionally. My games were made in factories and were sold through 21 distributors on three different continents. 

Assuming we fulfill the latest Kickstarter fairly quickly, then Eurydice Games will have a higher turnover this year than Reiver Games ever managed!

Monday, July 6

Best Kickstarter EVAR!

This campaign has been amazing - it’s done so much better than we could possibly have hoped for. It’s now our best Kickstarter by over £1,500 (that’s more than 10%!) despite our very humble expectations for it. 

There’s still just over a day left to run and one last stretch goal that’s definitely in reach now, so it’s not quite done yet.

We still can’t believe how well it’s gone - the challenge now will be what can we learn from this one to replicate for next time...

Monday, June 29

Well, That Blew Up.

As I mentioned last week, this week we launched our mini-Kickstarter on Tuesday. It's for a few new ships for our FlickFleet fans and we hoped it would bring in a few more new backers through the magic of the Kickstarter machine.

We set a crazy-low target (we're just buying the bits for a pretty small run of a few ships, so we didn't need much), but even with that we were running the numbers of backers we would need in our head trying to work out if we would be successful. We'd look pretty stupid setting a £500 target and falling to reach it.

We needn't have worried. We funded in 15 minutes. Within 48 hours we'd blasted through all the Stretch Goals most of which we considered a real stretch.

As I wrote this post last night we were almost 1,400% funded and inches away from a sixth Stretch Goal that we had hastily added on later, and still not even halfway through the short campaign:

 That was totally unexpected!

We did several things that are strong advised against on this campaign: no video, no additional reviewers, no advertising, so it could have easily fallen flat. But it hasn't and we're delighted, surprised and delighted.

Considering how well it's doing, we have now started doing some Facebook advertising as well, and that's been surprisingly successful too.

Wonders never cease!

Monday, June 22

Mini-Kickstarter Coming Tomorrow

That assumes a few things (including Kickstarter’s review) go well, but all being well it’ll be live by the end of Tuesday. 


This mini-Kickstarter is for some new versions of existing ships (with new names plus a dreadnought and mine-layer for The Uprising). If you’re new to FlickFleet you’ll also be able to get a copy of the base game (the expansion will also be available in the pledge manager). 

It’s low key - no video, 14 day campaign, no new reviews or advertising - it’s mostly aimed at our fans who are asking for more stuff. There’s potentially 14 add-ons up for grabs though, which come with one or more ships, the dashboards and wooden pieces necessary. 

It’ll be interesting to see how well we do without any advertising and no video...

Monday, June 15

Kickstarter and Licensing

This week has mostly been about preparing for our mini Kickstarter. The finances on this one need to be carefully thought out as we usually discount shipping in the Kickstarter, but we’re making tiny rewards (individual ships in some cases) so the margin will be very tight - especially once Kickstarter and Stripe have taken their cut. It’ll be very interesting to see how this one goes. We’re not putting much effort in (no advertising, no video) and it’s mostly aimed at backers of our first two campaigns. We’re hoping we’ll pick up a few backers for the game too though and they will be able to get the expansion in the Pledge Manager, so who knows what will happen. The other interesting thing that happened this week is that we potentially have another publisher interested in localising FlickFleet. Very early days at this point, but if it does happen that’ll be a first for me - neither Reiver Games or Eurydice Games have managed that until now.

Monday, June 8

Changing Tack

I've been trying to get coalescence ready to submit for the Board Game Workshop competition (which was due to close last Friday, but now closes next Friday). The stumbling block has been finding time to record a video (which needs to be done after the kids go to sleep) and then to edit it as well.

Last week I had a crazy idea of doing a micro-Kickstarter for some exclusive FlickFleet content (extra ships with new names and possibly even a new ship type or two). I say micro-Kickstarter as I’m not intending to do a video, or to commission new reviews - so all that’s required is pricing up the new content and doing a basic Kickstarter page.

The goal of this would be two-fold: make some more ships for fans of the game, who would really like them and to use Kickstarter as a marketing platform to help us the sell off the leftover stock from the last Kickstarter that we can’t take to conventions and sell through that route.

This week I’ve decided that I’m best off focussing my very limited lockdown free time on the Kickstarter rather than the competition, so I’ve been working on that a bit in my evenings. We are lucky that we have a lot of the assets already in place, plus a load of great reviews so there isn’t a huge amount to do.

We’re hoping to run a short (7-14 day) campaign before the end of this month, so if you are interested in (more) FlickFleet, or you know someone who might be, please keep your eyes peeled or subscribe to our quarterly email newsletter to ensure you don’t miss out.

Monday, June 1

A Crazy Idea!

This week I've had a crazy idea: run a very small Kickstarter for extra FlickFleet ships. 

The motivation is that we had hoped to attend a convention or two to help us sell through our FlickFleet stock but all the conventions are cancelled, so we need some other way to bring FlickFleet to people's attention. 

 At this point (and I've only spoken to Paul very briefly about this!) I'm considering a small Kickstarter (KS Lite!) with a tiny goal and no advertising/video/little effort. The rewards would probably be a bunch of extra Kickstarter exclusive ships (FlickFleet: A Box of Space Fights? FlickFleet: Box of Tricks? FlickFleet: Box of Flicks?) that you would be able to pick and choose from and a pledge level for people who haven't got the game to get it. Control of exactly what you're after would be done through a pledge manager. 

What do you think? Crazy idea? Great idea? Let me know here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/J5GWDLT

Monday, May 25

A Blast from the Past!

Last week was a strange one. I went through all the books to double check everything and spotted a couple of people who were missing rewards, so Paul will be sending those tomorrow. He’s also started cutting more ships so he has stock for when I re-open the website in the next couple of days. 

I think I’ve also found the last Kickstarter backer - who hasn’t yet provided a shipping address. But despite a conversation on Twitter I’ve still not got an address to post his rewards to. 

The weirdest thing about this week was being contacted out of the blue by a publisher potentially interested in reprinting one of my old games. He’s had some ideas to improve it as well. Very early days, so it might well lead to nothing, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

This week I also need to update the website to make the games available for sale again now Paul and I have a solution for the deluxes (we both sign the boxes for the deluxes, but with the lockdown I can’t get down to his house to sign them, so I’m sending him some signed labels instead). 

I signed 350 labels for deluxe games and expansions!

There’s two other things to do too: I’m a judge in the Board Game Design Lab competition, so I have 10 games to judge this week and I’m hoping to submit Coalescence to the Board Game Workshop’s competition. 

It’s going to be pretty hectic!

Monday, May 18

A Good Week!

Things are finally on the up! Paul is now well enough to return to work and on Friday posted all but two of the remaining rewards for the Kickstarter (the last two will hopefully go this week).

With Paul able to post games again, I’ve spent the weekend working on the website, preparing to opening it up again and make the expansion available for sale.

A deluxe expansion photo for the website

We now need to work out how to sell the remaining stock left over from the Kickstarter now that our plan of attending the UK Games Expo has been stopped by COVID-19.

Paul and I also had an online games design meeting when we discussed the next FlickFleet Kickstarter, Coalescence and TU:S. Feels like things are moving again!

Monday, May 11

On The Up!

Things are starting to look up. Paul is recovering from suspected COVID-19, so much so that he's parcelled up all the Kickstarter rewards now for taking to the Post Office, so Kickstarter fulfillment is getting closer.

I've also managed to find some time for both making FlickFleet first edition copies (we've still got a few of those to sell) and playtesting Coalescence with Daughter the First. I'm also considering entering Coalescence in the Board Game Workshop's competition (deadline for submissions: 5th June) to force myself to make progress and get some feedback. Just thinking about entering has spurred me on a bit - I've written the rules down and started drafting a video script in my head. So it's working so far.

I entered FlickFleet in the Cardboard Edison competition in 2018, and although we didn't win (or get shortlisted) we got some really useful feedback and it spurred me on to get the rules written down and formatted, so well worth doing!

Monday, May 4

Ding! Ding! New Round

This week I've finally finished off the new deck of goal cards for my Coalescence prototype. It's taken me weeks and weeks due to a lack of free time during lockdown, but I've finally got it done.

All the previous versions of this game (or at least the ones with goal cards) featured goal cards hastily scribbled on scraps of paper torn from an A4 sheet. And only about 8 of those. This version has 25 cards (the number I traditionally fit on a sheet of A3 card) printed on thick card. I've got a wider range of goals and also several with two different flavours of the same goal, which might work, or might not.

I've also taken this opportunity to practise my graphic design skills:


Prettier than hand-scribbled text only!

The next step is to try them out and see if the new ideas work or not...

Monday, April 27

Moving Forward and a Flashback

After a worrying couple days last weekend when we heard that both Paul and his wife had suspected COVID-19, and then they went ominously silent, we’ve heard that his wife is back to working from home and Paul’s OK. He’s been wiped out for a couple of weeks now but he’s not been to hospital so it counts as ‘mild’. His condition is slowly improving.

My Coalescence prototype was also slowly improving last week, I've been working on digital goal cards (with new goals and more options), so I hope to be able to finish them off in the next couple of weeks (free time is still very limited) and then print and cut them. Daughter the First played a few games of it at the start of the lockdown and has been asking to play again.

We’ve also been using the weekends stuck at home to sort out some of the piles of stuff left over from our move last summer. The garage in particular is full of moving boxes destined for the loft that we wanted to sort and not just squirrel away. This weekend, while going through boxes I found one containing a lot of Reiver Games prototypes including the final Border Reivers one from 2004:


An 16-year old prototype!

There were also a couple of games I had in progress when I shut it down in 2011 and a Carpe Astra prototype too. A proper blast from the past!

Monday, April 20

COVID :-(

Just a brief one this week. I've had a reasonable week in Newcastle (including teaching my eldest daughter Century Golem Edition - a leaving present from my previous employer - and playing a game with The Wife for the first time in ages), but I heard from Paul on Saturday that he and his wife (a key worker) both have suspected COVID-19. They were mostly fatigued and at home with their teenage daughter looking after them.

I'm sure you all join with me in wishing them a swift recovery.

Stay safe everyone.

Monday, April 13

Moving Online

Due to the lockdown we’re unable to gather in the UK for at least a few more weeks (and because of my Multiple Sclerosis it’ll probably be at least another couple of months in my case). As I’m sure is true for most of you too, that means no Games Night at my house for a while.

Games Night is a weekly meeting of friends, almost all of whom have been colleagues at my old job (either during 2001-2005 or 2011-2020 or both). It’s been running from the moment I got a place to live up here - initially using a camping table and camping chairs while I camped inside a rental house waiting for The Wife to work out her notice period down south and move up to join me with all our stuff.

It’s not every week, with work travel, holidays, moving house and kids it’s been about 60% of the weeks over the last few years, but I love it every week it’s on and miss it every week it’s not.

And now there’s over three months without one. So it was one of the first things to set up in the brave new world of online gaming.

I’ve owned an iPad for a long time - I initially got it to play Pass and Play games with my mates from work when we travelled together, so I have a decent number of pass and play board games on it. So we’ve tried to use native apps as much as possible, with Google Hangouts for video chat.


My pass and play iPad games

Of course not all my friends have iPads so we’ve been trying to find games that work across iOS, Android and even Steam on the PC. Ones that have worked well are 7 Wonders, Race for the Galaxy, Carcassonne and Splendor. Tsuro was a real pain to set up friendships/games and we also tried Dominion.games in the browser last week and that worked pretty well too.

One thing I’ve totally failed to move online is my games design and playtesting. I’m trying to set up a weekly call with Paul though to help with that...

Monday, April 6

Isolation: Things to be Thankful For

We're now into week three of our isolation, and mine is likely to last around 13 weeks because of my Multiple Sclerosis which makes me high risk.

Lockdown is a pain, I miss the office and my friends there, I miss walking to work, I miss our weekly Games Night at my house and I miss the freedom of weekend trips and being able to pop out whenever I want.

But it's not all bad, and dwelling on the negatives isn't going to help my mental health during what is a stressful time unprecedented during my lifetime.

There's several good things that have eased the discomfort:

  • I'm getting to see a lot more of The Wife and my girls. I get an hour at lunchtime with them every day, plus what used to be my commute time. It's great to spend more time together as a family.
  • At this point we're all still well.
  • I've got into running again, which is great for my health (though I pulled a calf muscle last week, so I'm having some time off to recover).
  • The weather has been pretty good, so my morning runs haven't been awful and I've been able to take the girls into the garden in my lunch breaks.
  • We're getting a lot of jobs done around the house that have been put off for months since our move last summer.
  • We're cooking and baking more, so we're probably eating better.

I realise I'm pretty lucky on a bunch of those, but what about the lockdown has been an (unexpected) benefit for you?

Monday, March 30

Isolation

We’re now at the end of our two weeks of quarantine and can do our own shopping (the UK lockdown prevents us from leaving the house except for that and one exercise session by ourselves once a day).

Despite the fact that I’m saving 60-80 minutes a day on commuting I’ve actually got less time for Eurydice stuff as I’m taking longer lunch breaks to give The Wife a break from looking after the girls all day and the kids are going to bed later so we have less evening available.

I have managed to playtest Coalescence a few times with Daughter the First though and am looking forward to iterating the scoring cards when I get a chance.

I’ve also held my first online Games Night last week too, we used Google Hangouts for video chat and played a couple of games of 7 Wonders and one of Tsuro using the iPad/Android apps. 7 Wonders went pretty smoothly once we got used to the AI and the round timer, Tsuro was a massive pain to set up online games (can’t cancel accidental ones, the friend codes didn’t always work, difficult to work out what you need to do and in what order). Carcassonne has worked pretty well during the test the week before, but there are apparently three different versions (old iOS, old Android and new Asmodee) and we’re not sure if there’s any cross-connectivity between them. So it might only work when everyone has the same version.

We want to try Race for the Galaxy too as that’s a favourite, so hopefully we’ll have a few options for the next several weeks of distant gaming.

This week I'm mostly sending messages, it's time for our monthly Kickstarter update and also our first quarterly email newsletter of 2020!

Monday, March 23

Holding Pattern

A lot can change in a week. At the end of the day that my last post went live I found out that due to The Toddler’s (almost certainly not COVID but better safe than sorry) cough we were all housebound for two weeks and as someone with Multiple Sclerosis I count as a ‘vulnerable person’ who will probably be told to stay self-isolating for twelve weeks from this weekend. So possibly 13 weeks of largely staying indoors.

To combat this I’ve taken up early morning runs (allowed under the rules) instead of walking to work and started figuring out an online version of my weekly Games Night (three of us did a test on Friday of Google Hangouts for video chat and the Carcassonne iPad app, which worked pretty well once we’d got over the teething troubles).

But I can’t get to the Post Office at the moment and so I’ve taken down the Facebook ads we were running to drive FlickFleet sales, and Paul is still waiting for a new garage door, so Kickstarter rewards cutting is stalled too.

We’re the lucky ones though. Our day jobs are pretty secure and because we run Eurydice Games as a side hustle we have essentially zero overheads. Spare a thought (and a few pounds/dollars if you can afford it) for those Indy publishers that are relying on that for their income, their food and their rent/mortgage in these troubled times.

On the plus side, I've managed to fix my prototyping printer (it needed a new printhead) so I can start printing prototypes again and Daughter the First and I got a few games of Coalescence in on Saturday morning.


The new planets look amazing!

I've also got the first (of hopefully two) #CraftWednesday designs up on Redbubble.

You can get it on t-shirts, hoodies, phone cases, notebooks and mugs!

Stay safe everyone and we wish you well.

Monday, March 16

And So It Begins

We’re now approaching significant restrictions in the UK and obviously there are many places far worse than us that are already under lockdown or similar.

We’ve been trying to expedite some of the shipping to beat the lockdown, with some success, but I’m expecting many of the remaining rewards to fall foul of it.

Take it easy everyone, stay safe and look after each other.

Monday, March 9

Yay! Boo! Yay! Boo!

It’s been a mixed week.

Yay: Paul has sent all but 12 of the rewards due in April now, four of those are to friends that we will deliver by hand, one is still waiting on a shipping address and the other seven will go early next week.

He’s got everything he needs to start sending the first twenty-odd October rewards too.

Boo: Paul’s garage door is broken. He needs to open the door to run the extraction hose from the laser cutter outside while cutting, so until it’s fixed we can’t make any more games. It shouldn’t get in the way of the October deadline, but will delay the last few rewards at least a few weeks.

Yay: I went to my third consecutive Newcastle Playtest last week with Coalescence again. It’s getting better again - making solid progress. We also had some good ideas to improve it further. I’m really glad the Newcastle Playtest is running again. I didn’t make it along at all last year (work travel or hand-crafting FlickFleet always got in the way) and it eventually petered out. I restarted it in January and we’ve now had three good back-to-back sessions :-)

Coalescence taking shape (pun intended!)

Boo: I also took along the other game I’m working on which had had its first test with Paul a couple of weeks ago. I’ve totally broken it! Time to roll back a load of changes and try to approach it in a different direction.

Monday, March 2

Shipping Machine!

Just over a week ago I went down to Paul’s house to sign all the deluxe rewards so that Paul could start shipping them.

Last week Paul shipped the first 120(!) rewards, these are all ones due to arrive by the end of April and they should all arrive within a couple of weeks. We’ve only got another 100 rewards to send now, and several of those are just hand-deliveries to friends. The April rewards are all ready to go, they just need parcelling up and taking to the Post Office.

The rest still require laser cutting, but there’s fewer of them, they are faster to cut due to the lack of etching and they’re not due until October. Things are looking good for another early completion :-)

While Paul’s been doing that I’ve been trying to frantically keep up with the books (we don’t record a sale until it ships) and working on a couple of prototypes ahead of tomorrow’s #NewcastlePlaytest session.

It’s been a busy couple of weeks!

Monday, February 24

Ready to Ship!

I spent Friday evening and Saturday daytime with Paul in York. Now the boxes for the games and expansions in the second Kickstarter have arrived, I needed to get down to York to sign almost 300 of them that are the deluxe rewards (the deluxe ones are signed, numbered, inscribed and optionally personalised on the inside of the box lid).


These are the games we signed, we did nearly twice as many expansions!

We did that in batches of 25 to give my arm and hand a rest between batches and in between batches talked games, marketing, game design, what’s next for FlickFleet and tried out the two new prototypes I'd brought with me (Coalescence and an idea we had together last time I visited with my family that I finished on the train down!).

It was a great and very productive 24 hours and we’re now in a position where we can start shipping the bulk of the rewards - everything due by the end of April is ready to parcel up and post and the rest of the rewards just need the laser-cutting and bits bagging done. We’re still on track for finishing fulfilment early again :-)

Monday, February 17

Designer Diary: Coalescence

As I mentioned last week, I’ve started designing games again after a crazy year of construction last year.

The first of these is Coalescence - a game of solar system engineering.

The theme for this one came first (I think it’s unique too!) - you start with a solar system at the proto-planetary disc stage (an amorphous disc of gas and dust) and take it to a finished solar system with planets and moons.

I first tried this game out with Paul towards the end of last year. At that point I was thinking of an action selection game with hidden goals that partially overlapped so there could be one or many winners.

As is often the case, that first game didn’t go very well (way too short and it didn’t feel particularly interesting).

The next step (at the end of last year) was to turn it into a dexterity game where the board mirrored the gravity well of the solar system - a layered board where things naturally fell towards the centre of the board:


The first dexterity prototype

I took that to the first session of Newcastle Playtest in early January. The dexterity element brought an immediacy that had been missing and also an element of chaos, which suits the theme of trillions of pieces interacting through gravity as they spiral round the new born star.

There were however a number of things that needed attention: the board was made of layers of 5mm foam core stacked on top of each other - the resulting steps were so high it was pretty much impossible to flick away from the star. That version was the first to feature the hidden goals, but they were very binary - by halfway through the game you knew you had won or lost, which made the rest a bit pointless. And there was no story for why you were doing it.

A couple of weeks ago I took a new prototype along Newcastle Playtest:


The second dexterity prototype

This one was made from layers of card so the steps (5 instead of 2) were easier to cross. I’d swapped out the wooden cubes for the gems in Incan Gold which had a much more interesting shape and added a time limit to the game rather than playing until you ran out of rocks to flick. I made the board bigger and I also came up with a story hook:

Captain, there is a new solar system forming in Sector X/A9-4. I don’t need to tell you how tactical important that location is. We need that system to be perfect for us to colonise. Your mission is to go there with a stealth ship and a fleet of mass-driver drones and give things a nudge so it ends up how we want it. Like everyone else we’ve signed the galactic treaties that forbid this, so your presence and actions must go undetected - this is strictly on the quiet. Of course we expect everyone else to do the same, so expect inference too. Get this right and your career will be stellar.

The final change, suggested by one of the playtesters, was to have hidden scoring criteria instead of goals. So you would spend the whole game trying to get more points rather than you play until you met your win condition and then lose interest. It was much better all round.

Next up is to swap the six hastily scribbled hidden scoring cards for a wider selection and then work on balancing them properly.

Like the sound of this? Let me know in the comments or sign up to our newsletter to stay informed.

Monday, February 10

Designing Again

Last year I spent making FlickFleet copies. It was all-encompassing. We needed to make about 300 for the first Kickstarter’s rewards and each one was entirely hand-made. At the beginning of the year my half of the construction (making the boxes, cutting the dashboards and packing the contents in the box) took me about 25 minutes per game. 

I work full time and have two young kids so my chance to do this is in the evenings after the kids are asleep and we’ve tidied up for the day, so I started somewhere between 8:30 and 9pm. My youngest sleeps terribly so to survive I need to get to bed pretty early - ideally 10pm. As a result I ended up spending three nights a week making games for most of the year.

As a result of that and wanting to spend some time with The Wife after the kids were asleep, I did pretty much nothing last year except making games. In 2012 I set up a playtesting group with another designer. Last year I didn’t make it once (and he’s moved on too, so it petered out). We have a local games club that meets twice a month. I didn’t make it to that either. Nor did I do any real games design either. Even after Paul (who works 3 days a week and has an older kid) took a load of the manufacturing off my plate.

This time we’ve managed to reach the scale where we can get the dashboards cut for us and the boxes manufactured too (they’re finally turning up at Paul’s today!), so Paul is going to do all the construction (which is laser cutting the bits, bagging everything and then putting stuff in the boxes).

I’ll finish off the remaining stock from the first Kickstarter, do the books, website, marketing and admin stuff.

This frees up a lot of my time (especially good as I started a new job last week!) and as a result I’ve been in the mood for designing again. I’ve restarted the playtest group, started work on two designs and almost made it to Newcastle Gamers (the bi-monthly games club) this week, but was foiled by a truly terrible night’s sleep the preceding night.

I’ve got two ideas on the go at the moment: Coalescence: a dexterity game of solar system engineering and a multi-session game set in the FlickFleet universe that Paul and I came up with over breakfast on our recent trip to York.


I’ll be sharing more about these two games over the next few weeks.

Monday, February 3

Taking the Pledge

We didn't use a pledge manager (a separate system for managing fulfilment, late pledges and pledge upgrades after the Kickstarter closes, e.g. Backerkit or Gamefound) for our first Kickstarter and weren't intending to for our second. As the second Kickstarter came to an end and it was clear we weren't going to unlock all the stretch goals, people started asking if they could get the missed stretch goals as add-ons in a pledge manager. We asked backers if they wanted a pledge manager and nearly 70% of respondents said yes. So we found ourselves at the end of the campaign quickly fishing around for a pledge manager we were not intending to use.

We were not expecting to generate much income through this, so ones like Backerkit that charge a flat fee were a bit off-putting. In the end we found Gamefound which is free to both backers and creators (I've no idea how they fund themselves!). So we went with that.

At the end of the Kickstarter we raised £13,162 which, after dropped pledges, fell to £12,879. The pledge manager ran for about a month and allowed people who missed the Kickstarter to late pledge at Kickstarter prices, people who wanted to upgrade their pledges to do so and anyone to add some extra asteroids on to their order for only £3-4 with free shipping for a single copy.

We had no idea what to expect, but it end up raising an additional £1,688 (an additional 13.1%), of which £552 came from nine late pledges and £442 from add-ons (the asteroids). The remaining £694 came from people who had backed the Kickstarter adding extra copies of the game or expansion or upgrading from standard to deluxe copies. Which is pretty incredible and way beyond what we expected.


Gamefound dashboard for FlickFleet

For comparison on our first Kickstarter we just used the Kickstarter reward surveys and offered to take PayPal payment for anyone interested in an upgrade (we had seven upgrades and an additional deluxe and standard ordered for a total of £198 (an additional 1.6%). It's not a fair comparison as we didn't have an equivalent of the £3-4 add-on, but it's clear the pledge manager was a good thing from a sales point-of-view.

It was not all smooth sailing, however.

Before we get into this, the problems were exacerbated by my own mistake: I told backers (via a Kickstarter update) that the Pledge Manager was live for late pledges before I'd loaded in their rewards from Kickstarter. Some of them immediately leapt on to Gamefound and completed their Gamefound order before I'd uploaded their Kickstarter credits or the rewards for which they had pledged. Afraid this was the beginning of an avalanche of excited backers jumping on early, I quickly uploaded the credits only and cancelled the too-early orders.

So now people who know how to use Gamefound could re-select the rewards they got through Kickstarter and add on anything extra they wanted while only paying for the add-ons or upgrades. But quite a few people didn't realise they needed to add their original pledge to the order (due to my mistake), so we got several orders for just an add-on (and shipping on that), which later needed cancelling along with info to the backer on how to correct the (my!) mistake.

I've spent about 40 hours over the last couple of weeks building a fulfilment spreadsheet from three sources: PayPal (where we received the upgrade/add-on/late pledge money), Gamefound and Kickstarter. I've had to cross-reference them all to ensure we didn't miss anyone. I've had to deal with Kickstarter backers who haven't fulfilled the pledge manager (about 10%), all the erroneous pledges caused by my mistake and include the late pledges that weren't in Kickstarter. That has been just about doable, but clearly is not sustainable if our next Kickstarter is (a lot) more successful. Having to merge the two formats and then do a three way cross-check has been very painful and slow. And even after all the chasing, I'm still missing 6 shipping addresses (about 2%) and 57 (about 34%) lots of personalisation info. The Gamefound support was good (they have a guy in the UK), and things were definitely made worse by my mistakes, but I wonder how much effort would have been saved if I done things right in the first place.

Monday, January 27

A Meeting of Minds

Paul and I live about 100 miles apart, he lives in York (where we used to live) and me in Newcastle.

We meet up every couple of months or so for a nice family weekend together and some gaming and Eurydice scheming.

This weekend was one of those. We had a lovely time all hanging out together and Paul taught me three new games (Montana, Fabled Fruit and Century Golem Edition) all of which I really enjoyed. We also spent a decent chunk of time thinking about FlickFleet scenarios, the next FlickFleet release and we had an idea over Sunday breakfast for a new (very different!) game set in the FlickFleet universe that we spent all day Sunday fleshing out in between eating, reading stories to the kids and soft play.

Paul and I being apart is not usually a big problem for Eurydice (most of the stuff can be done via WhatsApp and meeting every couple of months), but we’re in one of the times when it does. The deluxe copies of FlickFleet and the expansion from our second Kickstarter need to be signed by both of us. Those boxes arrive at Paul’s this week (hopefully Thursday), so I can’t do my signatures before then. Paul has everything ready to put in the first 130 or so boxes but can’t post them until I’ve signed them.

So I’ve taken this Friday (my last day in my current job) off and I’ll be travelling down to his house on Thursday after work to spend Thursday evening and Friday frantically signing boxes! Once that’s done we can start fulfilling the Kickstarter at a decent pace.

I’m also hoping to knock up a first cut of our new idea to try out on Thursday evening once we get bored of box signing!


Paul's garage mid construction!

Tuesday, January 21

Almost Ready!

Things are starting to move now on the second Kickstarter fulfilment. Last week I made a couple of outstanding website orders and all the Alpha Wing pledges that hadn’t upgraded to a different level in the Pledge manager and I’ve been posting those in my lunch breaks.

I’ve also been catching up on the bookkeeping and trying to collate the Gamefound orders with the Kickstarter backers. Due to an error on my part we didn’t load Kickstarter backers chosen rewards into Gamefound so we have the late pledges and ~90% of people with a Gamefound order and then a bunch of people who haven’t completed the pledge manager so I’ve got to track them down in Kickstarter instead (and chase them for their shipping address). I’m trying to build a single spreadsheet that contains all the information to make fulfilment as straightforward as possible.

The manufacturing orders I whinged about last week are sorting themselves out - the missing acrylic (plus a couple more sheets I needed to order due to another mistake of mine :-( ) arrived on Friday and the missing wooden bits were restocked at our supplier last Friday too and are shipping today. The boxes are due to arrive on Monday 27th and then it's just a case of cutting the bits, bagging them and shipping them.

I was hoping to spend the last day of my current job (31st) going down to York to help Paul with the boxing of bits and to sign all the deluxe boxes, but he's travelling to a convention that day, so we'll need to do that another day instead.

Exciting times!

Monday, January 13

The Course of True Love...

You know where I’m going with this!

The orders for the FlickFleet fulfilment are not running smooth. Half of the wooden bits order have arrived, they are out of stock of the rest and will send it on when it arrives from their supplier. Annoyingly the bits they've run out of are the ones we’ve run out of too, so we can’t make any more full game sets until they get here.

The acrylic arrived last week. Or at least some of it did. Despite asking them to arrange delivery with Paul (he needed to be in at home to receive it), they didn’t - just emailing me an hour(!) before it was due to arrive at Paul’s. I quickly told him and he raced home from work and it arrived a couple of hours later. When it did arrive, three of the colours were missing. We got on the phone and they were very apologetic and said it would be delivered next morning. It was, but it was only then that Paul double checked and the previous day’s delivery was missing 8 grey sheets (of 155) and 88 red sheets out of 185 (nearly half!). Needless to say we’re chasing that at the moment. And the clear sheets are too small. Not a happy customer.

However, the boxes order is going ok. The proofs are arriving today and assuming they are fine they will be printed next week. Once we’ve got those we can start shipping the sets we’ve got made up.

Paul and I met up yesterday to swap bits. Last year he was cutting the 1st edition box labels and greyboard so I’ve taken all of that plus a decent number of bagged up games so that I can keep fulfilling website/retail orders using the 1st edition leftovers. I've collected the 2nd edition and expansion rules and dashboards from the printers in Newcastle, so I handed all of that over along with some shipping boxes.

This year Paul is taking on all of the construction and shipping in addition to the laser-cutting (thankfully it's a lot easier this year as the dashboards are pre-cut and the boxes made for us). I will continue to do the website, accounts, social media/marketing and graphic design.

Just to prove it's not all going badly, here's a look at some bits coming off the laser-cutter:


The fluorescent objective tokens

Monday, January 6

All Change

Happy New Year everyone! I hope all had a good winter break/Christmas.

Last week was both quiet and busy. We had four website orders, but I need to meet Paul and get some bits before I can fulfill all of them. I proofed and placed the order for the expansion printing (rules and dashboards) which I’ll collect on Friday and the box proofs are on the way.

There was a problem with the wooden bits order (only half of it arrived) but I hope that will be resolved soon. We’re almost at the point where we can start fulfilling the Kickstarter rewards...

In other news I restarted the Newcastle Playtest group which I co-founded but have been unable to attend for over a year due to FlickFleet crafting and work travel. That’s tomorrow! I’m really looking forward to it. Over the weekend I’ve been making a prototype for another space-themed dexterity game that I’ll be taking along to try out. It’s very early days on this one, so we’ll see how much work it needs. Probably loads.

In yet otherer news I handed in my notice at work last Thursday. I’m going to a new job, still in Newcastle city centre so I can still walk to work and it should include less travel, certainly in the short term, so that’s another bonus. It’s going to be a wrench, I’ve been with my present employer for 8.5 years and have worked there three times over the last 19 years. I’ve known a lot of my colleagues for 19 years and consider several of them my closest friends. Fortunately the new job is with a former sister company, so I’ve known a lot of them for 19 years too!