Tuesday, October 30

Are You A Game Design Blogger?

I've noticed recently that my blogroll is heinously out of date, so if you blog about board game design, let me know the URL to your blog in the comments and I'll add you to the roll.

In other news, Greg Schloesser has reviewed It's Alive! on BoardGame News, it's mostly an explanation of the rules, but he seems pretty positive, which is nice. No sales from this as yet.

In still further news, I'm actually making games this evening! Now I'm back in the UK for a few weeks, I've got time to concentrate on making games again. I hope to get another three or four done this evening.

Monday, October 29

Artwork Ideas For Jorvik

It's been yet another busy weekend, with my parents visiting this time. While Dad was here we talked about Jorvik. I think he'd make an excellent artist for it, and would generate unusual art, a mixture of ink lines and limited watercolour wash, quite different to Carcassonne or similar. I'd given Dad a few brief ideas about how the game worked and the sort of artwork I was after, and he'd sketched a few ideas.

After the success of the It's Alive! artwork by my friend R H Aidley, I've decided that what I want for Reiver Games is for the games I publish to be distinctive when it comes to artwork. I'd like them to stand out, with unusual, high quality artwork.

They aren't quite right, but they are the sort of thing I was after. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, October 25

On The Move Again

This post is coming to you from the Castle Hotel in Windsor, opposite the Queen's house :-)

I've hardly been at home the last few weeks, and as a result my stock levels have dropped really low. Before coming out here I managed to get back up to seven finished copies in the flat, but at one point it dropped to zero! In such a situation (and especially with a lot of work travel on the horizon) I've not been putting much effort into publicity, which has had a knock-on effect with sales (as you would expect).

Sales have dropped to negligable levels (just two per week for the last couple of weeks), however, I'm going to be at home more for the next three weeks, so it's time to get back in gear. Yehuda got in contact with Scott Jon Siegel of Joystiq's board games column, and I sent him a copy last week for review. I'm hoping that will lead to a few sales, as it has an enormous readership, and being mostly focussed on computer games, the readership will probably not have a huge overlap with BoardGameGeek, where It's Alive! has already got a fair amount of coverage, thanks to Tom Vasel and Greg Schloesser among others.

In addition, I've been prepping for a potential second run. I should mention here that I think I've made a mistake regarding the second run. I've mentioned it a few times, here and on BGG and Boardgame News. My thinking was that I could create some publicity on a slow news day along the lines of 'This game is so good, it's going to be reprinted' which might encourage people to buy it. What I didn't think about were the risks involved in this course of action (can you tell who's been on project management courses for the last two weeks?). Thanks to the awful exchange rate between the US dollar and the pound, It's Alive! is fairly expensive for US customers, and the cost of airmail shipping just exacerbates the problem. Several Americans and Canadians have bought anyway (thanks guys & gals!), but the cost has put several (that I know about, and probably at least a few more) off buying. Then comes the news that you'll be able to cheaper, and potentially better production quality version fairly soon. There goes any incentive to buy the hand-made version. D'oh! An added downside is that if I can't sell the handmade version in a reasonable period of time, I'll be less inclined to spend the huge sum of money required for a professional run, as my confidence in sales covering those costs will decrease. Muppet. Still, at least I've learned from the experience.

In the background I've been investigating the professional run, if I do go down that route in the future I'll need to have several things in place to capitalise on the opportunitiees it provides. I've been investigating a few things to that end:

  • Speaking to manufacturers to investigate costs and get quotes.
  • Speaking to distributors in the US to investigate whether I'd be better off dealing with them or individual shops.
  • Speaking to UK shops to gauge interest and raise awareness.

My list of UK shops has grown dramatically for very little effort. I did a search on Google for 'Board Game Shops', and I considered only the first page of results and the sponsored links. Surprisingly the ones I've already met/spoken to: Games Lore and Eclectic Games (which already stock It's Alive!) plus Shire Games, Spirit Games and Travelling Man didn't feature in those results (so either their search engine optimisation is failing or my search term was bad). But it did throw up an additional ten potential stockists that I wasn't aware of: Board Game Company, Farscape Games, Green Knight Games, Game Stack, Legend Games, Lingards Games, Orcs Nest, Secret Game Shop, The Games Player and The Game Store. These all seem to stock strategy games (i.e. modern Euro- & Ameri-games). So I've contacted them all to gauge interest. Hopefully it'll generate some, but it was remarkably little effort if it was a waste of time.

Friday, October 19

Remember Me?

It's been an absent couple of weeks for me. Last week I was in the Lake District on holiday (it's beautiful, arguably the best scenery in England), and this week I spent the first half of the week on a course in Leeds. Leeds is close to home, so I didn't have to stay away, but I did have to get up at 6am Monday - Wednesday and I had to work Saturday, Sunday and Monday and Tuesday evening. Needless to say I'm knackered.

When I got back from my holiday I found out that Tom Vasel had reviewed It's Alive! while I was away, so I had a bunch of orders on my return. That got rid of the entirety of my constructed stock. Since then I've received a couple more orders that I've had to make in short order. What I need to do now is make some stock so I'm ready for my next orders. I'm off to my local games club tomorrow, and I'll want to take a few copies along to that in case anyone is interested. I also need to send one more review copy to Scott Jon Siegel of Joystiq tomorrow too.

In other news, another prototype turned up today while I was at work. I'll have to collect it from the Post Office tomorrow, on the way to the games club. So many games, so little time!

Thursday, October 11

DrillerAce Board Concepts

Here is the small travel version of the board that would not need to fold if I put the game in a 12" X 12" box. This would be printed in full color on a standard 2 or 3 mm thick board with black back.
Below is the newest version of the board. This would be the actual size of the board and the Driller Domes. The cards would be slightly larger. The board would be fabric in this case.
I obviously like the bright colors that I can print on a smaller board but then the game will need a box. With the fabric board the game is much more portable because I would sell it folded up in a fabric drawstring bag. I guess a future release (if the game is received well) could be in a box with much better artwork. I would love to hear everyones opinions regarding the the pros and cons of the different boards.

Tuesday, October 9

DrillerAce prototype pictures

Here are some pictures of the prototypes.

This isn't exactly what it's going to look like but it shows a bit of the development.

Monday, October 8

Deep Space DrillerAce

I've decided to move forward with my first officially "self published" game. Deep Space DrillerAce will be produced as a signed and numbered, limited edition game. The game is an abstract strategy game that has a retro tongue in cheek theme applied to it. It takes place in the near future. The world is in need of clean water and oil. During the game you play the owner of one of two Deep Space drilling companies. One is searching for oil and one is searching for water. You have both landed on the same planet that has an abundance of both water and oil. The inhabitants of this planet are very superstitous and if you can manage to build your wells in certain patterns (glyphs) they grant you the rights to drill extra wells. The player who drills the most wells on the planet when the surface is covered will be considered the "DrillerAce" . I'm still getting quotes on a couple of components but the game at this point in time will consist of: 1 21" X 21" silkscreened fabric board. - 63 glass Driller Domes - 40 Glyph cards - 1 rules sheet - 1 signed and numbered cetrificate - 1 Drawstring storage/travel bag.
I'll post pictures soon!

Monday, October 1

On The Move

I'm writing this in the departure lounge of Manchester Airport en route to Oslo for work. It's been a crazy few days, and it will continue. November is looking a little more reasonable though.

Yesterday evening on the train home from London I used the train's wifi network to check my email. That you can browse the web while on a train is pretty cool. I was impressed by that. Anyway, I had an email from Yehuda saying that Greg Schloesser and Tom Vasel had both played and liked It's Alive! Episode 106 of the The Dice Tower includes Tom's review. I tried to download the Dice Tower episode but it turns out that the train's wifi is too flaky to download an hour of audio without a smart download client, so I'll pick it up in the hotel in Oslo this evening.

Hopefully the positive review will drum up some more business, I'm halfway through the print run now, just another 140 or so copies to go.

In other news, I've nearly finished another prototype of Jorvik. This one tries something new - taking the idea Dave had to another level. I played it with The Wife on the train down to London, and it seemed to work pretty well (there was a risk it would be unplayable). The Wife found the plain white cards with a few pencil lines on them hard to differentiate though, so I've brought the prototype and some colouring pencils with me and I'll colour them in while I'm in Norway. I've also started discussions with my Dad about the artwork. I saw a painting of his in a half-finished state last time I visited, and I really liked the textures he'd put in it. I think that style of artwork would make Jorvik very visually interesting, so he's going to do some mock-ups for me in time for my parents visit in four weeks time.

Finally, I'm going to try Vassal for the first time. My mate Dave, who I try to play games with once a fortnight or so, has been deployed to Afghanistan. He thinks he'll be able to access the internet every now and again though, so we're going to try and play an offline game of Memoir '44 using Vassal. I need to brush up on the rules!