Thursday, November 22

It's been a while...

Sorry I haven't posted in some time, but have been busy, and well you know how things get sometime! But I thought I'd post a little update.

Firstly, Archaeology - The Card Game has basically sold out, I have a few copies left. I will be doing a second print run soon with a couple of very minor rules tweaks, just to clear up a couple of issues. The response has been good, lots of friends have passed it on to their friends etc, I think I have sold 10 or 15 copies to people who are passing it on to others they have played with. That is the most rewarding thing I think, knowing that people are actually wanting to get their own copy once they've had a play.

Secondly, I have a handful of games quite far into playtesting for my next release. All are again card-based games, although not all play like card games in the traditional sense. It is amazing what you can "use" cards for as the components in a game! More news on the next game soon I guess!

Anyway, catch you all later, Phil

Wednesday, November 21

It's Alive! Italian Rules Up

This evening after my course finished I posted the Italian rules for It's Alive! on my website.

One of my Italian customers offered to write them, and post them on La Tana dei Goblin which is apparently the premier board games site in Italy. I told him that was fine, but I'd like to post them on my website too. Which brings up some interesting questions:

  1. Did I make any errors converting the PDF to HTML?
  2. Has he made any spelling, grammatical or punctuation errors?
  3. Is it a fair translation?

Speaking no Italian, I've no idea about the answers to any of these questions. Google Language Tools can help a little with question three. The quality of the translaton back into English is pretty flaky, but it's good enough to understand that the content is basically the same.

How do I answer questions one and two though? The best I can think of for one is to get the original translator to check my format conversion, and two is to hope that I can find another Italian speaker willing to check. Without any budget to spend on this, I think these ideas are the best I can hope for.

Anyone speak Italian? I'd appreciate a second pair of eyes.

In other news, I've had an offer from one of last week's two Japanese customers to translate the rules into Japanese. That would be an even harder language to check! I'd also appreciate it if anyone else wants to translate the rules into their first language, all I ask is that you include the copyright notice, and let me post your translation (attributed to you with a link) on my website.

Tuesday, November 20

On The Road Again

This installment of Creation and Play is brought to you from my hotel room in Windsor, second (or possibly third, fourth or fifth) home of Her Majesty The Queen.

I'm trying to do some work on my website while I'm away. Today I updated the events section after visiting MidCon. The next stage is to post a translation of the rules of It's Alive! into Italian, done by Fabio Bernieri, one of my customers. I'm going to edit the rules section to allow you to switch between languages via little flag buttons. It'll probably take a day or two. But I've got tonight and tomorrow night to kill...

In other news, I've asked for a prototype of one of the two submissions I got last week, it sounds interesting, I need to play it to see how it works. For the moment it shall be known as Codename: Scythe.

Sunday, November 18

MidCon 2007 Report

Sunday I went to MidCon in Birmingham. I wasn't sure about the wisdom of attending, It's Alive! had been launched in Birmingham, so I was afraid that everyone there would already have seen it, and bought a copy if they wanted one. As a compromise, I only went for the day on Saturday, saving myself the cost of a hotel and more meals.

Friday hadn't finished until 1am, as I had to make myself a packed lunch (another way to reduce costs) as well as making games. The alarm went off at 6am, and as I had a fairly tight timetable to catch my train I leapt out of bed, had a shower, had breakfast and then set off to the station. I slept for most of the train journey, and arrived feeling at least partially awake. After a moment to orient myself, I set off and arrived at the convention at about 10am.

I had with me ten copies plus my demo copy of It's Alive!, two signs, a mailing list sign up sheet and some pens, my receipt book and a couple of prototypes (Jorvik and Escape). My plan was to demo and sell It's Alive! until 6pm, test some prototypes for an hour and then leave at seven for the 7:30pm train, which would get me home around 10pm.

On arrival there were no tables free, but while we were waiting (for half an hour) for the extra tables I got to meet Martin Wallace a legendary British game designer, who was there paytesting his latest prototype among other things. I finally got a table, but things didn't noticably improve until after lunch. Despite over 130 people at the convention I didn't get much action, and those who did play weren't buying. By lunchtime I was feeling fairly despondent. But the afternoon went better. I sold three copies (below my target of five), one to people who had played it at The Cast Are Dice with me, and I ended the evening with three games with a family who had bought at TCAD, and loved it, playing it regularly at home. Several people told me they enjoyed it after buying it at a previous convention. Talking of loads of people, there were lots of people there who either already owned a copy, or had played before. I recognised almost none of them! While feeling low at lunchtime, I wondered whether this was yet another symptom, but on reflection, it's probably just a natural response to having met so many people at conventions over the last year or two.

In the end I didn't have time to playtest my games, I just went to the toilets to take my medication (want to feel dirty? Try injecting yourself in hotel toilets!), and then headed off (getting lost in the process). All in all, slightly disappointing, but I'm beginning to think I'm reaching saturation point at conventions, and should concentrate on the internet, where I've reached a far smaller percentage of the market.

It was a great week of sales in the end, despite the slightly disappointing convention. I sold ten copies, which was my best week of sales for seven weeks (when I sold a bunch to a shop). That includes two copies to Japan. Excellent! Of course the Self Published and Gorgeous Geeklist on BoardGameGeek helped :-).

In other news, I was not receiving any emails over the weekend. I could fortunately check on PayPal for sales, but I was not getting the notification emails, nor anything from BGG or my tests. It was very annoying.

Thursday, November 15

I Must Pay More Attention

Three times over the last week I've spotted a mistake on my website. They've all been related to It's Alive! now being available. It's been available for over four months. Chump! I had references to It's Alive! not being ready yet, but available for pre-order on four separate pages, but when it became available I only changed the main one. The Wife spotted one mistake on the weekend and since then I've found three more. I need to be a lot more careful when making such a major change to the website to ensure it stays consistent throughout. I guess that explains why I've had several emails from people asking me if I had copies of It's Alive! ready/available.

In other news, I sold my first game to Japan today :-) I'd previously sold one to Singapore, but this was my first sale to Japan. I'm also seriously considering getting the rest of the It's Alive! boxes professionally made. When I released the game I was swamped with so many orders, and it was taking me an hour and a half to make the game. I got just under 150 boxes made for me and that enabled me to make a game in 40 minutes, at no increase in budget, since I was just spending money I had been refunded after my printers failed to laminate the artwork. The extra 80 boxes would increase the cost of the run, but not to the point where I would be selling at a loss, it would just eat away at my profits, but the boxes are better quality, and it might well be worth the cost to free up seventy hours of my limited free time.

Wednesday, November 14

Moon Melee

I just had my second game added to the database at MOON MELEE came about because someone posted an idea on BGG and I decided to run with it, develop some rules and make a prototype and play test it. It had to change quite a bit from his original concept but that's what always seems to happen after a prototype is built. I bounced ideas off Edward Balyka (the one who posted the original concept) and my daughter and I played and tweaked it for a few days. I ironed out the rules we all agreed on the final version and I made some nice components. It's just a simple abstract strategy game but I find it to be a lot of fun to play. Of course I had to slap a theme on it! No matter how simple a game is I still think it deserves a theme. Here's the blurb on BGG: In the not too distant future, war and fighting have been banned on the planet earth. All disputes are now resolved on the moon, through hand to hand combat. Each nation involved in a dispute chooses its 7 most powerful warriors to compete in a decisive battle. Moon Melee is an abstract strategy game in which players play cards to determine the movement of their warriors. The warriors are represented by dice and have a life force of 6. Players take turns moving and attacking their opponents. When a warrior is reduced to a zero life force they are removed from the game. The game takes place on a 7 X 7 square grid. The player with the most life force after 3 rounds is declared the winner. Hop on over and take a look see. I'm planning on submitting the rules, cards and board files for free download if people want to make their own version of the game.

Monday, November 12

Everyone Needs A Mascot

I had a good week last week, selling a bunch of copies, after a relatively dry spell. The weird thing was, it seems like it's my mate Carl's fault.

Between my business travel and his time off work, I've not seen much of him recently. I went over to chat to him and during the conversation he asked me how the games-selling business was going. "Slowly," I replied. "You should sell more games," he advised. I got a couple of sales shortly after that. I ran over to tell him. "You should sell more games," he said grinning. I sold a couple more. This was beginning to get freaky. I told him again, this time I was fairly incredulous. "You should sell more games."

That evening a couple of friends came round, and they both bought a copy. Carl it seems is my lucky mascot.

We were both in again today. I wandered over to say hi, and told him about his special powers. "You should sell more games." I've sold another two today.

Run your own company selling games? I'll hire him out for a modest fee...

Thursday, November 8

Not Quite As Many As Planned

I only managed to get eight games made last night in the end, instead of the twelve I had planned. Still, at least I managed to build up some stock. Tonight Paul's games night was cancelled so I figured I'd get the last four done, and be back to my old twelve a week rate. Especially with a convention to go to next weekend. I managed to get one done before I realised I'd forgotten to take my medicine. D'oh. So I promptly injected myself in the left arm. I think it went a little deep. It feels like I've been punched in the arm, hard. It's going to make doing another three games this evening tricky, as I use my left hand to hold the steel ruler in place while cutting against it. I'll see how it goes. I'm not very hopeful though.

In the meantime, I'm posting on BoardGameGeek where appropriate, to try and raise the profile of It's Alive! and Reiver Games. The good news is that It's Alive! has received a few more ratings, and after a few negative ones that caused its average to drop a bit it has received a few more positive ratings and climbed a bit higher. It's now got a couple of nines and more eights than sevens once again.

Wednesday, November 7

What A Difference A Couple Of Days Make

Only a few days ago I was disappointed that It's Alive! sales had slowed down. Having been away so much for work my stock had dwindled and with very little stock I didn't want to make too much noise, as I didn't want to end up with sales I couldn't satisfy due to lack of stock.

Now that I'm back at home more, I've built up my stock and started making some noise again. On the weekend I mentioned It's Alive! in a thread on BoardGameGeek, and another BGG member recommended it too (thanks, Philip!). That lead to a couple of sales. Then on Sunday I sent out a newsletter to my mailing list. I got a couple of orders from that too as Christmas presents. Finally, we had a couple of friends round last night, and they both wanted a copy too. I've sold as many games in the last two days as in the previous three weeks. The moral of this tale, is instead of worrying myself, I just need to do something about it.

It meant again that I was out of stock, but fortunately I was off work today, so I'm aiming to get back up to twelve in stock.

Sunday, November 4

Down In Bristol

We're down in Bristol this weekend visiting The Wife's family, but I've managed to get a little gaming in.

On the way down we stopped off at Dunk and Lucy's and saw Tim and Vicky too. Dunk and Tim are two of my oldest friends so it's always good to see them, but sadly it's fairly infrequent. We went out for dinner and then spent a couple of hours catching up. When the ladies went to bed, Dunk, Tim and I had a couple of fairly drunken games of Codename: Escape which I had brought along to show them and folks down in Bristol. We played a variant on the rules as submitted, which I'd played with Paul on Thursday. They both enjoyed the game and recommended it for publishing. I need to play it a lot more times though before I make a decision.

I popped over to my parents' house for dinner last night, and after dinner finally finished off the prototype of Jorvik I started a while ago. I've also coloured the cards quickly with meaty felt-tip markers, I don't care how tidy it looks, it just needs to make the prototype easier to play. Because I expect the distribution of cards to change I don't want to invest too much time in making the cards as I expect to have to make more and bin some of the ones I've already made.

In other news, It's Alive! has finally received a real panning on BoardGameGeek. Ted Alspach, creator of the Board 2 Pieces cartoon strip on Boardgame News, and designer of several games has given it 2.1 out of 10! I guess he really didn't like it.

Thursday, November 1

October Report

It's been a long time since I did my last monthly report, I've been too busy with It's Alive! and travel for work. Now that things have calmed down a bit I'm going to start up again.


I had the joint highest number of monthly plays since records began (admittedly only last August). Last time round it was because we'd been on holiday with a group of friends, this time because The Wife and I had a hankering for Magic: The Gathering again. I also got to Beyond Monopoly! once which led to the following playlist:

Plus the shrapnel: San Juan, No Thanks! and the Sherlock Holmes Card Game.

Sherlock Holmes and No Thanks! were new to me (I thought I'd played No Thanks! before, but I was thinking of 6 Nimmt). Of the two I prefered No Thanks!, but neither of them bowled me over.

It was really nice to play more games with The Wife, I love it when she's in the mood for games - she even bought San Juan :-).


This was a month of frantic travel for work, so I didn't have much time for making games, but I've made a few It's Alive!, talked Jorvik artwork with my dad and received yet another prototype (Codename: Escape).

It's Alive!

It's been a slow month for It's Alive! both in terms of production and sales. Now I've got a few weeks at home I'm going to step up production and build up a decent stock again, and I've a few ideas to boost sales over the next few weeks. There's a couple of conventions on the horizon that I'm considering...

Codename: Jorvik

Codename: Jorvik has been ticking along. I tried another idea (taking Dave's excellent idea to the next level), mainly for production/packaging purposes, but it seems to be working, and I need to finish the prototype so I can test it properly. Paul has offered to test it for me, he and his wife are big 2-player gamers, so they're the perfect target market.

Codename: Escape

Yet another prototype turned up during October. In fact, rather conveniently, it arrived at the Post Office (I wasn't in when they tried to deliver it) the day before my local games club met. I collected it from the Post Office and took it with me, and we got a game in at the club. I love the theme (and it certainly attracted plenty of attention), but I'll need to play it a few more times before I really get a feel for it.

In other news, I'm toying with the idea of going to a convention in Birmingham this month. Why only toying? It'll be fairly expensive, and I launched It's Alive! at a convention in Birmingham in July. I'm worried that everyone there who might be interested will have already seen/played/bought it.