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!