Monday, September 30

Straight to Video

For our last Kickstarter we spent a decent chunk of the video pitching ourselves and our ability to deliver since we didn’t have any completed Kickstarter projects under our belts. This time round we’ve chosen to focus on the game instead, since a Kickstarter project that we completed early gives us a bit of a pedigree!

The video is the thing that has pushed the Kickstarter back from September to the 12th October - we were really struggling to find a date that we could all do. But we found some time yesterday afternoon that Wilka, Paul and I could do, so we spent a couple of hours recording it - we now have the footage and are just waiting on the editing and a couple of voice segments.

We’ve chosen to make the video focus on a round of the game showing off a few aspects of gameplay, and we’ve co-opted the help of a bunch of people to provide voices for characters on the ships - I’ve got most of those files now - just waiting on a couple more.

The hardest thing about the videoing was I had a very clear script of the action including what the dice results were, so it took a lot of takes to get the right numbers (I was also flicking with my left hand as my right would have blocked the camera’s view - so just hitting the target was challenge enough!

Still it’s all done now, and I got the last two copies of Zombology finished last night too! :-)

Monday, September 23


I started work in earnest on Zombology in November 2013 for NaGa DeMon, starting from an idea I’d had for a game for my employer to give away at trade shows. I worked hard on it for that month and then continued plugging away at it for a year and eventually decided to make 30 hand-crafted copies and sell them at cost for NaGa DeMon 2015. It took me 6 months to sell those, and then slowly over time I built up a short list of people who after playing we’re interested in getting their own copy.

Early Zombology card 'art'

In September 2017, six years after shutting down Reiver Games I started a second board games publishing company, Eurydice Games to make and sell a second print run - this time at a profit so I would have money to invest in other projects. My goal was to sell 200 copies within a year (I’d sold 100 copies of Border Reivers and then 300 copies of It’s Alive! within a year each at the beginning of Reiver Games). Conscious of the fact that Reiver Games went wrong due to trying to scale up from hobby hand-crafter to ‘professional’ publisher too soon, I was determined not to go into retail this time round.

Complete Zombology prototype
The 30 copy run

It’s taken two years to sell throughout Zombology, but this week the last few copies will go to our retail partner: Travelling Man. Remember how I said I didn’t want to go into retail? That didn’t last!

It’s just as well though. Travelling Man have bought 79 of the 200 copies and sold at least 57, 22 of which were through a single store. In the middle of restocking three of their stores with another 11 copies I told the small press coordinator that I only had nine left and they they took those too.

The final version

What with that and the 27 we sold through the first FlickFleet Kickstarter over half have gone through routes I didn’t expect to take - which shows how important being willing to change your mind is!

Zombology is now sold out. You can get the Print and Play files from our website, but we have no plans to reprint it, despite it selling well in the shops. It has a BGG average of 7.1 from 22 ratings, which is pretty good, but FlickFleet by comparison has an average of 8.4 from 28, which is my highest ranked game ever!

Monday, September 16

Yay! And Boo :-(

This weekend, in addition to successfully wrangling both kids unaided for 33 hours I finished the FlickFleet pre-orders and finished a couple more copies - FlickFleet is in stock! You can buy it from our website! Yay!

Of course, not everything runs smoothly, so we’ve had to push the Kickstarter back from the end of this month until mid-Oct because of the scheduling woes I mentioned last week. Boo :-(

The downside is it’s going to make things a bit tighter for finances and I’m going to end up sending a couple of quarterly newsletters within a month of each other which might annoy subscribers, but the good news is it gives me more time to get things in place for the Kickstarter which was looking very tight.

In other news, thanks to a couple more stocking orders from our only retail stockist, Zombology is almost sold out! They’ve sold at least 57 copies through their four stores and ordered a total of 73. Not bad sales for a game I’ve literally made by hand! Yay!

Monday, September 9

Scheduling Woes

We are hoping to return to Kickstarter in September for the FlickFleet expansion pack and reprint of the base game.

The Kickstarter page is mostly done (except for the video and the stretch goals) and everything else is in place.

The plan for the video has a brief bit of Paul and I talking at the beginning, like we did on the last one. But that requires me, Paul and my mate Wilka (our videographer) to all be in the same room at the same time and The Wife to be free to look after the kids (or to do it one evening after bedtime). Wilka is a force of nature with an impressive social life. Paul lives 100 miles away and is in France for two of the next four weekends and my parents are visiting at the end of the month for up to two weeks. Finding a single evening were we can all get together in Newcastle was proving tricky to say the least. Especially if we want to do it early enough to get the editing completed before the end of the month.

As a result we’ve changed our plans to replace the talking heads with some scrolling text, which means that Wilka and I can do it one evening after bedtime.

We also needed to meet up and swap stuff - I needed to get more bits from Paul to enable me to make the remaining pre-orders and then put FlickFleet live on the website and I needed to give him some Zombology copies for the two Travelling Man (our only retail stockist) stores nearest to his house - we met on Saturday in a motorway service station for a brief chat and prisoner exchange!

Monday, September 2

Kickstarter Stats - A Deep Dive

In November 2018 we launched the Kickstarter campaign for FlickFleet, a 2-player space combat dexterity game (think the love-child of X-Wing Miniatures and Flick 'Em Up).

We'd just formed a limited company taking the place of a previous sole trading company that I'd been running for a year to self-publish Zombology. We weren't really ready for Kickstarter, but we went for it and were successful (just) in funding. Last week we finished shipping the last reward tier four months early, so now we're in a position to take a look back at how it went. I'm hoping these stats will be useful for people hoping to bring a game to Kickstarter in the near future.

One big proviso first: ours was a slightly odd campaign (we hand-crafted the rewards and our stretch goals were for moving to professional manufacturing) and there's no guarantee your experience will be similar!

Our campaign ran from 8th November 2018 to 8th December 2018, funding with 4 hours to spare. We wanted to raise £12,000 to fund all the materials to make the rewards and buy a laser cutter to enable us to make the ships ourselves. 325 backers raised £12,127 of our goal (101% funded). Eighteen of those had payment failures, but by the end of the week-long grace period twelve had managed to pay successfully, so we can 319 backers and £11,891 (99% funded). One of the dropped backers later paid by PayPal, so it was slightly better than that.

Kickstarter say their fees are 8-10%, so we'd banked on getting £10,800 (90% of our target), but in our case the fees were £1,008 (8.4%), so we ended up with more than we'd bargained for, despite the dropped pledges (£10,883).

The biggest surprise of the campaign was the popularity of the deluxe version (the ships have their names and detailing etched onto their top surface) . We'd made 50 available expecting a few of our close friends to get some, with maybe 20 or 30 going in total. Those 50 sold out within 16 hours. When it became clear we weren't going to be on the hook for hand-crafting ~700 games in a year, we made another 50 available and, when those went, another 50. Including the deluxe pledges and extra copies and people who later paid for an upgrade via PayPal we sold 138 deluxes and 136 standards. That still blows my mind. We also received 27 Zombology orders too.

The pledge breakdown was:

No Reward35£1£1691.4%
Print & Play42£5£2512.1%
FF + Zombology20£37£9287.8%
2 copies8£54£6105.1%

21 generous souls over-pledged to help us cross the line - thank you so much!

I was also amazed by the number of backers we got from the US, especially considering the cost of international shipping:

The top five destinations were the UK (42%), the US (35%), Germany (4%), Canada (3%) and Australia (3%).

According to Kickstarter 46% of our pledges came from them. I think that's debatable, but what I do know is that 41 people from our tiny mailing list backed the project. I was told at TableTop Gaming Live in September last year by a well-known industry guy who has run several successful Kickstarters that our mailing list of 136 people was nowhere near big enough for us to be successful. My counter argument was that most of the people on it had signed up because they were interested in FlickFleet and I was expecting maybe 40 of them to back the project. 41 did! 15% of our total was from people on our mailing list before the project went live. That meant from the 136 people (including backers and non-backers) we had a 30% backer-rate and a £13.08 per subscriber average pledge. Clearly this will never be this high again - as our mailing list grows these figures will go down.

The second highest single source was twitter, where I'm very active. According to Kickstarter £1,495 of our total was directly attributable to twitter.

Finally our marketing spend was minuscule. We gave six prototypes to reviewers (and got five reviews). We spent £95 on marketing (£80 on flyers that we gave to a number of UK gaming/geek shops) and £15 on Facebook Ads. I've no idea whether the flyers worked, but the Facebook ad yielded at least one deluxe backer, and even it's only one, the ad made us money (after accounting for the Kickstarter fee, subsidised shipping, the cost of the game materials and the cost of the ad). Next time I think I would use them again and hopefully target them more effectively.

I hope this info has been useful (or at least interesting!), let me know in the comments if you have any questions.