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BoardGameGeek» Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming

Subject: The Challenges in publishing miniature wargames rss

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k k
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Hi everyone,

I am interested in making my own miniature wargame using specially designed miniatures along with story/fluff. The business model will be similar to Warhammer (Games Workshop) or Warmachine (Privateer Press). So far I am just cooking the idea in my mind, so I have not plan any specific rules set or genre. I would like to hear your thoughts about the feasibility of such endeavor.

Some of my other concerns are:

1 - With the coming 0f 3D printers, will the process of making miniatures become significantly cheaper in the future? And how cheap will it be in relation to the current prices.

2 - So far the miniature games that catches my attention are high budget games from bigger companies (Games Workshop, Privateer Press). However, does a medium budget or low budget option exists? Meaning similar products from smaller companies. Something equivalent to indie games in the digital game industry.

Needless to say, I am probably biting off more than I can chew. But lets see how the discussion goes.

 
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J J
Australia
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CCGer wrote:
Hi everyone,

I am interested in making my own miniature wargame using specially designed miniatures along with story/fluff. The business model will be similar to Warhammer (Games Workshop) or Warmachine (Privateer Press). So far I am just cooking the idea in my mind, so I have not plan any specific rules set or genre. I would like to hear your thoughts about the feasibility of such endeavor.

Some of my other concerns are:

1 - With the coming 0f 3D printers, will the process of making miniatures become significantly cheaper in the future? And how cheap will it be in relation to the current prices.


3d printed miniatures cannot at the moment compete with cast miniatures. The resolution of detail is grossly insufficient. This is possible to improve, though. It may already be possible with industrial-grade printers.

Supposing an equal quality of detail, 3d printed miniatures should be cheaper than metal or styrene miniatures, but cost will not be the main concern - paintability will. If the material used won't take paint (or won't take it well or easily) then miniature gamers won't touch your miniatures.

Bear in mind that designing your miniatures will still be quite costly (and is currently a specialist field).

Quote:
2 - So far the miniature games that catches my attention are high budget games from bigger companies (Games Workshop, Privateer Press). However, does a medium budget or low budget option exists? Meaning similar products from smaller companies. Something equivalent to indie games in the digital game industry.


There is no need for the miniatures to cost what GW and company charge, and, given that they produce rules as a means to sell miniatures, there's no need for those to cost so much either. But they can ask those prices, and people do pay those prices, so that's why you see what you see.

There are plenty of other, much cheaper options out there - yours could be one of them if you want.
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Joke Meister
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If you want more info about miniature wargames, I would actually recommend you post your query to some of the mini wargames specialist sites. Dakkadakka would be a good starting point.

As for medium and low budget options - there are actually a lot (well, relatively...) of companies in the medium and low budget space. These vary from Corvus Belli (whose game is focused on skirmish level so you don't need as many models hence a lower starting cost) through to Mantic (who produce almost board game like boxes with scenery and 2 starter teams so you have everything you need at a reasonable price) through to companies like Ganesha Games (who only produce the ruleset and let you use any mini you have so that people can using their existing minis or buy cheap minis such as Reaper Bones). And honestly, there are a lot more that I haven't mentioned yet!

The last point I would make (and I apologize in advance for being brutally honest here) is that if you aren't aware of the medium and low budget options - you are probably biting off more than you can chew at this stage. This isn't to say that you can't do it but I think you are going to need to do a lot more research on those games and what they are good at, before you decide on what niche your game should focus on. In this regard, I would again suggest you head to DakkaDakka as even just browsing their forums will give you lots of potential games that you can further explore.
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Thomas Diener
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Conroe
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CCGer wrote:
Meaning similar products from smaller companies. Something equivalent to indie games in the digital game industry.


There exist a very few examples of homegrown "boutique" miniature success stories.
The majority are sculptors who grew a miniatures line large enough to support a game
(I'm thinking Peter Ramos and Malifaux on the far side, and Alex Huntley and ArcWorlde on the dear side).
Another recent example would be Twisted: A Steampunk Miniatures Game, by [=Sebastion Archer][/] and his Guild of Harmony line.

On the other paw, there are a few rules-writers who design for existing miniatures, or 'universal' rules.
I'm thinking here of Ed Teixeira of Two Hour Wargames (THW Game Design) and
Richard Clarke and Nick Skinner of Too Fat Lardies fame.
A lot depends on your definition of success.

If you have a solid vision, and enough time and money:
it is certainly possible to make a mark in the industry.
The elephant in this room is Adam Poots and his wildly successful Kingdom Death: Monster.

My point is: Yes, smaller successful companies exist well outside the shadow of Games Workshop Ltd. or Privateer Press;
Take look (in reverse order!) at All the Miniatures Games in the World.
(Realistically? IMO You shouldn't consider GW or PP as guides to a realistic business model, like: at all!
(One is a publicly traded company with 40 years of history, and the other is the ({formerly} disgruntled {former} employees of the Former).

However:
Crowdfunding has really changed the dynamics of how things can be done.

All that being said: it is a very, very competitive market,
and you really need to have something truly unique to reach more than a dozen or so interested parties.
I would suggest hanging around the dedicated miniatures foruns such as
Lead Adventure Forum, the Miniatures page, and Frothers-UK.

Good Luck with your project!
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Pandora Caitiff
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Another challenge is apathy. Can't speak for anyone else, but if your game is built around any of the following, I won't even finish reading the press release:

Generic elves/dwarves/orcs
Space marines with large shoulder-pads and larger guns
Zombies, dudebros, and women dressed like strippers
Cthulhu-inspired beasties
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Thanee
Germany
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CCGer wrote:
1 - With the coming 0f 3D printers, will the process of making miniatures become significantly cheaper in the future? And how cheap will it be in relation to the current prices.


It will be cheaper, but the problem is that it will also produce low-quality miniatures, and miniature wargamers expect super-high quality most of the time.

Quote:
2 - So far the miniature games that catches my attention are high budget games from bigger companies (Games Workshop, Privateer Press). However, does a medium budget or low budget option exists? Meaning similar products from smaller companies. Something equivalent to indie games in the digital game industry.


Certainly. There are plenty miniature wargames out there from small-time publishers. Many of them are historic games. Most of them do not get very far.

Examples for pretty successful ones:

Saga
Freebooter's Fate

Bye
Thanee
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k k
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Quote:
Bear in mind that designing your miniatures will still be quite costly (and is currently a specialist field).
By (JasonJ0)

Can you elaborate on this? I am not quite sure what it means.

Do you mean that creating the sculpt of the minis is a specialist field like an artist is for card board games?
 
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Thanee
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CCGer wrote:
Do you mean that creating the sculpt of the minis is a specialist field


I am pretty sure that is what he meant.

Also, depending on which method of casting and which material is used, the sculpts need to comply with different design qualifications. For 3D printing, the scultpts, poses, etc. will have to work well with the 3D printing process, obviously. Not all miniatures will fulfill this. This requires special expertise and experience. It is a pretty complex topic, really.

Bye
Thanee
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k k
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Is there a term to describe those field so that I can google it?
 
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Thomas Diener
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CCGer wrote:
Is there a term to describe those field so that I can google it?


You might start by browsing:

Casting, Sculpting and Creating Miniatures at Tactical Command
http://www.tacticalwargames.net/taccmd/viewforum.php?f=126

Sculpt Along at CoolMiniorNot
http://www.coolminiornot.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?32-Scul...

For an extremely simple beginner article, you might look at TheMiniaturePages 'Workbench' article "3DPrinting 28mm"
http://theminiaturespage.com/workbench/905270/

and then perhaps try googling

"28mm miniature 3d sculpting"

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Christopher Wionzek
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JasonJ0 wrote:
Supposing an equal quality of detail, 3d printed miniatures should be cheaper than metal or styrene miniatures, but cost will not be the main concern - paintability will. If the material used won't take paint (or won't take it well or easily) then miniature gamers won't touch your miniatures.


Nope, no way they should be cheaper. 3D printing is a laborious, one-by-one process that requires a lot of finishing. Casting miniatures just involves squirting plastic into a mold and then they're pretty much ready.

The up-front cost with "traditional" miniatures is the molds. But once the molds are set up, you're pretty good. For any decent production run, the make-up in time and finishing costs versus 3D printing (not even counting quality here) is amazing.

That's without even touching paintability. Most high-end 3D printing has terrible paint characteristics. Anything that uses sintered powder has this issue. Because the thing is just insanely porous, due to being particles bound together rather than any sort of continuous "flow" it just takes in liquids like a sponge and bleeds them everywhere.

If you talk about home-printing with extruded-plastic machines, they're a bit better for paint, but the material you're using isn't inherently good for paint. Not to mention the layer-effect will just be magnified by painting, so your pieces will require acetone finishing. Which is just another long, laborious process. This time involving dangerous chemicals.

Basically injection molding is so far ahead of 3D printing in terms of anything "serious wargamers" would want that it's not really even worth discussing at this point. Maybe we'll come back to it in 5 years.
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Ken Lewis
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Cumming
Georgia
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I think the biggest challenge will be finding your niche within the market.

When I first started creating my wargame Giant Monster Rampage, the first thing I did was look to see what was already available in the market which at the time wasn't much more than a few board games and free online rule sets. Since there weren't very many options for kaiju gaming, I decided the market might want a "meatier" rule set for the genre and proceeded to develop the rules.

The next thing I looked at where potential licenses. There are some big names in the kaiju genre, but to license those characters you need money and a better understanding of how well your game will sell. I did contact a few license holders, but the costs were too high and often came with a minimum fee in the event your product didn't make enough money to cover your projected profits. Because of the costs, and the uncertainty of how well a licensed kaiju wargame would do in the market, I decided to go with a generic setting of my own.

While I was developing the rules, I started contacting miniature manufactures to see about creating a line of original character models for the game. However, the cost to hire a sculptor, manufacture the models, and package them was beyond the comfort zone of how much I wanted to invested on an unproven niche in the wargame market. That was when I decided to just release the rules for use with all of the widely available kaiju actions figures. Many of which are much cooler than the models I would have been able to release.

The last thing I looked at were ways I could diversify the game to make it appeal to players who weren't fans of the kaiju genre. This was easy because kaiju share a lot of the same powers and abilities as super heroes or mechs and it only required a few additional rule changes.

The point I am trying to make is that you should research the market to determine how much of a market there is for your game, what competition your game will face, and whether or not it truly brings something to the market that hasn't already been done over and over and over again. You should also be careful that you don't over estimate how popular you think your game will be just because you really love the idea. I have seen several game designers sink a lot of money into their game design thinking their own enthusiasm was a good indication of how well their game would be received by the market.
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