Company is almost started; A few stray thoughts on my mind.
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
I love designing games, building worlds, doing concept art, and writing fiction. Over the last year I've spent my time learning skills that would allow me to run my own game design and publishing business. I learned about business, accounting and taxes. I polished and expanded my art skills so I could do everything needed (artist, illustrator, graphic designer, web designer, art director, sculptor, etc). I found a process that allowed me to design games based on theme, but without losing gameplay depth (I found the holy grail). I confirmed I know what I'm doing with print and manufacturing, and have a solid understanding of costs, business models, and what processes and products are available.

I have lots of games in the pipeline in staggered levels of progress. I've started small (for reasons of money, risk, and adaptability) and I have a plan for growth. I have plans to expand outside of games into synergistic markets.

I will likely be publishing by the end of the month. I am really excited, but I'm a realist (that's what pessimists call themselves) and so I have backup plans and backup plans for my backup plans. It would take repeated catastrophic failures to ruin my goals.

This geeklist is about all the niggling things that bother me that I haven't found a solution for. This isn't just to vent though. I would like to have a conversation about these things. It would be great to be able to find solutions for these problems.
Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: popcorn [+] [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Junta [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:954]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Capitalism

I am not a naturally capitalistic person. I don't care about money other than it's ability to make sure I have my needs and some of my wants taken care of. Money doesn't motivate me. I've quit well paying jobs simply because I found them boring. I don't work any harder if I'm offered bonus money. I've done very physically demanding work for little pay because I enjoyed the exercise and people's company. If I didn't have to worry about money I would do everything for free.

This fact is biting me in the ass. In order to have my needs and wants fulfilled I'm forced to be capitalistic. I have to find ways to make people give me money. In theory I should find a way to add value and charge people for it. What actually makes money is monopolies. I could own raw materials and Rent Seek. I could make stuff and then demand that people not copy it by penalty of money or prison. I could perform services and make sure what I do is never easy enough that I'd be replaced.

I hate all those options. I don't want to fend off people from using my resources. Especially since there are people in the world who desperately need them. I don't want to fight with people so they don't copy "my stuff". I don't want to horde information and keep others ignorant.

My current business model is based on me making games (and other stuff) with my knowledge and skills. I will make more money if I don't teach others those skills or information. I will make more money if I secure my work with intellectual property rights (which are mostly automatically secured) and leverage my "IP" with fans to create more demand on something I have a monopoly on (the intellectual property). Even things I give away for free are all calculated on how it will make me the most money. Conversations and my presence on the internet are all warped by what image I want to cultivate and how that best makes me money.

I wish I didn't have to think about money. I wish I could do what I wanted and didn't have to worry about insulting people or ostracizing fans. I wish I didn't have to form everything so it fits down the funnel of money making.

Things aren't all bad though. I can be mostly open and honest. I can write things like this geeklist and it won't be a detriment to my business. I can use copyleft licenses where it benefits me. I can build relationships and trust with competitors and fans since human nature isn't as greedy as capitalism.

Anyone else as annoyed with capitalism as I am?
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Uncle Albert's Auto Stop & Gunnery Shop Catalog From Hell [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.93 Unranked]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Consumerism

I'm also not much of a consumer. I buy based on utility and don't respect intellectual property rights (please discuss IP in the next entry). I spend as little money as possible. I like my products to be dependable, adaptable, and cheap. I will never own an official games workshop miniatures case, a brand new car, an apple computer product, or a sports team's memorabilia. I buy the basic food ingredients and cook. I avoid all commercials and ads. I have no loyalty to any brand.

If I tried selling games to a person like me I wouldn't make any money. There is no value I can add or restriction I can implement that would get money out of a person like myself. It would be like getting blood from a stone.

The world isn't full of people like me though. In fact there are lots of consumers. You can take a $1 object and sell it for $1000 with the right imagery, marketing, and intellectual property utilization.

This leaves me in the odd place of making things I like (I'm not going to spend my time making things I don't like), but packaging them in a way that will sell to consumers. Most consumers like a single package that gives them a good experience. This means a finished game in a professionally produced package. I on the other hand will cobble things together and make house rules, or completely different games. I don't view components as belonging to a single game. Brown cubes and plastic zombies are usable in anything that needs brown cubes and plastic zombies. I love theme, so generic components are no replacement for good art. But, zombie art is good in all kinds of zombie games (taking into account mood and style).

My current business model is all about packaging quality experiences in a box. A self contained hour of monster killing enjoyment with friends is what I sell (not paper and plastic in different shapes with art on top). New products hit different niches, so I can sell the same stuff to more people. Any synergistic product that's purchased by the same demographic can have “value added” by adding my IP and increasing the price (you just have to make sure they actually think value is being added).

That's pretty cynical. I'd like to point out I don't view it as me being smarter and taking advantage of dimwitted rubes. It's more about me being confused about why people buy what they buy. I can't bring myself to charge more than double the production costs for my games, or to have excessive packaging.

Anyone else like me?
Anyone want to help me understand why you enjoy being a consumer?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: Divine Right [Average Rating:7.00 Overall Rank:2508]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Copyright

Intellectual property rights are a monopoly to allow a false scarcity so you can make money from ideas. It makes a certain kind of sense that if you have a capitalism and you want to let people make money from ideas you need some kind of intellectual property. You have to, of course, defend that property from “thieves” if you're going to have a strong economy of ideas.

I find intellectual property rights as annoying as I find capitalism. There is an entire system of thousands (maybe millions) of people trying to restrict my access to information that can be transferred over the internet with the ease of clicking a button. Almost every piece of art, media, information, or culture I have “consumed” has been under copyright. Virtually nothing is in the public domain. I am not allowed to create derivatives of any of my childhood cultural references.

Every piece of art, culture, media, or information has been created in the environment of other such works. People do not create things in a vacuum. Disney stories are just variations of what came before. With intellectual property rights in their current state, culture is being slowed down and repressed in order to make money.

This forces everyone to reinvent the wheel any time they want to make something. Space Hulk is obviously inspired by Aliens. Warcraft from Warhammer. Car Wars from Mad Max. Dungeons and Dragons from Lord of the Rings. And on and on. This increases the barrier to entry and strips and scatters cultural references. You can't just make an incremental addition. You can't just write a story with somebody else's IP. You must wait and consume whatever the creator gives you. You're free to make your own thing, but make sure you waste time redoing everything just so you can make an incremental addition. 100 steps sideways, 1 step forward (maybe).

This restriction limits the amount of iteration that can be done. Iteration is what makes things good. If each piece of culture is separated from each other and only the creators can iterate you have an extremely sterile environment. You can improve your odds of making something good if you can get more people working on one IP, and if you can gain control of multiple IPs. But then you are investing a lot of money into it and you can't make risks. So all the major cultural references are in a bubble environment where few risks are taken and large sums of money need to be made.

With no small improvements, and all large improvements handled with little risk or few contributors, culture is stunted. You get things like Alien vs Predator, and the Star Wars prequels. No matter how many fans Firefly has the IP is virtually dead.

My current business model makes kitchen sink worlds that use numbers-filed-off versions of all my inspirations. I can pool my knockoff IPs and after the world is developed I can keep reusing it. I have a world developed for every genre I like. Over time I can build the IP value and get more consumers to become fans of these worlds.

It would be nice if I could just use any IP instead of having to spend a bunch of time and money climbing over the barrier to entry. At least I'll have an IP island just like all the other “cultural stewards”. Maybe I can figure out a way of lowering the barrier for others while not harming myself.

Please keep all copyright flamewars in this entry.
What would you make if you could use any intellectual property you wanted?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:503]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Collaboration

With capitalism, consumerism, and copyright I make the most money by being selfish, and I need money for my needs and wants. This makes collaborating and sharing difficult. In order to collaborate I have to give people access to the thing that makes me money and therefor supplies me with my needs and wants. Trusting others with my needs and wants is risky.

I want to collaborate with people. I want people to share ideas and help build my worlds and games. I'm unsure of how to go about it, though. I need to retain all the intellectual property rights so my livelihood isn't ruined by others (inadvertent or deliberate). This means any collaborates would be giving me control of all of the work they do with my IP. It wouldn't be so much a collaboration as a contribution.

I could pay contributors. I'm sure at some point I'll pay an artist. I might even have employees. This is the standard way of getting more people to work on your IP. It's also expensive, time consuming, and slow.

What about all those fans who want to create things for their favorite cultural work. Fans love making stuff for their favorite worlds. Even when companies are complete douche bags the fans keep making stuff. I'd like to treat fans better than that. I'd like to figure out a way to give fans at least a little bit more access to my creations.

My current business model has me and my wife doing all the work. I do all the game design, art, and graphic design (my wife assisting with everything). My wife and I share duties on the business side. I have all the knowledge on production but she handles all the paper work. We both learned bookkeeping, accounting, and taxes; but I make her do most of it. It's working very well, but it's a slow process. At this pace I won't be able to create everything I want to create in my lifetime. I might be able to get everything created if I can grow the company and hire enough people.

In this geeklist I will continue to talk about how to give fans more access, but I'd like this entry to be about the fundamental approach I'm taking. I'm building islands of IP that I can be the monarch of. I will hire people to help me build these islands and I'll try and figure out ways to let fans assist too.

Is this approach the best way to go about it?
Is it feasible to open source the whole thing and not have control over it?
How would you even make money doing that and how would you entice others to join?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: Talisman Sorcerers Tower Expansion (Fan expansion for Talisman) [Average Rating:6.68 Unranked]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Copyleft

I like copyleft. Most people intuitively share images and text online. It's strange that taking a non-creative photo of something is copyright infringement. Games Workshop is legally correct in stating a photo you take of one of their miniatures is a derivative work and they can sue you for damages. It seems pretty stupid to most people that you technically can't share photos of stuff you're interested in. That picture of Agricola you posted is technically a copyright violation, but most people would think you're an ass if you sent a cease and desist.

I don't like the legal rules being fuzzy. Fantasy Flight puts pdfs of their rules on their website. Am I allowed to save an off-line copy. Can I print it out. Can I share it with somebody else. Can I edit it for spelling. Can I rewrite it to make it more clear. Can I publish houserules bundled with the rulebook. Can I integrate my houserules into the rulebook. Can I make print and play components for my houserules and make them available for others. Can I use and/or modify art from the original game to help make my print and play expansion. What if I need to modify all the game components to include a new stat or rule and I want to post the print and play files which would make creating your own copy of the game possible. What if I'm really excited about doing this and I can't get ahold of anyone at the company and I really want to start working on it right now. Most companies don't spell out how far fans can go. They probably do this so they can retain the right to curbstomp anything they don't like.

I'd like to give my fans the ability to do some stuff and sometimes without even asking me. At a minimum I'll give everything I create a Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative license. That will let people share it as long as they say I made it, they don't make any money off it, and they don't modify it. That's more than most companies do. It would mean you could share every image and all the rules to my game anywhere you wanted. You technically couldn't translate or print out your own copy since those are derivative works. Technically you couldn't photoshop out a piece of an image to use as a forum avatar. I'd like to let people do those things.

I've thought about if I should license everything I create under a Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike license. Fans would be able to not only share my game, but they could make their own physical copies, translate, modify, and create derivatives (I can hardly wait for the sex filled fanfiction) as long as they didn't make profit. I can foresee possible problems though. What if a fan made an expansion to one of my games that was remarkably similar to one I was just about to publish. If I published my expansion for profit he could claim I made a derivative of his expansion and sue me for copyright infringement. The CC: by-nc-sa license allowed him to have a copyright of a derivative of my work. The license would likewise allow me to make a derivative of his work also, but not for profit. I could get away with claiming I don't read unsolicited material and that I had never seen his derivative. That would probably work legally. The problem is that I want to read what my fans create.

This makes me want to create some kind of Fanwork License. The Fanwork License would be almost the same as the Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike, but it would also grant me an exclusive unrestricted license (I'm the only one who can make profit). If I wanted to let the fan sell his derivative I could grant him an “Officially Endorsed” license that gives him permission to sell the derivative (and I can revoke the endorsement at any time).

I find the Fanwork License kind of authoritarian (mmm, puns), but since I'm not a douche I can act as a benevolent dictator. I'm sure there would be people accusing me of just wanting to steal my fan's work, but they're probably outweighed by those who enjoyed the ability to make fanwork without the threat of the legal system. Plus, you could just make your own copy since everything can be copied and modified for free.

What are your thoughts on all this?
Any lawyers out there want to help me write the Fanwork License?
How often do you think the Fanwork License would blow up in my face?
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Money! [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1426]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Compensation

I'd love to be able to offer piles of money to collaborators, so my stuff can be created faster. Unfortunately I have little money, and my business model risks little cash. Everything is as close to on-demand as possible. There are no big gambles. I'm not going to risk the company on any one (or even a dozen) products. The business is planned on reuse. The worlds I've created allow me to reuse themes, art, graphic design, audiences, and research. The production of my games are planned on reuse of components and game mechanics. The same dice will be used in multiple games. Box sizes are standardized. There are different types of games (conquest, racing, etc.) and each world will have it's variety of these games.

If I can't pay anyone up front, and they don't feel like doing free fanwork, how do I entice people to collaborate. I've thought about profit sharing. If an artist makes a piece of art for one of my games I could pay him as the games are sold. There is some difficulty in figuring out what a fair percentage is. I might reuse the art or make derivatives also. This makes it complicated. The piece of art made by the artist might never be part of a profitable product, but it might have inspired derivatives that where very profitable. All of this makes me doubtful any artist would want to work in those circumstances. It's basically saying “trust me to pay you fairly”.

I also have high standards. I wouldn't want to make somebody redo a piece of art to get it up to my standards and then have them disappointed in the compensation. I might also want to modify a piece of art to suit my needs and some artists wouldn't be happy with that. I'd want to completely own the copyright on the art, and then pay the artist what and when I thought was fair. I have a hard time thinking of a worse contract for an artist. That's why I expect most art I commission to be paid upfront. That will only happen when I'm comfortable with the risk of return on investment.

It would be nice to be able and collaborate freely with no worry about money. Stupid capitalism and intellectual property rights.

In case somebody is insane enough to be okay with me having all the power, here is a list of my 15 different worlds. I described them in really generic terms, but they all have heavy distinct elements to set them apart from all the other worlds out their. I just don't want to give away my unique traits in case I want to change them before launching and to avoid inspiring competitors. Some worlds are more concretely developed than others. There is very little art at this point, but there is a coherent art design for just about every world.

Ancient Mythology
Medieval Fantasy / Sword and Sorcery
Age of Discovery, Adventure, Exploration, Piracy, and Occult Magick
Victorian Steam Punk
“Rocket Punk” (WWII - Cold War with Sci-Fi from Amazing Stories)
Modern World (humorous look at modern life. Old ladies, Politicians, Musicians, etc)
Immortals (highlander + urban fantasy)
Horror
Post Resource Dystopia (Mad Max, Car Wars, The Postman)
Unearthly Apocalypse (Zombies, Aliens, Terminators, Cthulu/”the Thing”, Mutants)
“Hard” Sci-Fi (not obsessively hard sci-fi; Blade Runner-ish, no forcefields or grav-tech)
Space Opera
Fantasy (Orcs, Elves, Dwarves, etc.)
Dark Fantasy (same genre as Diablo and Ravenloft)
Cartoon Memes (A cartoon world filled with thousands of little chibi-looking memes like pirates, ninjas, robots, monkeys, zombies, knights, cowboys, vikings, elves, vampires, bears, sharks, aliens, snowmen, unicorns, dinosaurs, romans, star warriors, marines ...)

So, who's in?
On top of the terrible contract would you mind signing an NDA?
Any other way I can be more controlling?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Skirmish Wars: Advance Tactics [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:7442]
Matthew Kloth
United States
Wausau
Wisconsin
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Coincidence

I have actually collaborated with people. At this very moment I have multiple projects I will hopefully be collaborating with others to make. I don't know if they'll be published. I don't have any formal contract with any of them. It just happens that I've found mutual interest in the projects and love designing games.

None of them take place in my worlds. I'm not doing any art. I would not have predicted any of this.

Anyone else out there that can do all the art for a game and wants me to design the rules?

Edit: I have succeeded in scaring all of them away. Oh well, working on 3 different projects at the same time as starting a company and working on my own games would be quite the work load.

Anyone else have a project they want me to do the rules for? Even something that's a free PnP is interesting to me as long as I like the theme and gameplay ideas.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.