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Subject: Appetite for Hand Made Games? rss

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Jackson Pope
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Hi, I'm Jackson Pope, you may remember me from such board game publishing companies as Reiver Games.

Back in 2006 I started a board game publishing company to self-publish Border Reivers. I made it by hand and did a run of 100 copies each signed and numbered. These sold out within a year and then I went on to run a publishing company for another 6 years with mixed success, eventually shutting Reiver Games down and losing a bunch of cash. The two hand-made runs I did at the start however were very successful, it was just my attempt to get the games professionally manufactured and into distribution afterwards that was less so.

After a few years in the wilderness I started designing games again and blogging about my progress back on my blog: http://creationandplay.blogspot.com/.

Earlier this year I decided to get back into publishing hand-made games, starting with Zombology, a 15min card drafting game about The Men Who Stare At Goats-esque scientists trying to cure Zombies using Healing Crystals and Homeopathy. It'd be another hand-made run (to the same high standards as Border Reivers and the first print run of It's Alive!), each copy signed and numbered, like before.

I'm having a crisis of confidence now, both about the time required to do it now I have a young family and whether since the advent of KickStarter there's still a market for very limited run games, lovingly hand-crafted by an idiot.

So, do you think people are still interested, or in these days of KickStarter is it a crazy idea?

Cheers,

Jack
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Paul Bryant
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Couldn't you combine the two and just sell a limited run via Kickstarter? Except for my copy, you could sell me that and avoid the kickstarter fees.
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Elliot Symonds
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I think there is an appetite for games if you meet the person who made them in person at that kind of production run...or you know them. Kickstarter has changed a LOT of things it would appear. You have had success before with the hand crafted so do it again.
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J C Lawrence
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You're asking about a 1,000 True Fans business model and in specific whether you can collect and maintain 1,000 True Fans. So, can you?
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Jackson Pope
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gameslore wrote:
Couldn't you combine the two and just sell a limited run via Kickstarter? Except for my copy, you could sell me that and avoid the kickstarter fees.
I'm pretty sure that KickStarter backers are expecting great art, snazzy videos, stretch goals, etc. That's not what I'm interested in doing. I fear doing what I'm considering through KickStarter would tank spectacularly because it's not what KickStarter backers want or expect.

Cheers,

Jack
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Jackson Pope
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Quirkative wrote:
I think there is an appetite for games if you meet the person who made them in person at that kind of production run...or you know them. Kickstarter has changed a LOT of things it would appear. You have had success before with the hand crafted so do it again.
Yeah, I'm not sure how many cons I'm going to be able to make it to now that I've got a family, so I'm trying to gauge whether there is an appetite for this type of thing in general, or whether KickStarter has just replaced this business model altogether.

Cheers,

Jack
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Jackson Pope
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clearclaw wrote:
You're asking about a 1,000 True Fans business model and in specific whether you can collect and maintain 1,000 True Fans. So, can you?
I have no idea! Back in the day, I probably had quite a few, definitely less than a 1,000 though. It's been a long time since I was publishing, I don't have those peoples' details any more and they may well have forgotten all about me. So I doubt I've retained many of them.

Cheers,

Jack
 
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DJ Wilde
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I've come to feel the same way about Kickstarter. I just don't think it will work for me or bring any actual money past the cost of just running the whole thing. The more I look at the math, the more dismal it looks. I guess I'm just too small time for that. An I can live with that. I know where I stand and I'll keep trying to move forward.
 
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Derek H
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CaptainJax wrote:
So, do you think people are still interested or, in these days of KickStarter, is it a crazy idea?
Well, there are many people who think KS is a crazy idea....

To try and answer your question; yes, I think there is a market for anything well-made and "interesting" (in some way or the other). The internet, regardless of KS, allows you to reach an audience that are your potential buyers, but you still need a product they will want to buy.
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Karl Rainer
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Why are you asking US? Ask the buying public directly.

THis is EXACTLY what Kickstarter is designed to do! You first carefully and accurately figure out the numbers which will work for you, then launch the campaign. Your response will give you your answer with no risk. If the demand is not there, the campaign fails and you don't go into production, and are not out of pocket. If the campaign succeeds you have your customer list handed to you, get busy producing and shipping, and make your numbers.

There are numerous resources out there helping you with setting up a Kickstarter campaign, including several specific to boardgames.

If you don't like Kickstarter, then, well, OK, but Kickstarter is supposed to be there to allow you to test the market (rather than the goofy full-scale-company-boardgame-launches-hijacking-Kickstarter-I'm-talking-about-you-Queen-games things we see so often). This sounds to me like something you should investigate further.
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I stab your meeple in its face
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CaptainJax wrote:
I have no idea! Back in the day, I probably had quite a few, definitely less than a 1,000 though. It's been a long time since I was publishing, I don't have those peoples' details any more and they may well have forgotten all about me. So I doubt I've retained many of them.

Cheers,

Jack
I think Clearclaw is right that it's the model that most suits what you're trying to do.

I think it's feasible as a concept at least. Whether it's feasible for you (and equally whether you feel you want to take the risk to try and build it up) is a question only you can answer.
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Paul McKenzie
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You've got 1 fan who remembers you!

Sumeria and Carpe Astra are two of my favorite games, and I've often hoped you'd begin designing & publishing more unique games again. I sometimes feel games have become a little generic sometimes, and feel you have a unique vision and great attitude about facing your mistakes.

I realize my post is probably not helpful to your point, but I hope I'm not out of line in saying I hope to see another published game from you in the future, and to say I'd be interested if I liked the theme/subject matter.

Best of luck

Paul
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Jackson Pope
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gamesbook wrote:
CaptainJax wrote:
So, do you think people are still interested or, in these days of KickStarter, is it a crazy idea?
Well, there are many people who think KS is a crazy idea....

To try and answer your question; yes, I think there is a market for anything well-made and "interesting" (in some way or the other). The internet, regardless of KS, allows you to reach an audience that are your potential buyers, but you still need a product they will want to buy.
Yes, I hope that Zombology is something that interests people, either for the theme, the gameplay or the limited edition, signed and numbered collectability. I guess there's only one way to find out!

Cheers,

Jack
 
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Jackson Pope
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krainer wrote:
Why are you asking US? Ask the buying public directly.
In the past BGG was my buying public, most of my sales came via here.

krainer wrote:
THis is EXACTLY what Kickstarter is designed to do! You first carefully and accurately figure out the numbers which will work for you, then launch the campaign. Your response will give you your answer with no risk. If the demand is not there, the campaign fails and you don't go into production, and are not out of pocket. If the campaign succeeds you have your customer list handed to you, get busy producing and shipping, and make your numbers.

There are numerous resources out there helping you with setting up a Kickstarter campaign, including several specific to boardgames.

If you don't like Kickstarter, then, well, OK, but Kickstarter is supposed to be there to allow you to test the market (rather than the goofy full-scale-company-boardgame-launches-hijacking-Kickstarter-I'm-talking-about-you-Queen-games things we see so often). This sounds to me like something you should investigate further.
As I mentioned above, I fear what I want to do will be a really bad fit for KickStarter: fixed length run, no stretch goals, no pledge levels, plus getting all my orders up front would be a fulfilment nightmare if I'm making the games by hand in my spare time. While a more traditional KickStarter might succeed, I don't want to start a campaign where I have no idea what I'm letting myself in for until the campaign is over and I know how many copies and what stretch goals I'm committed to. The appeal of a small hand-made run is that I know ahead of time exactly how much effort is required and the order will (hopefully!) come in over a number of months thereby easing the fulfilment pressure.

Cheers,

Jack
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Jackson Pope
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
I think Clearclaw is right that it's the model that most suits what you're trying to do.

I think it's feasible as a concept at least. Whether it's feasible for you (and equally whether you feel you want to take the risk to try and build it up) is a question only you can answer.
Yeah, I realise I'll have to answer that bit myself, I was just trying to gauge whether people think there's still a market for hand-made short print run games in these days when everyone and his dog can make a large, professional quality run through KickStarter.

Cheers,

Jack
 
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Filipe
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While they are not the expected behavior, most of the things you listed are workable in KS.

The lack of stretch goals is not a deal-breaker as many projects are made this way.
Pledge levels are the norm but not required and I think they might even work in your advantage, because you can organize them like this:

1st level; early bird (limited to X copies); Y pounds; expected shipping O
2nd level; regular (limited to X copies); Y-m pounds; expected shipping O+n months
and so on

This way you can work X, Y, O, m, and n the way it fits your schedule.

Alternatively you could advertise around BGG to avoid two things in KS:

Fixed length campaign;
the KS cut of the amount pledged.
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Jackson Pope
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civet5285 wrote:
You've got 1 fan who remembers you!

Sumeria and Carpe Astra are two of my favorite games, and I've often hoped you'd begin designing & publishing more unique games again. I sometimes feel games have become a little generic sometimes, and feel you have a unique vision and great attitude about facing your mistakes.

I realize my post is probably not helpful to your point, but I hope I'm not out of line in saying I hope to see another published game from you in the future, and to say I'd be interested if I liked the theme/subject matter.

Best of luck

Paul
Hiya Paul,

Thanks for your support, both then and now! You can read more about Zombology on my blog and see if it's something you're interested in! :-)

Cheers,

Jack
 
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Peter Shafer
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Jackson,

Just finished researching some of your games and am really impressed with their designs. What an adventure you were on.

So I am curios what you mean by "Hand Made." The detail you shared of numbered/signed doesn't mean hand made to me- that means "limited edition," to me.

Are you actually asking about if there's an appetite for drawing/painting the cards by hand and handcrafted parts and doing some sort of bespoke manufacturing? Or do you mean just small print run and higher cost game that is limited to a set number? Or something else entirely?

Your game designs are intriguing to me. Maybe not the zombie one... but the historical stuff for sure.

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I can't say I know your games very well, but based on what I have read I feel like you enjoy the hand made quality aspects of your games, had success with it, and then are counter intuitively trying to look for ways around it. Don't over think it. There's nothing wrong with making small batches of boutique, hand made games IMO. Nobody is getting rich off of this stuff. Be happy with that, and if you want to go beyond that and get a wider scope of sales I would shop stuff to a publisher here and there, and not try to take on the whole burden yourself. Kickstarter is great and all, but I feel its then not about making the game but more about being a logistics manager and coordinating all the disparate elements of production into a deliverable product, which seems to not be your focus at all from what I'm reading, so I don't know why you would want to put yourself into that. Anyhow, random observations from an internet stranger. laugh
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Paul Bryant
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Party Hats wrote:
Kickstarter is great and all, but I feel its then not about making the game but more about being a logistics manager and coordinating all the disparate elements of production into a deliverable product, which seems to not be your focus at all from what I'm reading, so I don't know why you would want to put yourself into that. Anyhow, random observations from an internet stranger. laugh
He may know someone who could sort his logistics if he decided he needed that post-KS. whistle
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Verno Whitney
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CaptainJax wrote:
As I mentioned above, I fear what I want to do will be a really bad fit for KickStarter: fixed length run, no stretch goals, no pledge levels, plus getting all my orders up front would be a fulfilment nightmare if I'm making the games by hand in my spare time. While a more traditional KickStarter might succeed, I don't want to start a campaign where I have no idea what I'm letting myself in for until the campaign is over and I know how many copies and what stretch goals I'm committed to. The appeal of a small hand-made run is that I know ahead of time exactly how much effort is required and the order will (hopefully!) come in over a number of months thereby easing the fulfilment pressure.

Cheers,

Jack
There's at least one campaign out there that's rather like what you'd be doing: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/570650480/fog-of-war. The campaign page started out as rather a mess, but it's been drastically improved to what it looks like now, and the man did get funded.

EDIT: Oh, and as far as fulfillment pressure from getting a bunch of orders at once, you could always set up different tiers of pledges where the only real difference is the delivery date, like Wyrmwood did for their latest project: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/754081504/wyrmwood-magn... If you already know how much effort is required then you shouldn't have a problem capping the amount of pledges at each level appropriately.
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Tim H
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It's not 100% analogous, but what you're describing sounds a lot like Grow:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1809547312/grow-the-org...


Or, perhaps even more closely, Railroads:
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/337635364/railroads-a-b...

Both of these had limited productions, and were successful, as well as made an impact on me enough to pull them from memory (despite not having pledged to either. The life of a graduate student does not include such luxuries). Judging from these, I'd say the market you're looking to court may exist on kickstarter.
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Steve Duff
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CaptainJax wrote:
I'm pretty sure that KickStarter backers are expecting great art, snazzy videos, stretch goals, etc.
Respectfully, I don't think folks expect that. Folks will expect what you show them in your intro video. If you talk up limited runs, hand made, lovingly crafted, then that's what they'll expect when they back.

CaptainJax wrote:
As I mentioned above, I fear what I want to do will be a really bad fit for KickStarter: fixed length run, no stretch goals, no pledge levels, plus getting all my orders up front would be a fulfilment nightmare if I'm making the games by hand in my spare time.
Again, if you want to make a fixed run, then you can set your kickstarter to be exactly that. IE, if you want to make 100 copies, then set up your kickstarter with only limited tiers that add up to those 100 copies. Kickstarter doesn't force you to set up an unlimited tier that could lead to fulfilment problems if you're overly successful.

I'd also include an unlimited $1 option where no fulfilment on your behalf is needed, so folks can just donate and/or track the backer only updates.

There's nothing you can't do on your own system that you can't exactly replicate on kickstarter. It's just a matter on if you really want to be the one handling all the money collecting vs letting them do it for you for a cut.
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Jackson Pope
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It sounds like Felipe, Verno, Tim and Steve Earle echoing comments higher up, that what I'm thinking of doing could work on KickStarter and I should look into that more thoroughly. I've been wary of KickStarting projects and haven't felt comfortable with the whole pledge levels and unknown product thing, but maybe I could offer a fixed length, fixed product campaign successfully. I need to investigate it a bit more. Many thanks for all your input.

Cheers,

Jack
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Jackson Pope
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Dearmad wrote:
Jackson,

Just finished researching some of your games and am really impressed with their designs. What an adventure you were on.

So I am curios what you mean by "Hand Made." The detail you shared of numbered/signed doesn't mean hand made to me- that means "limited edition," to me.

Are you actually asking about if there's an appetite for drawing/painting the cards by hand and handcrafted parts and doing some sort of bespoke manufacturing? Or do you mean just small print run and higher cost game that is limited to a set number? Or something else entirely?

Your game designs are intriguing to me. Maybe not the zombie one... but the historical stuff for sure.

I mean similar to my first games. I got the artwork professionally digitally printed, but it turned up at my house in A3 sheets. I made the boxes by hand, wrapped the labels onto them by hand, cut out the cards and tiles by hand and bagged/packed all the bits by hand. To make up for the sub-par quality compared to a professionally manufactured run I made a fixed print run and every copy was signed and numbered. Look at Border Reivers pictures to get an idea of the finished quality (which I think was pretty high considering it was hand made!).

Cheers,

Jack
 
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