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Subject: Expansion already? rss

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Conor
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It seems strange to me to be working on an expansion before the game is already out.

If it makes the game clearly better, shouldn't it be incorporated into the basic game?

Until you have large scale player feedback, how do you know how best to expand the basic gameplay?

The cynical gamer in me would rather see the base game do well on it's own two feet and then respond to player feedback and demand with expansions if necessary.
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Hi Conor...that is a valid point and one we will definitely keep in mind.

Our design and play test process is not one we rush through. The base game of Alien Frontiers was in development by Tory Niemann for a full year or more before he turned it over to me for outside play testing and refinement. I've had it under scrutinization for a full year and together Tory and I made dozens and dozens of changes and refinements based on our extensive play testing events. At it's core, the game is the same now as it was a year ago, but so much smoother in play and style that you would hardly recognize it.

Any expansion we put out is going to go through the same process of design, test, revise, test, tweak, test...over and over again. And every step of the way the play testers' feedback is weighed and incorporated. Often the game or expansion will morph from week to week and sometimes from play to play in the same event. We take our games and our play testers very seriously.

No expansion will be released unless it adds to the experience and makes the game more engaging and more fun.

Today, for example, we held the first play test of Outer Belt with our primary test group here in Washington (we also have a primary group in Arizona who will get Outer Belt after we've had a while to tweak it). The two games went well and we think the core of Outer Belt is interesting and deserves further testing and refinement.

Also consider that it takes six to twelve months to refine the art and design and four months to get a game proofed, printed, and shipped from China. I would not expect to see Outer Belt or any expansion until well into 2011 and you can bet your last dollar that we'll be hanging on every review and critique and session report that the player send our way for the original game in case we need to fix things there, as well.

I hope that's reassured you a little.

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David Schumm
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Will the expansion add too much t o still work well as too player or does it shift the game from 2-4 player to 3-5?

If so it makes perfect sense for it to be an expansion, becasue as much as 5 player rocks and I like to have it out of the box it often kills the 2 player game. And any game I can't just play with mywife does not get purchased. So for me if a game is good enough to make it to my rarer big game nights, I will buy the expansion to accomidate it.
 
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David...

Alien Frontiers: Outer Belt will be geared to accommodating 1 or 2 extra players for those times when you have more than four friends over for a game day.

There's another expansion we'll be testing soon that will...we hope...work with any number of players. Keep your eye out for a BGG page for Alien Frontiers: Factions if it survives the first round of play testing.
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David Schumm
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Awesome , thanks for the update.
 
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Brian Nors Jensen
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CleverMojo wrote:
Alien Frontiers: Outer Belt will be geared to accommodating 1 or 2 extra players for those times when you have more than four friends over for a game day.

Does this mean that it will support up to 6 players?
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Brian...Well, Randall (the primary designer on AF:Outer Belt) is thinking it would up the players to 5 and so far I have only played it with 5 players, but we will definitely test it with 6 and see how it goes. Its still early days on AF:OB, so we can't really say for sure yet.
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Brian Nors Jensen
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Fair enough, thanks for the quick reply.
(I am hoping for 6 )
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Conor
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Thanks for the reply. Based on what I have seen so far, I am confident that you are putting plenty of time and thought into the game.

I think it is just the industry as a whole that is so quick to add expansions that has me nervous. There are some instances where a developer probably should have just cannibalized some of the fun stuff from their first expansion to make the base game even better and would probably have been more successful as a result.

Anyway, thanks for your assurances. October can't come soon enough!
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Brandon M
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clubkill wrote:
Thanks for the reply. Based on what I have seen so far, I am confident that you are putting plenty of time and thought into the game.

I think it is just the industry as a whole that is so quick to add expansions that has me nervous. There are some instances where a developer probably should have just cannibalized some of the fun stuff from their first expansion to make the base game even better and would probably have been more successful as a result.

Anyway, thanks for your assurances. October can't come soon enough!


When expansions involve significant components that can also make the game more expensive and less successful.

Granted, breaking it up into smaller chunks that are sold separately increases the total cost for someone who buys everything, it also reduces the total cost for people who are happy with just the base game.
 
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A standard buisness model in the industry is to make sure you have 1-2 expansions for your game ready to go before you release the base game. Keeps cash flows going and helps transition a company from making one game and stalling out, into a company that makes one game a couple expansions and has enough money then to make another game.

A proven expansion gimmick is the "increase # of players" expansion. The base game is shorted the full player compliment and its released as an "improvement" to the base game later. Just search for "5-6" or "player" to find quite a few examples, but this won't pull up nearly all of them since many don't specify it in their title. There is a geeklist on this sort of thing, and you can also check your 'expansions' tab or the same tab in the profile of a prolific collector. Also you can read up on this buisness model on rpg.net if you want more details. Don't let them fool you with protestations, its planned, and it will stay that way.

"that is a valid point and one we will definitely keep in mind." from the designer/owner earlier in the thread. This is corporate newspeak for: "Yeah we know, but we really would prefer more money so we will release it as an expansion. Now let me distract you will lots of explanation you could already guess at, and some more about production points that makes us seem like the victim in running a buisness."

Listen in your real life for when people are talking with you and they say "great idea" or "interesting thought" then redirect you to whatever they are thinking and pound in their viewpoint. Its a propaganda technique of never arguing, they just imply your point may be given consideration, then explain why they are just going to do what they were doing in the first place. Rest assured that your idea or point will never be given consideration. The more its denied that this is not the case, the more you know that it is the case. Corporate people will say anything, they just see dollar signs in front of them. They rationalize away anything they have to, just as long as the money flows.

This is the answer you should expect from a corporate type. He can't respond in a way that seems in any way mean or nasty, that might turn off potential customers, so he tells the truth in a way that he never really addresses the main thrust of your question. Read over the logic and justifications of the Race for the Galaxy expansions, that was a hoot. They said "we don't like it when companies make you buy and expansion right after the main game comes out, but we are doing it anyway."

Its buisness, keep one hand over your wallet and the other over your anal pore. They are coming after you, so hold on to your assets, and wade through the double talk. Go back and reread appendix A in 1984 again.

Also don't hate the buisness guys, they don't know any other way to behave. Purchase wisely and if you don't like what they are offering vote with your money. If you do like what they are offering, vote with your money. I'm not against expansions, and making money. I am against outrageously priced expansions, ones that don't reflect the price in the components included. I'm still going to buy the main game. We will have to see how I like that, and then what they charge for the expansion.
 
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Minionhunter...wow, cynical much?

I'm a one-man operation working with a couple of novice designers...when did that become "corporate"?

And when did it become a bad thing to add more ideas and concepts to a game design? If publishers held back every game and novel and movie until all of the concepts were tacked on, nothing would ever see production. Sequels and spinoffs are typical in any media type.

You are right about one thing, though, I do work hard at being nice to people and explaining my points and processes without being mean or arguing. However, I do listed to my customers, try to keep their suggestions in mind during the design processes, and do what I can to keep them as happy as possible.

We have different world views, obviously, but I'm not the evil corporate-goon you seem to think I am.
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Gary Smith
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Quote:
A proven expansion gimmick is the "increase # of players" expansion. The base game is shorted the full player compliment and its released as an "improvement" to the base game later.


It makes me furious that Settlers has a 5-6 player expansion for not only the base game, but every expansion they make. Filthy cash grab.
 
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CleverMojo wrote:

We have different world views, obviously, but I'm not the evil corporate-goon you seem to think I am.


When did I use the word evil? I did not, my tone was of caution, there were no "good" or "bad" value judgments made. You made them. I also gave references (indications of where to look for things) to back up my points and indicated I would be buying your game.

You become corporate in the way you illustrate your points, set up straw men, mischaracterize my statements, and reframe yourself and your company in the most positive light you can. You do sound young and your expansions are not already developed, so you are not exactly working a smart buisness model design.

I also said that I think its a very useful and workable structure and that if your prices were not outrageous I think its a good idea to release expansions. Your misquoting and mischaracterization of my reply indicates either you are doing it intentionally to distance yourself from my points, or you didn't understand the points I was trying to make. Some stuff I don't even understand how you got. I never said don't make expansions. That's just plain silly. Silly.

Good luck, time will tell what happens to your company. And its corporate suit, though I bet you don't wear one.

All the best.
 
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gsmebbs wrote:
Quote:
A proven expansion gimmick is the "increase # of players" expansion. The base game is shorted the full player compliment and its released as an "improvement" to the base game later.


It makes me furious that Settlers has a 5-6 player expansion for not only the base game, but every expansion they make. Filthy cash grab.


I find this player expansion with settlers much less offensive than other games. Settlers does use a lot of wood pieces. I haven't checked the prices of their stuff lately, mostly because I can't stand settlers anymore, however when I bought mine, they were more reasonably priced. I also think they were more of a concept former than copycat artist, though copying is not a bad thing.

Find the overpriced expansion geek list for overpriced expansions.
 
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David,

Try rereading my initial post using the frame that I am a neutral party who neither wishes you ill fortune nor customers to get fleeced. I bet it will take on new meaning to you.

 
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David Hoffman
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I'm less interested in Outer Belt for the additional players than I am for the new locations and other gameplay aspects being added.
 
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I'm going to have to stand by my initial reading in that I perceive the tone of your post to be cynical and paints me as...

corporate,

minionhunter wrote:
"that is a valid point and one we will definitely keep in mind." from the designer/owner earlier in the thread. This is corporate newspeak for: "Yeah we know, but we really would prefer more money so we will release it as an expansion. Now let me distract you will lots of explanation you could already guess at, and some more about production points that makes us seem like the victim in running a buisness."


greedy,

minionhunter wrote:
Corporate people will say anything, they just see dollar signs in front of them. They rationalize away anything they have to, just as long as the money flows.


and disingenuous.

minionhunter wrote:
Listen in your real life for when people are talking with you and they say "great idea" or "interesting thought" then redirect you to whatever they are thinking and pound in their viewpoint. Its a propaganda technique of never arguing, they just imply your point may be given consideration, then explain why they are just going to do what they were doing in the first place. Rest assured that your idea or point will never be given consideration.


These are you opinions. That's fine. It's a free country. If I've read the post wrongly, then I apologize.

BTW, I'm 49 years old but new to the industry (does that count as "young") and I freely admit that I am slogging through it all inexpertly but with a great sense of fun at the adventure.






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minionhunter wrote:
David,

Try rereading my initial post using the frame that I am a neutral party who neither wishes you ill fortune nor customers to get fleeced. I bet it will take on new meaning to you.


It's true, your post does not directly attack Clever Mojo games (actually, in retrospect, not quite true; see final comment), and only illustrates a "standard business model". And the claims you make do seem reasonable, when speaking of general practice.

But you might notice that you dedicate your last paragraph do a disclaimer clarifying that you are not condemning anyone's actions. That's usually a pretty good indicator that the author is aware that his comments could easily be interpreted as condemnation.

Considering that you don't seem to have a habit of bringing up this sort of thing on the forums, and you posted to a 3-month dead thread, in which the only "business" presence is David, and the only product being discussed is his, it;s hard to see how he wouldn't react defensively.

I'm not saying your points are invalid; I'm just saying consider context, and Clever Mojo may be a little young to be so easily condemned by association.

Also:
minionhunter wrote:
"that is a valid point and one we will definitely keep in mind." from the designer/owner earlier in the thread. This is corporate newspeak for:...

Putting words in peoples mouths will rarely paint you in a positive light.
 
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minionhunter wrote:
there were no "good" or "bad" value judgments made. You made them.
I made them too. Maybe it's just your writing style that sends the wrong message? You sound like a jerk. That happens to me too sometimes in these forums. Sometimes it's best to just admit that your message is flawed and move on.

minionhunter wrote:
Good luck
minionhunter wrote:
All the best.
Yeah, right.
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minionhunter wrote:
David,

Try rereading my initial post using the frame that I am a neutral party who neither wishes you ill fortune nor customers to get fleeced. I bet it will take on new meaning to you.



I'm not David, but I did reread your post and it did come across to me as a rant against what you believe the industry's practices are. I get your point and even feel that some of them are valid for the industry, but it really isn't applicable to CleverMojo and bringing a thread back to life just to make these industry wide comments certainly does feel like an attack against CleverMojo whether you meant it to be or not.

My own impressions of this company is that he isn't like most of the industry. Hes been very upfront about issues that some companies would have remained silent on like the wrong color background for Mind Control Helmet and the delay due to the dice manufacturere affecting the shipment date. I appreciate this type of feedback and I think attacking it as corporate doublespeak would only deter him from being so transparant...a trait I'd perfer to reward so that more designers would behave the same (and we are seeing this more from the designers of such games as Merchants and Marauders, Innovation, and all of the Stronghold games)

This is not to attack minionhunter but to give my honest opinion of how it came across after reading it twice. I take you at your word that you did not mean it to come across as such.
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minionhunter wrote:
*STUFF*


Also you do realize this was an old thread, right? There had been very little activity in the last 6 months.
 
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h00sha wrote:
minionhunter wrote:
there were no "good" or "bad" value judgments made. You made them.
I made them too. Maybe it's just your writing style that sends the wrong message? You sound like a jerk. That happens to me too sometimes in these forums. Sometimes it's best to just admit that your message is flawed and move on.

minionhunter wrote:
Good luck
minionhunter wrote:
All the best.
Yeah, right.


I can see how I could come off as less than postive. I am very cynical, I'm also very hopeful. IMHO its the only way to keep living if you are a cynic.

I think that same energy comes out of your condemnation of my genuine wishes of goodwill for this company.
 
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Hi David (and all),

You highlight all the points you perceive as negative, and none of the ones that are supportive. This is the same type of reply that initially caused me to respond here.

I'll say a just a few more things.

1. I wish AF and your company nothing but the best even though we seem to have a personality clash, and/or communication issue. You taking my "young" comment as personal age instead of my intended corporate age highlights this. The responses of all the OPs indicate that the post had almost the complete opposite effect intended. I'll take all the heat on this, I not only was unable to make myself clear, I produced the polar opposite effect I wanted.
2. I vote with my money. I've had a pre-order which I had to pay upfront on AF for some time now and am looking forward to getting it and playing it. Does this tell you in no uncertain terms that I support your company? I ask because that is how it is intended, likely that comes off wrong also. Oh well....
3. I didn't look at the date on the thread. I'm not going to belabor anything else.

Again, I wish you all the best and much luck. I hope the game is great and you sell out this print run and have to do another. I just want a great space game with a lot of replay value.
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lfisher wrote:
minionhunter wrote:
*STUFF*


Also you do realize this was an old thread, right? There had been very little activity in the last 6 months.


Yes, now.... It was that crazy X2 flare followed by the CME that made me do it...whistle

All around screwed up on my part.
 
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