Thomas Rushing
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In about a month and a half my first ever game "ARC" debuts. In case it becomes a hit, which I realize is unlikely, I have decided to work on an immediate expansion that could theoretically be released within the months after the initial set to the game is released. Over the last few weeks however I have been wondering if maybe working on a new game would be more productive than working on an expansion since my odds aren't in favor of a successful launch of my first game ever.

If this is the case, what kind of games are hot right now and where are the trends leading and what trends are fading?
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Kamma
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tomarush wrote:
In about a month and a half my first ever game "ARC" debuts. In case it becomes a hit, which I realize is unlikely, I have decided to work on an immediate expansion that could theoretically be released within the months after the initial set to the game is released. Over the last few weeks however I have been wondering if maybe working on a new game would be more productive than working on an expansion since my odds aren't in favor of a successful launch of my first game ever.

If this is the case, what kind of games are hot right now and where are the trends leading and what trends are fading?

The trend I would like to see become more prevalent are games that have multiple modes...solo, co-op, and pvp
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John "Omega" Williams
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Expansions work best when the game can be enhanced by the addition. This works best for some wargames and adventure or dungeon-crawl type games. And some, but not all card games.

Stand-alone games are good too as to some buyers they are complete out the gate and are not a intended cash sink out the gate. This is why FFG gets frequent flack.
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Anthony Sweet
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I think it's also important to make sure that you're pushing your design skills as well when considering what to do next.

The obvious benefit of going straight to a brand new game is that you have to start again from the ground up. This is the exciting option, and it lets you run around with unbridled enthusiasm for the first few weeks before you return to the hard slog.

But expansions can be good at testing your previous design, pushing the boundaries and squeezing every ounce of playability out of it. I personally really enjoy this aspect, especially with the constrains of pushing existing mechanics without adding vastly different new features.

Good luck with your release!
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Christopher Todesco
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Not knowing anything about your game, if you're pondering expansion-vs-separate-game, could you release it as a separate game that is compatible with the original? That's the trend that I see-- first some Dominion "expansions" are actually stand-alone games, then all of the D&D Adventures dungeon crawl games (Dungeons & Dragons: Castle Ravenloft Board Game, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon Board Game, and Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt Board Game) are all compatible, and their upcoming dungeon skirmish games (Dungeon Command: Sting of Lolth and Dungeon Command: Heart of Cormyr) are not only going to be compatible with each other, but with all of the dungeon crawl games too. This not only makes for bigger "expansions" when combining games, but it means if I own the original game and my buddy buys the second one, we each have a working stand-alone game that can be combined to play something awesome.

Otherwise I'd say wait until you know if publishing an expansion will be worth it. I'm sure if you're using a publisher, they'll be able to give you that information. Many designers have commented that they do develop some of their expansion material during the original development--or more precisely, things that they had to rip out of the original game to make it package-able end up in expansions.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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I might have posted something similar to this before:

Assume that only 25% of the people who buy the game will ever buy an expansion. So your print run has to be affordable at *that* number. If it's not, it's difficult to get the value add at a price the publisher can afford.

IMO, you can never start designing too early as anything you create could be useful in another game or help you figure out things for something else even if the expansion never sees the light of day.

You need to consider the weight of a game when planning expansions. It's like meal-planning: A CCG is like a sandwich...in 1-2 hours you might be hungry if you ate a sandwich; thus, an the market can "stomach" an additional expansion every 3-6 months. This is in terms of both cost recuperation from initial outlay and digesting of rules / understanding all the nuance of the game with the current rules / high number of plays. A heavier boardgame that sees fewer plays on average, has a denser rules set to understand, and has a higher one-shot cash outlay will likely not support an expansion on as quick timeline as a CCG. It might take a year before the market is ready for your expansion.

Many publishers I know also guarantee that the month they publish an expansion is always a month later than they wanted it
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Sim Guy
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senfoonglim wrote:
I might have posted something similar to this before:

Assume that only 25% of the people who buy the game will ever buy an expansion. So your print run has to be affordable at *that* number. If it's not, it's difficult to get the value add at a price the publisher can afford.

IMO, you can never start designing too early as anything you create could be useful in another game or help you figure out things for something else even if the expansion never sees the light of day.

You need to consider the weight of a game when planning expansions. It's like meal-planning: A CCG is like a sandwich...in 1-2 hours you might be hungry if you ate a sandwich; thus, an the market can "stomach" an additional expansion every 3-6 months. This is in terms of both cost recuperation from initial outlay and digesting of rules / understanding all the nuance of the game with the current rules / high number of plays. A heavier boardgame that sees fewer plays on average, has a denser rules set to understand, and has a higher one-shot cash outlay will likely not support an expansion on as quick timeline as a CCG. It might take a year before the market is ready for your expansion.

Many publishers I know also guarantee that the month they publish an expansion is always a month later than they wanted it

I generally agree with what you say, though I think your assumption of the percentage of players buying an expansion is on the low side - especially if the game is a success. Gamers always seem to be looking for a little more...

If it was me, I would explore an expansion, insofar as to flesh out the concept, and then shelve it in order to move on to my next project. If the game is a hit, you already have a head start on the follow-up; if not, then you haven't spent a lot of time on a dead end. Of course, if the original title just needs a little help, and your expansion seems to be the answer go for it. But either way, you're going to have to get some feedback in the form of sales, reviews, and customer suggestions or complaints. Might as well use the time to your advantage working on the next big thing.
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Sen-Foong Lim
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The figure of 25% was provided to me from 3-4 different publishers in the US and abroad, so it's not really an assumption on my part. The "rule of thumb" I'm advocating is that a designer / publisher assume that only 25% of your total sales be considered potential buyers for expansions to be on the safe side when it comes to designer boardgames in general. This is based on sales data - they've learned from trying to print 1 expansion for every base game sold to find that only 1/4 to 1/3 of the expansions sell.

So yes, 25% is on the low end. The rough numbers actually varied from 25% to 33%. I'd definitely swing the 25% a bit depending on the type of game you're designing, as I alluded to in my original post. A wargame that relies on variance in troop types to remain relevant would, by it's very nature, need to have expansions. Same thing with the model of product delivery that most CCGs prescribe to. How many people who played WH40K ever just stopped at just the plastic Space Orks and Space Marines in the starter set? Or with just 1 starter pack of MtG cards? But really, those aren't true expansions but almost necessary requirements.

However, for a lot of boardgames, the reverse tends to be true. The "CULT OF THE NEW" mentality tends to take precedence over expanding a game you already own. Many people would rather spend $30 on a totally different boardgame than expand one of their old games.

I agree that "Stand Alone Expansions" are very interesting, as are the modular designs of some games where you can merge several smaller stand-alone games to make one mega game....very cool.
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Nate K
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Are we talking about that time travel game that was on Kickstarter a while back? "Aeons: Rifts of Cronos" or something like that? Because I, for one, would at least be interested in seeing where you take the game, even if I don't actually pay money for it.

Perhaps wait a few months before starting on the expansion? Let the initial release gain some traction before releasing new cards.
 
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Thomas Rushing
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First, thanks for all the feedback! I have decided to continue to push forward with readying ARC's expansion just in case the first set is well received. I have learned the hard way how long the printing process can actually take and would prefer to be ready to push the go button asap than have to finish development before that button could be pushed. Thanks to the feedback I will also be mindful and keep a log of other possible games, mechanics, etc. while developing ARC's first "expansion".

With that said, this first "expansion" is really more of a second phase to complete the first set. Let me explain; The card pool is rather small in the first set since we are releasing the game similar to how FFG releases its LCGs. We are trying to stay away from "Rares" and collectibility. The first set consists of 5 differently themed pre-constructed decks, each containing 3 copies of almost every card in them. Some of the cards overlap into other decks for efficiency and to give each deck the ability to deal with certain types of cards. The following reasons are why there aren't 3 copies of all the cards in each deck:

1) Some of the cards make up a board for the game (Era Cards) and only require 1 copy.
2) One of the cards is your character card (Aeon Cards) which represents you in the game.
3) There are 3 cards that are rather weak and we only included 1 of each because it wasn't necessary to have more than that in a deck.

The first set is built on a time travel theme and story line, and has some time travel mechanics, but the expansion will contain MUCH more of the time travel element to the game. Many people who have tried the game have said they really enjoy game play and hope to see a lot more time travel type mechanics come out of ARC as expansions are released. The expansion will complete the entire time travel feel and experience for a player, and that's why I feel it is more of a second phase as opposed to standard expansion.

Once released the actual game play will change drastically and the old strategy of winning will not suffice. Due to the nature of ARC being a card game similar to MTG or Yu-Gi-Oh, without the collectible aspect, when phase 2 is released I don't think there is a way to release it as a stand alone game. However, I feel like this gives us a better shot of more people buying the new cards.

I knew MTG released on a schedule about every 3 months, but I didn't know the reason why is because the market can only handle a new expansion every 3-6 months. That is good to know so thanks! Do you think it would be possible to release more frequent if expansions were released as micro-sets containing only 60-70 new cards as opposed to the hundreds that other games release at once? If things go well we are hoping to have a release schedule of every 2-3 months with the micro-set strategy. Does anyone know of any games that have tried something like that? Perhaps there are some good examples of games that have failed miserably using this or a similar strategy that would be good to know about before implementing this idea!

As for ARC being "That game that was on Kickstarter a while back", yes it was on Kickstarter. When it was on Kickstarter it was called "Time Flux" but we were unaware of Looney Labs and their line of "Fluxx" games, once we found out about them we ran a contest on BGG and changed the name to Aeons Rifts of Cronus (ARC). Then our logo was made as ARC, our resource is called ARC, the back of our cards say ARC, and there are a bunch of other things that the acronym ARC stands for so the game is now called ARC. The story is still called Aeons Rifts of Cronus and therefore ARC still stands for Aeons Rifts of Cronus among other things.

ARC has multiple different meanings, but you wouldn't know it by playing the game, only if you decided to dig deeper into the story. In the game ARC is an energy source used to play cards. However, in the story ARC also stands for "Aeonic Rift Creator" which is a device used by Aeons to open a sort of portal/hole in time to travel to and from different eras. The Aeonic Rift Creator uses ARC energy in order for it to work. We have tried to give the game layers of depth depending on how far someone wants to dig, mainly by reading the story.

From a marketing perspective it just made sense to release the game as ARC instead of Aeons Rifts of Cronus. Overall I am really happy with it, it seems to have a nice ring to it, and fits well with the theme.

I would love to get some chatter going about cool ideas for time travel mechanics people would like to see implemented as well as share some of the mechanics we are currently working on.

PS - If you want to learn more about ARC to get an idea and feel for how the game works check out TimeTravelGame.com. There are rules, card pictures, a forum, etc.
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Nate K
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Will there be any more podcast episodes?
 
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Thomas Rushing
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kurthl33t wrote:
Will there be any more podcast episodes?


I would like to revisit podcasts sometime in the near future. If we do start doing them again it wont be for a while.
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Thomas Rushing
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I have started a new thread to continue discussing development of ARCs expansion here:

http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/808989/time-travel-game-deve...

If you have any feedback I would love to hear it.

Thanks!

-Thomas
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