Stop the madness


I’m on a self-imposed game buying moratorium.  I’ve purchased more games than usual in the past 3 months and the finances are calling for a halt.  The good news is I have games that need more plays.  And I have several games that need at least two more plays so I can review then.  A couple of them are the two newest from Small Box Games – Hemloch and Omen: A Reign of War.  Both these games are really pretty.  I’ve read through the rules of each and both look really fun.  Small Box makes solid games so I’m eager to get these to the table.

Speaking of reviews, check out GamerChris’s first podcast, Exploring Games with GamerChris.  In it he talks about how he goes about reviewing games.  I’m in his camp with regards to reviews.  I don’t feel like I know a game well enough to review it unless I’ve played it at least three times.   As a scientist I’m kind of wired for an ‘n’ of at least three.   There are too many things that can enhance or sour a game experience for me to judge a game by a single play.  I feel like I would be doing a game company a disservice if I did any less.  That being said if you are a game designer or company and would like me to review your game, shoot me an email at goforthandgame@gmail.com or a tweet @goforthandgame or @tomgurg.

Another Conversation with…Game Salute’s Dan Yarrington


Tom: So Dan, we talked a bit about Game Salute in our last interview but we didn’t really get the whole story. Tell me about Game Salute. What exactly is it?

 

Dan: Hi Tom. Thanks for taking the time to chat with me about Game Salute. Game Salute is a company dedicated to providing tools and services to make the tabletop games industry better. We actually just updated www.GameSalute.com to better explain how we achieve that goal, whether from the perspective of a gamer, a store, a designer, or a publisher.

Tom: I noticed the updated website.  It’s very nice and easily navigated.  So why did you start Game Salute?

Dan: We started it because we love games and we want the industry to expand and grow. We can do that by increasing the overall quality of the tabletop games industry, amping up the professionalism, and helping to enable higher quality games, along with more opportunities to share them.

Tom: I’ve noticed the ‘Springboard Seal of Quality’ website and on several Kickstarter games. What is Springboard?

Dan: Springboard is our support service for crowd-funding campaigns through sites like Kickstarter. It serves as a great way to interact with fans, judge excitement about a given release, and determine if titles should be published. We have lots of campaigns going on all the time and you can see them at www.GameSalute.com/Springboard

Tom: Game Salute is also a fulfillment service to game companies. Most gamers don’t even think about ‘fulfillment services’. It’s pretty invisible. Explain it so they will not be in the dark anymore.

Dan: Our Featured Fulfillment support includes a ton of elements from receiving, warehousing, picking, picking, sales, payment processing, shipping, tracking, customer service, and everything else related to managing physical games and getting them where they need to be: in stores and at gamer’s homes all around the world.

Tom: You have some really interesting people involved, from podcasters Russ Wakelin of D6G and Cody Jones of Game On! (as well a certain Sara Yarrington) to game designers/publishers David MacKenzie of Clever Mojo Games and The Kirkmans of Dice Hate Me Games. How did you get such stellar crew together?

Dan: We’re very happy to have a dedicated group of passionate professionals who eat, drink, and breathe games. Many of them have joined our team to further the goals of Game Salute and help publish and share awesome tabletop games. Even more folks have lent their support by purchasing games through Game Salute, supporting their local Select Stores, volunteering as Ambassadors to show games off at shows and in their local community, and letting other folks know what we do.

Tom: Game Salute is not just for game industry pros. There is a lot for the gamer too. Can you talk about some of the things you have aimed right at us regular gamers?

Dan: We offer lots of great games from awesome design studios, so that’s the most important thing. Every game isn’t for every player, so we want to enable you to find the games you’re going to enjoy most. We also offer GameStoreLocator.com so that folks can know what local stores are carrying their products. And you can visit Game Salute News at GameSaluteNews.com, on Twitter (@GameSalute) or at www.Facebook.com/GameSalute to stay abreast of what’s going on in the industry. We’re also looking forward to rolling out more support tools to making gaming more fun for gamers all over.

Tom: You also do a lot of support for retailers. Talk about that.

Dan: We offer a lot of tools and services to enable stores to provide the best play environment and local support for their gaming communities. We offer Preview Nights where stores can show off and sell games about a month before the regular release date. We send customers their way through GameStoreLocator.com. We provide demo copies of games at a reduced cost so that stores can have a Game Library to share with their customers. We offer our Buy Local service through Shop.GameSalute.com so that folks can purchase their favorite games at their local stores. And we’re always looking for additional ways to support stores.

Tom: Speaking of retailers, Dan, can you comment on the recent upswing in distributor exclusives?

Dan: There are a ton of reasons why this proliferation of exclusives exists – mostly that publishers need better information and logistics control in order to survive and thrive in the industry today. We’re going to see more of this consolidation and provided that these result in additional support and value for stores selling the product and consumers purchasing the product, those will be good things.

Tom: Game Salute is doing a lot of community support. I noticed that you support The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund, Extra Life, The Creative Play Project, and others. Can you discuss that?

Dan: It’s simple, really. We have a ton of opportunities to help others and share the good that games can bring to life. These efforts are great ways to demonstrate that through active service and support for the community. We donate games, time, and money to these efforts to help them thrive. It’s an integral part of supporting the gaming community.

Tom: Ok, Dan. Here’s the big question or subject on everybody’s mind – Kickstarter. What are you thoughts on it? Good for gaming or hurtful?

Dan: Kickstarter, like most innovations, has upsides and downsides. We’re seeing a lot of innovative projects getting made that would not otherwise, but we’re also seeing a lot of projects where the creators don’t have the experience or wherewithal to follow through and deliver at the level of quality we’d expect. We need a combination of personal passion and professional support in order to use that platform to its fullest extent and end up with more quality games rather than just more games.

Tom: You recently attended PAXEast. How did it go?

Dan: PAX East was a blast! We had a huge booth in the Tabletop area and folks there all weekend playing games in the Tabletop Arcade section, buying games from the Game Salute store, and generally having a good time 🙂 Thanks again to all our staff and volunteers who worked so hard to make that show a success. Also, thanks to all the folks who attended my seminars on Kickstarter and Getting Your Game Published. If you missed us there, we’ll be at Origins, Gen Con, PAX Prime, and BGG.con later this year.

Tom: Dan, it’s always fun talking to you. Thanks for being my guest on Go Forth And Game and informing us on what Game Salute is all about. Thanks for providing such an varied and excellent service to us all.  I wish you lots of success.

Visit Game Salute and check out they have to offer. It’s really a great site.

Update Time!


I thought I would let you know how a few things are going.

First The Survivor.  It’s moving along.  I’ve sent it to several people for some playtest feedback.  I’m working on converting it from a chart driven game to a card driven one.  I have a card template and am transferring the text to form the cards.  The cool thing I’ve discovered is that with the change I can add scenario specific events and situations.  And actually add more text and graphics.  It will be much nicer.

Other game designs

Comatose is going back to the original idea of corrupt, evil nursery rhyme and fairy tale characters as the antagonists.  But I had a couple of major revelations that changes things quite a bit.  The first and biggest is the characters are no longer young adults.  Now they are elderly, occupants of an assisted living facility.  Their grandchildren have been taken by the evil rhymes.  The grandparents have to enter RhymeLand to rescue them.  The corruption aspect of the game remains except corruption causes the characters to grow younger as well as more corrupt, tied to the Land.  The other change simplifies the corruption dice mechanic.  Each characteristic starts with a certain number of dice.  As the character is corrupted, dice are removed from characteristics and added to the GM’s Corruption Pool.  These are available for the GM to use in the game during challenges, to change something in the story, or entice the players to do something.  It seems to work well and accomplishes what I want.

Home Front is coming together very well.  I’ve collected all my notes into one document finally.  I’m working on prototyping the game now.  I’ll post more on Home Front later in its own post.

The Gold Rush, The Cell Game, and Big Pharma are in holding stages while I finish the games above.

Go Forth website update is moving forward slowly.  I recently began learning GIMP to work on a logo and am seeking some professional advice from some good friends who are graphic artists.

I have several new interviews in the que as well as reviews of Belfort, For Sale, Bazaar, and Revolution pending.  I’m planning on increasing my review rate.  I would like to do more to add my voice to the mix.

To that end, if you are a game company or designer and would like me to consider your game for a review, send me an email at goforthandgame@gmail.com.  Note that I like to play a game at least 3 times before I review it.

Lastly, if there are any topics you would like me to talk about or if you have suggestions, leave a comment below.

That’s it for updates.  Please comment below if you have something to tell me.

Another Conversation with…Gozer Games Matthew Duhan


Tom: Welcome to Go Forth And Game again Matthew. Before we get to far into this remind us about your company Gozer Games.
Matthew: Gozer Games was founded in 2007 with the idea that games should be funny as well as fun. We have produced several titles. The most recent, Vampire Werewolf Fairies, won the 2011 Gaming Genius awards for Best Non-Collectible Card Game

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Tom: Now for your newest game, Titans of Industry.  Tell us all about it, what is it about, how do you play?
Mattew: Titans of Industry is a worker placement Eurogame set in the 1920s. I think that the setting and style are pretty unique for a game of this kind. You are trying, in 7 turns (years), to gain the most victory points, by buying factories and businesses and using them to produce and sell goods. It has a rich interaction, and builds upon itself rather well.Image


Tom: I’ve read Brian Lewis’ designer’s diary on BGG.  Tell me about how you got involved from your perspective.
Matthew: Brian summed it up very well. I had been wandering the open gaming room hoping to find a few potential games to consider licensing. I didn’t expect to find one which clicked so well on the first night! I met Brian and two other game designers at the same table, all showing their prototypes. The way Brian was describing the interaction and gameplay sounded like the kind of tight Eurogame that I was seeking. Even with the basic graphics (seen in his designer diary) I could tell that it was a well put together game. As a side note, the other contender I saw that night was Manhattan Project, which got picked up by Minion Games.


Tom: Did anything change from when you first saw it to final product?
Matthew: Quite a bit changed from what I first saw at Origins. Brian and I have collaborated together to make what I think is a stronger, tighter game. As Brian mentioned in his designer diary, originally the game had an auction mechanic, which slowed the game down more than it added to the experience. There was also originally a fourth deck of cards, For Sale cards, which could give additional VP bonuses. I decided to remove these to focus on the core game, but plan to offer it as a Kickstarter bonus (as part of a 6-player expansion). One of the most amusing changes, in my opinion, are the goods. Originally the goods were different, and after several playtests where people commented that a Factory that produced both steel and food might have some OSHA issues, I decided to change the goods to reflect the core theme of building and growth found in the game, making all the goods building materials.Image


Tom: This is a pretty big step for Gozer Games, picking up another designer’s game. What was there about ToI that made you take that leap?
Matthew: After having produced two light card games, I felt that it was time for Gozer Games to “grow up” so to speak, and to get into more serious Eurogames, since that’s where my interest lies. Recent games like 7 Wonders has showed that there can be solid Eurogames that aren’t “heavy” and that’s what I wanted to add to Gozer Games. It seemed a logical next step to look to license another designer’s game who maybe didn’t have the desire to handle all the other aspects of a game company, such as advertising, distribution, conventions, etc.


Tom: Why are you Kickstarting it?  What are some of your supporter rewards and stretch goal bonuses?
Matthew: Frankly, we’re Kickstarting it because we have to. I estimate that it will cost roughly $40,000 to produce the games, ship them, pass customs and inspections, pay for the artists, pay licensing and legal costs, etc. and that is not money which Gozer Games has on hand. Kickstarter is a great way to measure that risk and also gauge interest in the game. I love it, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will.

Here are some of the rewards that we have planned for Kickstarter backers:
* A copy of our previous games
* As mentioned before, the 6-player expansion including unique For Sale card deck
* (my personal favorite) Custom translucent meeples in all player colors for use as the Temp worker
* Custom player mats for all players (a Kickstarter exclusive)


Tom: What is unique about Titans of Industry?
Matthew: Titans of Industry doesn’t introduce many new concepts, but what it does is take known game mechanics and present them in a unique way. The concept of using Factories that only an single worker can use, but having a benefit of having multiple workers/players use a Business makes for a dynamic unique game experience that addresses the issue of “multi-player solitaire” found in some other games. The theme and deco style are also not commonly found.Image


Tom: I like the art deco style.  Tell me a little about the artist and how you joined forces.
Matthew: We are actually using several artists for this game, and utilizing their skills and strengths to produce a unified theme. Several artists and graphic designers worked together to create the board and logo/box art that you may have already seen online.


Tom: Have you had any problems with the game?
Matthew: So far, our biggest challenge has been raising the funds on Kickstarter and spreading the word about this game. There have not yet been problems with the design of the game, or the way it has been coming together.

Tom: Who is manufacturing/producing the game?
Matthew: We are planning to use Panda Manufacturing, who have produced other quality games such as Pandemic and Alien Frontiers. We have been working closely with them throughout the process, well before launching the Kickstarter campaign, so that things will be in a good state if we fund.Image

Tom: When do you hope it will be released to Kickstarter supporters?
Matthew: If all goes well, we plan to have the game available first to Kickstarter supporters in September, 2012.

Tom: What is next for you?  What else is in the queue?
Matthew: Gozer Games has a few things in the pipeline, but I don’t want to reveal yet what’s next for us.

Tom: Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Matthew: I’d like to thank all of our Kickstarter supporters, and ask people to please help spread the word about this great game. Kickstarter is a great platform for helping projects like this get made, which otherwise couldn’t be, and I look forward to seeing how it develops in the future.

Tom: Point us to the Titans of Industry Kickstarter again.  And to the Gozer Games homesite.  

It was awesome talking to you again Matthew.

Matthew: My pleasure!

Please check out the Titans of Industry Kickstarter pages. Please consider supporting too.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gozergames/titans-of-industry-board-game
http://kck.st/I2atjU

And visit the Gozer Games website.

http://www.gozergames.com

Thank you for visiting Go Forth And Game. I hope you enjoyed the interview. Please leave a comment below.

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Photos supplied by Gozer Games and William McCarroll of www.nerdbloggers.com.

Titans of Industry


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Gozer Games is Kickstarting their first board game, Titans of Industry.  Titans is a worker placement game in which you are building factories and other businesses.  Look for an interview with Matthew Duhan of Gozer sometime this week.  In the mean time check out the Kickstarter page and pledge your support.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/gozergames/titans-of-industry-board-game