Tag: Letiman Games

Jurassic Fun For Everyone!…A Conversation With Dan Letzring


Tom: Welcome again Dan. I’m really happy to talk to you again. Let’s get into it. You decided to cancel the Dino Dude Ranch campaign and relaunch it. Which you did this past week. Congratulations! The game is doing quite well. With the previous campaign, you unlocked basically all the stretch goals by the end of the campaign. Can you talk about them and why you decided to go ahead and release them?

Rev's Box

Dan: Yes, some of the stretch goals were not intended to be directly in the base game so they were not included at base funding, but they were minimal in cost to add so I figured I would start to unlock them to attract more backers to the campaign.  The more expensive upgrades were able to be compensated for by the changes I made early in the campaign to reduce the cost of the game.  At the start of the campaign I realized that simply reducing thickness of the player mats, which are still quality and functionally equivalent, allowed me to save on both manufacture and shipping.  Since the campaign costs were based on the more expens9099414ive game, I  was able to unlock the stretch goals and still cover the costs if the campaign successfully funded.

Tom: You’ve included your other game, Ph. D., as an add-on. That was a good idea. How well has it been received?

Dan: It was actually well received.  I know that the game is targeted to a very specific audience, which is why I was hesitant to add it in the first place, but as soon as I added it I had a handful of backers change to the reward tier as well as people contact me post campaign asking about it for the next time around.  Even though the game is not directly related to Dino Dude Ranch, backers were receptive to it because they were interested in seeing the project succeed, supporting me as a designer, and trying out a new game.  Though I must admit, the game is still fun regardless of if you went to grad school or not.  This second time around,Dr Dinosaur Image to share I will be including Ph. D. The Game right from the start and it will include a Limited Edition Card for the backers who choose it called Dr. Dinosaur.  It will include a Dinosaur Dude Rancher as the image but in the style of Ph. D. The Game.  I will also be sending this card to backers of my first campaign for Ph. D. The Game as a thank you for being repeat backers.  For more information on Ph. D. The Game, people can check out the BoardGameGeek page at:

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/153653/ph-d-game

Tom: You mentioned after the last campaign that there were some improvements that you discovered during the campaign and some ideas from backer feedback. What improvement are you incorporating?

Dan: First and foremost, I was able to get the game down to $23 (shipped for free in the US).  This price will not include the upgrade to custom cut wooden food meeples but those will also be available for an additional cost. I was able to lower international shipping, especially significant for the UK, France and the western EU.  Lastly, I have been workDDR veloing hard to improve the layout/graphic design of a lot of the components.  On top of that, I have been working with the artist to complete the remaining pieces needed for the game: The player mats/ranches, some characters, and the velociraptors.

Tom: The updates look fantastic! I think they improve the game quite a bit. And as small as it seems, dropping the price to $23 will make it more attractive I think. And it makes it seem more like a family game for some reason. Free shipping for the U.S. doesn’t hurt either.

Now, we didn’t talk too much about this in the last interview but I want to talk about the art for DDR. Who was your artist? They’re super great and perfect for a family game.

Dan: Thank you!  I was very lucky to connect with a fantastic artist, Jesse Labbe.  I was playing a game published by 1A Games called Cross Hares and thought to myself that the artwork would go perfectly with my game so I reached out to the artist (who also turned out to be the game designer) and that was Jesse.  He drew me one sample dinosaur and I was sold immediately.  We worked really well together and have been sharing the same vision moving forward with it ever since.  I look forward to seeing the remaining pieces that he has left to complete and updating the rest of the placeholder art.  I must say again that I have been very lucky to work with someone who I can mesh so well with.

Tom: You’ve changed some of the pledge tiers too. Talk about that decision.

I realized that making a less expensive reward tier was beneficial in many ways.  First, it gives the backers a less expensive option (shipped in the US for $23 instead of $29) which will also alleviate high cost concerns for international backers.  Second, it was less expensive for me to offer the base game with the upgraded add ons, thus allowing me to lower the goal a little Old and new reference Cardbit…and every little bit counts!.  What is great about this change too is that it has zero impact on gameplay.  The main difference is thick punchboard tokens (which are still quality) vs. custom cut wooden food resources.  Although the custom wood pieces are nice, I figured some people would be indifferent to them and prefer to save some money.  Now they can.  I also figured I would reward those who chose the upgrade by including Velociraptor dinosaur tiles as well.  They are not a part of the base game but add a nice new scoring mechanic that has a nice effect on gameplay.

Tom: What have you learned from the first DDR campaign? What have Updated Chityou done differently?

Dan: I think the most important thing is that I am going into it with a stronger crowd.  I have been raising awareness of the launch date (May 19) and I had all of these amazing backers from the first campaign ready to go on Day 1.  This strong start will hopefully set the tone for a fantastic re-launch.

Thanks for joining me Dan. The game looks even better than before. It has had a very strong start, at little over halfway to goal with 25 days to go. That’s awesome.

Dino Dude Ranch can be supported right here. It has about 20 days to go and is halfway to its funding goal. As you have seen Dan has updated most of the art and made some significant improvements to the game. It’s Jurassic fun for everyone.

Representative image

Readers, please leave a comment by clicking on the word balloon at the top of the page. Or you can email me at goforthandgame@gmail.com or on Twitter @goforthandgame or @tomgurg. I would really like to hear from you.

 

Doctors and Dudes – A Conversation With….Dan Letzring From Letiman Games


I’m glad to have Dan from Letiman Games on the ‘show’ today.  Letiman Games has one published game, PhD and one on the way, Dino Dude Ranch. We talk about both and some more stuff. Here we go…

 

Letiman Games

 

Tom: Hi Dan, thanks for being my guest on Go Forth.

Dan: Hey Tom, Thank YOU for doing this with me, I am very excited and look forward to it.

Tom: Online, you are located at  http://letimangames.com

Dan: That’s correct!

Tom: First, tell us a bit about yourself.

Dan: I live in Rochester, NY with my wife and daughters.  I have been designing games for a few years but only really got into it seriously about 2 years ago.  These past few years have been an amazing learning process and I look forward working hard to develop my skills more each and every day.

Tom: Now talk about your games. Let’s start with PhD.

Dan: This started as a joke.  Many people share very similar stories of what a nightmare going to grad school can be regardless of the field the degree is in.  I thought it would be fun to joke about the situation in the form of a card game.  Although it was targeted to a very narrow audience, it is what got me to seriously consider designing games.

Tom: That’s a neat story. I went through that myself many years ago.

Dan: I am so sorry for you.  What is your degree in? 9099414

Tom: I have an M.S. in Molecular Biology. I need to make a game from this somehow. PhD. successfully funded in February of 2014. What’s going on with it?

Dan: Very cool, my degree was in Biophysics but my research was mostly Molecular Biology focused.  Have you seen the games being put out by Got Genius Games: Linkage and Peptide?  Those are probably right down your alley!  In regard to Ph. D. The Game, I continue to sell copies regularly but it is more in a casual sense. I have not seriously pursued the widespread distribution of the game as of yet because  I am focusing more on games that reach a broader audience.

Tom: I’ve seen neither of those games nor have I heard of Got Genius Games. I need to check those out. What was your research topic?

Dan: You do need to check them out, the games deal with transcription and translation!  My research (not that anyone cares!) was focused on how synonymous codons could have effects on translation even though they are resulting in the same polypeptide sequence.   Check me out on PubMed!

Tom: Ph.D. is currently available at The Game C rafter correct? (In fact it’s right here.)

Dan: That is correct, as well as on Amazon.  Print on Demand has been fantastic for Ph. D. The Game thus far, but I would like to move away from that format with Dino Dude Ranch.

Tom: So talk about Dino Dude Ranch, your next game. Describe it for us.

Dan: Dino Dude Ranch is a Set Collection/Resource Management game designed for Ages 8+.  My goal in mind was a fun family game that was a 20-30 minute casual game night filler.

Tom: Talk about the game play. What goes on in Dino Dude Ranch?Cover Cropped

Dan: The main idea of the game is that players roll dice to collect resources (meat, fish, and leaves) that are in turn used to capture dinosaurs to place on their ranches.  Cards can be purchased as well using any combination of two resources and they make purchasing easier or add a light take that mechanism to attack other players.  All players have hidden bonuses that are revealed in the end in order to gain additional scoring and whoever has the most points/most valuable ranch wins!

Tom: Cool. We play a lot of ‘family’ games at my house so I’m pretty interested in DDR. When will you launch it on Kickstarter?

Dan: That is great!  I think it is extremely important for families to sit around the table and interact face to face.  What are some of your favorite games to play with your family?  Dino Dude Ranch launches Feb 25th!

Tom: Right now Takenoko and The Little Prince are the hot games. We like Ticket To Ride, Viva Java: The Dice Game, DC Deck Building. And Mob Town probably got played the most in 2014. That is such a good, good game. What are the pledge levels?  

Dan: A $1 reward level, $34 for the complete game with all stretch goals, and a reward tier to design your own custom Dino Dude Rancher with a name and look of your choosing to go on a Player Board.

Tom:I hear custom rewards can be a nightmare. Why are you putting that on yourself?

Dan: I decided to do it for a couple of reasons.  First, I did them in my first campaign and they came out really well.  The artist for Ph. D. The Game also does caricatures, so he nailed the custom images perfectly for the Custom Lab Member Cards.  Second, I know it is a reward that I would want myself so I am willing to put in the extra work to make it happen.  I have been planning how to move forward with it so that it is easier when I get to that stage.  Lastly, it just seemed to make sense for this game.  I was back and forth between a special edition of the game or the custom rancher and logistically it just worked out better to move forward with the custom rancher.  Thanks for your concern though!

Tom: What are some of your stretch goals?

Dan: Almost all of the stretch goals include upgrading components: Custom engraved dice, a component tray for the box, cardstock upgrade, components to increase from 2-4p up to 2-5p.  One of my favorites is upgrading the food tokens from 1.5mm chipboard to custom cut wooden tokens.  The resources are handled a lot and I think the tokens will be a nice touch.  I also have some other ideas in the works, but you will just have to wait and see what comes up! I’m also working on adding an additional dinosaur with a new buying mechanic.

Tom: Food meeples? That would be cool. I like the art of the game. It’s very family friendly and quirky. Who’s the artist?

Dan: Yeah well in my first printed prototype the food was made out of cardstock so handling them was a complete nightmare and I decided that if the pricing was reasonable, I would upgrade to wooden tokens.  Hopefully we hit that stretch goal.  The art of the game is done by Jesse Labbe.  He does some amazing work in graphic novels and has one All togetherboard game that he not only did the artwork for but he designed as well called Cross Hares (published by 1A Games).  We spoke on the phone and he had sketches ready for me that were so in sync with what I was looking for that I decided that I absolutely had to work with him.  The ranchers that are pictured are not by him and I look forward to working with him to redesign the ranchers in his style.

Tom: What one piece of advice would you give aspiring game designers?

Dan: Do not rush it!  It is very easy to want to get the game out of the gates as quickly as possible and launch it on Kickstarter or sell it online as soon as possible.  Wait.  Get it play-tested and refined.  Do your research both on the design end and the business end.  If you are planning a Kickstarter, plan it many months in advance, do your research, talk to people who can help and TAKE YOUR TIME.

Tom: That’s very good advice. It is easy for your passion for a design to cause you to rush it or bring it out half baked. The business end of the process is very intimidating to me. I have no desire at all to deal with that. Why did you decide to start a game company?

Dan: I actually enjoy the business and marketing end of it all.  I think part of my motivation was that I really felt like it was something I could do and I wanted to give it a try.  It has been working out so far and I hope to develop, get better at what I do, and watch the company grow!

Tom: Cool. What is the best part of owning a game company?

Dan: I can spend all of my free time doing game related activities.  Play-testing, research (a.k.a. playing games all night long), and game design.  I love it all!

Tom: Living the dream. If you need a play-tester, I know an experienced one who has a great set of gamer friends. :>  Any plans to publish games from other designers?  

Dan: I would love to!  My goal has been to publish a few titles of my own first in order to establish myself and then move into publishing others’ games as well.

Tom: That’s good to hear because I’m working on these games…..;). What is your current favorite game mechanic?

Dan: If you’re serious and Dino Dude Ranch does well enough, we can talk! I guess if I had to pick a favorite mechanic right now, I would have to say deck/pool building.  My wife and I have been playing a lot of Dominion and King’s Forge lately.

Tom: I play-tested King’s Forge. It’s pretty good. Just different enough. What’s in the queue after Dino Dude Ranch?

Dan: I have a few games I have been working on and I have been talking with another designer about a possible collaboration. Not a whole lot has progressed yet though because I have been pouring all of my energy into Dino Dude Ranch right now and sidelining everything else.  My current project deserves my entire devotion until it gets completed.635481231053198696

Tom: But of course. But not even a teaser?  How can people contact you?  

Dan: Nothing is at the stage that I am excited enough about to talk about it but you will be the first person that I contact when it’s ready!  I can be contacted on twitter (@LetimanGames), facebook (Letiman Games), and by email (contact.letimangames@gmail.com).

Tom: Any final words?

Dan: Thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to talk games with you!  If you or any readers have questions about Dino Dude Ranch or even just want to talk, please feel free to contact me!  I love talking games.

Readers, please check out Dan’s games at the links above. Keep watch for Dino Dude Ranch on Kickstarter. And leave me some feedback on this or other interviews below.

Thanks for reading!

Tom

Letiman Games