Deal or Bad Deal

“I have an idea for a music game board. Can you help me make it?” The request came from an award-winning songwriter, and we were aspiring video game creators.  “We’ll split the profit 50/50.” We agreed.  We would turn his idea into a working game.  In turn he would sell the game to schools and libraries- he had a network of educators and songwriters worth a million.

6 years later, unfortunate events sent us into separate ways, leaving us to create our own networks, sell our own games, and make our own way.  But we were ok, because we were confident that we had found a good deal with The Game Crafter.

Now, 4 years beyond our parting, we finally admit to ourselves: a game with a $40 retail value being sold for $70 dollars is not a good deal.  $30 overpriced: some may overlook $10, or maybe even $15 over if the game is impressive enough. But $30 is too much to ask anyone for.  A game with a price tag above $50 needs to have bells and whistles to be worth all the money: ornate and involved, original pieces and amazing little details that The Game Crafter doesn’t offer.

We thought about selling the game at Amazon. We could make use of their warehouses, buy in bulk, and save the high retail price by selling the game directly to keep the prices low.  But for all the work that we put into the game, selling the game at $40 just to get $3.67 doesn’t feel like a very good deal.  Once split between us, that’s just about $1.80 per game that’s sold.  That won’t support Autumn Angel Art as individuals, much less Bookworm Games as a business.  And that doesn’t even count the cost -no matter how low- of using Amazon’s facilities to store our products in their warehouses and take advantage of their “Amazon fulfilled” marketplace sales.

We thought about using Kickstarter, but ultimately we’re story writers and game creators.  We produce entertainment for people to enjoy.  Kickstarter needs more than just a product, it needs exposure and extra attention to draw potential customers to it and it needs incentive that will hook the viewers and make them want to spend their money.  We need financing for advertising and we need other products for the incentives.

We also thought about downsizing to another project to produce on The Game Crafter, to sell it and make some money so that we can invest in another manufacturer.  But after a lot of work, the truth dawned: our downscaled product would face the same challenges as the larger product. (It also discouraged us to find that our ‘downsized’ product would cost more than our original project would have; we had worked VERY hard on making the first game as cheap as we could possibly get it.)

The truth is, if we want to make an impressive game that’s worth it’s cost, we cannot produce it with The Game Crafter.  There is no “shortcut” to selling a good card game.  It seems we’ll have to take the long road: do our research, choose the best game manufacturer, and save the money we need to publish any game that we make.

Kaleido Blast! 2.0

Hello again. I told you before that I would be comparing the original Kaleido Blast! game to the new one. Well, I’ve gotten a chance to see the new game, and I must say chap, it’s an improvement to the last one.  Here’s a video that shows off just a few of the changes.

I was watching a friend of mine play the game, and it’s a quite different game than it was before.  It’s got safe zones where you can’t get hit; danger zones in which you must defeat the enemies before they defeat you; the shields are different, and the meteors are new. The rules have been placed into a 3 page booklet, instead of the 8 pages that it had before. I do believe the game has stepped up its… game.  I’ve added a few pictures to help you see the differences.

The game is not only different, it’s difficult too. My friend played it many times in one afternoon, battling the arx and trying to win the game.  Her score… I’m sure you’re curious. She won 1 out of 5 times. So as you can imagine, the game is very hard!

After losing for so many times, she decided to give the Kaleido Ray a try. The rules boast that the game will be easier if you initiate the Kaleido Ray at the beginning of the game.  But my friend, bless her heart, she only won 1 out of 5 times again!  Either luck is not her ally or the odds of winning the game don’t change much, from one difficulty level to the next.

The final game she played, she had one Blu-arx left in row I. It was a final showdown, a dual to the end.  She could either roll a color blast and vanquish the arx, or she could roll a black and white blast and be sent back to hyperspace herself. It was such a close game, so exciting! She rolled a red, a green, a yellow and a purple or two before she rolled a blue; unfortunately the hit was against her own pawn. She lost the game!

Professor Marble plays Kaleido Blast!

Hello now.  How may I address you? Friend? Colleague? Chap? Ah yes, that will do nicely, I say.

Hello, my dear chap.  I am Professor Kat I. Marble.  I do enjoy a good game now and again, even when it’s a game of solitaire: Bullseye Mahjong and TriPeaks, Solitaire Scrabble, crosswords and word searches, Spider and Diplomat and Royal Rendezvous.

I always like a game that works my mind and makes me think.  Perhaps that’s why my friend the fox brought me this game: Kaleido Blast!  It’s a solitaire dice game, like Phase 10, D-Day Dice, and Escape: The Curse of the Temple. It’s not LIKE them, per se, but it is fairly similar.  I’ve included a few shots of me, enjoying the game, below.  Watch the slideshow to see how it played out.

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But the thing is, chap, Kaleido Blast! has changed from the version that I played.  From what I’ve heard through the grapevine, there have been a number of changes made to the game. Here’s a breakdown of the alterations:

  • The enemy shapes are different, and the pieces are now plastic.
  • The shields are now asteroids to enhance the space experience.
  • The pawn has changed shapes, and is now plastic as well.
  • Life chips have been added to replace extra pawns.
  • The board- upgraded! Now better quality than it was.
  • The rules have been tweaked.
  • The box has been modified.
  • The storefront has been updated.
  • Website to Bookworm Games, coming soon.
  • The price has risen, but the game is better quality too!

Kaleido Blast! 2.0 will be available very soon. Keep in touch and stay tuned, my friend.

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Captain’s Log: Attention Gamers!

September 25, sometime in the Baroque Era, with a touch of present day.

Ahoy, ’tis Captain Goodrich here.   I’d like a moment of your time, if you have some to spare.

This past week you’ve had the chance to meet some of my crew.  Soon, I’ll be extending an invitation to all gamers like yourself, requesting that you join Baroque, Dissonancy, Passion, Rococo, and the rest of my crew as our shanty-man on the Phantom Acoustique.

Shanty-men are important roles to fill in a ship’s crew, as the shanty-man is a musician who leads the crew’s work with a shanty, an upbeat song.  This keeps our riggers in harmony together and lifts the spirits of the entire crew.  Shanty-men also make jolly the celebrations and entertainment onboard the ship so that the crew won’t lose heart on our voyages.

You’ll be navigating the seas, trading at port, dueling both pyrates and friends to protect the treasure maps you claim, and you may even experience a cannon battle or two.

If you decide to receive the invitation and join my crew of second chances, then I will be honored to give you the name Shanty, and my crew will welcome you eagerly into our ranks.  You’ll work with the boatswain, the carpenter, the gun master, and even an occasional king or religious evangelist who are taking their own voyage with us.

Friend, how much do you appreciate music?  If you love history, art, and music, then get ready to experience the journey of a lifetime in this long awaited, highly-competitive game of the year.  In the midst of stealing maps, arresting pyrates, collecting booty and surviving dread cannon battles, you’ll be composing your very own shanty tune in the key of sea.

Autumn Angel Art has been laboring over this swashbuckling card game for a long time, and are working diligently on getting it finished and in the marketplace by the end of the year or early next year.  Follow Autumn Angel Art on Twitter or their Facebook page to keep up with the important updates and information on this one-of-a-kind pyrate card game.  Or, if it suits your fancy, just follow this blog.  They’ll be sure to write updates as news on the game becomes available.

Captain’s Log: Shut the Box

September 23, sometime in the Baroque Era, with a touch of present day.

Written with penmanship of Baroque, the beautiful red-headed quartermaster of the Phantom Acoustique.

I shan’t be named as best scribe of the seven seas, but at entertainin’ I know it all. Fer gamin, me choice hobby be Shut the Box. All o’ the power seadogs ‘r’playing it. It takes no time but, maybe a slowish count o’ 20 on yer fingers, and can be 1 player, 2 player, 4 player, however many mates ye want until the box is shut. Aye, it’s just as it sounds, a box without a lid won’t do. Ye have’ta shut it to call victory. … Or a’least be the mate scorin’ the lowest most skimpiest number.

The rules be simple, so simple! Roll o’pair’o dice (six sides) and 2 numbers be showin’.  Ye count up the total an’ decide which planks (‘r panels) y’shut. Maybe 1, maybe 2, 3, is perfection. Traditional-like, thar be a row o’ 9 planks, each with numbers 1-9. Be closin’ the box be t’object o’ t’game. T’ close it, ye gotta shut each plank, turn ’em over,  ’til none ‘r’ left showin’ numbers.

So roll yer die. Imagine ye got 5 an’ 1. Yer total bein 6, y’can shut 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 ‘r 6 planks, to make t’sum o’ 6. which’ee gonna choose? It’s up t’yerself not to end in a deadlock! I’d say choose t’shut 1 an’ 5, which would total 6; but 4 ‘n’ 2′; ‘r 3, 2, ‘n’ 1; ‘r 6 all be others you can play, savvy?

The reason why I choose Shut the Box o’er any other proud title is fer the feel o’ rollin’ the dice. I fancy t’play it while sittin’ ther hearin’ me Captain play his harpsichord. He works his skill’d hands fer hours! Me b’rollin’ t’dice. Although countin’ up t’twelve eventually do tire out yer sore eyes… surely ye’ll relate when I say as I gotta pass me time somehow, whilst that keyboard never stops o’playin.  I gots me games to pass the sand in the hourglass with, though now that Madrigal, our swabbie, gave Cap’n a coocoo clock fer the cabin, th’ lil bird pops and says “coo coo” once on t’hour, and interupts the music. (Har har) Cap’n furrows ‘is brow and heaves a sigh ‘n’ shoutin’ “Arg, someone shoot that bloody bird! I playin’ me music and ne’er be ended!“Yar har, ’tis only a jest, ther’s naught be but gentleman qualities in Gavotte.(It be me brother I act out.)  Gavotte ne’er speaks an ill word. Rather boring!  Nay, be a lie of me. Reliable and noble, that he is. That he is now. Don’t be listenin to a ill word said about he aboard me ship.

Goin’ back t’Shut the Box, if yer findin’ yerself a want fer the game, shops sell it everywhere. Quite the unfortune that it’s a mighty-like doubloons to get a copy. Aye. Free copies’r floatin’ about, but ther imitations. Cheap. Forgive me!!! But I tell’d it like I see’d it, and any good blokes gonna check the depths o’ the web to snatch a version money-a’lackin, and they’ll know meself’s o’fool. No no, ’tis me naught, but thar that copy yer tryin!! Buy yerself a real box. DO NOT go tryin this online version. Shan’t be clickin it, I say! Er’else ya might’s well be lame as a barnacle, cuz yer missin’ ev’ry opportunity to experience a real treasure. Bein the real shuttin’ game.

Escaping the Lair Card Game (name pending) Update

BRIEF HISTORY

Three years ago, Kathryn and Lacy created a card game title The Lair. During the time of the alpha tests, Lacy stumbled upon a Kickstarter project by a man, Paul Taylor, inviting people to submit stories for a Christian anthology book, Worlds of Faith. She gave money to it, wanting it to succeed, but had no plan to submit a story. God had other plans (realized through prayer).

Events conspired. Worlds of Faith was funded, however, went months incomplete because there were not enough stories to make the book. Therefore, the only righteous thing to do, to help the project along, was to write. Kathryn and Lacy wrote two stories, one being inspired by their game The Lair. It was an interesting experience, suddenly linking their game to Christian literature. That catapulted them into the idea of selling literature and games together.

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CURRENT STATUS OF GAME

The Lair is not the same game as it was in 2013. It’s had many transformations since then, being renamed Escaping the Lair for the Worlds of Faith story, and expanding into a game that expresses Bible truths through allegory. Because it still needs time, the game remains in development. The current status is testing for “bugs”, drafting the rulebook, and creating a marketing plan.

Escaping the Lair Card Game (name pending) is a dungeon-crawler set in a mythical world where heroes struggle the grip of death from every turn. Traps are fired, monsters creep, and Dragon strikes unexpectedly. Players interact with a good NPC to stay alive while battling the evil NPC inside the evil realm.

Kathryn explains in a video what improvements have been made since the beta release of the game last year.

IMPROVEMENTS MADE

  • Game title: The title will change from Escaping the Lair Card Game. It will not be revealed at this time, but the title strays from the short story approach to create a more dynamic product for fantasy gamers.
  • Rulebook: Rules have improved dramatically, with more NPC action and less complications. Players interact differently with new character skills.
  • Card designs: Completely redesigned. Cards have been removed, enlarged, or added. Titles have changed.
  • Box design: Pending. Your opinion would be super helpful. Please look at the picture of the box design and answer the poll below.

 

Autumn Angel Art has a whole new vision for our game. The vision includes expansion packs for new characters, items, and dungeons; stories in literary form exploring the mythical world of the Lair; and possibly merchandise (aka T-shirts, hats, etc.) if the demand is there.

 

 

The Cost of Low Prices

Lacy and I strive to sell quality products to our customers. If it’s stationery from Zazzle, if it’s a published book on Amazon, if it’s a card or board game sold on our manufacturer’s website; we only invest in quality products that is worth our customer’s money.

How true is it that people want a fun experience for a low price?  If you’re a responsible spender, then busting your wallet will compromise the pleasure you’ll have in making that purchase that we sellers want you to make.  To deliver an experience that’s in budget and fun to play again and again; this is a meaningful ambition that Lacy and I try to live by.

To sell quality products, it takes money to make money, especially at a cheap cost.  That’s a lesson we’ve learned after years of research. In our searching, we’ve looked into local companies like Yaquinto (now Cartamundi), other USA-based companies like Board Game Design and 360 Manufacturing, and even non-USA companies like the Canadian Panda Game Manufacturing and the Chinese Wafai Printing (which used to offer the printing of board and card games.)

A few years ago, Lacy and I discovered a print on demand game company: The Game Crafter (also known as TGC). It seemed promising, so we decided to invest our time; we weren’t disappointed. The company is very effective in its work, and they deliver just what they promise: allowing game designers to actually make and sell games.  The templates that are given are easy to understand and the website is convenient to use.  They’ve even improved their equipment and services over the years we’ve been following them.

TGC has a shop that sells many designers’ works, and many original games are for sale there, including the Kickstarter success “Village in a Box” by Peter Jackson and the game that I’m personally interested in, “Melusine” by Artemic Games.

Although we’ve been impressed by their improvements, Lacy and I are dissatisfied for 2 main reasons.  First of all, there are limits to the components that are available to put into a game.  Designers can only choose from set shapes and pieces that TGC offers.  If they don’t have what you need, then you’re out of luck.  Are you wanting to put aluminum doubloons into your trading game?  Do you see a vintage piece in the shop that represents the game you’re designing?  You’d better hope they don’t decide to discontinue your featured piece, or you’ll lose a valuable part of your game.  Personally, we were happy to see when the company added doubloons to the list of available components, but were then disappointed when they stopped selling the coins before we could even begin developing a game for it.

It’s understandable why they do that, and I’m sure one day the limits of possibilities will be lifted and TGC will offer the ability to make your customers pay extra for custom components.  But… that leads into our second concern.

Our goal is to be a gaming business that offers the best quality for less than a wallet-buster price.  We want to settle on a fair price: fair enough for our manufacturer to get paid, for us to earn a living, for retail stores to get a good deal, and still save money for our customers.  As we work with TGC, we must raise prices to numbers that we don’t agree with.  Games that we see as a $15 value have to be priced at $39.99.  A game worth $35 is priced at $84.99 or more to make a decent profit.

So this past month, I was browsing Amazon.com. I wanted to observe the typical game prices and quality compared to the games we can make at TGC. I like to do that: browse shops to check prices of products.  So I checked Catan: 5th edition and Ticket to Ride, because they’re very popular games.  Both were about $40.  As I was looking through the games, Mice and Mystics caught my eye, mainly because it was a more costly game, the price falling at just under $65.  It was full of tiny plastic figurines and cards and little wedges of cheese.  I also checked on another great game, Pandemic, because Lacy and I have played it before and know the quality of the game; it was cheaper than the others, priced right at $25.

This discouraged me. After trying to come up with a way to downgrade our projects to be more affordable, I decided to reconsider our manufacturing options all together.  I called an executive meeting, Lacy and I brainstormed the possibilities, and we decided that it would be best for our customers if we decided to focus our more expensive projects with another company, Panda GM.  After looking over the showcase games featured on their site, Lacy and I were surprised to find Mice and Mystics and Pandemic were  both products of PandaGM.

Using Panda Game Manufacturing instead of TGC will cause us to make changes in file types, card designs, etc. We’ll also need to invest in Adobe InDesign to work with Panda GM, and raise the money we need for production, possibly with Kickstarter or another way; but Lacy and I are eager to do whatever we can to offer the better quality and lower prices to our customer, because low prices really are that important to us.