Posts Tagged ‘ Kickstarter ’

Designer on Designer: Jason Slingerland

Sometimes, when you are interested in something a little off-center of mainstream culture, say like board games for instance, it can feel a little lonely. You spend times learning as much as you can about your exciting interest and find that when you get the nerve to share it with someone they aren’t as enthusiastic as you are. (For shame!) But then you find your tribe. The worlds gets smaller through the innovative technology and you begin to find pockets of your people spread across the world-wide-web. And occasionally you find out that some of these kindred spirits live in your own backyard. This is the case for me and my friend, Jason Slingerland. Jason is a cool dude who lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He’s into board games, too. He’s also into designing board games. He even has a cool podcast where he and another Michigander get together to talk about designing board games! As a person who is always on the lookout for opportunities to learn and grow from the experience of others’ I was able to ask Jason a few questions. We talked about his show, Building The Game, and a game he’s self-publishing with the help of Kickstarter called Water Balloon Washout. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen in on our conversation. He’s good people.
Hi Jason, tell me a little bit about yourself. You have a new game up on Kickstarter that you are self-publishing and you are the co-host of a lovely podcast. Tell people about that!

I’ve been playing games my whole life and in the last year and I half, I have really gotten into designing. Around that time I started doing a podcast with Rob Couch called Building the Game. On the show we discuss talk about what we have been playing, discuss mechanics and then we pitch new game ideas each week. The show started as a way to track our progress from being complete newbies at designing to hopefully experienced designers. We try on the podcast to really show the process of design from conception through publication. Some many people feel like game design is inaccessible when really it’s quite the opposite. There are so many people willing to help out new designers.

My new card game, Water Balloon Washout is now on Kickstarter through August 11. It’s a light strategy game for 2-4 players that revolves around kids having a water balloon fight. It’s a simple that only takes a couple of minutes to learn to play but as you move through the game you find that there is a good level of strategy involved and also a lot of replayability.

Here's a shot from our prototype, the artwork here is completed but the layout and backgrounds will be improved once our awesome Graphic Artist gets ahold of it.  In addition our artist is still working on another 40+ images that will be in the game.

Water Balloon Washout Prototype.

So I know in the beginning of the Building the Game Podcast you and Rob set out to document the process of becoming published game designers. How has the podcast been successful to those ends?

We are making good progress towards that goal. I sold a card game design to Hat Trick Games last fall called Gunslingin’ Ramblers and it’s due out next year. That has really given Rob and I some insight into that process of working closely with a publisher. We are constantly getting great feedback from listeners that really encourages us. Our audience has been consistently growing and we really feel like we are making a difference and helping newer designers. In the process, it’s also been very helpful to Rob and I as designers.

Now that you guys are starting to get your games out to the world, how will this change the content/concept of Building the Game?

I think overall it doesn’t change up the show all that much. Maybe having games out there gives us a little more street cred but really we have had very experienced designers telling us from the beginning that our ideas were valid. I think that goes to show how open the community is to new people. I can say for sure that our format won’t change. Just our level of experience.

Let’s talk a little bit about Water Balloon Washout. How did this game come to be? What made you decide to try this one out of all of your ideas to be the one to self-publish with the help of Kickstarter?

This game came to be when I wanted to design a game that captured a neighborhood snowball fight in a way that felt like you were really in the thick of it but still have the game be very simple and easy to learn. Over time the game changed a bit and became Water Balloon Washout. The core was still the same but the theme changed from Winter to Summer. One of the side goals that came about from designing this game was that I realized I had created something that was simple enough kids could play but it had enough strategy baked in, that adults, specifically gamers would find it fun and replayable. This is something I am really proud of about the game because I think that’s a tough thing to do. Having playtested the game with kids and also adult gamers, I have found it equally enjoyable for them yet on very different levels.
As for why I decided to self publish the game… I have always been interested in that model and this game being a 90 card deck in a tuck box seemed like a low risk way to test the waters. Also, it allowed for Rob and I to get that insider experience into publishing via Kickstarter.

What have you learned so far through the process of building a Kickstarter campaign for your game?

I knew there was a lot to be done but I figure I spent about 60 hours just working on my Kickstarter page and laying things out. I couldn’t believe it took that long. I have also learned that waiting for more backers to come on board can be nerve wracking!

I really love getting to talk to other designer’s about the design process. Everybody seems to have their own system or approach. Tell me a little bit about yours.

I am a very theme oriented person, so I generally find myself coming up with a theme and then trying to find mechanics that really mesh well with that theme. I usually take copious notes in an Excel spreadsheet trying to balance the game before making a prototype. Once I make a prototype I have a core group of people that I test with.

You live in my home state, the lovely mitten; Michigan! What is your favorite game shop or gaming event in Michigan?

Game shop is definitely Fanfare in Kalamazoo where I live. As for favorite gaming event, I would be after this year it will be GrandCon.

How about a little more in general; what is your favorite thing about living in Michigan?

Michigan is a beautiful state with 4 full seasons and so many different landscapes to see. I love camping and nature so this is a good place for it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. I wish you much success with your Kickstarter campaign, the podcast, and your upcoming game Gunslingin’ Ramblers. Is there anything else you’d like to mention before we wrap this up?

Thanks for chatting with me. If anyone would like to contact me about the show or the Kickstarter the best places are @JASlingerland on twitter or email me at Buildingthegamepodcast@gmail.com

Thanks so much man! This was fun!
You can back Water Balloon Washout on Kickstarter right here!

CRASH GOES TO THE BEACH: A PARADISE FALLEN PREVIEW

I have never been to Hawaii, but if it’s anything like the post-apocalyptic vision from Crash Games’ upcoming title, Paradise Fallen, I think I’d rather stay away. The beauty of the islands call out to me but the lack of supplies, savage tribes, and disruptions in the natural order of time and space doesn’t make for the type of quaint vacation spot I’d hope for. While I’d be too much of a sissy to visit this fallen version of paradise for a little fun-in-the-sun, it does make a great theme for a board game! And a good one at that!

Box art mock-up for Paradise Fallen. Now on Kickstarter!

Box art mock-up for Paradise Fallen. Now on Kickstarter!

In Paradise Fallen, from Crash Games and first-time designer, Andrew Wright (II), players assume the role of tribesmen seeking to explore 9 islands in search of the mystical powers they provide in a not-too-distant-or-friendly-future. Think Lost meets The Hunger Games meets Indiana Jones…kinda.

Set-Up

Game set-up is a cinch. Shuffle the 9 island cards and place them in a 3 x 3 grid in the center of the table. Shuffle a deck of cards and deal 5 to each player. Place your player piece on the corner island closest to your seat. Dump the Kanaloa Tokens near the board. That’s it! You are ready to explore.

Boats on an island. (Not final components)

Boats on an island. (Not final components)

Game-play

Learning how the game works is almost as simple as the set-up. On a player’s turn they can move around the islands and play cards from their hand as much as they want as cards allow.

Movement

To move to an adjacent island you must play Ration Cards (Island Cards may also be used for 1 ration) that are equal to or greater than the cost specified on the island you wish to enter. Any rations above the specified amount are lost so it is necessary to plan your movement carefully and efficiently.

Play Cards

Discover an Island: A player can Discover an Island they are stopped on by playing an Island Card with a matching name, placing the card in front of them and placing a Kanaloa Token on the card that can be used one time to activate that island’s special ability. You can only spend one Kanaloa Token per turn but they can be very helpful if you time it right.

Aptitude Cards: Aptitude Cards are special action cards that breaks some of the basic rules and can be played to either help you help yourself or hinder your opponents. Each card is used once and discarded when you play it.

Aberration Cards: Aberration Cards are played on the island grid either on an island or in-between islands and can also help you or hinder your opponents. They can even hinder your own plans since the effects are applied to the player who placed them as well. So be thoughtful about where you decide to play these cards. Aberrations are cumulative so the more cards placed on a location the more the effect are amplified.

Winning The Game

Play continues until one player discovers a certain amount of islands. The number of islands is determined by the number of players in the game. Once someone discover the set amount of islands all other players get one more turn. The player who discovered the most islands wins. Ties are broken based on who has the most unused Kanaloa Tokens.

Sounds pretty simple, eh? But don’t let this simplicity of set-up and game-play fool you. There is a lot of game here. At it’s core the game is a medium-weight, hand-management game that involves luck, tactics, and strategy. At times the game feels very puzzle-y as players will have to figure out how to use their cards to optimize movement and make the most of the rations available. All of this works very well in a 30 minute time frame where the experience feels different with each game.

Little game. Big punch. (not final components)

Little game. Big punch. (Not final components)

Conclusions

My wife has this rule about the time of day that is acceptable for learning new games. On weeknights, if the sun looks like it’s thinking about going down in the next hour or two, she doesn’t want anything to do with anything new. But when I suggested giving Paradise Fallen a try a little after dark this week, she accepted my invitation when I told her it would only take a minute to learn the basics and be done in thirty minutes. After cruising through our first play she told me she really liked the game and was looking forward to playing it again. That is considered a huge win for me!

I’ve also got a soft spot for small games that pack a big punch. So much so that this was one of the design goals for my own game, The Great Heartland Hauling Co. I’d happily place Paradise Fallen in this category of games. Using a few simple components and a deck of cards, Crash Games and Wright have delivered a portable game that can be learned and played quickly. I can definitely see myself taking this game along when I am taking off for vacations to much less fallen paradises than the one explored in the game.

And what about the art and design? This game is gorgeous! Artist, Jason Carr, and designer, Darrell Louder (of Compounded fame!) have created a visual experience that captures the beauty of the islands with the chaos of the theme in a very functional way. This thing looks HOTT! The iconography depicted on the cards to illustrate special abilities allows the art to shine without being covered by an excess of words. The icons work but will probably take a couple plays to get all the details stuck in your head but once it clicks, it really clicks.

Paradise Fallen is a fun, quick game with an interesting, unique theme. It’s on Kickstarter, so get on board now. Just remember to be on the lookout for rogue tribes trying to get in the way of you harnessing the power of this fallen paradise…or something like that. Just do it. It’ll be fun.

A prototype of Paradise Fallen was provided for the purpose of this preview. I’m also friends with Patrick Nickell (owner of Crash Games) but I would tell you if this game sucked, which it doesn’t, so there.

LINK ROUND UP: THE GREAT HEARTLAND HAULING CO.

What a ride! We’re trucking toward 75% of our funding goal as I get this post ready. Thanks so much for your support so far.

In case this idea got lost in the social media mix, I wanted to make it clear that when you pledge at least $25.00 on Kickstarter you will get one of the first copies of The Great Heartland Hauling Co., hot off the production line and shipped to you anywhere in the U.S. or Canada (At $35 you get worldwide shipping!). So we’re not just asking to you to get our game going, you get something in return; a super fun, portable card game that plays with 2-4 players!

If that offer doesn’t whet your whistlein a major way, he are some of the latest links where you can learn more about the game and the process involved in putting the game together before you make your pledge:

Designer Diary on BoardGameGeek.com. This is a fairly in depth look at how I came up with Heartland Hauling and how the game made its was to Dice Hate Me Games for publication.

Futile Position Interview. I was interviewed by Michael for his site FutilePosition.com. We talked about the game and a little bit about my thoughts on game design in general.

The Green Couch. This is a link to my previous post that has even more link and info about the game, including my podcast appearance on The State of Games!

Here’s the video promoting the Kickstarter Campaign. I’m nervous that folks are missing my stellar acting but skimming past it on Kickstarter:

Heartland Hauling Video

Last but not least, here’s a link to the Kickstarter page where you can pledge your support, and get rewarded in games!!!

Thanks again for your support. There is much more to come if you are willing to hang with us. We’ve got reviews, and other exciting news coming down the pike!

WE’RE ROLLIN’ WITH THE GREAT HEARTLAND HAULING CO.

I stayed up way past my bedtime last night for the launch of The Great Heartland Hauling Co. on Kickstarter. Heartland Hauling is a card game I designed that is being published with Dice Hate Me Games, a company that puts out accessible tapletop games with interesting themes. Last night, July 31st, at 11:59p.m. we launched the game on Kickstarter which is a crowd-funding platform that helps people bring their ideas to life.

In the first few hours of the project we had more than 10% of our funding goal met but we have got a long way to go! I wanted to share some ways that you can help me make my dream a reality! Here are some ideas:
1. Pledge. Pledging on a Kickstarter project is safe and secure. Essentially, you are pledging your support by pre-ordering the game. Your credit or debit card will only be charged after the project closes and only if we reach our $10,000.00 goal to print the game. If you like fun, strategic games that don’t have a huge learning curve, you’ll love Heartland Hauling. To learn more about the game and publisher and pledge your support go here:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/the-great-heartland-hauling-co-a-card-game-for-2-4

2. Share. Please share the link to the Kickstarter project with people who you think would be interested. Marketing for this game is pretty grassroots so the more you share, the better chance we have of being successful! There’s even a link on the KS page where you can pin a cool infographic on Pinterest to help get the word out. Here’s that link again: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/dicehateme/the-great-heartland-hauling-co-a-card-game-for-2-4

3. Learn. Get more info about the game and publisher by visiting the Dice Hate Me Game website. You can also visit the game’s page on BoardGameGeek, the best source on the planet for casual gamers and gaming enthusiasts. If you are a BGG user, please “thumb” our images and forums to make info about the game easier to find.

4. Listen. I was recently interviewed on The State of Games, a Dice Hate Me Podcast where we talked about Heartland Hauling and some other fun games you might be interested in. Check it out and share: http://dicehateme.com/2012/07/the-state-of-games-episode-33-the-one-about-the-heartland/ 

I will also be featured on a soon to be released podcast called Funding The Dream on Kickstarter with Richard Bliss, The Game Whisperer. Check back here and look for here it soon.

5. Follow. Stay up to date with all happenings related to The Great Heartland Hauling Co. by following us on social media:

facebook.com/jkotarski

facebook.com/dicehateme

facebook.com/heartlandhaulinggame

and on Twitter: @jasonkotarski, @dicehateme, @monkey238
Thanks so much for helping me to get this game rolling! We’ve got a long haul ahead of us so I hope you enjoy the ride, or at least the view from the passenger seat!

BEST GAMING EXPERIENCES OF 2011

In this 3 part series, I will explore some of the best of 2011. These selections are based on things I experienced in 2011, not necessarily things that came out in 2011. Please feel free to discuss my list and what you would add in the comments section.

Sorry, I’m a little late on this one…

Backing New Games on Kickstarter

To be sure, one of the highlights of my last year of gaming was discovering and backing cool projects on Kickstarter. Kickstarter, if you haven’t heard of it by now, is a crowd-funding website that allows people to post an idea for a new project, along with a funding goal, and invite interested folks to help get the idea of the ground. If people from the online community pledge enough money to reach the goal, the project moves forward and the project backer’s credit cards get charged. Otherwise, the project fails and the originator of the idea never gets a dime.

Sounds like a cool way to minimize risk for businesses that might not have a lot of capital on hand, eh?

Over the last year, Kickstarter has really become a hub for getting new boardgames to the marketplace. It’s been used by established publishers and brand-spanking-new self-publishers, as well, with varying degrees of success.

The coolest part for me is that I get to feel like I’m a valued contributor to the process of getting good ideas into the world rather than a simple consumer who picks something off the shelf. I know, I’m still a consumer but I have more control over where I direct my energies in the marketplace and that’s exciting to me.

I backed several projects last year, starting with Lorien Green’s board game documentary, Going Cardboard. This was especially cool because my contribution got my name in the credits of a movie for the second time! This is just one example of the kind of perks you get when you help launch projects using Kickstarter.

Since my initial project, I have helped back several board games that have turned out to be fantastic additions to my collection. If you’d like to check out some of the games I helped bring into the world you might want to head over to BoardGameGeek.com and check out Glory To Rome: Black Box Edition, Uncle Chesnut’s Table Gype, Get Bit!, Caveman Curling, and Flash Point: Fire Rescue.

Signing a Deal to Publish my First Game with Cambridge Games Factory

As I’ve written elsewhere, my game Over The Road got picked up by Cambridge Games Factory. CGF is responsible for a great catalog of games that come in small boxes that pack a lot of punch. They offer a wide range of selections from family games to heavier strategy games including Zombie in my Pocket, Barons, Pala, and Glory to Rome (one of the top 100 games in the world according to BoardGameGeek.com). I’m super excited to be bringing my contribution to the gaming world sometime in 2013. I’ll continue posting updates here from time to time. In the meantime, I’ll be continuing to work on some other games I’m developing and trying to find them a publishing home as well (if you are a game publisher, CALL ME!).

Origins Game Fair

Shortly after signing with Cambridge Games Factory I thought it would be a good idea to meet some of the people that work with the company to gain a sense for what I was getting into. So I figured what better way to check them out but to see them in action at one of the biggest gaming convention in the United States.

In June, I travelled to Columbus, Ohio to Origins Game Fair. I volunteered to spend some time at the CGF booth demoing and selling games. I worked a few hours a day and spent the rest of my time checking out other publishers, meeting cool people, and playing lots and lots of games.

As it turns out, CGF’s Commercial Director, Jeremiah Lee, who runs all of their convention appearances, lives about an hour away from me in the Ann Arbor area. He had brought most of his gaming group along to help peddle CGF’s wares. During some late night gaming sessions, we all hit it off rather well and have made a point to get together for more late night gaming sessions a little closer to home. I have come to consider them my very own gaming group (awww, shucks) since most of the game events my wife and I hold are a little more social and serve to introduce interested people to the world of hobby gaming. My friends in Ann Arbor are serious (ahem) gamers and have shared their passion for games with me in a very reciprocal way.

So this highlight is really more about making new friend than going to a big gaming convention, but that was super cool, too. And something I’d like to make more of a habit of.

What were your gaming highlights in 2011?

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