Friday, November 11, 2016

Millennium - The Board Game - A Dystopian Story Wrapped Around a Game

Millennium Box Concept
I'm almost finished with another game, (check out the ToughLove! game on the right column and its Trailer below.) although before I commit to ordering Millennium, I decided to test the artwork first. I know that's something I should've done sooner but I'll have to admit I wasn't aware of this feature on The Game Crafter website until I started to order it and I saw the Testing Button under the Management Column.

There's so much to learn about that website and it's easy to miss everything they have to offer. I have clicked on the Contests and Crowd Sale buttons to see what those links are all about too.

After several weeks I've gotten familiar with most of  The Game Crafter website and all it's offerings. So far I'm impressed with their site, although I've been stuck in several areas, which I have figured out by watching some videos. For a while I couldn't figure out how to manage the Decks section for designing the cards.

They do have an extensive selection of different cards to choose from. Everything from standard Poker decks to Tarot cards and beyond. The tricky part is figuring out how to order different Backs and Face combinations. But after watching their video several times, I was able to finally get the combination of Face and Backs the way I wanted them for the same deck.

It's fairly easy once you get the hang of it if you click on the Deck and Card pull-down menus to make your selections. I'll leave it at that for now. Maybe later I can expand on that if anyone has any questions, I'll be happy to help explain how it works. Although, I'm still not sure about the Random Cards so if anyone can explain that to me I'd be very grateful.

"Okay, so the learning curve is not all that steep but there are still some challenges."

Okay, so the learning curve is not all that steep but there are still some challenges. And I'll talk about those some other time. Overall, the site is fantastic and my only question is the profit margins, which seem low. I know we can set the margins however we want but one must keep in mind the retail price consumers are willing to pay for a particular game and factor that into the final price.

Standard markup being 50%, I can't charge $60 for a game (if my cost is $30) just to meet that markup. A more realistic price point is $35. That's about a $5 profit for each game or about a 15% markup at the $35 price point. Not exactly a killing but let's remember that prototypes for $35 are also unheard of in this industry.

So the bottom line is that even a 15% markup is still a fair deal, all things considered, and that margins will go up a bit depending on the sales quantities and discounts that come with it. If anything it's a great place to test game concepts, which I suppose is one of The Game Crafter's primary objectives.

"Just ask movie producers of films such as
The Road, Elysium, and The Book of Eli."

Okay, so on with the new Millennium Game concept. I'll post the Art Testing results here next time when I get that going and all done. I'm happy with the artwork so far but I'm open to anything and willing to change it if people don't strongly respond to it or identify with it on an emotional level.

Right now the art is standard Dystopian fare, if you will. At least in my mind. If you recall Cormac McCarthy's book and movie, The Road, that's somewhat the inspiration for Millennium.

Scene from the movie, The Road by Cormac McCarthy

I mean Dystopian themes are nothing new, of course, but they are trendy because of the times we live in. So in that sense it's a no-brainer. My main challenge is to put my own spin on it and my own sensibilities that evoke all those human emotions that tap into this kind of scenario for so many of us.

If you're wondering where any of the fun is in a game like this. Just ask movie producers of films such as The Road, Elysium, The Book of Eli, or any number of related stories, which have all been very successful at the box office.

"After all, you can only deliver so much fun with death and disaster."

Of course, we can't equate movies and board games on the same level, but the interest in similar themes is quite obvious and apparent. So what's good for the movies, hopefully is good for board games. However, that does remain to be seen or proven. That's why I'm here. If anyone is willing to take a chance on anything at all. I'm the first to raise my hand if it feels right.

That being said. There's always a tinge of doubt in just about anything we endeavor to accomplish or at least there should be. It's not negative thinking, it's just a healthy observation that nothing in this world is guaranteed, except that we're all going to die some day.
Bottom of Box

Great. That brings me back to my Dystopian game and whether it will succeed or flop entirely. Who's to say? In my view, the main theme, End of Days, and all the other themes laced within this story, this board game, are relevant, trendy, and sales-worthy.

The real trick is to design the game so it is challenging and full of surprises. That's what makes it "fun" so-to-speak. At least that's the idea. After all, you can only deliver so much fun with death and disaster.

Okay, hopefully the masses will feel the same way and order Millennium in droves. That is the idea. That is the objective. Otherwise to design a game that makes people think and takes them to a place they're probably uncomfortable with and open them up to a deeper meaning or understanding about the world around us.

But let's not kid ourselves. Sales and marketing is difficult and expensive at best. If we're clever enough and lucky enough to get our product in front of the right audience at the right time, maybe we can make a sale or two. Yes 1% to 5% is not much unless you're dealing with numbers in the millions. Let's also realize that many other factors are at play at any given time during the marketing life of a product.

"It must mean something important to buyers--something almost personal."

People have to really like your product for it to generate valuable word-of-mouth mentions and reviews alike. The word provocative comes to mind. And so, one can only hope to design and market the next Monopoly, Scrabble or Scythe game. The game and its concept alone is just not enough to catapult it into the sales stratosphere.

A new game must tap into a player's consciousness and provoke their emotions on a higher level. A game for the sake of gaming and entertainment alone cannot produce massive sales numbers without having a wow factor that transcends the object of the game itself.

Aside from the game's themes, a sales-worthy game must reach into the hearts, minds, and souls of prospective buyers. (yes, I just said that) It must mean something important to buyers--something almost personal.

Right. Enough of that. Here's a link for Millennium where you can get a better feel for the concept and all the artwork that goes with it. (A work in progress.) Here you'll find most of the Action Shots and a short game summary plus you can download a PDF copy of the Game Play Rules.

That's another thing. I don't believe in complex games and rules. The simpler, the better. I think most gamers feel that way so that's nothing new but my point is that gamers shouldn't expect a long drawn out novel or even a short story version of Millennium to permeate the game in any way.

If anything, I can equate the concept, its execution that is, to a short poem of sorts. Although, I have to say--that's something still up in the air because I think a short story about Millennium in the rule book is probably a good thing.  It certainly appeals to me because I've written several novels but I don't know how gamers feel about it.

Again, that's easy enough to find out in the upcoming play testing of the game where I might include a very short survey to find out just that and several other things I think are important to the design of this game.

Your comments are welcome.

Next time I'm going to post another game I'm about half way finished with. It's a time-travel theme and unlike Millennium, Warpd! is actually funny.

Until then ... Game on!

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