Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Millennium-The Board Game will be Available December 2017








By hook or by crook, as they say. Here's an update on Millennium. After a lot of consideration I revamped the entire game based on the good feedback from the Art Test conducted several months ago, which scored 70+, which I consider a bit low.

Understandably, the score was accurate because it was after all just a test for the preliminary artwork. So after the test I really took to heart all the good as well as the not so good criticism and revised every card in the deck.

Not to mention, I totally redesigned the box, which is the one you see above. I came across this artwork and couldn't resist using it as is and I think it totally works better than the first box.

As everything stands now, I hope to finish all the new artwork no later than the middle of June, but hopefully sooner so I can order my first prototype. I can hardly wait for that because I really don't know what to expect. Before I order the prototype I plan to run another Art Test and a Sanity Test, which I'm confident both will do much better than the first.

Stick To Your Goals!

My next goal following these two tests will be to fine tune the game in its entirety. Hopefully I won't be too far off but you never know. After revising the second prototype I can finally publish Millennium on The Game Crafter website and plan to send at least 3 boxes to reviewers, including, Father Geek, Boardgame Geek, and maybe Unboxed-The Board Game Blog.

These reviewers are all tentative and can change at any given time, but I'm shooting for these three first. If anyone has better suggestions, by all means please let me know and I will gladly post and link your game or website here.

As all game designers know, nothing is ever set in stone. The most important thing is the concept of your game and that its game play is interesting and yes, exciting. Right after the Art Test I rolled up my sleeves and really ramped up the overall design of this game.



Sometimes you get stuck along the way with one thing or another and try to find the best possible solution so you can continue moving forward. Other times, you just get bogged down with other design work and can't get back to your own game. A little of both happened this time and I was away from Millennium for almost 3 months. To the point I thought I'd almost given up on it.

Never Give Up!

I know that sounds insane but I think everyone second guesses themselves sooner or later. The thing is that as got back to the game, I was more excited about it than before because I had several small breakthroughs that unlocked certain obstacles for me and I think I'm over the hump at this point so it should be smoother sailing from now on.

I can finally see the finish line for the first time and that's a great feeling. You just never know how these things will turn out but you must have some level of commitment to begin with. Some level of belief that will carry you through to the end. Otherwise in all honesty you might never get started.

Posting the progress of the game is very helpful because it breeds inspiration and even deeper desire and commitment. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy, folks. Let's face it, if everyone could do this, everyone would be doing this. It takes quite a bit of focus and determination to get through it. I'm claiming this game will be out in December and I intend that will be the case, but who knows if I'll be dead in the morning.

Believe In Your Dream!

Or if something else comes up among my other dozens of projects that demands all my attention for much longer than I expected. There's always a reason to quit something but if you really believe it can make a difference and of course make a buck or two, then those are two very good driving factors to keep you on track and moving towards your goal.

It's very exciting to me even if I sell one game. However, I realize unless something goes viral, you may not sell one box because sales are all about jumping on the band wagon. If many people are enjoying something, that tends to inspire others to join in on all the fun and be a part of the conversation.

Sometimes we just can't stand missing out on a good thing. Getting your game or any product to that point is not as easy as it sounds unless you hit the right chord at the right time. We'll see how it all pans out soon enough.

I can hardly wait!

To learn more about Millennium - See the game here:







Saturday, February 25, 2017

Get Your Board Game On With MILLENNIUM - Trains After The Apocalypse?

Jumbo Story Cards
Who has seen trains run after an apocalyptic event? Not sure but who cares because anything is possible after all.

I've designed 3 new Jumbo Story Cards, which help move the story narrative along at a nice pace.

In this scenario, players come across a partially disabled Amtrak Train, which turns out can still run because a small portion of the electrical grid is still intermittently functioning. (Go figure)

I'm working on re-designing all the cards so they match these so it'll be a while before I can say the main deck is finished. So far I've added a total of 6 Jumbo Cards and I hope to finish the Bridge Deck with 54 cards soon.

The reason for the trains is simple enough. Guys especially love trains and there's always a certain romanticism and a sense of freedom that goes along with trains so they're a natural fit for this game.

My goal is to design a game unlike anything or at least unlike most mainstream games on the market today.


For me board games are much more than games for the sake of gaming and cheap thrills. As a writer, I like to incorporate stories into my games with a through-line that has meaning above any conceit the game concept has to offer.

Let's face it, without a meaningful story behind these games, there's not much left except going through the motions of getting somewhere without any purpose whatsoever. That doesn't make sense to me.

I want players to feel this game and to experience it at a higher level than they're accustomed to and the best way to achieve that is to get players emotionally involved in this amazing journey from a decimated land in New Orleans to a more hopeful place up north in New York City where they were more prepared for an event such as this.

Despite the common belief that Doomsday Preppers only hail from the midwest, New York's subway system turned out to be a haven in troubled times.

Why Use Jumbo Cards?

Hey, when it comes to images, bigger is always better, especially when it conveys a sense of winning and accomplishment for players. Sure it's the Apocalypse and that's a very down and out event. However, contrasting and overcoming these dangerous and evil happenings is exactly what makes this game so hopeful, so positive and triumphant in the midst of such turmoil. Each player must struggle to survive during the most dire circumstances imaginable and that's what it's all about.

Imagine if you could learn to survive such an apocalyptic event. It's epic to say the least. But that's why the game begins with learning survival skills before you begin your journey northeast.

Back Image for Jumbo Cards


Final Destination Card

I think for the most part I've got this whole game figured out. At least from a wide angle POV it's all clear to me. It's the details that slow me down and take time to develop. Although I know exactly what I want to accomplish, there are always obstacles that keep me from getting there.

It's almost always about keeping costs down and finding a way to manufacture this game at the lowest possible price without sacrificing the quality of play. Easier said than done but since this is a prototype and basically a test edition, for now I have to find ways to deliver a full version experience on a smaller scale.

Some gamers put out a cards only version to test their concept. It's a good idea but for me I don't think card games are the same thing and are a different market altogether so I decided to include the board and that's really where things get complicated.

But hey, nothing is ever that easy. You just have to take a deep breath and dive in. Hopefully you'll figure it all out and make the numbers work.

Nothing is ever guaranteed in life but we can't let fear and uncertainty lead the way. I've said it before: This is not rocket science, but hell, it sure feels that way.

ONWARD!

I'm at the point of no return.
This game is on schedule to be released for this Christmas season (2017)

Follow the Millennium Story here:
<a href="https://www.thegamecrafter.com/games/millennium" target="_blank">Follow the Millennium Story here:</a><br /> <table cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" class="tr-caption-container" style="float: left; margin-right: 1em; text-align: left;"><tbody>
New Millennium Game Box




Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Pixabay.com - A Great Place for Free Gaming Artwork

New Millennium Box Artwork
While I take pride in my artwork, I know a better option when I see it.

I found this artwork on Pixabay.com, which is a good place for free images under CC0 Public Domain. Although the site does have some limitations. And while no attribution is required, I like to include credits in my designs.

My own design on the previous box just wasn't the best design for the game so I took a shortcut. This new artwork (by ActionLiz) conveys the look and feel of most board games and gives the feeling of being inside the action as opposed to looking at it from a distance.

It fits Millennium's central theme and it adds a bit of curiosity to the game, which is what you want in a good design.

I thought of digitizing my own city on Photoshop but that would take time I don't really have at this point so I'm lucky to have found this artwork, which happens to be just what I wanted all along. I did modify it somewhat by adding ominous clouds and a flock of birds over the logo. Otherwise, most of the original artwork is intact.

What are the chances that I change this artwork again? Not likely but I know I'll tweak it a bit more even though I think it works as is.

As you can see, the first version of the box is bluer and features a flat skyline, which doesn't work as well as a view from above or inside the city streets on the new box, which offers a better perspective overall.

If I ever manage to sell enough games and Millennium becomes a commercial success, I'll certainly invite the artist for an interview.

As of now, this game is just in my imagination and I'm slowly teasing it out into the world, one frame at a time.

Right. Good luck with that.

One thing I can say about that is if your game is engaging and fun and meaningful to players in some way, your marketing will be much more likely to go viral (at some level) that can hopefully generate orders through word-of-mouth referrals.

It's all about strong publicity but your product has to be great or exceptional and even controversial. Controversy about the game or its designers never hurt anyone as far as I know. As they say, even bad publicity can convert into sales.

And for what it's worth, that's mostly a good thing.

Play on, Dream on!

*********************************

Aside:
My main struggle with any game design is to make it engaging, fun, and meaningful. That's the perfect trio in my book for any game (for adult audiences) to succeed at some level. And it's the hardest thing to accomplish because everyone's interpretation of these three ideas is different.

But you have to cover all your bases. That's the challenging part and if you can get through that (and dozens of other criteria) you're on your way to launching a popular game.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Millennium Board Game - Build it Up. What's in it for You?

Unfinished Millennium Game Board

Several weeks ago I conducted an Art Test on The Game Crafter website and wound up with some pretty good scores, despite a few valid criticisms, which I've taken care of.

One of the complaints was that the game board was too chaotic and too dark. You can see the new and improved (unfinished) board here on the left and judge for yourself. It's basically the same board but much brighter.

It's a fairly simple design but I did brighten the colors a bit and tweaked the grid artwork to emphasize it. Other than that, this is the almost final board I'll print and play test the following weeks and months.

Who's to say how this game will be received but my main focus is to make the game a challenge by allowing strategic decisions with every move.

Every time you roll the dice or pick a card and land on a grid you have the option to keep your position or to venture into the unknown and select a Wild Card that might place you in a better location on the grid. Although, wildcard dangers can be daunting if you encounter a bear or a hungry croc instead, for example. That will set you back several spaces on the grid and cost you about 500 points.

The coordinates are straight forward and work like any coordinates grid system you learned in junior high school so it should be familiar to all players.

New Millennium Box Concept

This board also works with 4 main Quadrants which are similar to levels that get you closer to New York City where larger groups of people have survived the nuclear blast. The object of the game is to escape Ground Zero in New Orleans and hike to the East Coast where your pregnant wife, Mary and a small group of Preppers has managed to survive, at least for the time being.

Of course, there are plenty of obstacles along the way, including errant Cyborgs (the year is 2158 after all) hungry wolves, bears, and bands of marauders, just to mention a few.

I'm also thinking about including a hospital in the New York portion of the board with Game Crafter's Custom Medium Punch-outs for future games to make the experience more visual and more interactive. This 3D device works well towards the end of the game.

Medium Punchout
What's in it For You?

As a game enthusiast there's plenty of uncertainty and there are a lot of decisions for you to make along your long journey to the east coast. Leaving the Bayou is no easy task, as many of the main roads are blocked and reduced to swamps now infested with hungry crocs along the Mississippi River, which you must navigate to get out safely.

Millennium Card Deck
So as far as production there's lots to do after 6 months of steady and almost full time work. That's scary when you think about it but if it all works in the end there are plenty of accomplishments to appreciate after so much work. Especially if sales are good, which of course is the ultimate goal after personal satisfaction.

When a game fails I believe it's because of a weak concept. Let's remember that your concept is the foundation of your game. If you have a weak or fuzzy concept, anything you build upon that will not stand.

Millennium's concept (The Apocalypse) is rock solid because we have proof of concept after so many years of similar movies, books, and board games built on this same idea. So while the core concept is not original, the game's themes and motifs must be fresh and stand apart. A strong concept is never enough. You must also incorporate a strong central theme to go with it and sprinkle in a bit of this and that to play up the emotion of the game and then you stand a good chance at succeeding if your marketing is in place. Meaning exposing or presenting your product to the right audience at the right time.

Cry me a River - Okay

These days you have to think of viral emotional elements that can catapult your game from mediocre to extraordinary. Nothing less will do. Nobody cares how many midnight hours you burned getting there or how much blood, sweat and tears you poured into your game. Cry me a river, ok. Does this game excite me and give me a feeling of belonging to its world and the culture you've built around it?

Does this game challenge me and make me think in ways I haven't considered before. Does it move me? Because sometimes entertainment is not enough. That's my two cents and my take on board games, for what it's worth. I'm a big believer in innovating and not following the crowd so that also comes with plenty of risk by itself but as they say, no risk, no reward. Very true.

video


Many times successful businesses are built on layers of failures along the way, which are also known as learning curves. It's just the way things are. As long as you know the fundamentals of sales and marketing and you are mindful of integrating those principles in all your products, you should be in fairly good shape.

Everything counts, though. Your artwork must be also be intriguing and fresh if you can get it there. There is much to consider at every turn and each element builds and depends on the other if you want your game to be successful.

All Green Lights

At this stage of the game I think I've got everything under control so far. I'm about half way there because completing the game as far as production is only half the equation. Marketing, publicity and sales are something else altogether and it helps to be well-versed in each of these disciplines and the subset of disciplines each encompasses. Branding is a big part of marketing, for instance, and something you must be mindful of at the outset. This is all about positioning in the marketplace.

So all the pieces of this jigsaw puzzle must fit in order for things to work and run smoothly. All green lights, as I like to say. Everything must be in place and on time. If not, we then have to see where things broke down in the chain of sales events. What was the weak link that broke the chain? Figure that out and you'll have a second chance to try again and improve your sales next time around.

The good thing about marketing board games is that it doesn't take a lot of money to get started. If you're a designer, you should be able to bootstrap a marketing plan to launch your game in no time because artwork is probably the most expensive part of getting a product together into production runs that are affordable.

Folks, let's face it. It's a long and winding road and usually it's littered with small failures that lead up to a successful product in the long run but you must remember to build your game on a strong foundational concept or global view that players can relate to.

Everything else is just curtains and window treatments.

Play on.