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!


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.

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.