Hall of Fame

The Game Crafter's Hall of Fame represents a list of outstanding individuals that got their start in our community.

David Sheppard Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

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Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.

I’ve always wanted to make games except I was focused on the digital variety. So I would come up with concepts, elaborate plotlines, and even mechanics for video games and then assemble or join small teams with the intent of making these games. So the dream was always there, it just lacked the ability to fully execute it. Group after group would break apart for various reasons so the games never really even got to the prototype stage. As I started getting into hobbyist games, I found a venue where my ambitions could come true. Whether I could finish a board or card game was solely on my own shoulders. So for a little over 4 years, I’ve been trying to make the best games I can, but finally in a venue where I can see them to completion.

Please tell us about Galaxy Dice!

Peter Jackson, the judge, said it best in his assessment that, “If you’ve played Yahtzee, you’ve basically played a less exciting version of Galaxy Dice.” The game utilizes 13 custom dice, 7 of which you get to roll for your turn. And after a set number of rolls, you’re trying to match a sequence on one of several cards in play. Using these cards, you’ll face down bosses and, should you succeed, you’ll unlock a more powerful die for use on future turns. While acquiring the easier cards helps you face down bosses quicker, chancing the more valuable cards could mean the difference between completing the game and winning it.

Where did the idea for this game come from?

This game has far too many influences to list and while some obvious ones stand out (Xaxxon, Guardian Legend, Xevious), the biggest influence was Gradius. In fact, the ship itself looks kind of like the Vic Viper and many of the bosses incorporate the iconic “Blast the gates to strike the core” visual appearance from that franchise. As for how to make the game itself work, I wanted to use the “Push your luck” die mechanics seen in games like Yahtzee: World Championship Edition (the one with the buzzer, sooo good), Suttaku, and even The Game Crafter’s own Train Maker by Chris Leder. But I also love the “upgrade” mechanic from Gradius (and especially relevant to the spinoff Salamander/Life Force) and decided to see if having bosses do something more than an end game condition would capture than feeling.

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Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?

While I did document some of the work I went through, it has not been published on my website yet. Sadly, the website is still needing action shots and grammar checks on the many other games designs I’ve posted/bragged about there but I’m woefully behind on maintaining it. Over the next couple months, I’m sure Galaxy Dice, as well as a few others will be added there along with plenty of Action Shots. The website is www.twitchfactory.com and do mind the mess…

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Did you already have the idea for Galaxy Dice in your head before the Classic Arcade Challenge was announced?

Not really. I was already working on a series of games trying to replicate the feeling of the old arcades either by gameplay or feel but many were a dead end and the contest allowed me a chance to add another game to that lineup. While one is currently available, another is still months away due solely to the art demand.

What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?

I sat out the contest before simply because I lacked any real experience with miniatures games aside from a casual flirtation with Super Dungeon Explore and X-Wing: The Miniatures Game. Since I had made finalist in the three contests before that, I was looking for an excuse to enter another Game Crafter contest.

Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?

The game would not exist without the contest, period. You may notice Twitch Factory lists 25 different games, 6 more games are missing from being listed there. Most of my design work is done based purely on the whims of my mood. While this is great from a standpoint of just how many games I’ve designed (not necessarily finished), this also leads to many incomplete projects. The contests like those on The Game Crafter, help push me with deadlines and even force me to come up with new ideas.

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Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?

After having spent over 4 years working on card/board games, it’s kind of hard to just turn that off. Winning the contest has definitely been a confidence booster and I’ll be carrying that with me into the Microgame Design Competition as well as a local game design contest known as CudoPlays.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

When I started, I did super expensive prints at Staples that looked, at best, horrible. Because of that, it was difficult to get people to help playtest and while it took much longer for me to improve my game designs, The Game Crafter at least helped me make pretty enough prototypes to help entice playtesters. Since then, I’ve made a note of at least trying to design games around the various printables and components available on the site. As The Game Crafters services have improved, the look and feel of many of my designs have improved as well. While the ultimate goal is to make my games look as good as anything someone would buy off a shelf, I’ve had more than a few people tell me my Game Crafter Games have achieved that a while ago.

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What’s next for you?

I often have too many things I’m working on at any given moment. Currently I’m trying to learn to paint for my Microgame Contest Entry known as Percival Thistlewood’s Incredible Dungeoneering Dolls. I’m also trying to finish up the art for Pixel Bit Beatdown. I just started trying to play balance a train game with a fairly unique die mechanic as well as using a variant of this die mechanic in my team’s CudoPlays entry. I also need to improve the rulebook to Galaxy Dice but that also means increasing the price.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?

My best advice is just to keep swinging. I made finalist 3 other times before I finally won. I’m an annoyingly consistent pessimist as the people in chat can tell you but I just kept swinging. Each failure was a lesson, each loss was fuel, and I kept at it. I’ll be keeping at it, bringing my focus back around to fixing past games but still working on it. Sometimes it’s hard when it seems like you’re not making any progress but you are. In the end, you have to design for yourself and it all comes down to whether or not you enjoy it.


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Peter Jackson Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.

I live in Washington, DC, with my wife.  We spend a lot of time doing stuff together and avoiding TV when possible.  I’ve been designing games since I was a little kid, starting out with big poster-board maps of medieval kingdoms that kept getting conquered by Risk pieces.  Game design has been a sidebar hobby that I’ve pulled out for convenience, mostly—for example, last summer my brother had ten hours to kill in a cramped minivan with only a deck of Ticket To Ride cards and some paper and pens.  We wound up with a pretty cool deck-building city conquest game (hint: stacking up one of each color was way harder than we anticipated).

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Please tell us about Cosmos!

Oh, it’s pretty simple.  Basically you colonize the universe and make money selling space resources.  In a half hour.  What’s unusual is that there’s really no direct conflict in Cosmos—no space battles, no colony invasions.  Instead, the game focuses on competing for resources and sales opportunities, while balancing those themes with unavoidable cooperative elements.  So you can pay to use each an opponent’s infrastructure, for example—and everyone is working together to build prices on the galactic market.  It’s still competitive, but it often leads to surprising victories.  The game really rewards the player with the best reactive decision making, not just knowledge of the game—which, ironically, means I seldom win.

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Where did the idea for this game come from?

I started thinking about designing a real game one evening after visiting a friend who showed me a whole bookcase full of great games.  He went through his library telling me that most of them he’d never actually played, because his wife wouldn’t sit down and play them with him.  I figured I could probably design a game that wives would play—so that was my first goal.  I then got some secondary goals from asking various wives: 1) the game had to be pretty, and players had to be able to see the empire they’d built at the end; 2) the game had to balance the field between aggressive players and casual players; 3) it had to be short, 30-45 minutes; 4) the game mechanic had to work legitimately for 2 players and as a party game; and 5) it had to be as simple as possible.

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Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?

Nope.  I didn’t actually want to do the artistic design part of this, but I couldn’t get anyone else on board.  I wound up using public domain NASA imagery out of protest, and I put together the card layouts myself using old knowledge I’d acquired as a newspaper layout editor in college.  I went through a few versions, starting with coasters and business cards, and then a few redesigns on The Game Crafter.

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Did you already have the idea for Cosmos in your head before the Miniatures Design Challenge was announced?

Yep.  I started work on Cosmos in October 2012.  When I first started getting serious about using The Game Crafter, though, I started looking into the upcoming contests and knew that was something I was interested in.

What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?

I was really just looking for feedback.  I’d had a lot of friends—I mean, a lot—play the game, with or without me, and received mountains of feedback from them.  But I was still curious to have a complete stranger take a look at the game and give me a run-down.  I have to mention here that I was on the fence about entering the game in the “Miniatures” design contest—as Danny mentioned in his writeup, Cosmos is not a traditional miniatures game.  However, while reading through the list of example games, I noticed they included Risk—and I thought hey, if Risk makes the cut, surely I can.

Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?

No!  Once I saw the upcoming contest and decided to enter it, I was really driven to do a few things.  One of the best design changes I made—period—was to swap out little wooden discs for the rocket pieces.  I made that change specifically for the contest, and I’m super grateful for it.  The challenge also put a deadline on a few things, like rules design, map design, and a few other things—it gave me a date by which I had to have a really complete game, not something that required a few “Oh yeah” pieces from my living room.

Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?

Indirectly, yes.  Because I finished up Cosmos to meet the deadline, I’m winding down my involvement in that game design and starting in on new projects.  I have two pretty awesome ideas right now, but neither will be using NASA imagery…so I’m going to have to actually get an artist on board before anything really takes flight.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

Without The Game Crafter, I’d still be using coasters and business cards.  To be honest, I don’t think I would have ever actually designed a legitimate standalone game if I hadn’t run into this site and this community.  Now, it’s a hobby that’s pushing other hobbies out of the way.

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What’s next for you?

I’m keeping my day job.  I have a friend who’s interested in running a Kickstarter campaign based on this game, so we’ll see if anything comes of that.  To be honest, I don’t see this game changing my life all that much; best case scenario in my wife’s mind is that it puts a nickel or two towards a down payment.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?

Yes, two.  First of all: as you’re designing, keep pushing the borders of your social networks to find new play testers who barely know you.  Periodically, send complete copies of your game to people who haven’t been involved.  Solicit feedback and listen carefully to common complaints—then fix them, regardless of whether that was your favorite aspect of the game.  People will tell you what’s fun and what’s boring; listen!

Second: design for fun, not money.  This was a trap I started getting pulled down at some point.  I don’t know if it’s just me, or if it’s somewhere in the gaming culture, but at some point I started to obsess over how cheap I could make the game so that people would buy a billion copies and make me a gazillionaire.  The truth is, you can’t design a fun game if you’re obsessed with profitability.  First make something fun—make it for your family, make it for the friends you’ll have in twenty years who will get a kick out of playing some stupid game you thought up when you were young.  Enjoy the process.  It is crucial to remember that money isn’t the point; the point is creating a really fun experience for a few friends to enjoy together.

Cosmos is available for purchase in The Game Crafter online shop.


Ewen Cluney Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.

My day job is as a translator in the video game industry, translating Japanese mobile games into English. In my spare time I’m a would-be writer and game designer, as well as a gamer and general geek. The thing I call “my dubious claim to fame” is that I translated Maid: The Role-Playing Game, the first Japanese tabletop RPG to come out in English. On the other hand I’ve now got Channel A and the translation of Golden Sky Stories under my belt, so I don’t feel quite so much like “that Maid RPG guy.” I started trying to design games pretty much as soon as I got into playing RPGs with Palladium’s Robotech RPG in middle school, though it’s relatively recently that I’ve started to really hit stride with my designs.

What can you tell us about Channel A?

Channel A is an anime-themed party card game. The idea is that there’s some Japanese TV station that’s taking pitches for anime series to make for the new season. Each player has a hand of 10 Title Cards, which each have snippets of anime titles on them (Love, Magical, Super Dimensional, Gun, Nurse, etc.), and each round one player is the Producer, who gets to draw 5 Premise Cards (Magical Girls, Gun Action, Slice of Life, Coming of Age, etc.) and pick two. Then each player has to try to assemble some of their Title Cards into a title for an anime series, and give a pitch for something that fits the selected Premise Cards. Then the group votes for a winner, and you move on to the next round. It’s a fairly simple game, and the real challenge of it is creative rather than logical, plus it tends to produce a lot of laughter, and the occasional cries of “Why can’t that be a real anime?!”

Where did the idea for this game come from?

By and large as a gamer I’m a tabletop RPG guy who sometimes dabbles in board games, so it wasn’t until I was at a party one of my sisters was throwing that I tried Cards Against Humanity. That a card game could be made up of wordplay and humor was an entirely new concept to me, and one I loved. I ordered a copy of CAH from Amazon on my cell phone will still at the party, and came up with an idea for my own fan expansion on the way home. My friends and I played the hell out of CAH, and I also belatedly tried a some similar games like Apples to Apples and The Big Idea. From there I wanted to come up with my own entry into this genre of games, but something that fit into my own distinctive aesthetic. Where a lot of people, especially in gaming, are into grungy stuff with zombies, I tend to gravitate towards things that have, a clean, shiny, optimistic bent to them. I’ve also been an anime fan and general Japanophile for a couple decades, so making an anime-themed game was all but inevitable. I got into anime in the 90s, which was a time when titles made up of strange word salad were at their peak. When you get deep enough into anime, you stop noticing just how bizarre “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and “Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon” really are. With CAH on the brain, it wasn’t a big step to put pieces of anime titles onto cards, and I wrote down my first 100 or so Title Card ideas in my notebook on the way home one day.

Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?

I have a blog for all of my game stuff at yarukizerogames.com. I tend to write long posts about whatever I’m working on and random topics about gaming, and I routinely put drafts of games up on there too. Channel A itself started as a no-frills PNP game I posted there.

You signed a deal with Asmadi Games and now they publish Channel A. Congrats! Can you tell us how this all came about?

With a fully functional and in my opinion really fun game on my hands, I felt that while self-publishing was an option, I really needed to find a publisher for Channel A for it to get where it needed to go. I culled through countless board game publishers’ websites, and the scant few that had submission guidelines. I had two major problems on my hands. The first was that I had made a party game, and most publishers just categorically reject party games. (I don’t blame them for that, but it was still a problem for me.) The second was that I had made an anime-themed game, and there are even fewer game publishers who show any indication that they understand anime. Very few publishers were going to give me the time of day, and even if they did, they wouldn’t really be equipped to properly market the game anyway. Then I remembered a little card game called “Whack a Catgirl,” which is basically about throwing plushies at a catgirl cosplayer at an anime con. Asmadi is probably better known for the We Didn’t Playtest This series (which are also silly party games), but “Whack a Catgirl,” as well as an aggressive convention schedule that included many anime cons, showed me that Asmadi was probably the single best possible publisher. I sent them an email, and got a reply from Chris Cieslik. We exchanged several more emails, he tried the game out, and from there things moved at a breakneck pace. Chris has been great to work with, and he really understands what I’m aiming for with Channel A perfectly.

Congratulations on your successful Kickstarter campaign! Do you have any advice for others in the community who are thinking about running a campaign for their game?

The first thing to know about running a Kickstarter is that it’s way more stressful than you’d think. If you’re not worrying about whether you can meet your goal, you’re probably going to be worrying about how you’re going to deal with going way over your goal and having a ridiculous amount of fulfillment to do instead. There are also going to be comments from backers and all manner of questions to answer. If you’ve managed to make anything unclear on the Kickstarter page, you’ll find out in a hurry when people bug you about it. For that reason, proofread the heck out of what you’re planning to put up there. Give it as much proofing as you would your game rules. Also, do whatever you need to do to manage stress as it comes. On a more positive note, I’ve found that any Kickstarter that gets anywhere has “superfans” who really want to give you more money. When I pledge on Kickstarters myself I tend to go in for the basic level that gets me a physical product, but there are often those people ready to post the Fry from Futurama “shut up and take my money” image and give you $200, if you have a suitable reward tier. For Channel A, Chris adding several new high-end tiers with rare Asmadi Games items gave the Kickstarter a boost without which it might not have made its funding goal.

Where can people buy Channel A?

Channel A went on sale through the Asmadi Games website a few weeks ago, and it’s currently in the process of entering wider distribution. (Another point is Asmadi’s favor for me was that they have excellent distribution already.) A few online stores already have it listed for preorder, and it should be hitting local game stores soon if it hasn’t already. If you’re interested, your local game store will likely be able to order it for you. Asmadi Games and their partner Foam Brain Games also set up shop at tons of conventions, and will be happy to give you a demo.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

TGC was an important part of the prototyping process for Channel A, and provided a superb intermediate step between printing on cardstock at home and full professional manufacturing. It was also one of those prototypes that Asmadi and some other friends used to show the game off at a number of conventions and anime clubs and such in the lead up to publication. During the Kickstarter, more than one person got to play the game with a TGC prototype and then pulled out their smartphone to make a pledge then and there. There are also quite a few things where TGC is legitimately the best available way to get prototype parts made, and being able to then sell them to my superfans is a great added bonus. I’m really looking forward to experimenting with more of TGC’s various items in RPGs.

What’s next for you?

On the RPG side of things, I had my own successful Kickstarter for a translated Japanese game called Golden Sky Stories, and an awful lot of what I’ll be doing for the next few months will be related to fulfillment for that. On the board game front, I have more ideas than I know what to do with for possible Channel A expansions, as well as a spinoff game called “Studio B” where you pitch American B-movies. I have a few other ideas for card games percolating, and a pretty ludicrous number of ideas for RPGs.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?

Creatively, I’m a firm believer in the idea that you should first and foremost create what moves you, the thing that no one else would think of even trying. Craft needs to come into it too of course, but I think people respond to sincerity too. Make the game that you can’t wait to play with your friends!


Existence Games Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

We are pleased to announce that Existence Games has been inducted into The Game Crafter’s Hall of Fame.

Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.

We are Jake and Lexi, two teenage siblings who are best friends and business partners. We’re the creators of the new Exodus Trading Card Game and the founders of Existence Games. Exodus is the first game we’ve designed from start to finish, published under our publishing company Existence Games, but we had been making up our own little games ever since we were little kids. It took us a little less than a year to completely design Exodus, and it’s been 1 year since we’ve published the game, so that tells you how quickly things have moved along.

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Please describe Exodus, The Trading Card Game

Exodus is a fantasy card game where players take on the role of a Drifter, gaining the ability to fly and drift freely across the newborn planet of Eeventide. Eeventide is a massive planet, a melting pot of beautiful landscapes and extreme climates. It is here they battle other Drifters using cards forged from stardust!

The base set of the game, Birth of Creation, is now available, featuring an epic clash between Dragons and Angels. Two guilds are on the rise, Dragonis and Skyborn, each struggling for control over the new world. Players are invited to join their favorite guild or go solo. Both Starter Decks are completely customizable and competitive right out of the box. Booster packs haven’t even been released yet, so you’re playing with the best cards in the game!

Even if you’ve never played a card game before, you will be able to play Exodus, and more importantly, WIN! It’s truly the first trading card game for everyone of all ages and is extremely easy to learn, yet the combos and strategies you can already delve into are incredible. Anyone who looks at Exodus cards will immediately notice there aren’t any crazy numbers or anything like that on any of the cards. The gameplay is really unique, and games can be played lightning-fast.  An average game takes about 5 minutes, and we’ve already seen regular players as young as the age of 6. On the other hand, we’ve seen plenty of hardcore gamers from all over the world, even those who play Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh, find themselves challenged after playing a game or two.

It’s the first trading card game where 90% of people at tournaments in the future won’t all be playing the exact same deck or archetype simply based on overpowered cards. This will be even more so once boosters are released. It’s up to each player to decide how powerful they want their creatures to be during the game, while symmetry cards may have a different outcome depending on when you play them. You can finally build a deck based solely on cards with your favorite artwork! Boosters will not bring power creep, but rather tons of new ways to play and interesting cards, concepts, and effects. Exodus gives players the most freedom above all, and does away with all of the complications that are commonly found in other TCGs. Ultimately, we just love seeing the game bring so many different people together, where everyone has a chance to win and everyone has fun!

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The artwork looks great. Tell us about it!

Thank you! We’ve had some of the best fantasy artists from all over the world work on the game, and we’re always looking for fantastic artists to work with. Exodus cards feature a stunning “full art” design, where the artwork covers nearly the entire card. Other games make their ultra rare cards “full art,” but we thought, why not make all of them like that from the beginning? One compliment we consistently get from people is how great the artwork is for the game. 

Artists we’ve worked with are from all around the world: the Philippines, Argentina, and the United States. We had a phenomenal artist from the Philippines exclusively illustrate the first two starter decks, but we are now working with a variety of other artists as we move towards releasing booster packs and new decks. In the boosters, you’ll be able to collect cards based on your favorite artist or art style if you prefer, which is pretty cool.

If you’re reading this and you’re an artist who would like to get your artwork made into a trading card, you can contact us through our official website. If you aren’t interested in doing freelance work by contract, we have a Fan Art page open to submissions. You never know, if we like your artwork enough, it could get made into a card for the world to collect and play with!  All artists are credited in the bottom right corner of each card, and they also receive perks such as receiving copies of the final printed cards. 

Exodus is an artwork-intensive game, allowing players to really craft a deck based on their favorite artwork, rather than on how powerful a card is. We’ve all played those games where you look at a card and you think, “Man, this card has terrible artwork, but I need to use it because it’s powerful,” and “Wow, this card has awesome art, but I don’t want to use it because it’s so weak!” With careful game design, we’ve done away with all of that, and we feel we’ve accomplished our vision as far as the artwork goes.

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Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?

We did, but unfortunately we can’t share it as it contains future cards and expansion information.

You’ve sold hundreds of copies of Exodus! That’s an amazing feat for a self-published indie game! What’s the secret to your success?

Yes, we have! It’s been a huge blessing and Existence Games simply wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the Lord. We grew up playing virtually every collectible and trading card game you can imagine. We’ve thoroughly studied the trends and in-depth reports of other card games, the quick rise of some and the even quicker fall of others, noting what they did right and what they did wrong. With that being said, we dare say we know the industry pretty well in that regard. We know what other games in the genre have to offer, and we’ve come to offer something new and unique.

We said if we were going to do this, we were going to do it right from the start. That goes for everything from designing the game mechanics, to the artwork, to the storyline, to the rules, to legalities, to marketing, to publication, to business relationships, to player support, and everything in between. Too often, companies focus on only a handful of these, rather than the big picture. It’s a lot to assess and account for, but trust us, when done right, the success and the rewards are unfathomable!

I’m not saying at all that we’re perfect, because we’re not. In fact, we’re still in the process of learning some of these as we go along, such as marketing. As a company (and as 19 and 13 year old teenagers), we’re very young in the marketplace, so we still have a lot to learn. We’ve come so far in such a short amount of time, but we’re just getting started. We have big things on the horizon and we can’t wait to see what the future holds! One of the biggest “secrets” we can share, although it isn’t much of a secret, is business relationships. Make sure you have a finished, polished game first, but then go to town building relationships with game shops, stores and distributors that will potentially sell your game. Building good relationships is a given for other areas as well, not just with stores. Be professional in whatever you’re doing.

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You seem to excel at promoting your game. Which methods of promotion work best for you? (conventions, social media, gaming groups, relationships with local game stores, etc…)

There it is—relationships with local game stores! We’ve actually just started taking Exodus to conventions and have found huge success with those as well. Strategicon in L.A. is our next big convention, so come see us in the Dealer room if you’re attending Gateway 2013! Gaming groups are a great way to promote a game as well, but we’ve found the most success promoting Exodus through our own official website. The Exodus website is available worldwide and helps people discover the game through search engines.

Is Exodus available in retail stores besides The Game Crafter?

Yes, Exodus is available in multiple retail stores. The game was also recently stocked in a major hobby and retail game store overseas!

The Exodus Trading Card Game is currently stocked in the following stores:

HobbyTown USA in Fresno, CA

Heroes Comics in Fresno, CA

Paladins Game Castle in Bakersfield, CA

Leeters in Bakersfield, CA

Classroom Café in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia

With more stores and retail locations coming soon!

Exodus is also available through our secure online store on the official site. There are literally only a few First Edition decks left, so we recommend picking one up if you haven’t already *hint*.  They will come with special limited edition cards as a way of thanking you for purchasing the first decks ever printed and helping us get the game off the ground. Limited Edition cards are black and white sketch versions of some of the cards in the decks. They show what the artwork looks like before it gets made into a final, colored card. One of them is Lightpath Paladin, a creature that never got made into a colored counterpart! These will never be available in decks or booster packs, and once these are gone, they’re gone and we’ll never be printing them again! 

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Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

The Game Crafter has had a huge impact on our success as a game company. It was where it all started for us. The Game Crafter’s service has been excellent for us and made the impossible very possible. We’re thrilled that our next big order will be factory sealed with shrink-wrap, and we love how they see needs for additional options and fill them. We’ve already referred a number of people who are looking to start in the game business, and we’ll continually do so as long as the service is around. In the words of another Hall of Famer, The Game Crafter’s community is almost like a family, and everyone is cheering for the next guy to succeed, us included. It is our greatest hope that you can take away something and apply it during your own journey to success.

In regards to printing at The Game Crafter, the time frame for printing is very fast and any concerns or issues are taken care of right away. JT, one of the owners of The Game Crafter, has even worked with us in private chats and helped us work things out on special occasions. Anyone who is looking for a printing company, look no further. The Game Crafter is pure gold.

What’s next for you?

We have gigantic things on the horizon for Exodus. We’re working on getting our production costs low enough so that we can distribute the game nationwide. We only have a few First Edition decks left, and once those are sold out, we’ll be doing a Second Edition print run. After that, we’re planning to do our first mass-scale print run and get the game into some of the big box stores. At that time, we’d like to release booster packs and the first official expansion for the game, which will likely bring around 100 new cards and will introduce holographic and foil cards for the first time! This will be followed by new theme decks and more expansion sets.

Of course, along the way, we will be releasing Storyline additions (which are available to read for free on the Exodus website), gameplay videos, an animated trailer, new promo cards, and other prizes for tournaments and organized play. Exodus card sleeves and protective deck boxes are accessories we’d like to offer in the near future, to add to our line of products. These are just some of the many things we are working on, so be sure to “like” Exodus on Facebook to follow the game for news, updates and other goodies!

Please check out the game on our official website: www.exodus-cards.com

and follow us on our official facebook page: www.facebook.com/ExodusCardGame

We’re always looking to get Exodus going in your local area or at your gaming group, so please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all of the designers reading this?

First, we’d like to thank The Game Crafter for this truly great honor of being inducted into the Hall of Fame!

For all the designers out there thinking, “How did you have the money to hire all of those people to make it all happen?” We didn’t. We only hired artists to create the artwork for the game, and we did everything else. If we could give one piece of advice to other game designers, we would tell them to do as much of it yourselves as you can. We kept our costs down by doing everything ourselves. We made the phone calls, we designed and built the website, we made the banners and posters, the storyline, the videos, etc.  Anything we didn’t know how to do, we learned how to do, such as taking classes at our local public access television studio and taking courses on web design.

Plan accordingly, find the best way to carry out those plans, make a good game, establish those beloved relationships, and promote the living daylights out of your game.

Of course, there are a lot of smaller details that go into each step, but many other designers and companies have already touched on them. If you’re reading this, chances are you’re already involved in the awesome community of game designers right here on The Game Crafter. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to check out the forums and other pages of the site, because they are a wealth of information. Don’t ever give up on your dreams!

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Danny Devine Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

We are pleased to announce that Danny Devine has been inducted into The Game Crafter’s Hall of Fame.

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Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games

My name is Danny Devine. I am 30 years old and live in Sparks, Nevada (Near Reno) with my beautiful and supportive wife Rachael, our 2 year old son Dustin, and our hyper wiener dog Lola. I am a Graphic Designer/Illustrator who moonlights as a Game Designer, or a Game Designer that moonlights as an Illustrator, I haven’t decided yet.

I have been designing games as long as I can remember, but I never really took it seriously until about a year ago. I would spend a week on a game, convince my family to play it, and then throw it in the closet with the others until I needed parts for a new one. I eventually discovered a group of guys at work that enjoyed playing board games and I quickly formed a “Game Group” which I had never been a part of before. At some point it came out that I design games in my spare time, I brought a couple in and it has been amazing ever since. I not only discovered a group to play games with, but a group that was willing to try an unfinished, potentially broken game and give it honest thoughtful feedback. Their support has made a huge impact on my designs.

Please describe Mob Town

Mob Town is a 2-4 Player area control game featuring hidden agendas, set collection and exciting last second victories. Every game starts out with a randomly generated town that practically builds itself. Players take the role of rival Mob families trying to achieve their specific goals before the Law shows up and ruins their plans.

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The illustrations and artwork look great. Tell us more about it!

Thank you, I did all the artwork myself. Like I said above, I am a Graphic Artist by trade which definitely comes in handy when designing my own games. I love creating and designing new characters and will often tailor my games to fit that in.

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Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere? 

I didn’t, and I regret this. I have recently been getting into social media and am now trying to be very open with my new designs on sites like BGG and Twitter. Mob Town started out as a very basic and standard medieval theme. Knights and Archers trying to take over Castles and Forests, stuff like that. I showed this early prototype to a good friend of mine, Bill West. After one play through, Bill said “This game would be better with a Mob theme”. That’s all it took, it was off to the races from there. I had reached out to Bill because of his expertise in writing, I knew with his help we could translate my chicken scratch rules into something humans could read and understand. With a solid theme in hand, cohesive rules, and as many playtests as I could muster, a fun solid game quickly emerged.

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Did you already have the idea for Mob Town in your head before our Map Building Contest?

I had the idea about a month before the contest, as well as the first prototype. When I saw what the new contest theme was, it was too perfect a fit to pass up.

What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?

As I said above, it was just perfect timing. The game I had already started developing was a perfect fit so it felt like it was meant to be.

Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?

No, I don’t think I would have. The contest and encouragement from my friends were the only real motivators. There was, however, an interesting development pretty early on in the process. An early version of Mob Town found its way into the hands of Phil Kilcrease at 5th Street games; he showed a really strong interest in the game and kept in touch with me while I finished up the version of the game for the contest. His interest in the game gave me the turbo boost to get it done! I just signed with 5th Street this week and they will be publishing Mob Town as the 7th game in their line-up. I am beyond thrilled with this; Phil and 5th Street do amazing work, so I know I am in good hands!

Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?

Winning has definitely motivated me to make more games, and to actually share those games with the community. I have already started my next game, currently being called “Ghosts Love Candy”, 2-6 players play as ghosts with an incredible craving for candy, which they can only eat by temporarily possessing unsuspecting Trick-Or-Treaters on Halloween. It’s going to be very light hearted and easy to play. I have full intentions of releasing it here on Game Crafter in the future.

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Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

It has had a huge influence. If I had not stumbled across The Game Crafter I don’t think I would have found the motivations and desire to not only finish a game, but to get it out of my closet and into the hands of people that love playing games. The Game Crafter is an amazing service that is constantly getting better. Thank you for existing!

What’s next for you?

I am going to be working with Phil at 5th Street to make some updates to Mob Town before it’s published which will include a theme change and most likely a title change to reflect that. I will also be working on Ghosts Love Candy in my downtime to try and get that going as well. Please follow me on Twitter @3ddevine for updates and info on Mob Town, my other projects, or if you have questions or just want to chat about games.

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Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this?

By now you know that you need to playtest, playtest, playtest, but it is worth mentioning again because it is that important.

My advice would be to play as many games as you can and research or watch videos on games you haven’t played before. It never hurts to know what’s out there and what others are doing, you will get inspired and see mechanics in ways you didn’t think possible before. Read rule books, read designer blogs, listen to podcasts about game design (there are more than you think). There is a lot of information out there, go out and find it.

On that note, I would also point out that Networking is important as well. I am relatively new to it myself, but I have already seen some amazing results from using social media. I have talked with designers I admire, found a group of game designers that meet once a month less than 2 hours away from me and generally have a great time discussing my favorite hobby with like-minded people. Put yourself out there, you will be surprised at the difference it makes.


Chris and Johnny O'Neal Inducted Into The Hall Of Fame

We’re pleased to announce that Chris and Johnny O’Neal at Brotherwise Games have been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Tell us about your company, Brotherwise Games. How long have you been designing games?

Brotherwise Games was founded by (wait for it) brothers Chris and Johnny O’Neal in 2012. Like many dedicated gamers, we’d been “designing” our own games for years; playing around with ideas, improving on games we liked to play but found some faults with, and generally dreaming about how much fun it would be to bring our own games to life. A few years ago a job move brought Chris to southern California where Johnny already lived, and we decided to pursue game development in earnest. Of the various games that we’d been percolating over the years, Boss Monster showed the most promise as a game that we could fully develop and seek funding for.

Chris is a Ph. D. in Biology and a teaching consultant at University of California; Johnny is a brand manager for a major toy company. Tell us more about how those disparate careers have impacted your work as a game designers. 

Tabletop game design is one of those few careers where there’s not much in the way of formal training available. Like most designers, we learned about games by playing them — a lot of them. You’d think that Chris’s background in science would make him the more analytical of the two designers, while Johnny’s background in marketing would make him more aware of the “feel” of a game.  This isn’t always the case, though. In developing Boss Monster, Johnny tended to take a more quantitative approach to design while Chris focused more on the game’s feel and theme. For each Brotherwise Game, one brother serves as lead designer with veto power over the other brother. This is important for ensuring the project moves forward, but also important in that it allows each brother to bring different things to project. As co-designer, Chris could react to Johnny’s design changes without having been there for the computation that went into balancing each change. This method worked well for us.

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Please describe Boss Monster.

Boss Monster is a tabletop card game for 2-4 players that puts you in the role of the big baddies of videogaming’s golden days: the bosses lurking at the end of the dungeon.

In Boss Monster you build a side-scrolling dungeon of different room types and try to lure hapless heroes into your dungeon. Different hero types are lured to different types of room, and at heart Boss Monster is a bidding game where you the resources being bid on are heroes. But you use your rooms to kill those heroes as well, and if your dungeon isn’t as attractive as it is deadly, the heroes will make it through and deliver wounds to you, the Boss. Spells and room effects allow you to interfere with other Bosses’ dungeons and tactics.

8-bit and 16-bit pixel art has become popular in the past few years. What made you decide to take that direction with your artwork?

Like many games, Boss Monster went through uncountable iterations on its way to a final product. The game had its roots in a popularity-based game Johnny created years ago, in which the game’s currency was friends. Not surprisingly, that didn’t feel right for us and the game morphed into a more sword & sorcery feel. At some point, the “side-scrolling” mechanic became a permanent part of the gameplay and we realized that the game had organically come to mimic the layout of the 8-bit and 16-bit video games of our youth. It was a natural decision from there to invest heavily in the retro-gaming feel of Boss Monster, a decision which was clearly a good one as many people are brought into the game based on the artwork and nostalgia alone. 

Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it anywhere?

Design journal? That sounds like a smart thing to have done…dang. We did not keep a detailed design journal, but we did keep a pictoral representation of the game and it’s iterations. This is something we recommend to all designers. A journal can seem a bit daunting to stay on top of, but whipping out your phone camera at every play testing session and documenting what you see is a useful way to keep what worked and didn’t work in mind. We have not published these photos, and likely won’t, but we did put some of them in our Kickstarter-exclusive strategy guide.

You pitched Boss Monster on Kickstarter, and were successful. Tell us about the project of setting it up, getting backers, and ultimately fulfilling those orders.

Running a successful Kickstarter is a full time job. We can’t emphasize this enough.  Don’t do it if you don’t have 8 hours a day to commit to it. As partners we were able to split this 8 hours up, but we were still exhausted at the end of the month. Setting up the campaign online, making your videos, setting your pledge levels, crafting your stretch rewards, sending out press releases, managing your social media connections, posting on the comment boards, creating daily updates, and all of this while also working on polishing your game and getting it ready for print – these are just a handful of the ways you’ll spend your day running a successful campaign. We’re now in the fulfillment process, which feels AWESOME! I can’t overstate that. For those of you reading this and dreaming about making a game that people will play and enjoy, it is indeed an amazing feeling.

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You raised over $200,000 on your Kickstarter. At what point did you know this was going to be hugely successful, and what do you think aided you in raising so much money?

We can’t say enough good things about our Kickstarter backers. They took the game and made it a mission to get it funded, and then some. There are a lot of tabletop games on Kickstarter now, and we’ve received a number of questions from other designers about what we’d done to raise $215,000 for Boss Monster. The answer is, we’re not sure. It helps that Boss Monster is a great game, but there are lots of great games on Kickstarter that don’t raise the money we did. It helps that Boss Monster had an iconic feel that people resonated to, but we see lots of cool-looking games on Kickstarter that don’t do as well.  It helped that we worked like maniacs to get the word out (we sent out over 200 press releases in the first two weeks alone), but lots of games get the word out and don’t get funded. Kickstarter is a very nebulous beast, and we advise anyone looking to Kickstart their game to follow a couple rules: 1) Get your pledge tiers right. Low entry costs and progressively cooler “super-size me” tiers got backers engaged and then had them coming back to give more money later on.  2) Kickstart to publicize your finished game, not to fund an unfinished one. Backers want to know they’re gambling on a decent chance the game will actually be finished and delivered. Close-to-finished, polished games do better than in-development ones. 3) Treat your backers like what they are: partners. We spent countless hours listening to our backers’ suggestions, trying to involve them in the process, and cultivating their sense of ownership of the game. We owe these guys huge, and we know it. We want to live up to the faith they‘ve put in us.

Now that you’ve run your first successful Kicstarter project, do you have plans to do others? What would you do differently than the first time?

As successful as Boss Monster was, the reality in tabletop gaming is that indie designers like ourselves will always have a tough time maintaining the capital necessary to independently publish games.  For the foreseeable future we will be Kickstarting all Brotherwise Games titles, starting with the next round of Boss Monster expansions.

Obviously, the Boss Monster Kickstarter was extremely successful, and I don’t think we’ll change a lot about how we run our campaigns, but we did grossly underestimate our potential, and that meant that we were always playing catch up to a campaign that was running wild. We’ll set our sights even higher in the future.

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Is Boss Monster going to be available in retail stores? If so, where can people buy it?

Yes indeed, Boss Monster will be available in your friendly neighborhood gaming shop in the summer of 2013. We’re currently talking to distributors about making this happen.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter had on your success as a game designer?

We can’t say enough nice things about The Game Crafter. Brotherwise has a hard-and-fast rule of game design: always play test with the closest thing to polished that you can. We used TGC extensively during our playtesting and prototyping process and we truly believe that while pencil and paper can get you a long way in designing the mechanics of a game, you won’t really know how it feels to play a game unless you can approximate the final product: TGC lets you do this better than any other method.

We’d also like to take this opportunity to thank TGC publicly for saving our bacon. One of the many hasty promises we made to our backers was to have early prototypes of the game in the hands of backers (who pledged for them) by Christmas. We naively hit TGC with an order of about 200 games in early December. I’m picturing the massive face-palm JT did when we hit him with these orders. Nevertheless, he went out of his way to hire extra help and delivered ALL of our orders before the holidays. It was epic and a real testament to the dedication the folks at TGC bring to this business.

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What’s next for you?

Work, work, and more work. As we are discovering, the table-top games business is a tough one, and not for the faint of heart. Both of us have families and full-time jobs to attend to, so Brotherwise work happens in the evenings and early mornings. We’ve got two Boss Monster expansions in the work, another Brotherwise title in development, and some super secret projects we can’t talk about yet (always wanted to say that). We think the future looks bright for Brotherwise and we’re having the time of our lives.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this who would love to experience your success?

Just this, there is absolutely nothing different about you and us.  We’re not any smarter, more creative, or more persistent than you. If we could pull this off, any dedicated game designer can. Good luck, and visit us on the web at www.bwisegames.com!


Mark Major Inducted Into The Hall of Fame

We are pleased to announce that Mark Major has been inducted into the Hall of Fame.

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Tell us about yourself and how long you’ve been designing games.

My origins as a game designer go back to elementary school.  While I think it’s normal for kids to design simple board games around that time, I filled an entire pad of graph paper with my ideas for a console RPG.  I made maps for games like Doom and Quake when I got older, and in college, I took classes in computer science and graphic design. But the game bug never left me.  Later, I got a job at Nicalis because of my independent mod of a platformer called Cave Story.  I was also working on my own original board game ideas on the side, and last summer, I launched the design label Whirling Derby as a way to get all the games I’d been prototyping out to the masses.

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Please describe Jupiter Deep.

Everyone plays as an emergency rescue robot, dispatched to evacuate the Jupiter Deep colony before a bunch of creepy tentacle aliens destroy it  Your goal is to work together and rescue 28 colonists, but it can be a difficult task to keep them away from the infectious creeps and also keep the colony’s critical systems from falling apart.  You get ability cards to help you do things like move the colonists around or fight off creeps, and they can combine in interesting ways.  People really get into the whole theme of the game, and they get excited about the robot abilities like Juggernaut and Rocket Boots.  The game really stresses the importance of teamwork and being willing to listen as well as command; too many cooks in the kitchen is the surest way to lose spectacularly.  Also, for some reason “For the Greater Good” comes up a lot in my board game Meetup sessions.  I’m not sure why that is!

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The artwork is outstanding. Tell us more about it!

The card designs were created using a combination of Adobe Illustrator and InDesign, which are programs I had learned when I was studying graphic design in college.  The illustrations on the cards, tiles, the instruction sheet and the box were made in a modeling program called Blender, which I’d been using in video game design.  I basically modeled one big set of the colony, then modeled the robot, colonist, and creep figures.   I rigged all of those and posed them running or flying or shooting with props like the sniper rifle.  Once I had the models done, it took a couple hours to set up and render each image.  It was really an interesting process for me, because most video game work I do requires low poly counts so the game doesn’t slog down, but since print doesn’t have that limitation, I got to get much more elaborate with the designs.

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Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it somewhere?

I’m afraid I’ve never been prone to recording my processes for posterity or for any kind of social media, but my wife will take pictures and screenshots of works in progress and post them on the Whirling Derby Facebook (facebook.com/WhirlingDerby) and Twitter (@whirlingderby) every once in a while.  I’d really like to get better at that, though.

The process of making Jupiter Deep was a really crazy experience for me, though, because practically everything about the mechanics worked out from the start.  My wife and I played it with each other several times, and there was a point where I wanted to test a rule change, so tried a solo session where I emulated more players.  It lasted 4 hours, so that change didn’t make it into the final version.  Once I had the rules working for two players, I went to Friday Night Dice, which is a great board gaming Meetup community in the Los Angeles area, and we found out the rules scaled up to 7 pretty much flawlessly.  From there, I created the artwork and playtested around more.  What was interesting from that point, though, was that my playtesters assumed that some of the decorative images on the tiles had special functionality.  So I listened to them!  I added negative effect cards to the game with Setback cards, and that turned out to make it a much more tension-based experience.

Did you already have the idea for Jupiter Deep in your head before the Co-op Design Challenge was announced?

Though I tend to have a lot of concepts floating around in my head at any given moment, I actually came up with Jupiter Deep from scratch for the contest.

What made you decide to enter your game into the contest?

I have another cooperative game called Diabolical Incorporated that I had been working on for a good 5 or 6 years now, but I’ve had problems increasing the challenge during play. I saw the Co-Op contest as an opportunity to create a different cooperative game from the ground up, and hopefully give me some ideas on how to fix the problems with Diabolical. I also left for Gen-Con in the middle of the Steampunk Game contest (the contest before this one), so I was also really eager to see what kind of game I could come up with when I had more time to work on it.

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Would you have been motivated to work on the game as much as you did without the contest?

The contest was an excellent impetus to make another game.  I also enjoy the material and mechanics constraints, because I find that it gets me designing with a certain direction in mind that I might not have taken otherwise, and the results are really interesting.  I think it’s fair to say that without the contest, Jupiter Deep wouldn’t exist.

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Has winning inspired you to enter more contests or design more games?

I was super excited to win the contest.  I really appreciated the feedback from the judge.  And my wife has been telling everyone about my “award-winning” game now.  The Game Crafter Community is full of great designers, so I’m definitely looking forward to playing the entries from the next Map-Building contest, and seeing what The Game Crafter does next.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter has had on your success as a game designer?

The Game Crafter is a powerful enabling factor for an independent designer like me.  Without The Game Crafter, even producing these games would have been impossible.  I get to worry about the design, not jury rigging game components together, and that’s a big thing for me.

What’s next for you?

Oh, it’s hard to say exactly which project of mine is going to be the next big game I drive to completion.  Right now, the likely candidates include a 4x game I’ve been concepting out with Chris Leder, and a deck-building game based on my wife’s webcomic, Sombulus (sombulus.com)  Outside of creating something new, it is also time for me to start revving up the marketing engine on Jupiter Deep and my other games like Zerpang! (Zombies Elves Robots Pirates Aliens Ninjas and Gunslingers).  I will either be pitching them to publishers this year, or I might tackle a Kickstarter campaign sometime up the road.

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Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this?

Every skill you have helps in game design, because everything can be the basis of experience for a game.  Design is about creating an experience, so before anything else, know what that experience is and be realistic about whether you can deliver that or not.  Don’t be afraid to cut material out of a game that doesn’t reinforce that experience.

Also, spend a lot of time with your games.  Make them shine.  Playtest them.  Making games and getting them out in front of people is exciting, but don’t let that excitement make you settle for second best.  If you know you can do better, take the time to make it better.


Louis-Nicolas Dozois Inducted Into Hall of Fame

Tell us about Louis-Nicolas Dozois. How long have you been designing games?

I’ve always been interested in games and creating them. Even as a kid, I loved recreating games I had played, tweaking them and coming up with my own. By the age of 13 I had started to program and was making simple computer games, again, mostly trying to recreate the types of games I was playing in arcades at the time. By the end of high school, I had decided to focus on my art and animation, which lead to my current career as a video game artist. I got back into board games, and designing them a little after college about 9 years ago. It took until last year for me to publicly release my first board game, though.

Your game, Shake Out!, has been recently renamed to Roll’n Bump. Tell us about the rename and why it’s happening.

Funny, that’s probably the question I get asked the most by people who know the game as Shake Out! but it’s just part of the publishing process. The publisher simply wanted to come up with a name that better described the game play.

Please describe Roll’n Bump and how is it different from Shake Out!?

It’s a game that combines dice rolling and set collection. The core game play is similar to that of Yacht style games where players roll five dice up to three times while setting aside dice showing favourable results. The big twist is that all the players are competing on a same board made up of cards showing different dice combinations. Players stake claims on cards using the dice they’ve rolled in the hopes of not getting bumped off so they can be collected for scoring. It has the simplicity of play of a typical dice game but is a little more tactical and much more adversarial. As for what’s different between Shake Out! and Roll’n Bump, not much actually. When negotiations were started with the publisher, the only change they demanded was for the game to be adapted to support up to six players. I came up with an alternate board set up to accommodate the extra players and also took the opportunity to tweak the two player rules to keep the game more competitive despite having less opponents. Otherwise, it’s the same game.

Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it anywhere?

Not per say, but I do maintain a blog where I review games, talk game design and discuss ongoing projects. I have several posts up that touch on the journey from Shake Out! to Roll’n Bump. You can find it at louardongames.blogpot.com

You’ve been picked up by a publisher. Which publisher? How did that come about?

Les Jouets Boom, inc. out of Montreal, Canada are publishing Roll’n Bump. I was a total chance meeting. I was exhibiting at the Ottawa Game Summit last February and a representative from Boom was running the 7 Wonders tournament. I had a nice table set up to sell copies of Shake Out! which caught his eye. I got an email the following Monday saying he had tried the game at the office and they wanted to sign with me. You would expect to meet a publisher at a bigger show like, Spiel or Gen Con, but not at something like Game Summit. It’s was a very pleasant surprise.

Where can people find Roll’n Bump if they wish to purchase it?

I’ve only had locations in Quebec confirmed so far. Distribution their is pretty much province wide though, so if you find yourself in “La belle province” then many stores carry the game. If you are looking for a copy, you can always ask your local games or book stores to order some in. It’s distributed by Ilot 307 and they service all of North America. It’s also available online through the book store chain Renault Bray.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter had on your success as a game designer?

In a time where my interest in board game design was waning, The Game Crafter came along and gave me a whole new reason to care. I think TGC has done for board games what distribution models like the iTunes App store have done for video games. The Game Crafter gives independent designers a way of reaching an audience that simply didn’t exist before hand, and that is super exciting. I would also propose that TGC had a good part to play in Shake Out! getting signed. A nice, professional looking game will always be more attractive to publishers, and since I was already selling Shake Out! online, the publisher was much more confident that an audience for the game was out there. Finally, The Game Crafter makes it so easy to send out review copies and good press can make such a huge difference to the success of any product.

What’s next for you?

I do have a few designs on the go at the moment, but all too early to share, unfortunately. I can say that I would like to tackle something with a little more meat and gamer appeal next. One thing is almost guaranteed it’ll come to The Game Crafter first.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this who would love to experience your success?

Test the crap out of your games with as many people as possible to make them good and solid. There are so many things about the success of your games that are out of your control that you should focus on what you can control: the quality of your games, and getting them out there and talked about. So, make great games, make them look as good as you can and send them out to every reviewer that will take them. If you are looking to get picked up by a publisher, you have to set up meeting and go to conventions to meet representatives. The advantage of going through The Game Crafter first is that you will have nice, professionally produced games to show and an easy way to send the publishers more copies if they need them. If your games look like finished products, this makes them much more attractive to publishers as they seem like much less of a risk for them to take on. And above all else, make the games you want to make. In the end, designing games takes a lot of effort, and when the work piles up it’s your love of the game that will give you the strength and perseverance to forge ahead.


So there you are in Barnes and Noble minding your own business...



So there you are in Barnes and Noble minding your own business and what do you see? TGC Alumni Flash Point: Fire Rescue! 

May all of our 20,000 users achieve that level of success!


Jason Glover Inducted into Hall of Fame

Tell us about Grey Gnome Games, where the name came from, and how long you’ve been designing games under that label.

The name Grey Gnome Games came from playing Dungeons and Dragons when I was younger and how I always liked to play as a gnome. Gnomes always seemed like the underdog race and I guess I felt sorry for them. I still always choose to play a gnome in any game that offers it.

I created Grey Gnome Games a bit over a year ago as a place to work on some of my role playing game ideas. At first my goal was to write a RPG book and I even had most of it written, but last spring I turned to my other passion, board games instead. I had been designing board games for a long time, but none of them got much further then the pizza box stage. I soon found that I enjoyed designing board games more than writing RPGs so I shifted all my attention in this direction.

Finishing a project that I start had always been a thorn in my side and a shortcoming of mine. So, I set off to design something small, to start off, that I knew I could push myself to complete. This is when I started working on Plague and now that I have finished it I am thirsty for more.

Please describe Plague: The Card Game.

Plague the Card Game is at its core a trick-taking game in the likes of Hearts or Spades. However, there are a few things about Plague that separates it from any trick-taking game I have seen.

First of all, there are only three suites and unlike any other trick-taking game, each suite has the ability to be the trump. It uses a simple rock-paper-scissors mechanic where each of the three suites can trump one of the other suites and are at the same time vulnerable to being trumped by the other suite.

The other major twist to Plague is the scoring system. In Plague, when you take a trick you place the card that won the trick on top and then place the whole trick in front of you. Each card has a Victory Point score indicated on it. At the end of the round players add up these Victory Points to determine the winner. There are also Plague cards that can plague the trick and these nasty cards remove points from a players trick.

All in all Plague a quick game that can be played in as few as 10 minutes and is easy to learn but hard to master.

Did you create a design journal for your game? If so, did you publish it anywhere?

I do have a website at GreyGnome.com. Here I posted updates and artwork as I was working on Plague. I guess this could be considered a journal of sorts. I am using the site in the same manner as I now work on my next game, posting pictures and describing the game basic mechanics for all to view.

You pitched Plague on Kickstarter, and were successful. Tell us about the project of setting it up, getting backers, and ultimately fulfilling those orders.

I cannot praise Kickstarter enough. It might not be for everyone, but for someone like me, who likes total and complete control, it is a perfect match. Setting up the Kickstarter campaign was a learning experience for sure. I spent a lot of time looking at other projects to see what worked and what did not. I read a ton of articles and blogs to learn the ins and outs. Here are just two of the many things I learned that I will pass on here:

1. Get Reviews. If you are an unknown like I was going into my first Kickstarter campaign, I cannot stress enough how much a review from an unbiased reviewer can be. Kickstarter is based a lot of trust and if a potential backer sees that a reviewer they know likes your game then they are much more likely to back you. I got reviews from The Gamer’s Table, The Dicetower Review, and Cyrus aka Fathergeek.

2. Do the math. Take note that Kickstarter takes a 5% cut off the top and that Amazon Payments takes another 3%. That can make or break you. Also consider shipping. Make sure to factor in every single cost of producing your game from start to finish, before you make your pledge levels. There are quite a few sad tales out there of folks getting burned because they thought it would cost a lot less to make and ship their game then it ended up costing.

Now that you’ve run your first successful Kicstarter project, do you have plans to do others? What would you do differently than the first time?

I do plan on launching another Kickstarter campaign. My goal is to have it up in December at some point. The new game I entitled Zogar’s Gaze and it is a classic fantasy themed dungeon crawler that uses just cards and a handful of dice. It uses a press-your-luck mechanic and each player has both a secret race and class that both have separate win conditions. First player to achieve both of their win conditions wins the game. There are quite a few other twists and turns but what I like the most is that the game is very balanced and the game almost always seems to end in excitement. It really instills a sense of panic in the closing few minutes.

For my next Kickstarter I will not be pawning off T-shirts, key chains, or coffee mugs. I will streamline the campaign and will have only a handful or so pledge levels. I will also have an early birds special where backers can get the game for $6 less if they back early. This seems to really work out well for many campaigns.

Is Plague available in retail stores besides The Game Crafter?

The First Edition of Plague has a home on The Game Crafter. There are a handful of brick and motor stores that have copies of the Second Edition of Plague on their shelves. Many of these are overseas. However, copies can be picked up at Funagain Games if you want the full Kickstarter version with all the bells and whistles. However, the First Edition has all you need to play and is almost half the price. The choice is yours.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter had on your success as a game designer?

The Game Crafter has been a huge driving force for Plague and for Grey Gnome Games. I produced my prototypes here to send out to reviewers and I even produced the cards, the booklets, and all the gold doubloons for my Kickstarter versions of the game here as well. JT, really stepped up and reached out to me and his support and the generally awesome customer service at TGC has me hooked. With the new bulk pricing here, I will likely be producing much of Zogar’s Gaze here as well if I get funded.

One other aspect of The Game Crafter that cannot be ignored is the amazing community here. The Chat room is almost a second home for me as I bounce ideas off other designers or simply listen to others talk about their projects. It really is almost like a family and everyone is cheering for the next guy to succeed. It is an amazing thing.

What’s next for you?

Well, as mentioned before, my attention has now drifted from Plague the Card Game and over to Zogar’s Gaze. Now that I have one game done I am hungry to complete more games one at a time. I am also working on compiling links, articles, and other resources that I would like to provide to other designers looking to maybe run a Kickstarter campaign of their own.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this who would love to experience your success?

I think the best advice I can give is to finish ONE game if you have not already. Once you do it, you will want to do it again. Focus on one project and pour yourself into it. Also, I would like to think that I prove that you do not have to be a known designer to have a little bit of success in this industry. You simply need a good design and a lot of drive.