Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ask a Developer (Garret Rempel, Part Two)

Today, part two of the Q&A with Garret Rempel. Here we go.

How has the game changed during playtesting? How long did the playtest last?
The details of the game have changed significantly during playtesting, but not dramatically, and the final product is very much in line with my original vision, though greatly polished and refined in its implementation.

The original design was much less flexible than the final product. First, you could only take a single action, and then you could take several actions but only in a specific order. But those limitations prevented achieving the objective of complexity within a simple framework. In the end most of the changes made were removing restrictions and simplifying rules.

The playtest period started in July of 2016, and ended late-September – nearly 3 full months of introducing the game to new players, listening to feedback, and making revisions. And this is after spending the better part of 2 months doing initial design and experimentation work before introducing other players to the game.

How did you handle the process of getting your game to market?
The plan for getting Flipped Off! to market is a series of stages. Because I was primarily doing this for my own entertainment, I didn’t need to have a distribution deal in place or a publisher to whom I would sell it. Also, not having the dedicated following like the Oatmeal or Cyanide & Happiness, I was quite aware that there was no way to have a fraction of the success that Exploding Kittens had on Kickstarter.

So the plan was to start small, develop interest, and grow if the demand was there. As a result, Flipped Off! is being offered as a low-cost print & play product. Anyone can purchase the print package online for a token contribution which will give them access to production-quality PDF files that they can print or manufacture themselves according to their budget. The print package also comes with additional PDF files and instructions for submitting to Print & Play Games to produce a one-off manufactured prototype. This option is much more expensive than self-printing on cardstock or mass production, but the result is a fully manufactured copy of the game.

If the game develops a following, and there is interest from the print & play market for doing an actual mass-produced print run then the plan will be to fund it through Kickstarter or Indiegogo. The advantage of doing it this way, is that they game has already been completed, tested, and is market-ready. There is no risk to running a crowd-funding campaign and ended up with an incomplete or failed product. Crowd funding would only be used to cover the print cost, with a target level that would ensure enough copies are printed to take advantage of mass production discounts.

How do you handle marketing? How much time have you devoted to marketing versus design/development time (in hours, if you know)?
Marketing is a tricky thing, especially since this is a self-funded project with a budget of zero. So I decided to take a three-channel approach to marketing: social media, established online entities, and local outreach.

Social media is primarily conducted through Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. By reaching out, making connections to other social media entities, that provides one channel for people to discover my company (Tricorn Games) and Flipped Off! Social media excels at making connections, and by focusing on establishing relationships (as opposed to pushing product), there is a better chance for information to spread.

The second channel is approaching and engaging with online entities including places like Board Game Geek, Reddit, Kotaku, Table Top Gaming News, etc. This can happen by submitting news stories for publication, but more importantly by engaging with the built-in communities of followers that these type of sites cultivate. By engaging on a personal level, communicating, asking for feedback, providing constructive input, and being a member of these communities, you are more likely to engage successfully than shouting into the darkness.

The last channel is local outreach. As a general rule, local game shops are (shockingly!) interested in games! They are wonderful places to go, hang out, try new things, meet new people, and spread interest. Game shops often also have space for playing games or organize events to bring gamers together based on a mutually shared interest. These are great places to go to engage with the people who are most likely to introduce other people to the hobby. That, and its fun!

What is the release date of your game and the price? Where can people buy it?
Flipped Off! is available on October 20th, 2016 for purchase online at which will get you a full production-quality print package in 8.5”x11” format for printing at home, as well as 18”x24” format plus instructions for printing with Print & Play Games as well as alternate printing recommendations if you only want to print the critical components and use other generic pieces you having lying around for markers & tokens.

The download price is $1.99 CAD (~$1.51 USD) for the complete package.

If you choose to print the complete package at home, paper plus toner / ink costs will cost you under $6 to print on cardstock using a laserjet printer, and even less if you choose to print only the critical components.

What is your next project?
We currently have 4 new projects in the works which have not all been announced. But our next project is a kids’ card game with artwork by Fredrik Skarstedt called Go Fish Fitness that combines Go Fish with fun exercises that you can inflict upon the other players in the game by making a match.

We are also hoping to run a Flipped Off! Kickstarter or Indiegogo campaign in the new year. Please keep an eye on Tricorn Games or @TricornGames on Twitter, tricorngames on Instagram or on Facebook for future updates.

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