So much is going on as we break our silence from the dog days of summer. We got our newly printed, full sized cards for the next phase of Master of Spies and we are ready to take it on the road. Below is the “sexy” unboxing video of the product.
We are also an official LLC in the eyes of the Massachusetts and Federal government. It took a lot longer than we expected but it was important to use to do this right and at the beginning of the month we received our official documents.
Also last weekend on Sept. 12th we took part in the Boston Festival of Indie Games. It was a really great day and a bit of a learning experience. James, our “Game Breaker” and myself manned the table and demonstrated our card game, Master of Spies to lots of nice folks there, and got really encouraging feedback. One of the greatest things said to us was, “Thank you for having a short game”, in a show that was loaded with a load of great, but intensive, indie games, that really meant a lot..
We will be bringing our card game around to local, and a few not so local, gaming stores and shows. Please check in regularly and stop by, say hello, and give Master of Spies a try.
As we steadily head into fall, we are getting ready to launch our Master of Spies Demo tour. First stop is Boston Festival of Independent Games on Sept. 12th from 10am to 5pm at the Johnson Athletic Center on the M.I.T. campus in Boston. We will be at table U4! Get your passes here!
As we confirm more stops, we will share them here and to our email list. We will be visiting several local gaming stores, small cons in New England and possible visits in NYC!
We’re also asking you all to take part in a fun, community building game we are calling “Where in the World is Oger?” Our dwarven mascot/intern has been demanding a vacation, which we can’t afford to send him on, so the next best thing is to put him in your vacation pictures. You can download his picture by right clicking and choosing “save as”, then either put him in your photos digitally, or print him out, color him in and take a photo with him in an interesting location, in the style of “Flat Stanley”.
We promise to share every picture we get through our email on the webpage and our Facebook page and if we get a great response we will create a video montage of the pictures. Here are some examples our Beloved Taskmaster, Steve R., had created for inspiration.
So, you may be asking, “Where have we been?!?! Here it is the third week of August and you have not heard a peep out of me or the guys!”
Well…I won’t speak for the others, but I know that I have been on a much needed summer vacation. I packed up the car, jumped on I-95 South, and headed into the wilds of coastal Connecticut with the family.
(I’ve been working on the Demo cards for Master of Spies -Mr. P)
While there, we traveled the Thames River, visited an old Revolutionary Fort, stopped at the Groton Naval Base to visit the museum there, and finally visited the Connecticut Comic Con at Mohegan Sun.
But don’t worry, I was always mindful of what we have going on here at MR20. I even talked to an artist or two at the Con to see if they would be interested in doing some work for us.
Now that summer is starting to wind down, be sure to stop back here for more frequent updates!
Every month, sometimes twice a month, my local game shop, Rivendell Books and Games, puts on a Saturday Board Game Nite. Admission is free, and gamers are encouraged to bring and play whatever manner of game tickles their fancy. We also have a selection of stored owned games on-hand too. Couples come in to play, as do entire families and we always have a healthy and diverse turn out for every event. We encourage people to mingle and to try out games that they may not have otherwise bought or played for themselves.
So this lend me to thinking….are we now in the Golden Age of Board Games? Are we in a gaming Renaissance?
In today’s world, with our video game culture, the concept of sitting around a table rolling dice and moving pieces seems archaic. But a large and growing board-game subculture is not only thriving, but may actually be growing so much that it may not be a subculture any longer!
Since the explosive introduction of Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne (and other Euro-Games) some years ago, a rapidly expanding marketplace has given rise to a new wave of publishers and designers, most of which have brought a new sense of creativity and innovation.
Moving beyond the old mass-market favorites of the past, this new community of independent designers and publishers has been producing exciting and innovative games at a staggering pace. Games are better than in the past and designers are turning out products with thought-provoking mechanics and breathtaking artwork as fast as their customers can buy them up.
The internet has been a key factor in the growth of tabletop gaming. Blogs, social networks and online videos have all contributed to creating word-of-mouth buzz for the board game boon. Smartphone, tablet, and computer apps have given new and old players an inexpensive way to try digital versions of board games before buying physical copies. Online retailers, specialty shops, and game cafes have all made games more easily available than in the past, allowing gamers to try out games with friends before they buy.
So, all in all, it’s a great time to be a board gamer….if we’re not in the Golden Age, we must be damn close!
As you all probably know by now, Gamergeddon was a great success! Some funds were raised, playtesting was done, and fun was had by all! Thanks to all who came out and joined us…you know who you are! I’d like to send out a special thanks to my wife Simone and my son Ethan for helping us out with the yard sale/ sidewalk sale. I could not have done it without you both!
Work continues on “Master of Spies”.
Game play mechanics are just about complete. Official rules have been written, and the retail box has been designed. We still have some playtesting notes to comb through, but overall this game is very close to going to production. As soon as the final artwork is received full sized prototypes of the game will be made and then our team of Steve P. and James will hit the road for some “not-so-local” networking and even more playtesting.
So far the vast majority of our playtests for “Master of Spies” have resulted in positive feedback, so we are excited to move forward into the next stage of development. Hopefully we can bring “MoS” to Kickstarter soon!
What’s next? We’ll be digging out our second game, clean away the dust on it and resume development on that one as well.
There’s a lot of talk about the impact of on-line retailers and the “death” of the local gaming store. There are even some closed minded curmudgeons (mind you I’m a curmudgeon myself so this is not light criticism) who think board and card games are on their way out due to the electronic alternatives. I’d have to be a fool not to recognized that the terrain is changing, or to not see that we’re in a transitional period. It’s a fact, in this day and age we have more stuff to fill up our spare time than any other time in history. Just look at my Netflix queue, my unpainted miniatures, underplayed games and unfinished game concepts if you need proof.
The Fate of the Local Gaming Store
The fact is, as with all retailers in the age of Amazon, that the local gaming store needs to adapt. 20 years ago there were only a handful of places you could get obscure games, specialized imports or rare small print run indie RPGs (anyone remember HoL?) So today’s game store owners need to adapt to compete against the discounted prices and vast inventory of the online retailers, The way most have done so is to create a community of gamers and given them a place to meet and play together. I came across one such place during my travels in New York City wandering around Manhattan. The place is called “The Uncommons“, a coffee shop and local game store where you can buy or rent games to play with friends and strangers. It was doing a fair amount of business for a 4th of July Saturday afternoon. The selection of games to rent was impressive, the ones to buy admirable (about half the shelf space of the rental games), but I’m sure they would bring in any thing you wanted special order. It had the feeling of a mini-convention, where people came to try new games of meet new players.
There is many local gaming stores that have done similar things, putting large war-gaming tables with exquisite model terrain to bring in the war-gamer crowd.
We’ve based our company out of shared space with Rivendell Books & Games in Rehoboth, MA where the owner has a open gaming nights twice a month as well as the usual Friday Night Magic and Star Realms tournaments.
Do you have a favorite gaming space or combo-gaming and social outlet? Please comment and let us know. Also please like and share our posts to really help getting the conversation going!
So a couple of weeks ago, I wrote a missive detailing how I lamented not having enough time to play all the games I owned, wished to own, or didn’t own but wanted to play anyway (did you follow all that)!
That ol’ Role Playing Game Itch.
I also stated that I had no idea when I’d have time to ever play in a good old fashion RPG campaign again. Lately that itch has begun in earnest, like a good ole’ summer case of poison oak!
This time however, I have decided to scratch that itch, and actually run some RPG sessions this summer. BUT…..I now have another problem:
What system do I run?
Do I bring out the tried and true Pathfinder books? After all, this is a system almost all RPG-ers are now familiar with. Plenty of playing options are available and I am sure I can get people to play with me. (Count me in if you go with a PF campaign! -Mr. P.)
Do I go with the new and try out the new D&D 5 ruleset? But that would take a lot more time, having to learn a whole new ruleset. And then I would have to find people also willing to try a new game.
Or do I go with the good old AD&D. Going old school and running some classic module adventures. Try to recapture that magic of youth when Greyhawk was young and the adventures seems boundless!
Knowing me, I’ll procrastinate so much that my plan to run a summer campaign will turn into a fall campaign!
Oh well….(now where did I put those old M.E.R.P. books?!?!?!)
Don’t get me wrong, I really don’t want to see the government start to regulate and clamp down on crowdfunding. I’ve personally backed a dozen or so campaigns myself, but there was always that worry, “Am I every really going to see this product?” Fortunately the Kickstarter campaigns I dealt with were on the level and never disappointed me. They did make me wait, but that’s to be expected in the crowdfunding experience. Then you start to hear about these Kickstarter nightmare campaigns. Last year Jyrobike, the auto-balancing bike, launched it’s campaign looking for $100,000 and was quickly funded and exceed its goal, then a month ago I read a story about the inventor. His company’s board of directors, excited about the new influx of cash , started arguing over where the money should go. The inventor said, “To build the Jyro-Bikes every ordered.” The Board didn’t agree, voted the inventor out and never produced the bikes the backers had ordered. Now there’s two tragedies here, one is that the backers, who gave their money in good faith, never received their promised reward, of course. The other is that the inventor, the guy whose name was on the Kickstarter campaign, has had his reputation destroyed . He’ll never be able to run another crowdfunding campaign again.
Kickstarter and The Doom That Came To Atlantic City
I was told the cautionary tale of “The Doom That Came To Atlantic City” by a friend, and now partner in Move Rate 20 Games, who is familiar with the gaming industry. It’s a tale of how the creators of the game, Lee Moyer and Keith Baker, worked in good faith with a “friend?” who would manage their Kickstarter campaign to get it funded. The campaign was a success, hitting $100,000 before even the first month, everyone was thrilled. Then slowly the updates from Erik Chevalier grew more and more infrequent. The backers wanted to know what had happened to the $122+K that had been raised and when would they be getting their game? On June 31st, 2013, a little over a year after the initial Kickstarter, Chevalier posted that the game studio had been shuttered and refunds would be forth coming. (You can read most of the posts here on the original Kickstarter page) Obviously the refunds never came and nothing was heard from Chevalier.
Luckily, Moyer and Baker were rescued by Cryptozoic Entertainment, who agreed to publish the game and provide the backers with the copy of the game they were promised, all out of their own pocket. These guys are the real heroes of this story.
So the FTC charged Chevalier with the failure to produce any of the rewards for the backers and never issuing any refunds. They fined him $111,793, however, it has been suspended due to his current financial situation, ahem…he’s broke. He is also permanently barred from raising money through crowdfunding. So…”yea”…I guess.
What do you think about the FTC getting involved and the punishment they levied against Chevalier? Too soft, too harsh, just right? Leave a comment below and let me know.
Our mascot here around the office Oger the Dwarf has a huge dwarf-crush on Wil Wheaton and watches “TableTop” religiously. When he told me about the latest episodes featuring the horror-based storytelling game “Dread”, which uses a Jenga® tower instead of dice, my curiosity was peaked. Since the game is out of print, I went to Drive-Thru RPG to see if they had it, which they did as a $3 100-page PDF.
After watching the 2 TableTop episodes and looking over the rules I had to try my hand as a Game Master (or “Host”) for Dread. The basic concept is that instead of rolling dice the players pull a block from the tower when they have to use a skill that is not known to their character, or when they are doing something under duress. If the tower tumbles, the character making the pull is out of the game. I tried it last weekend and the experience wasn’t quite what I hoped for. That was my fault entirely, I broke 2 of the basic rules of Dread, maintain the atmosphere and maintain the suspense. My gaming group is supposed to meet monthly, but that has been difficult lately so we tried to take advantage of getting together for my goddaughter’s 15th birthday (who is in the group). Though a really cool game mechanic and idea, it was a case of too many people, no one was really in a “horror story” mood and a group of players that were almost completely made up of highly skilled Jenga® players. The tower never toppled and things just didn’t work out. On the ride home my wife congratulated me on a good game, but I didn’t feel it was worthy of any accolades.
Post Game Master Depression
Do other Game Masters walk away from a session feeling disappointed? I’m sure that anyone taking on the responsibility of running a RPG has off nights, or a game that just didn’t fit their group. In the above example, I know I shouldn’t beat myself up, people had fun, the players reacted to the story pretty much the way
I wanted. So why does it take the wind out of my sails, and not just in this case, but most gaming sessions? Part of it’s my problem, I’m known as a “plumber”, as in I “plumb the depths” of the worlds I create. They have rich, long histories and highly detailed factions with elaborate political maneuvering going on in the background, that players only scratch the surface of. When our group can’t meet regularly all those rich details get forgotten and lost. When there’s a time constraint and I have to rush 6 hours worth of play into 4, it’s those details that get cut, or worse, completely forgotten by me on the spot.
Is There A Curse To Being Creative?
It’s a mind frame I’ve seen with my artistic friends, and I’ve experienced myself on occasion. You start to draw, paint, sculpt with a mental image of what you want the thing to be, and as you go on you can’t reproduce that vision in your head. When you’re finished,
what you created bears little resemblance to what you envisioned, which is disappointing. Here’s’ the kicker, no one else saw what you did in your head. To them this creation is wonderful, it’s something they could never do; however, in your eyes it’s not quite what you had envisioned. If a session does do play out just as I wanted those experiences that can’t be replicated; a mix of variables ranging from my mood, the players energy, the environment, the perfect amount of libation imbibed and maybe something unquantifiable. While I may be a perfectionist, I hope I’m not being too precious.
Oger if you’ll shut your ale-hole and stop with the side comments, I’ll see about getting you promoted from “Mascot” to “Intern”.
Please share your stories of games gone right and session gone horribly, horribly wrong in the comments below and thanks for reading this.