Kickstarter Guide: How to Pick Your Favorite Child – Which of your fantastic ideas is best to launch on Kickstarter?
Now, there are games which are passion projects and games that are fun for your friends and then there are games with which to launch your budding business. All are valid but you have to work out which you want to do. Working out at this stage, before you’ve spent your money, what you want to do is very important. If you want to have a game which you made and can whip out at parties, then Game Crafter is a great place to do this. Think of it like a hobby, get the art and graphic design that you want, make it, play it, and enjoy but don’t expect other people to want to part with their hard-earned cash for it. For small scale production again, Game Crafter is great, or consider making it into a print and play and putting it into a few competitions, Boardgame Geek almost always has one running. This is a good place to hone your design skills but more on that another time. However, if you’re serious about starting a business or are willing to have 1000 copies of your game to sell for a few years, then crowd funding is a good way to go.
But which idea to develop? For your first Kickstarter you ideally want the one with the least components, the one that’s easiest to playtest, has the broadest player count, has the most approachable theme, least off-putting mechanics and most attention-grabbing components.
So, with regards to the number of components, this is a development skill. Every time you play your game consider if there’s anything you can get rid of, remember during production you are paying for every single card and counter, the fewer the better. This will also help keep your game compact both as a concept and literally. No-one likes a game where you only get to use half the cards before it’s over. Also, if you can keep your component types down this will save you money; once you’re set up to print one card five hundred isn’t an issue, but one card and one dice and one meeple are all different components that require different manufacturing processes. Additionally, remember that you’ll be paying for shipping; the box is the most expensive thing you’ll be paying for so the bigger and heavier it is the more expensive.
Ease of playtesting might seem obvious but getting playtesters, particularly for blind playtesting, is difficult. If you can make your game on Tabletop Simulator that will really help. If you want to ship your game out to playtesters, again, remember that you’ll have to provide them with all the components at a reasonably professional level; playtesters are generally a forgiving bunch but if you’re sending your game off they’ll need it to be a bit better than the pen and paper version your buddies have been playing. Consider making a print and play as it can be freely shared around the world at basically no expense, however this will limit you on unusual components; playtesters won’t want to go out and buy an egg timer for example.
As to player count, if you have a party game with a count of 6-12 it won’t be a solo game and equally if it’s 1-4 it won’t play at 20. It’s mainly about having the widest player count your game can comfortably support. If you have one idea that’s a 2-3 player count or one that’s a 1-4, go for the 1-4. Solo modes are increasingly beneficial and ubiquitous, but this also means that backers are increasingly discerning of them, include it if possible, but only if you can do it well.
Theme can be a vital element of marketing. Try to avoid things like extreme horror as it will limit your market. Feel free to have something a bit niche, you don’t have to go for the ubiquitous pirate, zombie, anthropomorphized animals, but bear in mind that theme can limit you. Ensure, however, that your theme is worth more than it costs.
With mechanics there are a few things that will hamper a Kickstarter, for example player elimination and old-fashioned roll and move. I’m not saying you have to design a roll and write, but try to make the mechanisms as user friendly as possible. Finally, the components, having just one or two components that someone really wants can be a massive benefit. With our games we haven’t done this yet, our attention-grabbing thing has been mechanics and artwork; however, if you can have custom meeples or dice, or a playmat or dice tower, it can really help a campaign. You may end up spending a lot of money on components that won’t help sell your game, but if you can find a cost effective, eye catching thing that can really be a plus. See Jamey Stegmaier’s blog/games for more on this.
So, you’ve picked the game to be your first Kickstarter, congratulations! But what now? See my next blog on the next step, the wonderful world of Playtesting!
Tales of heroes who find their destiny are always beloved. There is just something that lifts that hearts and spirits about that narrative. To see a person struggle with their true identity and what that means for their future is just a troupe that audiences never get tired of.
From 1984 till 1995 Shonen Jump had new volumes of Dragon Ball Z being released in manga form. Audiences enjoyed the story and the humor in it. Perhaps that is why it became an anime so quickly. In 1996 Dragon Ball Z got it’s chance to air for a larger audience. The anime ran till 2003. That’s right. For seven years there were episodes airing for fans all over the world.
Goku learns that he is not of the world he has been living in. He is, in fact, from a warrior planet. As if that isn’t enough there are those from other planets who are coming that he must fight. So he trains and fights for those he loves. However he does it in a comical Goku fashion. Goku is big part of why this story is such a success. His loving and gentle nature is something that has been drawing in fans for years.
The characters in Dragon Ball Z are interesting. There are mothers, trainers, warriors and all kinds of people in between. They mess up, laugh and generally save the world. There are love stories that they play out. There are parents and children.
The settings and the art are also interesting. Most anime have a style to them. You can always tell a scene or character from Dragon Ball Z. The clothing and hairstyles help tell the story of how characters are transitioning and evolving in the story. The music sets the tone of scenes, whether it be a battle or lighthearted.
The elements all work together to create a story that people love. The unique style of the anime will always set it apart. The characters will keep you interested. The story itself is fun with twists to keep it going.
While it was never my favorite anime I have fond memories of watching it with friends. I have seen people be brought together by it. I have seen the joy that this story brings. Enough so that there is even a new game out!
So I would recommend giving it a try if you haven’t yet.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!
What would you do if you found a way to punish those who do wrong? What if it seemed simple but in reality it had some big consequences? What is the only way to do it resulted in a person’s death, would you still do it?
It is an interesting concept. Anime is a fantastic medium to explore such a question. It’s potential consequences. That is the aim of Death Note. To explore a world where such action could be taken by one person.
Like many other anime Death Note started off in book form, a manga, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. The manga was first published in Japan in 2003 the series became extremely popular. It is not surprising that by 2006 an anime form of the story was released. The anime did not disappoint and is a favorite among many fans. No doubt a factor in its popularity is the story itself.
Light is a high school student. He is extremely intelligent and seems to have the world opening up to him. There are just two problems. One is that he is bored beyond belief. The other, the world around him is dark and full of crime. One day Light finds a book with “Death Note” written on the cover. What Light doesn’t know is that the book was dropped by a rogue death god. After he discovers what the book really is he begins to use it to kill those who he deems as worthy of such a punishment.
This starts a series of events into motion. People are dying suddenly. International police are called in. Will Light stop? Will he be caught? Is he going to spin out of control? Will the Shinigami ever have enough apples?
Death Note has a great vibe. The whole anime is dark by design. There is almost a layer of grit on so many of the scenes. The character designs are just really interesting. The music is good and helps set the mood for scenes.
As previously stated there have been a few incarnations of the story of Death Note. First the manga, then the anime and most recently a live action series by Netflix. The last was met with more of a mixed reaction. That is to be expected with source material as loved as Death Note.
I would highly recommend the anime. It is a great anime for an older audience that enjoys a slightly darker story.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!
Heroes. I love stories of heroes. Stories of those who overcome all the obstacles and odds to save those who cannot save themselves. Like most fans of comics/graphic novels I have been thrilled with the influx of movies that have come out in my lifetime. How lucky we are to see our favorite heroes and villains on the big screen. Here is a list of some of my favorites. Some are movies that do not, strictly speaking, feature “heroes” as the leads but they still fit and I love them so in no real order here we go.
- The Incredibles: Written and directed by Brad Bird this animated movie hit hard with a lot of heart in 2004. After Supers are outlawed what are the former masked fighters supposed to do? Get a job in a cubicle? What if your children have powers and now have to hide them? This family friendly movie features a family dealing with these issues. This movie is full of humor and love.
- Thor: Ragnarok: The great Taika Waititi gave the Thor franchise the lift it desperately needed when he directed this 2017 film. With a tight story line, great cast and a lot of humor this movie is a must see. Thor returns to his home and falls into a wild series of events that will push the god of war. Thor has to navigate new family drama as well as trying to save his home world. This film has the quirky brand of humor that fans love from Taika.
- Captain America: The First Avenger: Steve Rodgers finally got his own movie in 2011. Steve’s story is of a little guy who always tries to fight for what he believes is right. Joe Johnston directed this fantastic film about a hero who is so beloved by many comic fans. All Steve wants to do is join the army and fight in World War Two, however he is repeatedly denied due to his poor health. He finds a way and allies to help him.
- Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman has been an American hero for years. She is part of the triad that also consists of Batman and Superman. Patty Jenkins directed this 2017 movie. Diana is a restless warrior who finds a purpose when an American pilot lands on her island and tells her about the war outside. The film finds the balance of humor and Diana’s warrior ways. I was so happy as a lifelong fan of Wonder Woman to see this movie.
- Shazam!: Superheroes are complicated. Shazam is a great example of this as he is both an ancient wizard and also young Billy Batson. David F. Sandberg was a great director for this 2019 film. Billy is a foster kid who is just looking for his mother. Instead he stumbles into a cosmic war. Tough situations and feelings are dealt with such humor in this movie.
- Batman Returns: So there had to be a Batman movie. Like Wonder Woman Batman is one of America’s oldest heroes. In 1992 Tim Burton directed this campy movie that takes place in Gotham at Christmas. I know a lot of people have written off these earlier films, they aren’t as dark as many of DC’s newer movies. I like that they aren’t as dark though, Bruce’s life is dark enough. He needs a few laughs thrown about. I also love this Catwoman and how they played with her story.
- Deadpool: Oh what can you really even say about Wade Willson? In 2016 a wonderful movie came out in time for Valentine’s Day directed by Tim Miller. It was funny, violent and yes there even was a love story in it. I think it was interesting to have so much of Wade’s story be about his love. For a movie about a mercenary there is a lot of humanity in it. Wade is a beloved character and this movie has all the reasons why; from his dark humor, to the fourth wall breaks to all the wonderful things in between.
- Captain Marvel: Carol is such an interesting character. She is funny, she is dealing with trauma and she loves to fight. She fights for what is right. She fights to break down barriers. Anna Boden directed this great take that was released in 2019. I was really happy with how they treated this story, Carol has a lot of source material to play with. Carol encourages us all to go higher, further and faster.
- Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse: One of the reasons why some people won’t get into comics is because of the multiverse. Comics go through a story line and then there is a reset that happens when new creators take control. Instead of choosing one version of Spiderman to make this movie a story was woven together by taking multiple versions of people who have the powers and use them in their own ways to protect others. Bob Persichetti’s 2018 film gives us an amazing story of a hero’s struggle, complete with multiple styles of animation. The music and the characters of this animated film are just wonderful.
- Harley Quinn: Birds of Prey: This movie has everything. A strong ensemble cast, good dialogue and a tight storyline.Cathy Yan, thankfully, took over this 2020 movie and gave fans the origin story that the Birds of Prey deserved. The story is told from the perspective of the one and only Harley Quinn, who is newly dumped and trying to find herself. What she finds is a lot of trouble and perhaps even a purpose outside of her old life. I walked out of this movie so happy. I didn’t know how badly I needed this story, for it to be told this way and with this cast. I can even forgive them changing the title of the movie to make it easier to process tickets.
Wow this was a lot more difficult then I thought it would be. I thought that my very strong opinions about this genre would make it a little easier.
What are your favorites? Did they make the list? If not then comment below so I have suggestions on what to watch next.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!
1. Tell our readers who you are.
Hi Everyone! I’m Victoria Caña, a producer for Wizards of the Coast by day, and an award-winning indie game designer by night. Before I got into the games industry, I did work in a bunch of different fields: management consulting, marketing, ad tech, consumer insights, fashion PR, creative writing. Over time, my dreams changed, but I’m thankful I went on this exploratory journey to find my true passion: making awesome games that empower marginalized creators and players.
2. What was the first board game you remember playing?
It was Slamwich, an educational dexterity game about making sandwiches (essentially Slapjack for kids). Another early board game I played was Diploma Dogs, which the box describes as “The game that makes learning fun!”. I think it achieved that goal for sure. You play as one of six tiny stuffed dogs with backpacks (Geography Dog, History Dog, Math Dog, Language Dog, Health Dog, or Science Dog). And, get this: when you answer trivia questions correctly you get to fill your dog’s backpack with bones and biscuits. How adorable! I loved playing Diploma Dogs with my sister growing up and I highly recommend it for families with young children.
3. What are your favorite board games right now and why?
My current favorite games are Kolejka (a game about fighting to get the items on your shopping list in Communist Poland), Rising Sun (an an area control strategy game set in feudal Japan), Rococo (a euro game where you play a dressmaker running a ball), Yokohama (a game about building a successful business in Meiji period Japan), and Just One (the fun-for-all Spiel de Jahres-winning party game). I enjoy many types of games and am generally down to play anything, but games with good reviews and interesting themes appeal to me the most.
4. Tell us about Gladius.
Gladius is an award-winning board game of spectacle and sabotage for 2-5 players. You play as cunning Roman spectators trying to make the most money by betting on and rigging the gladiatorial games. Each round, players secretly place bets on competing gladiator teams. Through the skillful use of underhanded tactics, players can help and hinder teams to alter the outcome of each battle. The player with the most money at the end of three rounds wins! We’ve demoed Gladius hundreds of times at gaming conventions over the past few years, and I’ve noticed that people who like card games, video games, bluffing, and Rome have a very high likelihood of enjoying Gladius. We also attract a lot of people who like our game’s fun, lighthearted art style.
5. What was your inspiration to create the game?
A lot of different factors came together that led to the creation of Gladius. First, my co-designer Alex and I met veteran game designer Stone Librande at the Tribeca Games Festival. He told us that if we want to be game designers, we should try to make a game out of cards. While thinking about what we should make a game about, we found inspiration from two different games. First, Domina, a video game where you run a school of gladiators. Second, Council of Verona, a betting and bluffing game themed around Romeo and Juliet. We love Roman History and liked the idea of spectating the gladiatorial games as opposed to being a gladiator. We also really enjoyed Council of Verona but wanted something a bit heavier. These different forces led to the creation of what we now know as Gladius! We’ve been working on the game for the past three years now and are excited for it to launch on Kickstarter on February 18.
6. What are the most challenging issues that you’ve come across in designing a board game?
The most challenging issue when designing a game is picking a direction to push the game in. When we start with a design it can go a million different places depending on so many different factors: what you as the designer want, what newer players want, what seasoned board gamers want, what publishers want, what playtesters want. All these different opinions are in constant conflict with each other and choosing which direction to choose can be daunting.
7. What aspects of board game designing do you enjoy the most?
I love the blue sky phase when there are no limits and you think of crazy ideas and get excited about how awesome they could be! I also enjoy the playtesting phase because seeing your game in the hands of players helps you learn about how to improve it. Through playtesting, you get to observe what parts of a game are working and which ones are not. On top of that, you get to connect with people face-to-face and meet new friends and fans.
8. What were some hurdles you’ve overcome, as a woman, to get to where you are in the industry?
The tabletop industry has come a long way, but it is still so hard to be a woman designer let alone a player. People still give me weird, skeptical looks like I’m in the wrong place when I go to game stores, events, and conventions. Sometimes people think I’m an “assistant” and only acknowledge my co-creator, who is a man, as a designer when we’re both demoing the game. And worst of all, I’ve had to overcome bullying. My sister and I were bullied by a high-profile game designer who was judging a game design contest we were in a few years ago. He made fun of us and our game in front of a live audience, and he didn’t do that to any of the game designers who were men. To top it all off, right after the judging panel ended, half of the audience came up to us one by one to apologize for the judge’s behavior. That’s how we knew it was really bad – it was so bad that complete strangers in the audience felt compelled to apologize to us for bad behavior they witnessed.
9. What has been the proudest moment of your career?
In addition to making a great game, one of the goals for Gladius was to help my co-creator Alex get into the games industry. In a surprise turn of events, Gladius ended up helping me get a job in the games industry. I was a management consultant at Deloitte before I became a producer at Wizards of the Coast, and honestly, it was a great transition because I spent all my free time designing and playing games anyway. I had just never thought that I could be in the industry because of the imposter syndrome I feel as a woman of color. I’m so proud and happy to be here because now I can show other women of color that they can make games too!
10. Do you have any other board games in development or currently available that you would like to share with our readers?
My co-designer Alex and I have a few other prototypes that we put on hold to work on Gladius: Red Cliffs (a wallet game where you play a strategist during the pivotal battle of China’s Warring States Period), Hot Takes (a party game/liar’s dice hybrid about dishing out hot takes and guessing your friends’ stances on them), and Dim Sum Rush (a game about eating the tastiest and cutest dim sum).
Well done high fantasy is such a wonderful story to enjoy. The mixing of myth, history and modern forms of storytelling can be difficult to get right. However when it is mixed properly it is truly fantastic.
Witcher began its story in novel form. Written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski and translated by Danusia Stok the first novel in the series was a hit. Since then the series has grown, much to the delight of fans. The story continued to evolve in the form of video games. This different format brought new fans to The Witcher franchise. With multiple books and games there were many who wanted to see the story evolve even further. In 2019 Netflix released a dramatized version of the series to stream on it’s platform.
Geralt is a witcher. After being mutated by magic at a young age now he travels to kill monsters for coin. His world is one of magic and uncertainty. Wars between men, elves and other things are waging. As Geralt travels he finds possible comrades. He also ends up on crazy adventures, the effects of which ripple through the kingdoms for years. In the Netflix series viewers also get to see many different stories play out that will connect to Geralt.
These stories give us rich characters. Some are just beginning their journeys while others are at the end of theirs. These characters are interesting all on their own. They not only enrich the story but make it more fun, no matter what side they are on.
The story is interestingly told in the series. From all the source material to choose from a rich tale is woven for fans. The characters are just as multifaceted. The soundtrack is amazing, yes particularly that one song. The one that is still stuck in our heads. The costumes and prosthetic pieces are magical in and of themselves. The sets are phenomenal.
So much work went into bringing this story to life. The writing is a love letter to high fantasy itself. One of the shining accomplishments is how the female characters are treated. They are so richly created. They are so diverse and real. Truly the work put into the characters of this show are what I wish every fantasy show would be bold enough to do.
Yes I highly recommend Witcher. This lowly bard will sing its praises to all who want to talk about it. If you haven’t seen the show yet do yourself a favor and watch it now.
Always keep sparkling!!!
The nerd community is vast and full of amazing creators. With an immense amount of subject matter to draw from, these creators bring so many ideas to light. They are artists who use their passions to bring joy to others in many ways.
Sarah Graley is an artistic creator who is using her talent to make a plethora of comics. Starting in 2013 Sarah started a comic called; Our Super Adventure. It was almost like a diary of her nerdy life in comic form. As her popularity grew so did her opportunities. She has also made a comic about a girl who can enter her own video game. A unique look at love in a comic about a part time grim reaper and the girl who has a crush on her.
Sarah uses her platform to tell diverse stories. Female heroes. Different body types and races grace the pages of her stories. The importance of this has not been lost on the big name comic industry. Sarah has also created a comic about Minecraft published by Darkhorse comics. She has also gotten to do variant covers for Doctor Who comics!
A resident of the UK Sarah has been drawing for years. As documented in her comics she loves cats and four of them. She also lives with her “cat-like boy” who has been featured in her comics as well. A proud nerd she draws what she loves. Sarah has created wonderful worlds, and opened up her own, to her readers. She has created a safe space for different protagonists and different love stories to thrive. Her work is a place where readers can see themselves as heroes.
So if you have a comic fan in your life steer them toward Sarah’s work. If you like comics go take a look. If you have never read a comics but think you would like to she has books that are great to start with.
If you would like to connect with Sarah on social media her is her Twitter.
ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!!!