Author Archives: Carla

Gleam Contests: Worth it?

I decided to run a contest in April to giveaway some games to see if it was worth it! Here’s some information on the contest and results.

Contest Type: Gleam

Cost: Free to run the contest, possible prizes were two games from my library, Super Hack Override (retails at $10-12, shipping for any of the games would cost $6-20), or a $10 gift certificate.

Time Ran: April 9th – April 31st

Facebook Likes Gained: 31

Twitter Followers Gained: 212

Mailing List Subscriptions Gained: 38

Link: April Contest

Caveats: I didn’t get all the likes, followers, etc. from the contest, but I definitely saw an increase during the contest.

Overall Results: I have the free version of Gleam, which has less than the paid version is still enough to run a contest. It costs $39 a month, which is a bit out of my range, so the free version it is. The games I used as prizes were ones I had only played once and would have traded away and Super Hack Override, which I have boxes of. So you can say that I paid between $10-20 to gain access to a maximum of 281 people, but that’s definitely too high a number as I did get followers naturally and if people liked my page, they probably also followed, and subscribed. I can easily say that at least 100 more people now know more about Weird Giraffe Games!

Final Thoughts: Even if I only got followers that are interested in contests, I did get a happiness boost from going over 1500 followers on twitter and I feel pretty accomplished from trying something new out. The goal of this was to see how if contests are worthwhile and I think that they are at this point in my game publishing career. I’m still rather unknown and getting my name out there before I go to Kickstarter again (plan is for September!) is something I’ve been worrying about and I’m worried less now.

More Contests: Yep! I’m going to be launching the May Contest in a few hours and for this one, I’ve teamed up with Pround Games to see how that goes. I have a few other ideas for contests that I’ll try out in the next few months and I’ll post updates about those, at some point. If you’d like to sponsor a monthly Weird Giraffe Games Contest, feel free to contact me! I’ll need sponsors for June on and I’m always open to new ideas.

Have you ever tried a contest? How did you feel about it? Do you prefer other contests types other than Gleam?

Games to Play when you don’t have a lot of Energy

I really enjoy my job, but some days are stressful and require all my energy. I still want to play games, though! So, here are three games that are still really playable even if you don’t have a lot to give.

  • Imhotep! Imhotep has three main things that you can do: place a stone on a ship, sail a ship, and get three stones. There’s no real terrible choices to make in Imhotep and every spot has some value.  If you just place stones on ships and take stones when you’re getting low, your score won’t be bad! Sure, you won’t have optimized stone placement, but it’s still a fun game that doesn’t require much thought for every turn.

  • Dragoon! Dragoon always makes me happier as you’re a dragon, doing dragon things. In the game, you do three actions on your turn and these include things like moving, claiming towns, destroying towns, and stealing. The actions themselves are pretty simple and you can just move and destroy, if that’s all you want to do! It’s also on Kickstarter right now!

  • Dingo’s Dreams! The art for this game is fantastic and it’s a very chill game. You have to match your dreamscape’s pattern to a specific one and each turn one of your tiles is revealed, then you can shift a tile. You could think a lot to try to plan, but you could just choose rows and hope that right cards come up! I think I’ve won by cards just as often as I’ve won by making the right tile move, so you definitely still have the chance to win when you don’t make the ideal moves.

The Future of Weird Giraffe Games

We’re almost past the fulfillment stage of Super Hack Override, so what’s next for us?

  • Our next big project – code name: Stellar Leap is in the mid stages of play testing and mechanics tweaking. Expect this to be a small box card/board game set in space! We hope to have this on Kickstarter during spring/summer 2017. If you’re interested in playtesting Stellar Leap, please fill out this form: https://goo.gl/forms/Nz1CwjdJjK2HxYCD3
  • Super Hack Override: The Dice Game: Roll some dice, gain some new hacks, and whoever hacks into the mainframe first wins!
  • Super Hack Override mini-expansions: We designed the game to allow you to swap in new cards with different effects.  We’re also thinking about personas that give you additional mechanics or win conditions. We’d also like to add Solo Player rules to the game!
  • Unnamed Dinosaur Dice Drafting Game: Gather eggs, draft dice to see how the dinosaur evolves, and try to get the best set of dinosaur that you can.
  • We have a few other games that have a bit less definition, including a Romance themed Dice Game, a Tile Placing Space themed game (Stellar Leap tiles?), and a T.I.M.E Stories expansion.

 

Lessons Learned: Reviews, Part 1

Reviewers are very important if you want to have a successful Kickstarter! Sure, there’s been successful Kickstarters that didn’t have reviews, but you want to give yourself the best shot possible at funding. Reviews help give potential backers faith that your game is a good one! They can also introduce your game to new people that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. You might also make some new friends and get some good feedback on your game!

When should you start thinking about reviewers? I’d suggest at least four months before you plan to have your kickstarter. Why four months? If you were just researching reviewers and contacting them, it wouldn’t take that long. However, you’re probably going to be doing a lot of things, such as playtesting, tweeting, facebooking, creating your kickstarter page, finding a manufacturer, demoing, going to conventions, etc. and you don’t want to stress yourself out with everything that you might want to complete, You probably also have a full time job and other responsibilities! Give yourself the time you need so that you’re completely ready to run a Kickstarter when the time comes.

How many reviews should you aim to get? It really depends on how big your audience is, who you get to do your reviews, and how many prototypes you have available. If you have a large following of people that are just waiting for you to launch your Kickstarter, you don’t need as many reviews to get the word out there. If you get a super popular reviewer with 50,000 subscribers, you also don’t need as many reviews. Regardless of those two facts, you should get at least 3-4 reviews to show that you do have a legitimate game. Now, if you do want help getting more people aware of your game, you can shoot for 10-12 reviews. However, that means that you either have to have 10-12 prototypes and the funds to ship them out or you need to coordinate with reviewers to send your prototypes from one reviewer to the next. The second option will take longer and reviewers should be told up front, if you want them to send your game on.

Here’s the overall review process:

  1. Research Reviewers
  2. Contact Reviewers
  3. Get Prototypes Ready and Send them
  4. Coordinate a Review Schedule

In this blog entry, I’ll mainly talk about #1!

Research Reviewers

Now, you could just contact the first 10 reviewers you find and that could work. However, I suggest finding out the following things about reviewers:

  • Are the reviews paid for or free?

It’s not always obvious when a reviewer does paid reviews, but paid reviews aren’t necessarily bad. They do require money and you might not have any to spare, as prototypes and shipping do cost a significant amount, in addition to any art, graphics design, etc.

  • Do they review kickstarter games? Are they taking reviews at this time?

Some reviewers don’t review kickstarter games, but they typically say so in their bios. Others are just not taking reviews at this time, but you could make a note of them for the future!

  • Have they reviewed games like yours in the past positively?

You have to look at the different aspects of your game and make sure that it’s a right fit for the reviewer. For example, if they only review two player games and yours plays best at 3-5 or if they mainly review heavy games and yours is a party game. There’s also theme and game length to consider. Just because you really enjoy someone’s reviews doesn’t mean that they’ll enjoy your game.

  • Do you like their reviews?

This is one area that other people may disagree with, but I really think that you should enjoy reading/watching the reviews of the reviewers you hope to contact. It’ll make contacting them so much easier if you can list your favorite reviews that they’ve done and if you’ve commented on any of their work, they might remember you.

  • What kind of following do they have?

Get a feel for how many followers, subscribers, and likes each reviewer has. Just because a reviewer doesn’t have a large following doesn’t mean you shouldn’t interact with them or ask them to review your game, but you should try to get at least a 2-3 reviews done by reviewers that have larger followings.

I like to keep all my information in Excel, but you can use anything that you’d like. I have the following columns in my spreadsheet:

  • Reviewer Name
  • Website
  • Email
  • Timeline (how long do they need to review your game?)
  • Cost
  • Guidelines (Reviewers typically have a page that talks about their guidelines on reviewing.)
  • Discovered By (This is how you found the reviewer, which can be used when you contact them.)
  • Facts (Anything that you think is relevant, such as reviews you liked, if they review games like yours, etc.)
  • Status
  • Last Contact (I included how I contacted them, whether it was via email, twitter, etc.)
  • Shipping Address

While you’re researching reviewers, I suggest following, liking, etc. with all your social medias of choice. If they’ve posted anything recently, comment! Start the relationship off as soon as you can, even if you end up not going with them as a reviewer. You might end up making a friend! Reviewers tend to be really nice people, plus they know a ton about board games and will probably convince you to buy so many new games.

Part 2 will talk about what to do once you figure out who you want to review your game!

Lessons Learned: Naming the Game

Names are very important and I’ve learned a lot since naming Super Hack Override. Would I name it that again? …Probably not! I really like the name but it has several downsides.

  1. The length. Super Hack Override is 19 characters with the spaces and that’s quite a few characters when you’re tweeting or making your blurb on Kickstarter. Sure, I did shorten it to the ‘SHO’ acronym occasionally, but that means that your followers have to then remember both the name and the acronym. It’s easier to just have a short, recognizable name!
  2. Override is a computer term, but it didn’t seem to be recognizable to different people. There were so many times that people said “Super Hack Overdrive”! It’s no one’s fault, but it certainly didn’t help and probably created confusion. I heard Overdrive instead of Override every day, it seemed like! At first, it seemed really weird, but it got to be a bit of a joke towards the end of the Kickstarter.  I really advise you to do some “playtesting” on the name of your game, either by posting on twitter, in facebook groups, etc. to make sure that there’s nothing off with it that you didn’t notice.

There’s nothing terribly wrong with Super Hack Override as a name… but I’ve definitely learned how to name a game better after that!

Before deciding on a name, I definitely suggest checking BoardGameGeek and Google to make sure that your name is unique. If you have a longer name, make sure the acronym isn’t commonly used. Shorter names are great, especially when you have a limited character count!

Do you have any suggestions for naming board games?

New Year’s Resolutions for a Small Publisher

This is a list of things that should help me be a better publisher and reach my goal of having a second successful Kickstarter. It could also give you some ideas on things to do if you need any goals!

  1. Blog more! I have learned a ton over the past year and I should try to pass those learnings on to others. It should also get me more focused and help me become a better writer.
  2. Finally figure out BGG. I have an account and use it very sparingly, but it’s supposed to be a great resource and it should help me keep track of all the games I’ve played and want to get.
  3. Play more games! I have unplayed games from my birthday (July), GenCon, even from before 2016! I really need to try out everything and see what’s out there. Plus, playing games is probably my favorite thing, so I should make sure to do it often.
  4. Create a playtesting group. When I was going around to convention last year, I got a list of people in the area that want to participate in playtesting, so I just need to set it up and make it happen. It’ll make getting games playtested so much easier!
  5. Relax more! In 2016, I was getting stressed about not meeting all the deadlines I wanted to meet, but game design should be more about fun and less about meeting arbitrary deadlines. I’ll make games and they’ll get finished eventually, but adding stress probably only set my projects back.

I’m trying to keep my goals reasonable, so I only have the five goals. (for publishing, at least! I have other personal and work related, since I basically always have to be working towards something.)

What kinds of goals do you have for the new year? If you’re working towards designing or publishing a game, do you already do any of those things?