Monday, September 16, 2013

Scare-A-Con and other developments from the comfy chair.

 I realize it has been a little while since I wrote to this blog. I suppose part of the reason I don't do this as often as I probably should is because I'm a private person by nature and all that openness and sharing of the Internet with its "tweets" and “selfies" and YouTube videos makes me feel sometimes like we are overexposing ourselves. To an extent I have to get used to this for the sake of the company. I apologize in advance for any spelling errors and my lack of consistency on posting to blogs such as this.

 I guess what it really boils down to is that, I can't just post for the sake of posting. I usually have to have something to say before I make posts.

We just got back from Syracuse New York where we attended theScare-A-Con convention. There was a lot to see as the convention had tripled in size since last year. One of the 1st things we realized when we were setting up the booth was that we were placed right next to Tim Burtons ex-girlfriend Lisa Marie. Unfortunately I really didn't get any pictures of her, but she has taken to wearing some very strange and large glasses that did not do her any justice so no real loss there.
Directly across from us was Felix Silla, he is a little person actor who played cousin "IT" from the Addams family, Twiki from Buck Rogers as well as all the roles that are little person specific such as Ewoks from Star Wars.
Felix Was a very nice guy and extremely friendly as well. It's really nice when you spend the weekend across from someone whose pleasant as well as knowledgeable.
As some of the more astute readers might ask “what are those cards in the camera's line of sight?” During our time producing the models for the Spinespur Kickstarter, we found ourselves with some down time while we were waiting for sculpts to be made and other things that were out of our immediate control. In that time we created a new card game that will be released sometime within the next year. At this particular convention we were selling some beta decks along with play testing rules for the cards. Don't worry, you will see them soon. It is called “the Philadelphia Incident" and it is a game where players clear areas of Philadelphia of monsters with heroic characters, while collecting weaponry and kicking assess along the way. A special note for anyone involved in our Kickstarter that pledged more than $1, you will be receiving a one-time only Martin Greygun hero card for this game. It's yet another Kickstarter exclusive that I could offer to make your pledge to Spinespur even more valuable. 
 Another thing you always have to admire his dedication that some fans show to movie that really touches them. There were some people staying at the Fairfield where we were staying there were driving around in this.

 How freaking cool is that? Not only did they make their own ECTO-1 complete with lights and assorted scientific equipment attached to the top of the vehicle, but they also paid a pretty penny to have the Spud, aka Slimer professionally painted on the front of their car. I like to imagine someone drives to work every day in this.
 The one thing I can tell you about doing these conventions, is that the enthusiasm I get to feel from players rubs off on me. I can't help but to get home from a convention and have my mind bursting with new ideas and refueled sense of purpose when it comes to game making. This particular convention is lighting a fire under my butt to finish those last couple stories for the G.A.S.P role-playing game so I can get it out to the players and have even more to talk to you guys about!!!
As I mentioned previously, there were a number of stars that showed up at this convention. Scout Taylor-Compton From Rob Zombies remake of Halloween was there. I didn't really talk to her much, I just got a quick picture in passing, but she didn't take that hat off all weekend.

 By the way, I apologize for the fact that my big meathead is in all these pictures. So please try to overlook all the sexiness that is me in these pictures.

 I also had a chance to meet Fred Williamson. He plays a tough guy in most movies he's in, and I'm sure he can kick my ass across New York State, please actually a very nice guy in person. I would even say he is the definition of the word “cool” just from the way he handles himself around other people. If you ever have a chance to meet him in person, take it.
 Ernie Hudson was also there from the Crow and Ghostbusters fame. It's funny, it seems like the actors that can move from role to role never get caught up in the whole “superstar” aspect of the business. They seem to remain humble and very personable.
 Every time you're one of the shows and you meet certain stars, there is always one or two that for some reason on the top of your geek-O-meter. I'm no different than anyone else and when I saw Greg "The Hammer" Valentine from the WWF (when it was the WWF) I was in a certain amount of awe.

 I don't know how many of you have seen the movie “The Wrestler” but that movie has to be true on so many different levels. When I first walked up to Mr. Valentine, I was nervous and even intimidated. When I got a good look at him, you could see the man was in pain just sitting there. He's got a be in his late 60s or 70s, and he still big freakin guy, but you could tell he was in some pain. His hands looked very arthritic, his knees were crisscrossed with scars from surgery, and every move he made to stand up or walk around something was accompanied with a grunt or grown.  He didn't smile very much either, the best I got was a slight curled his lips. When my wife thanked him, she actually got a smile from him. It was a shame, but I made sure to let him know how much I appreciated what he did for a living years ago which was to make sure we were all entertained at the cost of his body. God bless you Mr. Valentine.
 One of the coolest things that happened at the convention happened when I was at my booth. I turned around to see Jake Busey really checking out the Spinespur terrain. He did that Busey smile and commented that the display was sick. He asked if he could take some pictures of it, to which I replied "be my Guest, please." It was surprising, he must've taken 8 to 10 pictures from different angles and he really took some care to set up some of the shots. I kind of expected him to be very outgoing and opinionated like his father, but Jake is actually a very soft-spoken guy who seems even a little shy at times. Personally I like him a lot and I was very flattered by the reaction that he gave to our displays.

 And I was pretty much it for my fan boi reaction to the stars. And yes that is a Misfits shirt I am wearing. To answer the questions before it's asked, I'm one of the few people who prefer the band led by Michael Graves over Glenn Danzig. I'm sure that won't win the fans, but I own what I say.

 Anyway, I talked to a bunch of interesting people and met a lot of players that I feel honored to have met. Like I said, when I get back from these conventions I have all kinds of ideas on other things I want to do with the company. The 1st goal before anything else is getting the kickstarter delivered on time. That's my number 1 focus. I also however brought home ideas for a few things dealing with Spinespur that I will be working on as well.
 So I'm off now to continue creating artwork for the next phase of my plans for Spinespur. If I can pull together what I have conceptualized, I think a lot of people will be happy and you may be seeing some more Spinespur before expected.

 I want to take a moment to thank everybody who was interested enough to read this and who support Comfy Chair Games. We aim to please you, because without you we wouldn't be able to create the things we do, so from the bottom of our hearts, thank you.

 Bob Mervine

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Breaking the silence.

 Hello people and happy new year. This blog has been quiet for a little while and I'm here to break the silence and let you know what's been going on with comfy chair games. Although it's been quiet, that does not mean that I have not been at work behind the scenes getting things ready.

 Dominion of the gods had met with a few minor incidences. We did not make our kickstarter funding as some of you well know, but there've been other setbacks as well. None of these setbacks are going to prevent us from releasing Dominion of the gods! I had 3 sculptors completely flake out on the delivery of the promised miniatures. Of course as am sure you realize, this did nothing but make the creation of the game that much harder. Needless to say, I'm probably going to avoid using these 3 sculptors in the future.
 On the good news front, we are putting the final touches on having the Cyclops made as we speak and I have the Masters for many of the other sculpts being finished now. The Cyclops will go on sale as a solo piece allowing people to purchase the miniature early. The other models from the Greek box set are finished sculpting and in their master form. They should also be available shortly for purchase. There's a few of the mud like to get professionally painted before I leaked photos of them onto the web. The Medusa in particular is gorgeous and you have not seen anything like this sculpt before!

As some of you may know, I'm finishing a degree in visual communications in March. I'm using elements from my soon to come Spinespur Kickstarter as part of my capstone project. My goal is to have the campaign up and running in time for grading. My logic behind this is, what teacher would be able to look at capstone project making money and give you anything less than a superb grade?

The Spinespur Kickstarter will contain plenty of great surprises for those of you who are willing to support it. A few of the things we have made up our minds that will be included in the kickstarter are as follows.

  1. A one-time only hardback version of Spinespur: Threshold that will also contain the names of everybody who purchased one of these hardbacks through the kickstarter campaign.
  2.  An actual printed deck of official cards for use with the Spinespur  game.
  3.  If we make our goal of $6000 we will have the last handful of models completed to finish off the Threshold book. At this level we will also include a copy of Beta version "Street Chum" for everybody who bids over (I believe it is the $30 mark.) Street Chum is a minigame set in Spinespur where players create gangs, and fight each other to grow the gang in strength and abilities. This game includes some appearances of some well-known Spinespur personalities.
  4.  When we talk about stretch goals, we have included various forms of thugs and other models that people who pledge the $45 or more mark or higher will receive for free when unlocked. Currently I believe there are 6 different on lockable models before the Chop Doc pack becomes unlocked. The Chop Doc pack will need to be purchase, but it includes all 4 doctors from the upcoming book Spinespur: Covenant. After they are unlocked, we have 4 more stretch goals planned that will be added for free for pledges over $45.

 As you can see, we have a lot of good stuff planned for the Spinespur Kickstarter that will hopefully draw a lot of attention and allow us to kick it to the next level.

 There are other things being worked on as well, but they are not a priority. I will explain briefly, but again I would like to point out that these are not a priority.
 In my free time I enjoy randomly drawing things that strike me. One of the things that have always been a favorite subject matter of mine are monsters, both mythological and modern. My art books are full of monster sketches. During my free time when I need to walk away from some of the work done on Spinespur (after all, you can't dwell there too long without it changing you) I have been digitally coloring and mastering some of these pictures to eventually make into a type of board games/card game. More of this will be spoken of when we get closer to completion, but nobody should hold their breath on this.

Comfy Chair Games will also be releasing a small line of miniatures inspired by H.P. Lovecraft. The Masters for the mi-go have already been created. This line will lovingly be known as Comfythulhu. More to come on this as it develops.

 Lastly, I have been doing a lot of research into resins. That's my belief that sometime soon I should have some of the larger pieces that were created for W.I.L.Dfire created in resin. This means that the mechanical gorilla that weighs close to 3 pounds in metal will suddenly become a possibility in resin.

 That's pretty much everything for now. I will try not to leave such a gap between posts in the future.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Still focused on the trail.

 I received a pleasant surprise Monday night while in school. A quick buzz from my phone told me that I received an e-mail from Savage Studios owned by Gene Van Horne. This got me very excited, for those of you who do not know Gene is the sculptor who made the Cyclops, the Minotaur and Athena for the Greek Dominion of the gods box. I've been waiting on an update from him for Medusa. Now Gene told me a little bit ago that he had to scrap the first sculpt he was making for Medusa because he didn't feel it looked realistic enough in its movement. You have to respect this, when an artist is so critical of himself that he will throw away hours of work to do what is called in the business “killing the baby.” Artists will often become so invested in a piece that instead of starting over when there's a problem, there is a tendency to keep tinkering with something that may never work.

So he sent me two pictures of Medusa as the work in progress.

This looks awesome! Her motion looks very fluid, not forced at all. She is very pretty in the face, however there are a few camps of thought when it comes to Medusa. Some people prefer her to stay true to her original appearance which would require a beard, a gaunt face, sunken eyes and a long tongue. She would also need to have a completely human form. Then there are those who are affected by more modern images of Medusa from movies and shows. I have always been a huge fan of the Ray Harryhausen version of Medusa from the first clash of the titans. I love the idea of a serpentine body and not relying solely on her gaze as a weapon, the Harryhausen Medusa use the bow and arrows that she would poison with her own blood. Brilliant! The only problem with this type of Medusa is that many gamers want to see pretty girls and boobs. Unfortunately, I felt I had to tailor this Medusa more towards mass appeal, so we gave her pretty face and knockers. Nothing a good paint job could not change.

We also received pictures of the alternate arms for the Cyclops.
I really like how these came out. It gives players a choice of weapon configurations for their cyclops. Personally I'm a huge fan of the hammer that was made with the original cyclops, but if you're playing a game with two Cyclops this is a great way to differentiate the two models. And trust me, if you're playing the Greeks you're going to want to play two Cyclops!

 Tomorrow's Thanksgiving and I want to wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving. I'm hoping before the end of the week to have another blog post done here with some images of Spinespur art that is been in the making.

Saturday, November 10, 2012


 A couple days have passed and I finally received a few quotes for the dice. No other Chinese companies do not even want to talk to you about having dice made unless you're needs are able to meet there minimum order quantity or MOQ. Some of the smaller companies have an MOQ of 10,000 units and they could take a number of weeks to produce. Then there are some companies who have a faster turnaround time, a larger facility and slightly better prices but their MOQ usually starts around 20,000 units. For Dominion of the gods I have three separate dice types that I need produced. After talking to a couple of the bigger companies in China (who are also more reliable because of their size) a received a quote of $4500 to get the diced done.
 I mention this because there was a number people when we ran our kickstarter who had a lot to say about our funding goal being to high. One of the funnier things about this is that, not one of them even included the dice when they were talking about what my prices were and how I was asking for too much. Right off the bat, here is a $4500 cost for something that they would even take into account. This does not include printing, packaging, sculpting, materials, production costs, painting costs and marketing. This was just the price for the dice alone.
 So next week I'm probably going to be making the arrangements to get the dice started so that we can launch Dominion of the gods in the near future.

I think the interesting thing happened right after the Dominion of God's kickstarter didn't fund. I was hearing from people telling me that I should run it again, which may happen but I need to have more production done on the models before I even think of this. I'm still waiting on the sculpts for the ice giant, the troll, Brynhild, and Medusa. Once they're finished I have something to send in to production and start to work its way through painting.
 The interesting thing came when some people mentioned doing a Spinespur kickstarter. The last time I put serious work into Spinespur was just before my ex-wife and I divorced. I had to focus pretty hard on keeping all the rights to Comfy Chair Games and its properties. The ex-wife wanted me to liquidate the company, so I had to buy her out. This is where the hiatus came from with the company.

Anyway I went through some old files when this was suggested. There's times that you do so much work on something, that you forget just how much work you did. I delved into my game's file, open the Spinespur file and looked through a lot of old work that I did. My file for Spinespur: Covenant surprise me a bit, because I had forgotten about all the work that was done on stories, characters and the street chum game that allows people to play a Mordheim type game with thugs for Spinespur. I'm still going over a lot of the information in those files, but I think this could make a pretty cool addition for a Kickstarter campaign.

This is an image of “the distended.” These are bodies of people who died in Spinespur and had their carcasses pushed into the sewers. The bodies bloated from the water and became putrid due to the waste matter from the sewers. For some reason unknown to most, these bloated, puss-bags became animated and shamble around Spinespur leaving a trail of putrid air behind them.
 The Mortigant was another concept I came across. it's essentially the Dark faiths answer to the grave golem. I remember having thoughts of colossal battles between these two macabre monsters.

So while I'm waiting for some of the production work for Dominion of the gods to be finished, I think I'm going to be delving back into Spinespur and preparing for another run at Kickstarter. God knows I have enough to start working with.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

How dice can make you go mad.

  The new game from Comfy Chair Games “Dominion of the gods” uses three specially made dice for the main mechanic of the game. These are the attacked dice, the defense dice, and the power dice. It's a nice easy concept that allows people to understand the mechanics of the game within minutes. Math is kept to a minimum which allows the game to be faster and more streamlined. So how can these dice be driving me mad?

 There's really only one place in the world we you can get bulk dice made, and that is China. I've spoken to many American companies and for my needs each dice would cost around $1 to $1.50. The other problem with this is the only American company I found that would do them in any kind of bulk would be 300 pieces at a time. If you want to mass-produce a game, this is not a smart way to do it. With a game like Dominion of the gods, people want to fill their hands with dice and throw them around the board. Sending three dice in a box set and telling people they need to roll one of the dice eight separate times will very quickly earn you a lot of negativity on Internet forums. If you try to package these dice and sell them, a pack of 10 dice would be $10, at maybe $.50 for your packaging and then keeping in mind that distributors and stores don't want to pay the manufacturer more than 40% MSRP. This means to break even, these American-made dice would need to sell 10 for $21-$23.

Who the hell is going by that?

 That brings me to China. Today I've been spending most my day trying to contact and more accurately trying to get a response from some Chinese factories. The Chinese factories are able to produce thousands of dice a day for a price that is 8 to 10 times cheaper than the American dice. The problem is, there is a language barrier, and the lead time to getting anything made can be weeks before production on anything starts. This doesn't sound like much I know, but when you pile it on top of running a one-man company, wrangling the sculptors, balancing the money, try and remember who you're advertising within who you're not, and all the other little things you deal with, it kind of makes you wish this dice process was a little easier. Then again, if it was easy everybody would be doing it.

So anyway, I sent out a bunch of requests for quotes and now I need to sit and wait to see who gets back to me with what.

One thing that keeps going through my mind because of the ease of the dice system in dominion of the gods. I often wonder if I shouldn't do a retooling of Spinespur to work with the same dice system. The one complaint I've heard about Spinespur is the exact same thing I get praise on from the other side, and that's the complexity of some of the gameplay. Now if I did retool Spinespur for the dice system I used in dominion of the gods, I would most certainly keep the original gameplay version of Spinespur alive and keep producing new models with rules for both versions. I think it's only smart business wise, and it would keep everybody happy which is the bottom line. I wonder how people would react?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

In the beginning....There was Kickstarter.

 My intention for this blog is not to be a sugary sweet “everything is fine in rainbow land” type of a blog. I am creating this blog with the current intention of being honest about this industry, what goes on in the industry, and what kind of work goes into creating some of the product that we make at CCG. Hopefully this will turn out  to be a semi-interesting read.

**Warning** While creating this blog I am simply speaking into my Dragon dictation machine. I think it's a terrific little device, but is prone to spelling errors and of course the grammatical errors that I am very well known for. So reading your own risk, much like the Necronomicon some of the spelling and punctuation can drive you to madness.

Today, is the day after the end of our “Dominion of the gods” kickstarter. I have spent most of the morning answering e-mails and posts by people who are interested in the game and worried that the game won't be produced because the kickstarter didn't accomplish funding.

This is been a lesson in following your feelings to me. I listened to a lot of people's input on what the funding goal should've been for the kickstart, when somewhere deep down I knew I should've listened myself only. Personally, I would have posted the funding level around $8000. Ultimately it was me who decided to listen to everybody else in the fault lies in my own lap.

I'm not trying to make any excuses for the kickstarter missing its funding, however the entire campaign was like a comedy of one kick to the nuts after the other. Let me explain. When I decided to create the kickstarter I gave myself a three-month time frame to launch. I knew there was a lot of work to get done in order to launch a professional looking campaign. So I took the three-month time frame to begin putting together a professional looking presentation. I used everything I learned in flash animation, Adobe After Effects, basically the entire Adobe suite, and I got down to putting together videos and making the art and all the other stuff that goes into creating a presentation.

 From the beginning, the Amazon system kickstarter uses to authenticate bank accounts would not recognize the bank I use for three days. We found our kickstarter following up 2 very large companies who decided to take advantage of kickstarter as well. We were directly competing for dollars with a company who was making chibi versions of the popular 1980s cartoon (I just see this as bad taste because they don't own the licensing and the idea wasn't originally theirs.) I have often joked that I was going to start a chibi Thundercats line if they could get away with that. Anyway, I digress. The next hurdle was the fact that the sculptors were all behind schedule, with the exception one. Tim Prow was a sculpting machine for me during this time and I will always remember his efforts in this capacity. Somewhere within this period of time, Reaper miniatures who just came off a $3 million kickstarter campaign held and artists conference/retreat which took many of the sculptors I was using away from work. What else could go wrong?

Anyway, were over that hump now. Dominion of the gods has received a lot of positive attention to the point where I'm looking at where we go from here. One thing is for sure, but make sure I am going to make sure that all the greens are in my hands before I move any further with Dominion of the gods.

At current count, the Cyclops, Minotaur, Athena, Aries and Achilles are finished their sculpting stages. Medusa is the only model for the Greek box set that were waiting on. I intend to get these models made into Masters and painted before I try any further promotions with that Quickstart box set.
The Norse box set has Thor and Jokul Frosti finished sculpting, and I have seen pictures of Brynhild partially sculpted. I just assigned the troll to Tim Prow who said he will be starting it on Monday.  I'm still waiting on pictures of the Frost giant.