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.