Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone. And welcome to the Indie Board Game Designer's podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about their experience in game design and the lessons they learned along the way. My name is Patrick Rauland and today I'll be talking to Clinton Morris, who designed Hunt the Ravager, which will be on Kickstarter when this episode airs. Clinton, welcome to the show.
Clinton Morris: Hey, thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah, it's great. So, I like to start with basically a little game so the audience gets to know because I've already done a little bit of research. So, three lightning round questions. You ready?
Clinton Morris: Okay, let's do it.
Patrick Rauland: So, what is a game you play with someone every single time at a conference?
Clinton Morris: Oh, Kemet, absolutely, let's do it.
Patrick Rauland: That's like an old school war game, right?
Clinton Morris: It's from Matagot Games. I's your Egyptian technology and you're building pyramids, trying to take over the Nile. It's all based on victory points, you're trying to get up to eight victory points, first through conquest or through sacrificing your people at the temples or whatnot. But, yeah, it's a fun game. A lot of [crosstalk 00:01:24] technology. Oh, go ahead.
Patrick Rauland: If memory serves, can't you build giant scorpions and stuff like that?
Clinton Morris: Oh yeah. No, the miniatures in it are amazing. And the quality of it. I have both the expansions to it and the newest expansion, Seth, brings in this all versus one mode that is super fun. And also these purple pyramids that are actually four sided die and they're very big, very big pyramids.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah, very cool. Just for me, personally, I love miniatures games. So, you just should have led with, “You get scorpion miniatures and there's battles.”
Clinton Morris: Oh yeah, absolutely. It's up there. Some people have tried to get me to go to Blood Rage. And I was like, “No, actually, I like this one better because the longevity of me having it on the table and having the experience there is a lot more fun.”
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. So, who would win in a fight, a samurai or a ninja?
Clinton Morris: Ninja, absolutely.
Patrick Rauland: [inaudible 00:02:26].
Clinton Morris: I'm designing a game around ninjas pressing their luck by climbing a shower and they're killing samurai in it. So, of course I have to be partial to the ninjas. Yeah, I got their back.
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. And your favorite anime?
Clinton Morris: Favorite anime? Let me drop three for you. From back in the day, Trigun. That was definitely my favorite. One of my newer ones that I like is Seven Deadly Sins, and NetFlake, I think they own the rights to that but that's a really good one, Seven Deadly Sins. And then one from a little while ago was [inaudible 00:03:06] which, I like the storyline, the plot there and the three different variations of it. So, [inaudible 00:03:14] would be that as well. So, those three.
Patrick Rauland: Awesome. And I know of those, or I know of Trigun, I haven't even heard of the rest so I'll have to check them out.
Clinton Morris: Yeah, I definitely recommend it.
Patrick Rauland: So, I recently watched the Dragon Prince on Netflix, is that at all good? Does that rank in your anime-
Clinton Morris: [inaudible 00:03:33]. So, yeah, if you liked it I might have to go check it out.
Patrick Rauland: Well, I don't know if I'm an anime person, does that make sense? So-
Clinton Morris: Oh sure, no, that's fair.
How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?
Patrick Rauland: Okay. So I'm an anime noob so take it with a grain of salt. Cool, so first real question, how did you get into board games and board game design?
Clinton Morris: Sure, no, that's a good question. I started out in games very young. My dad and I would play, my sisters, back in the day trying to get us into games, we played the traditional Sorry! and Monopoly and all that good stuff. But, then as we got into our early teens we bought Puerto Rico, the Settlers of Catan, Train Empires, there's quite a few different games that we started collecting. And so I really saw what real games, if you will, looked like beyond just your basics that everybody else has. So, it really opened up my eyes to what was there and then I've always been designing. I guess I have that bug, if you will, that knack that needs to be itched. So, I'm constantly designing or thinking through designs. There's no sacred or off-limit designs, I've jumped into everything and it's a lot of fun.
Patrick Rauland: When did you start? Do you know what I mean? Has it been going on for five years, 20 years-
Clinton Morris: The serious transition happened three years ago. I went from just, “Hey, everybody, here's a fun little game.” And playing it with family to three years ago saying, “Hey, I want to make this my real hobby,” if you will. And so I gave up playing video games for a little while. I haven't been able to do a lot of video games because designing board games actually takes up a decent amount of time and thinking processes. So, being able to come home from work and then thinking through design aspects and working on them and then fleshing them out and then being able to take them to your local meet ups, that became my hobby, if you will. And if filled that role that video games used to fill. And like I said, 2017, early 2017, is when I began designing. And maybe it was the end of 2016 that I pulled a game that I had designed in college out of the closet, if you will, it's called Casting Shadows and I was like, “Hey, this game is … I had a lot of fun with it in college, had really good experiences with it.”
Clinton Morris: And so I wanted to continue taking that to the next level. And there was a lot of lessons learned in that and I think one of the biggest lessons learned is that board gaming is a niche, at the time especially was a niche as far as, “Hey, there's different types of designs, there's different thought processes that go into them.” And so I had an asymmetrical abstract game that I was designing for two to four players called Casting Shadows. I commissioned artwork, I did a lot of no-nos that you shouldn't do as a designer first starting out. So, you shouldn't go and commission artwork right off the bat, you shouldn't go do these things and I did them all, I felt like, right off the bat. And learned some expensive but valuable lessons and I was going to go do my own Kickstarter and all that good stuff.
Clinton Morris: And I started hearing from podcasters, Board Game Business from Brian Hank, he has a podcast that's really good. Just, “Hey, things to think about as a fledgling company.” And one of those was, “Don't design a game that's super niche and is only going to be played by a few people. Try and design a game that's maybe a little bit broader in its spectrum.” And I'm hearing these things as I'm getting ready to maybe launch a kick starter with Casting Shadows and I was like, “I can't do this. I'm not going to wet the bed, if you will, with my first game design.” So, I heard the advice of, “Hey, get a deck of cards. Try to make a game around a deck of cards. Do something inexpensive as your first game. And even if you decide not to go to the kick starter route yourself you will at least, then, have a game that's, component wise, most companies will be taking a risk on you.”
Clinton Morris: So, you don't want to make your Gloomhaven, if you will, right off the start because no one's going to trust you. No one knows who you are and you need to develop trust in the industry and be a person because it's super important.
Patrick Rauland: Okay, this is awesome. There are so many things I want to dig into here.
Clinton Morris: Oh yeah, go ahead.
What Happened with Casting Shadows?
Patrick Rauland: Number one, I love that you were taking all the initiative. You were like, “Cool. I'm going to launch this on Kickstarter, then it sounds like then you got deeper into the research and listening to podcasts and maybe reading more blog posts or something like that. And then you hear, “Oh, there's all these things I should do before hand. It's not quite as easy as it seems at first glance.” So, let me ask you this, where is Casting Shadows now? Is it still on the shelf?
Clinton Morris: Oh, it's still on a shelf. It went through play testing. So, I learned how to get a whole bunch of people to want to play tester games and so I was a person on the board game group as a Facebook group. And then also I was on … Board Game Spotlight wasn't a thing at the time. It was just becoming a thing, James Hudson was just coming out with his first game there Barnyard Roundup and he was just coming out with that. So, I think it was, at the time, it was called Druid City and it was his little thing. So I was on there as well. And I was chatting with people and trying to get play testers from amongst these groups and I found quite a few people that wanted to play a game and then I made, hand made, 30 different prototypes of the game and sent it out, Casting Shadows and got it fully, what I felt like was fully vetted.
Clinton Morris: I got some mean people that felt like they were going to tell the truth and I got some … So amongst all that, I think a lot of designers wear their feelings on their sleeves and they don't know how to take the hard advice from, lets say, a publisher. And part of that is because they haven't been trained to do it yet. They're emotionally invested in their first game and it's their baby, if you will. What I hear a lot of times coming from experienced designers is that you need to kill your children, or you babies if you will, and recharge them and design them into things that will be able to be used, either by yourself in your own company because you got to realize it's not just you anymore. It's not just your game, it's everybody's game. And you got to design it with that in mind.
Where Did The Concept for Hunt The Ravager Come From?
Patrick Rauland: I really like that. Well, let me ask you one question about Hunt the Ravager and then I'll go back. So, Hunt the Ravager is an asymmetrical, hidden movement game. I guess I'd like to start with where did you come up with the concept of it because … and let me just [inaudible 00:11:12], the setting is like … I don't know what the time period is but ancient Japan, right?
Clinton Morris: 202 A.D. Yeah, 202 A.D. Right at the beginning, the first empress of Japan. I took a little bit of privilege with the lore coming from some things that are known about her. I can't think of what her name is off the top of my head right now. We're just called her the empress. But, I dug into the first empress and then her son as well, a little bit. But, no, the thematics there are fun. It wasn't originally that, it originally was in a short story world that I wrote while in college about these shadow beings called the maticians or the maticia and they have a society, there actually are shadows that live in another parallel universe, if you will. And then the ravager at that time was this mechanical monstrosity that was coming int os teal their food. And they grow magic, all the known magic and we actually, as human beings, if we ever do magic, siphon it from their world. But, then also these creatures, the ravagers were coming in to be the thieves if you will of this magic. And so, that's where the thematics of the game were at that time.
Clinton Morris: And if you go out to BGG and you scroll through the pictures there, boardgamegeek.com, if you will, go to Hunt the Ravager and you see the pictures. If you go through passed Andrew Bosley's art, which is … Andrew Bosley is the artist for it right now. He's the one who did Eldervale, no is it Eldervale [editor's note: it's Everdell]? Oh, it's a gorgeous game, I can't think of it off the top of my head. He's done some other games as well, but Andrew Bosley's got some beautiful artwork. Anyway, I also did the artwork for the original, so there's some artwork out there that will show the original world and my intent for that but so that's another thing. When you are a … because I was thinking about doing it as my own company. So I had started a company called In the Real Games, or [inaudible 00:13:28] games. The company was going to launch this game, I couldn't afford getting an artist that was going to be of high quality at the time. So, I can do some watercolor painting.
Clinton Morris: And then I found out from the guys who wrote Man Versus Meeple, Jeremy over there said, “Hey, your artwork isn't up to what would be considered an industry standard.” And he was just really fair with it and we had some really good conversations. And I took that advice and I still can't afford the artwork, so I took my artwork and digitalized it and cleaned it up the best that I could and I was like, “Well, if this game funds, great. If it doesn't, whatever. At least I made a go of it.” And so, I think that was a good lesson learned there but I'm also now learning more lessons based on that is right now, everybody really likes the look of the game because we got a professional artist to do the artwork. So, I think it's super important to get those [crosstalk 00:14:43]-
Patrick Rauland: That's really cool. So, I want to touch on that for a second because many people are maybe graphic … not many, a number of my guests are graphic designers in addition to being the game designers. But, not often the illustrators. It's cool to see that and actually, I'm scrolling through BGG right now and I think I'm seeing some of your … because it was uploaded by In The Real, so I assume that's by-
Clinton Morris: Yeah, that's me.
Patrick Rauland: That's by you. And they look really cool. And even if they're “up to spec,” it sets the tone for the universe. And I wonder if that really helps the publisher hire the guy to … or hire the right person to actually do the illustration?
Clinton Morris: Yeah. I don't know for sure if it did with this because initially, right after I got it signed, and I can go into that really quick, too, if you'd like.
Patrick Rauland: Sure.
Clinton Morris: But, let me go into that and then we can back tail to this. So, I went to Gen Con for the first time in 2017. And that was all in another effort to raise awareness for this game because I was planning on launching it in September, I think it was 5th or September 15th, I can't remember off the top of my head. But, I had a date in mind to launch it. I had already designed my page for Kickstarter and I was following Jamey Stegmaier's rules. I also talked with James Mathe, another really good website to go to for Kickstarter advice. And I had already contacted China, I knew how much it was going to go cost. Use Dough, Find Games for the manufacturing. I knew who was going to do my shipping and all that good stuff and I was using the same guy that James Mathe was using, I think his name is Jason. But, he has it on his blog who he was using, I don't know if he's still using them or not. I can't verify if they're still trusted or not but at the time they were, two years ago.
Clinton Morris: So, I was ready. I had all my check boxes done. I had reviewers, had 14 reviewers set to go, I had podcasts lined up. Yeah, I had money invested in advertising because you need to make sure you continue to drive awareness and so I had all these things ready to go. And so I went to Gen Con thinking, “Hey, in two weeks from Gen Con, I'm going to be launching my own Kickstarter.” I had done all this pre work and I was like … I had a modest funding goal of about $7,500 dollars. And I knew I needed about 400 people-ish, I was going to be marketing at the 25 dollar to 30 dollar range and then I also had some Kickstarter exclusives and all that good stuff. So, I went to Gen Con thinking, “I am going to be the man doing the game.”
Clinton Morris: And so, I have some friends, David Longwood who … over at LongPack Games, is one of my friends, and he said, “Hey, I would love for you to come out and showcase your game,” because he had been following along with it, “On Sunday.” Which is a slower day for Gen Con, a little bit, it's a half day. And he's like, “You come out on Sunday and I will give you table space on the Gen Con floor.” So, I was like, “Yeah, fantastic opportunity.” So, I jumped at it, took it, was there for quite a few hours showcasing the game. It looked great underneath the lighting, if you will, of the Gen Con lights. I had a lot of YouTubers coming by and just chatting with me, asking when the game was going to be coming out.
Clinton Morris: I was drumming up a lot of support for the game. And then all of a sudden, a guy by the name of Patrick, I can't think of his last name off the top of my head right now, but he is a lawyer for Kolossal games. I think it's Patrick Olsen or something like that. But, he's like, “Hey, I really like your game, the mechanics,” I give him the low down, the pitch, if you will. And he's like, “Show me more.” So I walked him through how several rounds would be played. And then he was like, “Have you pitched this to anybody?” And I was like, “No. I have not.” He's like, “Well, I represent a game called Kolossal Games and Travis Chance is the CEO of this company.” And he's like, “I think you should really consider pitching it to us.” I was like, “All right.”
Clinton Morris: And I saw that Travis Chance was one of my friends on Facebook because as you get friends, if you will, if you … be a person, I'll get to what that means in a bit. But, on the different Facebook groups that have games, you get a lot of different friends in the industry. And so, even though I didn't quite know who he was, I was his friend so I reached out to him and he was like, “I'm really tired. I went home. But if you're planning on staying through Monday, you can come over to my house.” Because he lives right there in Indy, in Indianapolis. So, I went over to his house Monday morning and pitched the game to him on his kitchen table in his house. He's like, “All right. Leave the prototype. I've seen enough that I needed to see but I needed to vet it a little bit.” And I let him know that, “Hey, you're on a clock because if you guys don't say anything to me I am going to launch this on Kickstarter myself.”
Clinton Morris: So, that was Monday. I was talking to some people about what could potentially be and some of my close fans and then he called me back on Tuesday, Travis did, and said, “Hey, we're very interested in this game. We want to sign it up. Let's walk through the contract and-
Patrick Rauland: Can I pause you for a second?
Clinton Morris: Yeah, go ahead.
How Fast Did the Publisher Sign You?
Patrick Rauland: So, he called you … So you left the game with him Monday and he called you Tuesday?
Clinton Morris: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Oh my god because if you listen to other podcasts or listen to people on this show, they're usually like, “The publisher hasn't gotten back to me in two months. And this thing has happened.” Getting to hear back the next day is fantastic.
Clinton Morris: Yeah. So, I think part of it was he said I had a really good personality and came across really well and was able to pitch the game and that the game played really, really well. And met the criteria for what they're looking for. So, we signed a contract and then the game sat for a little bit. So, initially it was a two player game. It was designed that way. And the design concept behind it is the fact that I had talked to a lot of people that played hidden movement games and they were, the ones that are good are very long. And everybody wants that ability to play as the hider, if you will, the hidden mover. And there's a huge amount of people that voted that way because … So jumping into how I designed or developed the game. I wanted to be different because that was something that was said on the podcast, shout out to Brian Hank for that. He was like, “Be different than what you see on the current market.” And I didn't realize there was only a few hidden movement games out there.
Clinton Morris: And I was like, “Yeah, I want to be different. I want to use some cards, I want to have a modular idea to my game so that every game is a little bit different.” And so, I wrote down all of those ideas and I think if you go out to BGG, there's a, “How did this game become a game,” article there. And one of the pictures there is a picture I saved of the piece of paper that I wrote down the very beginning of the game and it was just concepts and-
Patrick Rauland: This is super cool. So it's literally one of the first … I will link to it in the show notes but it's literally super cool to see your thinking here.
Clinton Morris: Yeah, so it's mechanically … I just went through and was like, “All right. This is what I want to do mechanically.” I liked the grid idea. And I can't remember where I had seen that or if I did even see that. I think I just started laying out basic Magic the Gathering cards across my kitchen table and just thinking through some stuff. And how would I make a deck of cards into a map and something that could actually be thought of as a game? And so I started developing from that from scratch. And then that was on Wednesday. By Friday, I had fleshed out the majority of what I would like to see in the game and then that Saturday, or was it Saturday? It was Friday, that Friday I sat down with my brother-in-law and, oh man, shout out to him. His name is Thomas Clark, he sat down for five hours and we just went back and forth playing this really gnarly prototype, which is also out there on that link.
Clinton Morris: It's just literally scraps of pieces of paper that I jotted names of things down and they're just shoved into Magic the Gathering cards with sleeves. So, I mean basic prototyping protocol there. And I have little rocks representing tokens because I didn't have everything I needed and so, at the park I just grabbed some rocks and said, “All right. Let's go with this.” And so it played decently. I was very happy to see where we had gotten it to. And so, I ran home and with some watercolor paints, just really quickly threw together a “better” prototype with air quotes around that. And printed it out, re-sleeved it and then I brought it to, on Saturday, there was a local meet up of just gamers and I brought it to there just to see what would be their initial response and everybody was like, “Wow, okay. I guess we can sit down and play this prototype with you.” And there was a couple that did and then the word got around that it was actually decent. And then, I continued to get play testing in.
Clinton Morris: So, play testing is so important just because you feel like, “Oh man, my game's good.” It's not, it's not good, not yet. And so, it went through, and I think I listed, it went through three variations of the basic core mechanics. Everything stayed very true to what I had but I really needed it to be broke in so I gave it to some players that were willing to play test the snot out of it and really get it … give me really good feedback. And that's really what you want from play testers. You don't want to hear, “Oh, your game's just good. This is awesome.” You don't want to hear that. That's not good feedback. Is it fun? Why is it fun? That's some pivotal information.
Patrick Rauland: Can I-
Clinton Morris: [crosstalk 00:26:02] Yeah, go ahead.
Did You Run Into Any Design Problems?
Patrick Rauland: I guess I want to get people like, “If you run into this type of problem, here's how I solved it.” So, what was the top one or two problems that you ran into, the game design problems, and how did you solve those?
Clinton Morris: Yeah. So, one of the problems was that the game was players could drag the game out. I did not have turns. So, it was either you brought the treasure, if you will, back to the lair and you scored. Or, the samurai, which were called shepherds at the time, but samurai found you. And so, there was nothing to stop the ravager player from just dragging each of the rounds out as long as they wanted. And that was, oh, it was painful because I played some two, almost three hour games of this, trying to figure out what in the world's wrong. So we, or at least I, put in a turn count. And now it went to seven and now it's down to five. Through play testing we realized, “Hey, let's make it a little bit snappier.” One of the other aspects that I ran into as well was players … So you can destroy locations in the game to get your fuel to move, if you will, it's your energy.
Clinton Morris: So, the ravager at the beginning of each of his turns has to decide if he wants to destroy a location to move and that, initially, was the only option. You could destroy a location to move. But, there came some points in the game where giving out that information was painful because you're initially saying, “This is where I used to be or close to where I used to be and I'm moving.” And so, the local group of people because I always have play testers giving me pretty good information, so we came up with the idea that we needed a currency that the ravager could use, that could let them move secretly. But maybe it was worth victory points at the end of the game and that's what it is now. It's called rage and so the ravager player can give up rage to move stealthily.
Clinton Morris: But, if he does that, he doesn't get those rage points at the end of the game, extra victory points. So, it's so fun to see how these potential problems, eventually through design and through thinking through things. And thinking, “Okay, is it fun or not?” And then constructing a working game.
Sharing the Hidden Role Between Players
Patrick Rauland: Now, so I think another problem that you might have solved and I think you were hinting about it earlier is everyone wants to be the hidden roll mover and, if I remember correctly, doesn't your game have built in … you take a turn as the hidden roll person and you take a turn, or not a turn, you take a whole, what are they called? There's a phrase-
Clinton Morris: Vendetta.
Patrick Rauland: You have a whole vendetta, which is a like a new game as a hidden roll and then you have a whole vendetta as a non-hidden roll mover.
Clinton Morris: That is correct. So, the cool thing is … and that was initially the thought process of what I wanted to design there was get a game that could have players experience both sides of the game and play within an hour. So, those were all design problems, I guess, coming into it. Or questions that I was asking. I don't really consider them problems, initially because of the fact that those were the basic questions I was asking the game to be able to function in. So, that was the foundation. But, yeah, so intuitively, the game, you play on the same game board so you shuffle up the 35 cards, if you will, you deal them out. So, every game playing is different. At the time I had lakes, lakes were an immediate barrier, they're not as barrier like anymore in the current rule system. But, before they used to be impassable objects for the ravager. And I had five lakes in there. Well, we had a couple games where they went directly down the center and the ravager wasn't able to get to the other half of the map.
Clinton Morris: So, we realized quickly, “Hey, take out one of the lakes and we'll be down to four lakes and then you won't necessarily have that problem as often.” But anyways, going into the basic understanding of the game was that I needed to be able to have both players play both sides. So, the ravager's side is where most of the points are scored. The other side of the game board is where you're playing defense stop. So, after the ravager gets to play through and in a two player game, they get three chances to score three different treasures. And they're trying to bring them back to the lair. You score points either by bringing the treasure back to the lair and you score points by wiping out locations around the map, ravaging things. You also score points by holding on to as much of your rage as possible. But, sometimes you can't because you need to use it to stealthily move.
Clinton Morris: And then the other side of the game is the samurai's trying to play defense and trying to shut down the ravager by captioning him. And if they capture him and he doesn't get to score the treasure, they cut that round short, that vendetta, if you will, and then he gets to play another vendetta and we [inaudible 00:31:34] the game. Before we had it as player elimination. So, as soon as you get caught, you're out, you're done. And then going back to the question, “Is it fun?” It was functional but it wasn't fun. And so, just because you've built a game … And we played quite a few games with that ruling in there. And I just realized that my player base wasn't having as much fun. And so I sat down with them and said, “What can we change?” And they said, “Maybe make it a little bit more flexible.”
Clinton Morris: So, after we realized that, okay, going back to the table we have no incorporate a little bit more open and free, if you get caught, you just lose out on those extra points that you could have gotten. And then you reset up and you just right back in. So, after the vendettas, after the three vendettas or the round, if you will, for the ravager's over. You re-flip back over any destroyed locations. You play on the very same map, you just swap the ravager stuff to the other player, the other player takes up the samurai stuff and the treasures and you play again on the same board. And the other player now has a score that they're trying to meet and so the first player sets the standard, if you will. Throws the gauntlet down. And now the other players go like, “Can I meet the challenge?” And so that's how that design challenge was met. And I think it worked out well.
What Resource Would You Recommend?
Patrick Rauland: I really like this because I totally agree with you, I like hidden movement games. But, I think everyone wants to be the sneaky person, right? I think we all want to take a turn as the really cool hidden movement person. And so I like that you built it into the game, everyone takes one turn, you get a score and the other person then takes a turn and they have to beat your score. I think it's a really elegant solution. I also love that it's really short because those games can go on forever and I love that you put a turn counter into the game because I've played some hidden movement games that can last two hours and it can drag a little bit so it's nice that you built that in. So, I want to move on just a little bit here. So, you did a ton of research, both preparing for your Kickstarter and just, it sounds like, just in game design in general. I'd love to know what is the best resource, you've already recommended the, boy, what was it? The Board Game Business Podcast, [crosstalk 00:33:54] besides that one-
Clinton Morris: Yeah, go ahead. [crosstalk 00:33:56] Jamey Stegmaier's. Yeah, Jamey Stegmaier has a book out there, I'd recommend that. Once again-
Patrick Rauland: Funding the Dream.
Clinton Morris: Yeah, Funding the … exactly, yes. That's a great resource, especially if you're thinking about jumping into Kickstart. If you haven't read that book, I recommend reading that book and waiting six months before you launch your Kickstart. There is no rush to launching and then failing. Don't do it. Learn your lessons. So I want to go back to that really quick. Becoming a person is literally just hanging out on Facebook groups and liking and commenting on different people's stuff. Don't be out there saying, “Hey this is my thing. This is my thing. Guys, please like me. Like my thing.” Because if you're doing that constantly in that way, people just don't like it and you're going to get frustrated. So, go out, be a supporter of other people's dreams, like their stuff, comment on their stuff, be helpful. And then guess what? The cool thing is is that they're going to turn around when you have your game out there and you start like, “Hey. I did this play test. I did this.” And you start posting a little bit of things, they're going to be the first people that are going to like your stuff.
Clinton Morris: So, I think that's so important to be a person because otherwise you're not going to be very successful and you're not going to make a lot of friends doing it.
Patrick Rauland: Totally. And I just need to make a correction of myself. I've only said like 10 words this whole episode but Funding the Dream is an old podcast. I just Googled it. Jamey Stegmaier's book is A Crowdfunder's Strategy Guide. My apologies.
Clinton Morris: Yeah. It's close. And both resources are extremely important. Going out just out to his blog, he's got so much information. James Mathe as well has a blog that has tons of information and if you're looking for reviewers and stuff, too, he's got some good resources that he has put together and some of them are a little bit crowd source where people are allowed to come in and correct, help with some things [inaudible 00:36:06].
What's the Best Money You've Spent?
Patrick Rauland: So, I'm a little bit of a frugal person. So I always have a hard time spending money but what is the best money you've spent as a game designer?
Clinton Morris: Oof, I've spent a lot of money. So, I'm close to $5,000 into game designing over the last three years. It's a hobby to me, it's fun. But, it's pricey. And like I said, I made some mistakes early on because I bought art and that was almost $2,000 of it right there. And I recommend don't doing that. But, the best money that I've spent is buying games like Terra Mystica, and things like that that have a lot of components because then you just get to sit down and really, when you flesh out a prototype or you think about, get it out of your head, put it into a notebook, get the basic sketch of what you want to do and then get it to the table as fast as humanly possible. It's so important because if it's all in your head and you think you got it, you don't. There's no way your brain can juggle all that information. Getting it to the table and really seeing, you're going to say, “Oh man, that doesn't work. This works. What do I like about this?” And that is so important.
Clinton Morris: So, like I said, get yourself a really big bit library. All that means is pieces, lots of pieces, dice, silly componentry, get yourself a paper cutter, a really nice paper cutter, spray glue is my best friend. I also use-
Patrick Rauland: What is that used for?
Clinton Morris: Oh right, so I mount a lot of my boards and stuff, so I print out … For instance, I have a game that I'm working on right now called Habitats or Habitations of Minkgard and it uses about 20 double sides boards that need to be thing. So I took water color paper that you can buy at your Walmart for like six to 10 bucks. And you get like 26 pieces of it and then I mount, I spray glue my printed out boards to it and then I use paper cutter to cut it out and they're really nice. They feel legitimate, like they actually came out of a real production. So, it's just to help, once again, give you the feeling of what your game will be in players hands. And then when you go show up at prototype night, or whatever you're doing, pubs or just your local game group, they're more willing to play a game that looks serious. If you're just throwing paper in front of them and they're like, “Oh okay.”
Clinton Morris: They'll play if they're your friends but the way to get non-friend to come play your game is to have a nice looking prototype. And you can do it on the cheap pretty easy by having the bits and everything ready to go. And then if your prototype didn't work, you can just scrap all those things and go on to the next one. But, my recommendation is to build yourself a little bit of a library of bits and then also you can easily and quickly put things together … I have a program called Inkscape, it's a graphic design program that I use. Also Krita is another free photo shopping program. You don't need to go out and get Adobe or anything like that. Just invest a little bit of time into learning some software and you can sling it like the best.
What Does Success Look Like?
Patrick Rauland: I love it. And then the last real question is what does success look like to you now that you're getting your first game published?
Clinton Morris: Sure. That's a great question. So, initially, success looked like getting a game funded and having my own company. So, that's what success looked like in the beginning. So, after Kolossal picked up this game, I realized I could proceed with all the other designs that were in my head. So, I literally just sat down and unlocked tons of designs. I'm up to almost 11 different designs I'm working on right now. I have a game out there that's in the hands of a publisher and I should know something back by next week. I have another game that … a dexterity game that I'm working on that, at Gama, I talked with a company and they're very interested in pursuing it. So, we're working through that. I'm fleshing out the rest of the prototypes so that they can see it before Gen Con. But, I'm trying to get more games in the hands of … Right now, success to me looks like getting more of my games out there and opening up the door.
Clinton Morris: I'm really excited to not be a first time publisher, or a first time designer anymore. So that I'm past that. So I'm really excited for what's going to happen with Kolossal and this game getting launched so that way I can start saying, “I have a game out there.” And people stop looking at me like, “Oh, you're a first time publisher. This is your first design.” “No, I have this. Here. See? I can be trusted.” And so it's important to get those things out there and also be a little choosy in the companies that you work with because you want a company that's going to stick around for a little while because you need to have their support as well, if you will, as you pursue more projects because they're going to be a marketing lifeline for yourself. So, that's what success looks like now is just getting more games out and monetarily, right now, I'm not worried about it. It's a hobby.
Clinton Morris: I guess it's how you treat it. If this is your livelihood, I'm not making money yet. So I'd be starving. I'd be a starving artist, if you will. Don't quit your day job until you've gotten the hang of it and you're a well known entity in the board gaming community and then maybe you're a John Gilmore or something and you can actually make a living on what you're doing.
Overrated Underrated Game
Patrick Rauland: Absolutely. Very cool. Thank you, that was really helpful. So, I'd like to end with a game called overrated/underrated. Have you heard about it?
Clinton Morris: I have not.
Patrick Rauland: Excellent. So, basically I'm going to give you a word or phrase and you're going to tell me if you think it's overrated or underrated. So, if I said mountain dew, you'd be like, obviously because it's neon colored it's underrated. Something weird like that. Ready?
Clinton Morris: Sure. Let's do it.
Patrick Rauland: Let's go with the game of chess. Is it overrated or underrated?
Clinton Morris: It's underrated.
Patrick Rauland: Underrated, why is that?
Clinton Morris: Because I think that a lot of people look at an abstract strategy games and then go, “Ah, too difficult.” But there's such a beauty to it, there's an art form. And learning it in the depths of that game, I believe it's underrated in comparison to the ultimate strategy. It's one of those games that you can play a lifetime of it and you will still be trying to master it.
Patrick Rauland: Yep, totally agree. Love it. Have you seen the latest episode of Game of Thrones, before I ask this next question?
Clinton Morris: Have not. I've only seen the first three seasons and then I was like, I couldn't take the piecemeal affect of it because I was only getting … So, I'm waiting for it to be done and then I'm going to binge the entire thing. So that's that way I'm going to play it.
Patrick Rauland: Here's what I'm going to say, I'm going to change my question to do you think spoilers are overrated or underrated?
Clinton Morris: Overrated. But, I think a lot of people treat spoilers. Oh man, spoilers are damaging but at the same time, I don't care because of how much distance I have between me and the end. So, if somebody were to tell me something about what's going on right now, I'd just be like, shrug and move on because there's so many things that I still need to know to get to that point that my brain cannot facilitate that information yet. So, I think a lot of people have the fear of missing out, FOMO, and they're like, “Oh, don't tell me anything. I need to experience it just like you experienced it.” And I get that but we are social by nature and we need to express how we feel about things and I feel back because there are people that are like, “I have to contain myself for how long? Everybody watch it soon so that we can at least talk about it.” So, I get that.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Very cool. I could have sworn a year or two ago, I saw a study that said people actually enjoy something more when they know the ending than when they don't know the ending. I think they had them read books or something and they told them the ending to the book. But, then I do need find this because I'm probably just spreading rumors. But, I'm 90% sure that that is the finding of the study, that people enjoyed stuff more even though we don't think we enjoy spoilers, we actually didn't [inaudible 00:45:30] more. So [crosstalk 00:45:30]-
Clinton Morris: I'm going to design a game around this now. So you [crosstalk 00:45:32] know the end, yeah, you already know the ending. It's already there and then you have to play through it to try and see if the ending is going to actually … if the ending is a lie or not. Was the spoil actually a spoil if it wasn't true? That would be interesting.
Patrick Rauland: There we go. Okay, the last two. Poker, overrated, underrated?
Clinton Morris: I don't play enough of it. I think I would like to play more. I like the fact that there is such a social dynamic to it, to the bluffing and to the stalwart faces of the players. I don't know if I can make an adequate opinion of it. I think it's rated where it should be for those that like it. I don't know. I'm going to leave it there. I don't have enough information [inaudible 00:46:33].
Patrick Rauland: And the last one, Ghostbusters. And I'm going to say the newest movie.
Clinton Morris: Okay, the one with the female-
Patrick Rauland: All ladies.
Clinton Morris: Okay, all ladies. I think it's probably underrated. I think all of the Ghostbusters, I liked the old ones. I like the new one. I think it's a good portrayal of it from that perspective as well. But, I don't think it got as much press as it needed. It's definitely not going to be the one that's going to jump out at everybody when you say, “Ghostbusters.” It's just not. But, I think that it is a decent enough movie that it should be up there with them. And some of that comes with time because the old ones have got that legend status. Whereas this new fledgling one is maybe not yet tried and true and needs some more time to bake.
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. I really enjoyed it. So, it's cool to hear that thought. So, hey, Clinton, thank you for being on the show. Where can people find you online?
Clinton Morris: Sure, check me out on Facebook, Clinton Morris. You can also check me out on Twitter @intherealgames, and also on Instagram @intherealgames. I don't have a website right now but if you are curious about things that I'm working on, designs, like I said I have nine to 11 different designs that I'm juggling right now and having fun with and if you want to be a part of those processes, just hit me up. Love to chat game design, love to chat … Also get more play testers so if you feel like you're honest and willing to give me feedback, don't hesitate to look me up. I'm also out there for giving advice on just getting yourselves started. So, don't be intimidated, just come on out and chat.
Patrick Rauland: Well, very cool. Thank you, again, for being on the show.
Clinton Morris: Thank you so much for inviting me. I really appreciate it.
Patrick Rauland: Listeners, if you like this podcast, please us a review on iTunes or wherever you downloaded this. If you leave a review, Clinton said he'd help you hunt down a friend at a con. Which is the best type of hunting down. I think that's about it for me. I just wanted to share one thing, I entered my game Samhain into the Game Crafter holiday contest and I moved on to the finals. So, I think there's seven of us, so hopefully maybe even by the time this posts you'll actually be able to go on the Game Crafter and see the results. For the meantime … And I think in the finalist that means I'm in the top seven, so we'll see how that goes. You can visit the site at indieboardgamedesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter. I am @BFTrick. That's B as in board game, F as in fun and Trick as in trick taking games. That is all for me. So, until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye bye.
Clinton Morris: See you all later.