Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone, and welcome to the Indie Board Game Designers podcast. Today we’re going to be talking to Dan Grek who is the designer behind Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve, which is 18-card microgame for two players. And you basically explore dungeons. I want to say it was just funded, but by the time this is aired, it will be just funded on Kickstarter. First of all, Dan, congrats on that, and welcome to the show.
Dan Grek: Thank you so much on both counts. It’s great to be here, and it’s great to see the Kickstarter fund.
Patrick Rauland: It’s going to be an amazing feeling. Cause this is your first one, right?
Dan Grek: Yeah. I tried to run one a couple years ago but I didn’t have my research plan and the game honestly, wasn’t that ready either. I wanted to throw something small, it just didn’t come together the way it should have. I ended that pretty early, but this one definitely better prepared and better results.
Patrick Rauland: Good, good, good. So how did you do get into board games and board game design?
Dan Grek: When I was younger I played a lot of trading card games like Magic, Pokémon. Pretty much, if it came in a booster pack I bought it. I had some friends that I played a lot of that with and then one day a friend’s new girlfriend comes up and he’s like, “Oh, she bought me this for my birthday.” And pulls out Dominion because they had been talking about all these little trading card games, like, “Oh, this one, you won’t have to buy all the cards.” We played that and we’re like, “Oh this is cool.” I went to the comic store and I saw Race for the Galaxy sitting on the wall and said, “Well that looks like the Dominion thing but space.” I ran out and bought that and turns out somebody that I knew in an activity I was working on saw my copy of the game and said, “I love that game. Come to my house. I have 200 board games.”
Patrick Rauland: Oh my God.
Dan Grek: And just slowly getting indoctrinated into it after that.
Patrick Rauland: That’s so cool. And what about board game design?
Dan Grek: Being from New Jersey, we have a lot of diners that are 24 hour diners and it’s a big thing for when you’re in high school here, you find the 24 hour diner that you go to, you go to theater practice of rehearsal for a play or something. And then at 11 at night you go to the diner with your friends. I got this idea of, “Well, what if there was a game about cooking food?” And this is years ago while I was working on some stuff, I hadn’t seen anything about cooking food a whole lot yet. I came up with this idea and I just sort of threw something together and it worked kind of well. Through one reason or another, I ended up putting it on the shelf and working on other things in the meantime.
Dan Grek: It kind of just got my creative juices flowing. And then after that I had The Game Crafter recommended to me as a site to check out and they started running contests and that started getting me more interested and having the deadlines really helps me. And having the limitations really I think makes you get a little bit more creative. I kept going with that and I liked it so much. I just kept running with it.
Patrick Rauland: I completely agree on The Game Crafter contests. I would have never made a microgame. And then they had that microgame contest. I was like, “Yes, this is …” And this was my first contest. It was great that it was a microgame, right? It wasn’t like a build a legacy game, that’d be not impossible, but very challenging. But like a micro game, I could totally get into that. The deadlines absolutely helped. So that’s really cool.
Patrick Rauland: Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve is very cute and that’s obvious. It’s obvious from the title, if you’re listening to this, but it’s even more obvious when you look at the artwork. There’s like, it’s on your Kickstarter, there’s this little ooze. And the ooze from [inaudible 00:03:35] has like a hat that has a helmet. I guess one, I want to give you kudos for making and ooze cute. And I guess two, did you consciously decide to make the game cute from the start?
Dan Grek: So some credit for that. All the credit for that ooze being cute goes to Alicia Volkman who did the art. She hangs around The Game Crafter a lot too. I’ve worked with her on a few little side projects here or there. They’re still in development. I originally did the game, actually I think for one of the Buttons Shy Contest, some while ago. And it had a theme of … I was watching the show Vikings at the time. It was called Dungeon Death or Taxes originally. And it was this idea of that you weren’t getting experienced from a dungeon, but you were collecting villagers and trying to have the richest villagers in your little pile. So you could tax them, so you could pay off the Vikings to not destroy the village.
Dan Grek: And it just, it was one of those things where I liked the theme. It was unique, but at the same time it kind of wasn’t as engaging across the board to people and Alicia does this awesome … on our site, this free assets for games that she may have worked on or projects she worked on that kind of stopped for whatever reason. Maybe it just didn’t go through or it’s just art she drew randomly. And she’s like, “Oh, I’ll throw it up on there.” And she has a little Patreon to support that.
Dan Grek: And I’d been backing it and I talked to them like, “Eh, maybe I’ll use some of that to mock up a new, a new theme.” And it had some cutesy look on some pieces. So I tried to look through the things that did have, not overly cutesy, but at the same time a little bit more kind of fun and playful look, for a couple of things she had and I put them together. I got her to … I paid her to put together some more backgrounds and things like that and some other objects. It’s kind of a combination of stuff that she already had and some stuff that I commissioned from her to add into it.
Patrick Rauland: I realized as you were answering my real question is do you like cute games and is that what you wanted to make or did the art style just kind of come from somewhere else?
Dan Grek: I think for me, I don’t outright like cute games myself, but I find that I end up designing things that aren’t as, I don’t want to say as thinky necessarily, but designing things that I try to make a little bit more mentally accessible. I guess a little bit. Not necessarily filler. A lot of my kind of filler are lighter games, but I don’t know. I like people to get out and play them. And I’d rather have a game that I know that some random person can pick up and play with a relative than a game that five people are going to buy and evangelize and talk about how great it is and it takes three hours to play, you know? I think that’s why I ended up being, and it just naturally creates maybe more cutesy games sometimes.
Patrick Rauland: Totally. Yeah. So it is the signaling, right? It’s like, “Hey, this is cute and therefore not super thinky.” I totally get that. That’s awesome. This is your first fully published game. I’m curious now that you’ve gone through the process of making the game, designing it, and now you’re a day away from funding on Kickstarter, what would you change about your process moving forward?
Patrick Rauland: I don’t think so.
Dan Grek: Dan who runs that is actually there’s a Game Crafter person hanging around. He actually … I was the first non-self published game that he did, with a game called Dirigible Disaster. Also for a Game Crafter contest. This is the first one I published myself and if I were to like doing it differently, and having had that experience now of being the one putting it out, there are a lot of certain little decisions that I think I would … I don’t want to say just, I’ll take more time to play test it maybe, but there’s some certain little things here or there that I’m going to be looking out for a little bit more.
Dan Grek: The cards that I used in Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve have a very pink background. That’s something I liked because it was different. It’s a color you don’t see a lot in games. But when I had some people comment on the Kickstarter or some reviewers look at it, they said, “I enjoyed the game a lot, but the pink is way too bright for me and it kind of-
Patrick Rauland: I saw that.
Dan Grek: -gets to my head a little bit. Stuff like that that I didn’t even think about as just having … I was having fun. I’m like, “Oh, this is unique.” It’s going to have a different look. But then it’s like … From that design, I think that was a big thing. Just looking at the graphics a little more and trying to figure out not necessarily what is it that I want to see graphically, but what is it that other people are gonna want to see. I think I let go in a couple spots that I’m working on and still improving.
Patrick Rauland: I have to say it’s really … So I actually saw those comments on your Kickstarter and I think that’s one of the coolest things is a bunch of people said, “Hey, the pink is a little bit bright and before the game is published, you can get cool. “We’ll tone it down and it won’t be … it’ll be …” I imagine it’ll still be pink, just not as bright.
Dan Grek: And even one of the reviewers said, “I liked the game. I had a fun time with it.” And they had just expressed like, “I think it would be cool to have a couple other things to do for the longevity of the game. Like maybe if there’s some way to do more actions or just have more available.” I’ve been in the background testing out some new cards. Not to completely pull out cards in the game, but I have multiple copies of some of the cards in there. I’m like, “All right, I’ll take a couple of them and replace them with something else that has a slightly different effect.” And I found a way to easily add another turn into the game, without really overhauling the rules because in this one it’s like you track the turns by sort of rotating the cards in the middle and keeping track of that so it’s just okay. Now you do one turn with each card changed and then at the end you put them all back in the upright position, have one final turn.
Dan Grek: So it’s maybe get a couple of reviews earlier is actually the big thing I could say to answer your question because there may be one or two things that they catch. And this also could be a forecasting thing as well, but they’re going to look at it a little bit more critically sometimes than some of your play testers who kind of look at it as a finished product. So they’ll be able to kind of give you some things that you could possibly update and tweak, give it that more extra polish that it really needs to do well.
Patrick Rauland: You mentioned play testers and I … I had an interesting experience recently where I was doing a blind play test and so I was literally watching people, and I could see them, they just missed a rule and they were kind of drowning because they just like … it’s [inaudible 00:10:23] on the card, they just missed it. And I’m curious. Did you ever use any outside play testing services? Did you do blind play tests what, what gave you the best feedback?
Dan Grek: The best feedback overall was definitely, you could call it a kind of blind play test. I sent it out to a couple people that I know that do reviews but also give very solid feedback within their reviews and they like to look at, when they review it, from a designer’s perspective instead of like a consumer’s perspective. When I get blind play testing though I like to just post something on BoardGameGeek and just maybe throw a couple of images up there and say, “Hey, take a look at it if you’ve got time.” Maybe I can do a print and play and see who wants to do that, but I kind of like to run it that way. I’m too nervous if I’m there while it’s happening. I’m standing on the side and watching it. I’m too busy thinking are they having fun? I’m so worried about it. They could be lost in thought, really engrossed in the game and I’d say, “They’re not smiling. Why aren’t they smiling? They should be smiling and laughing.” And I get a little nervous about it. So I just want to send them out.
Patrick Rauland: When is a good time for that. Like after play test two or after play test 20, you know, or 200?
Dan Grek: It really for me depends on the size of the game and the depth and mechanics, but I tend to try and do that the second I realize I can’t tell if the game is fun anymore. And what I mean by that is I get so focused myself on every little facet of it that when I’m playing it, I’m redesigning it in my head. If I see other people that I’m play testing with are engaging with it and they’re looking at it as a new experience and all I can think of is, “I can make this one tiny change with this thing.” Once I’m nitpicking those small details, that’s when I say I need to send this out to somebody I don’t know, or somebody that I haven’t mentioned any of this too. So then that way they can come back to me and if they see that little nitpicky detail then I know maybe that’s something to change, but if they don’t mention it at all and maybe I’m starting to overthink it, I’m kind of losing sight of the overall design.
Patrick Rauland: Interesting. All right. I like that. Um, okay. So this is a microgame. As far as I know, the definition of a microgame is basically 18 cards or less or something around there. What do you like about microgames? Why did you decide to make one?
Dan Grek: I think the biggest thing is that there’s a few reasons why I like to do them. Part of the reason I got into these ones is because, like I said, I do a lot of prototyping and contests on The Game Crafter and they came out this hook box, which is what we’re basically using for the game. It’s neat because it prints on both sides. It’s folds around the cards. It’s really tiny. You can have the rules on it. You don’t need a rule sheet. That kind of spurred me to do this. But I picked up Love Letter. I picked up some of the Parker game series. Button Shy has a whole lot of these microgames now.
Dan Grek: And I looked at it and I love the idea of an experience you can fit in your pocket that’s not designed to just be some throwaway activity you’re doing because you need to fill them in it, that’s actually going to be engaging and actually kind of bring you in. And if I liked those restrictions and design, that’s why I like looking at contests. And the idea of being told you only have 18 cards to achieve that goal. It is so restrictive that you really have to think out of the box to make it something unique, but at the same time you only have to do 18 cards to get it prototyped. So I was able to get it out faster, get it prototyped and tested faster. It really fit exactly what I was looking for in the experience.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Now, I love that. I agree. I definitely agree on … It’s so limiting and so rewarding. The 18 cards, right? When I was doing mine, I got a lot of feedback about, “Oh, just add some more cards to do this.” And it’s like, “Hey, I can’t.” It’s 18 cards or less. And it forced … But I heard that multiple times from different play testers, especially in the beginning. And then I think more recently maybe because I’m farther along in the process, I don’t. Maybe after a couple of play tests I worked out the roughest parts of the game and now even with just 18 cards it’s something. But yeah, it’s really frustrating and really great at the same time.
Dan Grek: I think that’s the most … I don’t want to say it’s the most concerning thing to hear from somebody. But when you’re doing an 18 card game to have them say, “Oh, this would be great if it was 36 cards or this would be great if it was 42.” I think that’s letting you know you’re almost there because an 18 card game needs to function with that 18 cards and not make people think, “I would love to do this, but bigger.” You want them to think I would love to do this again the exact way it is. I think that’s kind of the tough thing to get to. It gets to that point where it’s like, “Yeah, you could add other stuff in.” But to try and get people to start thinking about that is the real goal by the end of it. Once you have everything ready to go.
Patrick Rauland: Also, I’m curious, are there any …. I want to ask you about the games you play. Are there any games that you love that are just totally underappreciated?
Dan Grek: I have some I’ve been thinking of that. They’re underappreciated I guess in different ways. First one I’m going to throw out there because I’m a big story person. I like doing RPG games where you’re telling a story. I’m a huge fan of the Betrayal games, Betrayal at House on The Hill, Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate. I think they’re overall underappreciated because the big thing people love to do when they trash talk the games is they come out and say, “It’s like nobody play tested this.” It’s just rolling. It’s just a bunch of random stuff happening until somebody gets mad at the way the story is, the way the scenario goes and then they quit and flip the table and all that. But it can’t be played tested the way that you expect another game to be.
Dan Grek: You can’t have 50 different scenarios in the base game that have thousands of combinations of cards and things like that and get it to work perfectly every single time. And the thing I tell people when I introduce it is, “Don’t look at this as a game. Just look at it as we’re telling a story and there’s mechanics to help us do that. And just kind of enjoy it for what it is and pick the couple things out. I think when you do that, you have a better time with it. I know it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but I think a lot of people like to drag it through the mud over how impossible it would be to play test everything in every situation. That’s my big one.
Dan Grek: I’d like to see people talk about The Game Of Things a lot more when they talk about party games and whatnot. It’s still in Target. You can’t say it’s too hidden or anything like that. It’s like any one of those social deduction games. You get Cards Against Humanity and all that, we have the cards go out, but this one is, you get the prompt and it’s just things that giants like or some random phrase. But everybody actually writes their own answer down on a piece of paper and the twists to it that I think makes interesting is you can be funny. You can adjust your humor to the crowd. I have very real religious in-laws that we definitely don’t generally swear and things like that around them. And then I have groups of friends that we can get a little bit rowdier with the answers with.
Dan Grek: So it scales because you don’t have those pre-written answers. And then the coolest thing about it is that it gets to be how well do you know the people there. Because you’re not trying to have a judge pick the best answer. You’re trying to go around the table and guests who wrote what. It almost gets be sort of like bluffing game or social deduction game of, “Okay. This person said cactus. That really sounds like, Jake would say that answer, but Jake knows I think that. So maybe Terry put that answer down.” It has this cool social deduction aspect to it that you don’t see in a lot of those party games.
Patrick Rauland: Do you think you’ll do a game like that?
Dan Grek: I would love to be able to think of something like that. I think whenever I play one of those games I’d say, “Oh, it’d be cool if we did this and I immediately go to BoardGameGeek and find something already doing that. If I find one, I absolutely would love to do something like that. But right now, too many other ideas. [crosstalk 00:18:26]
Patrick Rauland: What is some of the … Again, you’re just about to fund. What are some of the best money that you’ve spent as a game designer? The reason I asked this is, I’m a game designer and I think a lot of other game designers are cheap and I’m including myself in that, but there are things that are worth spending money on. What are they?
Dan Grek: Something that I would say, prototype wise, maybe not so much, but once you’re looking at getting in there. I’ve found from experience that art really is a thing that you want to go into. And if you’re just trying to pitch the game, you only really need something serviceable. There’s plenty of online resources where you could, for something you’re not selling, you’re just pitching around, pay like $10 and get access to this full huge icon pack or things like that. At this stage, the games that I’ve been able to get signed or in this case that I’ve put out myself, it’s putting some money into the artwork. Even though I did use some assets that were free, I still spent money on getting some character art drawn up and doing some other things. That’s something that’s always kind of worth it because it’s the first impression the game makes. And you have to catch somebody’s eye before you can get them to really sit down sometimes and read it, especially with how many games are out there now.
Dan Grek: Even to another extent, that just show in your game off a whole lot, spend money on cons. Go to conventions. Do you publish your designer speed dating events. Go to Protospiel. Spend your money on tickets to those. Because getting your game out there in front of other designers and in front of other publishers even if the publisher walks up and doesn’t sign it, they may know somebody that, “Hey, wait, you know, so and so at this other company would really like the style of game.” And maybe they’ll tell you, “Hey, get over there and talk to them.” So art’s a good one once you’re in that area, but tickets to events that are going to be able to network with people and show the game off is great.
Dan Grek: And then another one that I got into and spent money on recently, I’m very happy about … Cause again this is [inaudible 00:20:26] I’ve done this at Game Crafter 8000 times. They have this new kind of components to do … They call it … That lets you kind of prototype cards a little bit. It’s not a full design thing like Photoshop, but it’s really good for assembling the whole cards and you can kind of do batch assemblies with Excel documents and stuff like that. We’re doing these 18 card games. I spent a couple hours in Photoshop putting all my cards together and then I had to make some overhaul changes and I was able to do that with this Component Studio thing in about 10 minutes. It saved me a lot of time. But then I also could click a button and make a print in play and click a button and upload it to Game Crafter.
Dan Grek: If that’s a service that you use a lot, The Game Crafter to do prototypes and things like that, and you do a lot of cards, look into that Component Studio thing they offer. It does save you time when you get into it.
Patrick Rauland: And it’s like $10 a month, right?
Dan Grek: Yeah, yeah.
Patrick Rauland: It’s pretty affordable.
Dan Grek: And I think they have a free trial if you want to play around. But yeah, it’s not too bad depending on how many cards you’re gonna make. But like I said, I was able to put an 18 card game together in about 10 minutes with … I had artwork pre-existing for it, but positioning, here’s what art’s supposed to go here, and this text box is the title of the card, and getting it all set up in a spreadsheet was pretty nice.
Patrick Rauland: I think the selling … I sort of looked at the demo of that. I think the selling point for me is like if you need to add a new icon to 50 percent of the cards, you can do that very easily in Components Studio whereas in Photoshop you’d be copying layers back and forth and it would be a pain.
Dan Grek: Yeah, exactly. That was nice and so anybody that’s doing a lot of cards I’d recommend go pay for Components Studio. Spend your money on that first. Make the prototype, spend your money to get into a Protospiel event or an Unpub or something. Get your game out there and then if you need to after that, put some money into a little bit of art if it needs to be a little more eye catching to get people focused.
Patrick Rauland: I love all those answers. So I do have a followup question on conventions. So I’ve been to one Protospiel, and I totally get how just playing games, your game gets out. You obviously get feedback and all, and you meet other game designers and you just naturally get your game out and get eyeballs on it. But what about a regular convention? Like if I go to regular convention, dumb question, but how do I get my game out? Do I throw it at random people. How do you play the game with random people or do you go to special events at these other conventions?
Dan Grek: So the key is that if you’re going to weight it, you don’t want it to be as heavy as a brick when you throw it. Some of them will do special events. One of the simple things you could do though is, if there are side tables that aren’t occupied, that they allow for random gameplay, just set up a game up over there.
Patrick Rauland: In a sense, just like wait?
Dan Grek: Sit there and hang out, have it out. Maybe if you have a friend with you can start playing it and then you could catch somebody’s eye. Worst case scenario, you’re play testing in front of people and that’s not so bad. You did mention the idea of special events. Unpub will do a lot of events for setting up. You can go in and maybe if they pay like an extra fee, but you can get your game featured in this unpublished game forum.
Dan Grek: And sometimes publishers may show up where other people come in just to play on published games and give feedback. They do publish your designer speed datings a lot now at some of the major cons, which I actually missed out on the one for Origins. I’m pretty sad about that. They opened it up and they didn’t send out an announcement. I found out too late. What happens there though is you sit down, they get 15, 20 designers. Maybe they have a couple of sessions. You sit down and just like one of those speed dating events that you see … You sit down with a designer or a publisher and designers sit down together, and they talk for about five minutes. The publisher stands up, moves to the next table, and then you have somebody new moved to your table. It’s just cycling around. It’s only these five minute interactions, but they see something they like in those five minutes, then you could open the door and start more communication.
Dan Grek: That’s actually how my first game, Dirigible Disasters started to get kicked off a little bit. I went to one of those events and it showed some interests, and the publishers that were interested, they were like, “Oh, we have some other games from some bigger designers.” But just the fact that I had interest and was getting some publisher level feedback, I was able to then interact with a smaller publisher at the time and then, and then eventually got it put out.
Patrick Rauland: That’s awesome. I love that. I think I struggle right now. I don’t know what to do at a convention. I think I’ll have to try to put some of these into practice because I … Right now I don’t know what to do and I’m sure it’s useful. I just feel awkward putting my game out on the table, but maybe I just have to get over that.
Dan Grek: I definitely look for those organized events. So for unpublished games, [inaudible 00:24:59], because when you have a question of what should I do, they have an event for it. Then you’re set. They’ll tell you exactly where to put your game and people will be there for the sole purpose of playing them or looking at them.
Patrick Rauland: What are some fun ideas or mechanisms you’re looking into for both Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve and for future games?
Dan Grek: Itty Bitty Dungeon Delve, I’m adding in some more things since it’s a tableau manipulation kind of game. You have a lot of facedown cards. You’re trying to rearrange them and make sure that your section is the highest scoring. I’m trying to add in … I’ve been working on characters that are introduced over the course of the campaign. This was something that wasn’t in the original game, but I kind of thought, “Well, wait a minute. This is about leveling up now and reaching level five. You have experience points you get. There needs to be something else.” I said, “Let’s make characters that gained skills as they go through.” It’s a thing where the scoring … as you score, and your score increases, you can unlock some new abilities. The idea is that they won’t break the game and make a runaway leader, but that they could add a little bit more style to some of the maneuvers, they could give you some more options so just makes it a little bit more interesting to kind of go through.
Dan Grek: As far as other games I’ve been working on, I’ve been co-designing this thing for a while now, this other game. I won’t to talk about it too much, but it combines some action points stuff with some deck building. The deck building is in service of an action point game. I’m so infatuated with this idea of like what if you had it, you’re making a deck of action points, that I actually had this moment. It was a couple of weeks ago. I said, “Oh, you know, it’d be really cool if I designed a game where you like built a deck of action points and that determines something.” And my wife said, “You did that already, just work on that one for those. Please just work on that one.” And I was like, “Oh yeah, yeah, right. That’s right. We’re doing that one.”
Dan Grek: And I love dice in general. So really, I love press your luck. I love rolling dice, [inaudible 00:26:57] points in games with dice. I’ll throw dice at the wall if you get me a game with dice in it I’ll probably play it. So anything with dice that I can get done, I’m very happy about.
Patrick Rauland: Awesome. So if I make a game with dice, I will send you the link and I’ll have one backer on Kickstarter?
Dan Grek: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: At least one backer?
Dan Grek: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Sweet. Cool. What does success look like in the board game world to you?
Dan Grek: I’m going to say the corniest thing I’ve ever said. As you know this … for a lot of people, I know this is a hobby. And then for a lot of people that get designing it ends up being a hobby too. For every person that puts out 10 different games over their lifetime, at least there’s one other person that does one game and that was the game that they had and whatnot. For me it’s not my day job. It’s just more about smiles and laughter and seeing people actually have fun with it. I get a lot of fun out of designing itself. It’s kinda of like when I cook, if I cook too long, I don’t want to eat. I smell it all day. Maybe I’m picking out some stuff.
Dan Grek: So when I designed the game and I spent a lot of time on it, sometimes I’m just so … You get a little tired of seeing it initially and don’t want to touch it. When I give it to other people and I could see them have a good time with it, it’s like, “Okay, cool. I did do something good here. I did put out something that, there was a reason for it.” Even if it’s just making a couple of people happy. Even if only 50 people ever see it or ever play it, they enjoyed it. You at least affected them on a very very small level. I think that’s where the real success is. It’s not like, “Oh, I sold 100 000 copies of this game in Target. That’s great and that is success but at the level I’m at and where I’m at, I just want to kind of get some games out there and hope people have a good time with them.
Patrick Rauland: Wow. That’s a very selfless or community focused answer. That’s amazing.
Dan Grek: Yeah. You know, and that’s … Thank you. I don’t want to … Now I feel …
Patrick Rauland: No, it’s good. No, no it’s good. You want to say anything else?
Dan Grek: Yeah. It’s cool to … I designed a game and it went out and the publisher picked it up and I made my money back on all the 8000 prototypes I bought over the years and that’s cool. I have a friend who does a lot of game designs and he’s like, “Oh, how do you make money in game designing?” And he said, “Oh, my wife’s an accountant for a law firm.” He’s like, “I could do it full time because I don’t need to be the main breadwinner in the household.”
Patrick Rauland: Gosh, how do I find that?
Dan Grek: I guess Tinder. Is that what Tinder’s for? We need a board game designer Tinder for finding people who will fund our hobby for us.
Patrick Rauland: That’ll be a side project.
Dan Grek: [crosstalk 00:29:38] or something like that.
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay. We already talked about things you can do to test your game in conventions and stuff. Is there … I’m curious if there’s like a specific resource. Like a blog or a podcast, not this one, or anything. Is there a place that you would recommend going other than in live events for another game designer?
Dan Grek: The two that always … Whenever I’m asked the question, like in random chat room or whatever, I always throw out a James Mathe for Minion Games. He has a really great blog that deals with publishing and reviewers and Kickstarter and dealing with backers and doing a fulfillment, and a whole lot of stuff. And then, Jamey Stegmaier of Stegmaier games also has a really great blog. I tend to throw those out really quickly because they have written more on paper than I will ever have in my head at a given point in time. And they’re great references. They’ve done it a lot before. They both have many successful campaigns between the two of them. They’re very good references in general. There’s a whole lot.
Dan Grek: I’m trying to remember which podcast I really like. I got to this point where I’ve just, I’ve downloaded so many different podcasts I start forgetting the names of them. I just sort of identify them with the icons. The icons on the podcast. There’s also a board game design lab, Facebook group. There we go. That’s a good one to do. Board game design lab Facebook group, Kickstarter advice, a board game designers group on Facebook. I know some people are like, I hate social media, but there’s a lot of places where you could gather together and discuss things and share ideas and promote things you’re working on and get opinions without having to send a full physical copy to somebody. Even just sharing an image and saying, “Hey, is this readable? People are going to just say yes or no very quickly for you.”
Patrick Rauland: I kind of want to put you on the spot. Because I know what you’re talking about with the podcast icons. What podcast icon would you recommend? Like what if you could just describe it?
Dan Grek: I’m gonna … Gosh.
Patrick Rauland: I realized we did not prepare for this question.
Dan Grek: That is okay. It’s good to put me on the spot. I have to [inaudible 00:31:53] quickly. All right. It is what …
Patrick Rauland: That one that looks like a tower?
Dan Grek: There is the Board game design lab. They definitely have their podcasts downloaded. What else do we got?
Patrick Rauland: I don’t know that one.
Dan Grek: The microphone is Gameosity. They do similar kind of review, general discussion stuff. I generally listen to like The Game Crafter podcasts as well, but that’s because again, I use the service a lot, so they have some updates and things like that. I’m going through … there’s a lot of them out there. It gets real personal preference when it comes to like to review podcasts a lot of times.
Patrick Rauland: We’re just about done here, but I want to have one more question then, and then I have a little game at the end. So what is … Last question. You’ve successfully funded a Kickstarter. Congrats. What is the best way to market your game? What got you the best? What do you think get gave you the most momentum?
Dan Grek: Honestly, the thing that was most important in marketing the game was being a part of the gaming community in general. What I mean by that is a lot of my early backers were members in the Game Crafter chat that I have talked to for years and that have known me through the Game Crafter chat for years. Even if I haven’t met some of them in person, I’m sure some of us would say, yeah, “We’re Internet friends at least. And even going into those design groups on Facebook, some of them allow for you to show off Kickstarter when it comes at that time.
Dan Grek: So for example, there’s an 18 card game, I think it’s just called 18 Cards, in Facebook group. And I’m a part of that. And I gave some advice, I talked about games that we’re working on. You can share, “Hey, I’m working on this, take a look.” And then when the campaign came around, I just shared it and said, “Hey, look. This campaign’s up. We’ve been a part of this group.” And when people see you participate in the group and then see that you need help with something, they’re way more willing to help out than if you just walk onto Reddit, spam the link somewhere and head out afterwards. Being involved in those areas where gamers like to hang out is the best way to get them to get into your game because then they get to know you a little bit more and understand where you’re coming from a little bit more.
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Last thing is I like to end this with a little game. It’s called Underrated Overrated or Overrated Underrated. And have you ever played it before?
Dan Grek: I have not.
Patrick Rauland: So basically I’m going to force you to take a position and you need to decide if something is overrated or underrated. So as an example, I could say Star Wars and then you would have to take a position if it’s overrated or underrated. Make sense? And maybe like a one sentence explaining it.
Patrick Rauland: All right. So number one, overrated, underrated Dungeons and Dragons.
Dan Grek: Underrated.
Patrick Rauland: Underrated.
Dan Grek: In fact, you know what I’m even to go so far and then really make some enemies. I think the fourth edition of Dungeons and Dragons is very underrated.
Patrick Rauland: Because?
Dan Grek: People complain about it because it’s not like D&D, but if it wasn’t called Dungeons and Dragons, fourth edition and it was called some other name, they would probably be like, “Yeah, this is real fun time.” Didn’t like … it was like a video game and it was the name more than anything. So I think D&D can be very underrated at times.
Patrick Rauland: Love it. What about coffee? Overrated Underrated.
Dan Grek: I don’t really drink a lot of coffee. I’d go overrated. I like tea better.
Patrick Rauland: We’re going to have to end this podcast right now. I’m sorry.
Dan Grek: I know I probably just lost some … Somewhere all my backers are leaving the-
Patrick Rauland: All the backers are leaving. No.
Patrick Rauland: Alright. Point salad style games. Overrated Underrated.
Dan Grek: I think I’d go underrated, just from the standpoint of, I know people are getting tired of him, but I think a lot of people get involved in the gaming community with some level of point salad games. My big thing that pushed me was Race for the Galaxy and that one has several different ways to score overall. So even though the game is evolving, it’s kind of like a meal. You gotta get through the salad first before you can get onto the main course and start to get really heavy into certain things. I think point salads serves its purpose and it’s a little bit underrated because of that.
Patrick Rauland: Underrated. Alright.
Patrick Rauland: TSA Precheck. Overrated Underrated.
Dan Grek: I did a couple of flights recently. TSA Precheck is overrated. I watched people wait in line for 30 minutes or an hour at TSA Precheck and I walked right through in about five minutes at regular.
Patrick Rauland: Oh really? Oh Wow.
Dan Grek: So many people in my area in New Jersey … The airport’s over here … Buy TSA Precheck to get through faster but there’s more people in the TSA Precheck line than there is in the regular one.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, crazy. What a crazy world we live in. Where TSA Precheck is slower.
Patrick Rauland: All right, well thank you for being on the show, Dan. Where can people find you online?
Dan Grek: Our website that we’re always constantly working on is concretecanoegames.com. That is concrete like the material, canoe like the boat and games, like the fun thing dot com. On Twitter, we are @ConcCanoeGames. I opened an Instagram with the same @conccanoegames. I don’t think I’ve posted anything there yet. And then we’re Concrete Canoe Games on Facebook as well.
Patrick Rauland: Thank you again for being on the show, Dan. By the way, for all of you people listening, if you want to meet a really cute ooze, please leave a review on iTunes or wherever you listen to podcasts. I heard that oozes like to read reviews and give you hugs. Thank you again for everyone listening and until next time, happy designing. Thanks. Good bye.