Patrick Rauland: Hello everyone and welcome to the Indy Board Game Designers Podcast, where I sit down with a different independent game designer every single week and we talk about the lessons they learned in game design, and sort of what their experience has been. My name is Patrick Rauland, and today I’ll be talking with Orion McClelland who designed Kepler Run, which at the time this episode comes out I believe will have about 24 hours left on Kickstarter. Now, it’s already funded, but it will be on there for just a short period, a little bit longer. Orion, welcome to the show.
Orion McClelland: Hi.
Patrick Rauland: So, I like to start with just a quick little game because I did a little bit of research on you and the audience hasn’t. So quick little game, just sort of lightning round questions type thing. So what is your favorite planet besides Earth?
Orion McClelland: Favorite planet besides Earth would probably be Mars because I’m convinced I’m going to name my first son that.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, I love it. All right. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Orion McClelland: Star Trek all the way, although Discovery is a little weird. [inaudible 00:01:05] is basically a Star Trek show.
Patrick Rauland: I haven’t seen it, but I heard that.
Orion McClelland: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Now if you could only choose between playing co-ops for the rest of your life or only solo games for the rest of your life, which one do you pick?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, definitely solo games. Who needs friends?
Patrick Rauland: Oh, you want solo games?
Orion McClelland: Solo games, yeah. Who needs friends? Like, why do you …
How Did You Get Into Board Games & Board Game Design?
Patrick Rauland: All right, cool, very cool. So Orion, tell me, how did you get into board games and specifically board game design?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, so as a teenager, I really loved doing game design. So I would make all these role playing games and would make my friends play with me. Then I transitioned that into moving into the video game industry, but as a software engineer. Then I went to tech, left all gaming behind, until one day my friend was like, “let’s make a card game,” you know? So he made his card game and I made mine and his was absolutely broken, and it turns out I was actually still kind of good at game design. So here I am.
Patrick Rauland: Oh, that’s really cool. It’s interesting that you went into the video game space and then kind of came out of it again.
Orion McClelland: Yeah, the video game [inaudible 00:02:11] really interesting and I really enjoyed being in that creative environment. But man, like the volatility, like the not knowing if you’re going to have money or saving money and then losing it. Like you make a lot more money in tech than you do in video games.
Patrick Rauland: I mostly have a background in tech. Silly question, but why is it so volatile? Why isn’t it more [crosstalk 00:02:30]-
Orion McClelland: Two things. The video game industry, while it pays more than a lot of places, it pays less than other software engineering roles. It’s like the film industry where it’s project based. So if your project doesn’t sell or they don’t have another project lined up, then that’s it, everyone goes home. That happened to me about, I don’t know, like three or four times, before I was like, okay. It’s also kind of a niche job. I was a 3D programmer, engine programmer, right? So not a ton of those jobs just lying around. So I’d be out of work for six months to a year at the longest, when I was in the game industry.
Patrick Rauland: I was going to say very cool. [crosstalk 00:03:12] explaining that, it’s not cool.
Orion McClelland: The first three months of not having a job are great, right? Because you have like a month or two of severance. I remember one year I was like working on my motorcycle, like I crashed it. So I was like rebuilding my motorcycle and going out and riding. Then after like six months of it, you’re like, how am I going to eat? Right?
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. That’s no fun. So by the time this episode airs Kepler Run will, I think it’ll have about 24 hours left. You’re a little above 4,000 right now and your goal was just 500. So, first of all, congratulations.
Orion McClelland: Thank you.
Patrick Rauland: Every guest who was a successful Kickstarter is, I give them congratulations cause I think you deserve it. It’s a lot of work.
Orion McClelland: It is. It’s rough. It’s an experience.
Make 100 Challenge
Patrick Rauland: One of the things I wanted to touch on is you did the Make 100 challenge. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
Orion McClelland: Yeah. So Make 100 is a program that Kickstarter does every year where they encourage you to just do a hundred of something, or have a reward that’s limited to 100, and what’s cool about it is that it just kind of connects back to that kind of core community of Kickstarter, which is helping people help creatives make cool things that they want to make. You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s a really neat program in that regard.
Patrick Rauland: Cool. Yeah, it feels like it like lines up with what Kickstarter’s goals were initially. Right. It’s like bring a new thing to light.
Orion McClelland: Exactly.
Would You Recommend the Make 100 Challenge?
Patrick Rauland: Not quite a year ago, but sometime last year I interviewed Pat Brennan in episode 14, and he talked about the Make 100, and I’m curious to get your take on it. Would you recommend Make 100 to other designers as something to motivate them? Something to get them off their butts and make something new?
Orion McClelland: I would do it for more than just that. I think just as a business owner, if you plan to make a game that you thought was just like, if you have like this idea when you’re 14 and you’re like, I’m going to make the game I always wanted when I was 14, then cool, go ahead and make the game that you want when you were 14 and try to sell 3000 copies of it. But if you’re trying to run a business, there are things that you’re going to be good at. There are going to be things that you’re not good at. And so by doing something small like a Make 100 you can focus on your not good things at 10 times less scale.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah, totally. I know Kickstarter, I was reading the Make 100 page, and they said they tag it so people can browse by all the projects that are tagged to Make 100 and stuff like that. Do you happen to know, like did you get traffic specifically from that, or is it-
Orion McClelland: It is hard to tell. One of the things that’s interesting about where traffic comes from on Kickstarter, I’ve done a lot of studying on this, is that you kind of have some amount of traffic that comes from Facebook and some amount of traffic is just like natural on Kickstarter. So all of my top pledges are from Kickstarter related discoveries, whether it’s like the advanced discovery or the recommendations tab, or the tabletop gaming tab. Most of the traffic that I’m getting in is internal from Kickstarter.
Patrick Rauland: That’s actually I think really good to know. I assumed it wouldn’t, I assumed you’d get marginal amounts of traffic.
Orion McClelland: Yeah. From what I could tell, most of the traffic that comes into the the big [inaudible 00:06:33] that come into Kickstarter projects are either people who are on Kickstarter, or you can’t tell where they’re coming from because their tag has disappeared. Maybe they went to the site and directly typed it in the search, and Facebook. Those are your two really big rocks. Everything beyond that is just tiny. Can Be like-
Patrick Rauland: Drips.
Orion McClelland: Falling off slivers.
Patrick Rauland: I’ve been looking at the dashboard for Fry Thief, which I think we’ll have just ended by the time this comes out, but I’m looking at the dashboard for Fry Thief and I think about 48% of the backers are from Kickstarter, roughly right now. Do you happen to know what that percentage is, if you’re willing to share that?
Orion McClelland: I haven’t added it up. It looks like the top, looking at the page right now, it looks like the top 40-ish percent, maybe 50 with direct traffic.
Patrick Rauland: Oh cool.
Orion McClelland: So it’s actually considered … It’s actually a considerable amount.
Why Did you Use Unusual Size Components for your Game?
Patrick Rauland: Totally. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Okay. So let me talk about your game a little bit. I want to go back to like marketing and pricing and stuff like that cause I’m really interested in that stuff. But I do want to talk about your game a little bit. So Kepler Run, it’s an efficiency game, it looks like you’re basically picking stuff up and you’re using a spaceship and you’re dropping stuff off. It looks really fun. I love the little cubes. I mean it just goes well with the space theme. Something else I really liked about your game is it looks like you’re using like a really unique card size. This is a podcast, just to give everyone a mental picture, it seems about the same ratio as a stick of gum but bigger. But it is like a very thin, long shape. So can you tell me why did you, you know, why go with something … I mentioned it’s harder to make. Why would you go with something that’s maybe a little bit more unorthodox instead of a standard playing card?
Orion McClelland: Yes. So there’s the artistic side and there’s the business side of it. Right? So the artistic side is that I think, I can’t remember what sparked like the look, but I was looking at Oink games and their card size, and I think it’s possibly the same size, which is one and a quarter inch wide by three and a half tall. It’s not that I looked at Oink games and measured it, it’s that I kept cutting different sized cards until I found a tile size that I liked. That’s the one that happened to have the ratios that I liked. Then it just so happened to be the same size as like the Oink game ones. But there’s something I really, really liked about the table presence of these long thin cards for the type of project I was looking to make.
Patrick Rauland: I think it’s really cool, and I like that you just said you basically just kept cutting card sizes or cards and figuring out what just looked the best and felt the best. I think a lot of us just go poker card or Tarot Card for some other reason, you know what I mean? Like we kind of just pick one of the two.
Orion McClelland: Yeah, I’m weird in that, I mean I guess I am weird in the industry that I’m both a game designer and a graphic designer, artist. I’ve been doing art longer than I’ve been doing game design, and so for me, I do it all at once. Like I iterate everything all at the same time from day one. So basically I had the idea two days later I had a prototype that I took to my coworkers. By that Saturday I had a fully printed out version of the game.
Did You Do All of the Graphic Design & Illustrations?
Patrick Rauland: That’s great. I love that. So let me talk about that for a second. I love when people are both graphic designers and game designers. It seems like a pretty big advantage. Right? I guess a question I’d like to ask you is did you do all the illustrations in your own game, and like the logo and the illustrations and the layout and all that?
Orion McClelland: For Kepler Run, yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Wow, that’s awesome.
Orion McClelland: [crosstalk 00:10:05].
Patrick Rauland: I’m a little jealous because you know I had to like hire an illustrator.
Orion McClelland: Appreciate it. Yeah, one of my best friends is a graphic designer, and she constantly tears apart anything I do, and that’s how I learned graphic design. I do have that to fall back on when it comes to making like the final, final version, I lean on other people for that last 10%, but it is helpful being able to do that first, like 80%. But that’s like my entire business model, is like being able to kind of carry more of the weight myself, and then outsource when it comes to the things I can’t do.
What Are Your Business Goals?
Patrick Rauland: Okay, so tell me about your business, because you just brought up your business model. Are you going into this to be a publisher, or are you going into this to supplement your video game tech, or tech money? What is your end goal here?
Orion McClelland: I do see myself in the end game being a publisher, and so there’s that part of me that’s an artist that wants like the creative freedom to just create something from beginning to end. But there’s also the cost involved. Like the more work that I can do and the more I invest in increasing my skill, the more that revenue I get to keep. So from my perspective, being a publisher is the only way I can keep revenue at anything close to what I’m making as a software engineer. I haven’t expected it to be the same. But like, you know what I mean? It sounds like it’s pretty hard as a game designer, you know, being a full-time game designer.
Patrick Rauland: Love it. I think I agree with you by the way, publishers get to sort of keep, if you do it right, you get to keep all the extra profits. I think artists tend to get paid on commission, right? So it’s like, Hey, please do 20 illustrations for us. Here is 500 bucks or 5,000 bucks, whatever it is, and you’re done.
Orion McClelland: Here’s a crazier thing. Crazy part of that is that, and we’re going to talk about [inaudible 00:11:56] later, but what I did is I paid an artist who was better than me at rendering certain parts to take it to a certain step. He would take things to the black and white step, and then I would finish it myself. So it’s a really handy skill to have, because I can really fine tune how much I’m willing to pay for and what portions, you know, where I’m willing to pay for quality and where I’m trying to save.
Patrick Rauland: That’s great. So someone could do like the initial sketch basically and you can just fill it in.
Orion McClelland: Yeah.
Patrick Rauland: Oh cool.
Orion McClelland: In fact I also had a character designer who all she did was do like concept thumbnails and then I would develop them from there.
Tell Us About Your Other Games
Patrick Rauland: Wow. That’s awesome. So tell me a little bit about Ark Worlds. I always click through people’s Kickstarter pages and I saw you had two prior campaigns and they didn’t fund. So tell us a little bit about the game and what happened.
Orion McClelland: Yeah. So Ark World is a MOBA inspired card game, for two or four players.
Patrick Rauland: What is MOBA?
Orion McClelland: Okay. So MOBA is a style of video game that is very complicated, so I don’t think I’m going to describe it here. The short of it is that there are two teams of five human beings that you may not have ever met before that all take a hero, and they try to battle each other, you know, to win as a team. There are a lot of rules, there’s a lot of structure, there’s a lot of timing. The pacing of the game is just very difficult to explain, but when it works out well, because of the synergy of the people that you’re playing with and the synergy of the characters that you’ve all picked, it can be a very exciting and very rewarding genre of game to play.
Orion McClelland: So Ark World looks to simulate a MOBA style game, specifically the parts where you have team fights. There’s so much in a MOBA game that it’s very hard to simulate everything. But I chose to focus more on the team aspect and like picking your characters, picking synergies, and kind of coming up with a long strategy across multiple team fights.
Why Didn’t Ark Worlds Fund?
Patrick Rauland: Really cool. How come Kepler Run is doing so well and Ark Worlds didn’t do so well?
Orion McClelland: Yeah. So, ah, okay. There’s a lot that went into that. So the first thing is, the first answer is, I don’t know. Right? All of the feedback I’ve ever gotten from Ark World has been positive. So it’s very difficult to figure out where it went off the rails. So I have a couple of theories. So my first theory is that it’s just a very small genre to begin with. So the number of people who are intimidated by it, like it’s not a very casual, friendly game. I knew that building it, it was a niche product always. I was never expecting to sell more than, you know, a couple hundred copies, maybe a thousand copies, something like that. But I knew it wasn’t going after Magic or anything like that.
Orion McClelland: The second thing is my style of projects is that I tend to not pay for a lot of external like validation. So I don’t buy a lot of external videos. I don’t pay to be on podcasts. I don’t pay for positive reviews because I genuinely think that it’s not good for our industry, and I’ll try to avoid getting on a soapbox, but if you’re a content creator and you’re like, hey, let’s generate some great content together like we’re doing right now, I’m like, great down for it. Let’s do that. If you’re a person who makes content and you want to make content for me to use for my brand, cool, I will definitely pay you money to give me a product that’s branded to me and my brand. That’s also cool. But I don’t think it’s really great for a mature game industry to pay someone to say that your game is good, when the game isn’t done and hasn’t been shipped to people. It’s weird, right? Like it’s weird. It’s just a little weird.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. Yeah. I sort of struggle with this issue personally. I think I had like 18, 19, maybe right around that number of reviewers for Fry Thief, many of which were like small blogs. And a couple of people did videos. But I did pay I think two people who had like really big audiences. I did pay them. I do struggle with this. There’s a part of me, yeah, that says … Also like I know at least one of these people, like they have their own Kickstarter, they raise money for themselves that way. So it does feel weird for them to put a video on their channel reviewing my game that they can run their own-
Orion McClelland: [crosstalk 00:16:38] but it builds their brand, you know what I mean?
Patrick Rauland: Yeah, [crosstalk 00:16:39]-
Orion McClelland: [crosstalk 00:16:41] understand the numbers I think behind this. So I used to work at a marketing company, right? If we ran like a contest and we got like 5% conversion, like if 5% of the people who came to our contest page then went on to download a product, like that was amazing turnover. So if you have a person who’s like, “I have 10,000 followers,” it’s like, all right, cool, out of those 10,000 maybe 5% will come and look at the thing, which is like 500, and then maybe one to 3%, and 5% is really high by the way. 5% is really good conversion. So then maybe of those 500, one to 3% convert, you know what I mean? You’ve now just spent, you know, maybe $200 converting 10 or 15 people, which is a really expensive conversion rate. It’s a $20 conversion rate.
Patrick Rauland: I think a lot of people don’t understand that. I saw a comment on a Facebook group the other day of someone saying, “I want to hire this reviewer.” Maybe he has like 30,000 subscribers, and he’s like, but if only like 1% of those convert, that’s 3000 people. But that’s not how it works. Right? Not everybody even sees the video.
Orion McClelland: It’s 1% of 1%, if 1% of his people see your Kickstarter, then 1% of them will convert to the thing. That’s the way the numbers actually tend to work. So it’s just we’re not big enough yet outside of maybe Shut Up & Sit Down, The Dice Tower, and No Pun Included, nobody has an audience big enough to make like dollar conversion math really work out.
Patrick Rauland: You might be right. One thing I just want to say in defense of all those content creators, I think they are pitched so many games, and like if you’re pitched a thousand games and you only have time to review 300 of them, probably one of the best things you can do is say, all right, I’m charging $10 a review and then you’re down to 500 and you’re like, all right, I’m charging $20 review. Then you’re down to 300, you’re like cool … Like it’s just a way of like throttling the input.
Note: there are plenty of other good reasons to pay reviewers… but since this is an interview I didn’t share my opinion
Orion McClelland: That’s fair.
Patrick Rauland: I do agree with you that it does feel icky. Also I tend to think publishers like, you know, artists get paid upfront, these reviewers get paid upfront. I think publishers get paid second to last only before the game designers themselves. I do totally see where you are coming from.
Orion McClelland: Well, again, I think that like if you look at the way the game industry works, if you’re a publication, then what you do is you focus on making good content, right? Like your money goes into making the best, like IGN, love them or hate them. right? Or Angry Joe. I like Angry Joe, right? So Angry Joe maybe does a couple of sponsored things, but most people come to Angry Joe because his reviews are really good, and that’s why you trust him. Nobody pays him for a review for a game or a preview for a game. He creates them because those are the things that generate his revenue like as a brand.
Orion McClelland: So I think that when the board game industry moves closer to that, it will be healthier for us as players because then the commentary that we’re getting is going to be a lot more valuable. So that’s why I tend to find No Pun Included and Dice Tower and Shut Up and Sit Down, I tend to listen to them more than any other reviewers.
Patrick Rauland: Sure. Cool. Okay. That was a nice little [crosstalk 00:19:58]. Man, I totally lost my train of thought.
Orion McClelland: We were talking about Ark Worlds and what happened. Oh, and final thing, I just have one final thing about Ark World. What happened was, I think my mistake was going to a Chinese publisher and not starting even smaller than that, like having to do 2000 units or even 1500 units on my very first product was probably a mistake.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah. I had heard from many, many sources that 1500 is the minimum. Maybe to get a good price point it is, but I eventually found other manufacturers that had a minimum of a thousand, and I eventually found maybe one or two that had a price, not price I’m sorry, a unit minimum, minimum order unit of 500. Now I’m paying a lot more for 500 per unit, but that gives me a lot more flexibility.
Orion McClelland: Exactly, exactly. That’s what I’m getting at Kepler Run. I only need to do a hundred because it’s priced as if I was only going to do 10, you know what I mean? So the amount that I’m making, the amount of overhead, like the padding on the cost per unit is very, very low. So I’m not making any money off of it, but you know, I’m not trying to make money off of it. I’m trying to deliver a good product and not lose money.
How Are You Making Kepler Run?
Patrick Rauland: Totally. So maybe tell me a little bit about that, because aren’t you making these by hand?
Orion McClelland: So it’s not that the whole thing is by hand, but there’s going to be a lot of hand assembly. So like I had to do things like going to [inaudible 00:21:30] source and ordering thousands of the cubes I wanted in order to get the particular cubes that I wanted for the game, to get the visual look I wanted.
Patrick Rauland: Just curious what cubes are those?
Orion McClelland: It’s the ones in the picture. So they have transparent orange ones, and these metallic silver ones. If you go to like the digital manufacturers, they don’t have those. So for me to get the ones I wanted, I just had to order them in bulk. I already ordered them. So those will hopefully be coming in, you know, at the same time that everything else does. So yeah, it’s kind of like this hand assembly, almost bespoke kind of thing, but it goes hand in hand with how the game was positioned. The game was positioned more like a premium product, you know what I mean? Or as premium as I can make it with the things on offer from people.
Orion McClelland: So I’m definitely willing to do that extra work because it was priced higher than the average small box game.
Patrick Rauland: Sure. So is this like a first step into market and you eventually want to go to China and order 1500 units, but this is just like a nice first easy step to take?
Orion McClelland: Yeah. I’ve never tried to fulfill a hundred units of anything, I’ve never had to do. Unlike a lot of people, even a lot of early developers, there’ll be like multiple people kind of starting out at once. This is literally just me. I can’t even lean on an artist or graphic designer to help me out with anything because I am both those people, right? So for me it’s just about taking these really small steps at success and laying down this pipeline of being able to be like … you never think about this. How do I print out a hundred labels? You know what I mean? Where do I get a hundred envelopes to mail things through the US Postal Service? And normally you don’t think about that because like a Ship Naked or something like that will do that for you. It’s just building out this structure so that I can deal with customers, far more customers than me personally, and do it without doing anything wrong, and then move up to the next one.
Patrick Rauland: Sure. Love it. I finally remembered the question I was going to ask you, wait, do people pay to be on podcasts? [crosstalk 00:23:46] doing my podcast wrong. I’ve got to rethink my business goals here.
Orion McClelland: It’s interesting how many people reach out to you for how many different things, like when you first start out on Kickstarter. So again, yeah, I’m not going to get back on my soapbox.
What’s Going to Happen with Ark Worlds?
Patrick Rauland: Sure, sure. Cool. I’d like to change gears a little bit. Well, actually, no, let me go back to Ark World for one more second. Do you think you’ll eventually relaunch that? Or are you sort of ending it?
Orion McClelland: I am definitely relaunching it because the game is basically done, and I keep sinking money into it, and I don’t know why. I think it’s just because I like the game. I just find it fun, and like 30 other people on the planet do. I’m probably going to digitally print it and I may do like a tiny Kickstarter Kepler Run just for those like 20 or 30 people who wanted the game, and to get the money up front so I can print it and all that. In fact I actually have sample cards coming from the game crafter soon.
Orion McClelland: So I’m excited to see how that all shapes out. It’ll be out there but in a very small form, but it will be out there.
Patrick Rauland: I’m a forgetful person, but I’d love to, if you do launch Ark Worlds, I would love to see what happens now that you’ve built a little bit of an audience.
Orion McClelland: Makes sense, yeah.
Patrick Rauland: You get the magic like 30% funded on the first day, then maybe you can actually sort of get it done.
Orion McClelland: Right.
What Resource Would You Recommend to Another Indie Game Designer?
Patrick Rauland: [crosstalk 00:25:10] next time. Yeah. One of my favorite questions is about, you know, what resources would you recommend to another indie game designer or an aspiring game designer? I’m especially curious in your case because you basically had two campaigns that didn’t do so well and now this one’s doing great. So I’d love to know number one, what resource would you recommend and what was something you learned in between all three of those campaigns?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, I mean I’m going to be like a broken record, if people listen to me on more than one podcast, like my number one thing is iteration. It’s weird because I had a friend who was like, “What you’ve been doing is iterating this whole time, just throwing things at the wall, see what sticks.” I don’t know, I don’t think people take iteration far enough. My very first game was this [inaudible 00:25:55] game called Salt. I was researching it, and trying to figure out how I was going to do a Kickstarter. I was like, this makes no sense. Let me do something small like Ark World.
Orion McClelland: It turns out it was hard to get Ark World started. So it’s like, let’s try Ark World again. Still didn’t work, let’s go even smaller than that. So I think the biggest thing that’s been helping me out is just a lot of iteration very rapidly. The number one resource that’s helped me, and I’ve been lucky for this, is just being in New York where there’s just so much feedback. There’s so many great game designers in this area, but even if you don’t have an area like that, like there are a lot of really great communities all over, you know, that you can kind of connect with. But no matter what, even if it’s just posting on like forums and stuff like that and being like, “Hey, does this look good? Does this look good? How does this look?” Get feedback early and often.
Any Digital Places to Meet People?
Patrick Rauland: I totally agree with that. I actually don’t know exactly who listens to this yet. I don’t know what percent of those people are in big cities. So let’s assume that the person listening to this isn’t in a big city and they don’t have access to like a meetup. Is there a particular Facebook group or a particular forum or a particular blog that was useful?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, I thought the Board Game Spotlight was really good. I follow like board games, like Board Game Revolution, and there’s one that escapes me, and I kind of posted Kepler Run to all of them. But specifically the Board Game Spotlight, for being the smallest of the groups, although it’s growing really fast, for being the smallest of the groups it gave me the most feedback and the most interaction just off of a picture. You know what I mean? It was just like, “Hey, does this look good? I don’t know.” There were a lot of really eager people there to give me that kind of feedback. I am on those groups. So if you post art or graphic design, I am likely to go, “Hey, change this, look at this, move that around.” So that’s a resource right there.
Patrick Rauland: Interesting. So I actually didn’t Know, I mean just at first glance from the Board Game Spotlight, I’m in that group, and I should say this is a Facebook group, I’m in that Facebook group and I didn’t know people talk about upcoming projects. I kind of thought it was a little bit more promotional. I didn’t realize they were talking about like work in progress things.
Orion McClelland: I guess it just depends on the individual and how you go about it. Right? Because you know, it’s probably going to be harder if you’re a bigger company, and it’s probably going to be harder if you’re like trying to trick people into looking at your product.
Patrick Rauland: Yeah.
Orion McClelland: I think that that sincerity and that human-ness is like what people kind of like and respond to. Sometimes if you don’t get a lot of hits, that might be your answer right there. You might have to do a little work to find that mentorship to find out why it’s not hitting. You know, and if you’re finding that there are un-pub events, you might have to do some travel, right? Like you might have to go to an Unpub or something like that to get kind of that unfiltered feedback. But yeah, it was helpful for me.
What Does Success Look Like For You?
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay. So I would love to know, you talked about wanting to become a publisher eventually, but what does success look like in the board game world to you?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, so I guess for me it’s, I actually like 100% am just cribbing the Ryan Locket method. If I got the Ryan Locket, I’d be great. Right? Like I just want to make cool things that are in my head and do art for them. I’d be happy.
Patrick Rauland: I don’t know much about Ryan Locket. I did see him briefly online somewhere, or maybe at a different event. So is that what he wants to do? He just wants to make games?
Orion McClelland: I don’t know him personally, but just [crosstalk 00:29:42] from games. Like I do find that he does all of his own art. You know, people generally like his game design, he iterates on a lot of the designs, and he seems to find success. I don’t know him personally, so I don’t know how successful he is as a business person, but just kind of that core of being at the end of the day I’m just a creative who just wants to do creative things, and that’s what I want to find empowerment in. I want to make things that I think are cool that hopefully other people find cool as well.
Patrick Rauland: So why not be a game designer? Just curious. Because that seems to me like cool fun stuff with fewer headaches.
Orion McClelland: I actually like running a business. I’m just one of those weird people who anytime you can learn something, I will go out and learn it. For example, in my house you cannot make a regular cup of coffee because I became obsessed with coffee for a while and now I own espresso makers and pour overs and this kind of beans, and I have to get the grind right. Like I’m just one of those kind of people who likes to kind of get in the weeds of things. I find a lot of fun in like tracking social media engagement and looking at how this ad is doing. At the end of the day it’s the best way to keep more of your value, right? Like so most of the value that you’re generating that you can keep the better.
Overrated Underrated Game
Patrick Rauland: Love it. Okay, so I like to end the show with a little game called Overrated Underrated. Have you heard about it?
Orion McClelland: Yes.
Patrick Rauland: That means you get the air horn. And I pressed it twice by accident, you accidentally got two air horns.
Orion McClelland: Double air horn.
Patrick Rauland: Okay. So basically for the listeners, if you haven’t heard this before, I’m going to ask him a word or phrase and he’s going to tell me if it’s underrated or overrated. So pick up and deliver games in general, are they overrated or underrated?
Orion McClelland: I’d probably go overrated.
Patrick Rauland: Ooh, okay.
Orion McClelland: [crosstalk 00:31:33] is actually not a pick up and deliver, so.
Patrick Rauland: Exactly. I try not to ask people like exactly what their game’s about because then they kind of, yeah, but related topic. Just a follow up question, is there something that pick up and deliver games could do better? Like what is the thing that makes them not as good as they should be? Oh wait, you said underrated, overrated?
Orion McClelland: I said overrated. Full disclosure. I don’t play a lot of pick up and delivery games, so it does not appeal to me.
Patrick Rauland: Got It. Okay. How about this, Fruit Stripe Gum, overrated or underrated?
Orion McClelland: I think Fruit Stripe Gum was overrated. I remember it being like nasty as a kid. You would chew it for like three seconds and it’s like done. That’s done.
Patrick Rauland: I do remember that stereotype, yes. Yes. I’m gonna go with Tarot sized cards in games.
Orion McClelland: I’m going with underrated because Ark World is gorgeous on the table.
Patrick Rauland: Why do you think more publishers don’t use Tarot sized cards, ’cause I very rarely see them. I think Ark Worlds has beautiful art on it, which really maximizes it, but I’m wondering why other games don’t do it.
Orion McClelland: It makes your art the centerpiece. So the art has to be the centerpiece. Then two, it’s not as good in the hand. So if Ark World had a hand of cards that you were manipulating from the hand frequently, maybe it would be more unwieldy, but you actually like put your hand aside while you’re playing the game because the game is on the table. I’m actually looking at doing Tarot cards for another game design right now. So I actually really liked them.
Patrick Rauland: Very cool. The last one, Lacroix. As in the fizzy mostly watery tasting drink. Overrated or underrated?
Orion McClelland: Underrated. I love Lacroix.
Patrick Rauland: No! Really?
Orion McClelland: I have some kind of weird taste buds where they actually taste good to me. I’m surprised. I don’t think I drink a lot of sweet drinks in general. I drink a lot of water and coffee. So I guess for me, Lacroix actually tastes like good. It’s like water and coffee and whiskey, that’s all I drink.
Patrick Rauland: I’m going to send you some super sugary sodas at some point.
Orion McClelland: Let’s do it.
Patrick Rauland: All right. Hey Orion, thank you for being on the show.
Orion McClelland: Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Patrick Rauland: So where can people find you and your project online?
Orion McClelland: Yeah, so the best place to find me online is on the Facebook group for Unpossible Game Labs. We also have unpossiblegamelabs.com but that’s a website, no one uses those anymore. You can follow us on Instagram, at unpossiblegamelabs. Then you can check out Kepler Run on Kickstarter right now.
Patrick Rauland: Cool. And that’s just, it’s Kepler, KEPLER? Yeah, LER.
Orion McClelland: KEPLER.
Patrick Rauland: Again, thank you so much Orion, this was great. Listeners, if you liked this podcast, please leave us a review on iTunes. If you leave a review Orion said he’d help you figure out the most efficient route to work, which I think is pretty dope. Normally I sort of have a sentence about Fry Thief, but I think this will come out just after Fry Thief has ended. So I have nothing to say other than I’m working on two new cool games. But that’s all I got to say right now. So I’m hoping, how about this? I’m working on two games that are pretty good and I’m hoping I will have something by Origins. I think I’m going to go to Origins this year. So that’s what I’m committing to right now, dear listener. You can find the site, indyboardgamedesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter, I’m at BFTrick. 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, happy designing everyone. Bye.