Patrick Rauland: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another bonus episode of the Indie Board Game Designers podcast. This is the fifth installment of the Simple Elegance series, which is all about myself and Cody preparing for the Simple Elegance contest on The Game Crafter.
Patrick: As of this recording, we have five days left, so we are totally running out of time. We are going to be talking about final preparations and submitting the game to the contest on The Game Crafter. You can obviously listen to this, but I'd recommend going back to the beginning of the series and starting there, listening to these five episodes. Then I'm just thinking it might be nice to have a wrap-up episode in a couple of weeks, probably when Cody and I get a chance to look at the entries and maybe guess how we'll do against them, or something like that. So, there might be one more– There probably will be one more after this. With that, Cody, how are you doing?
Cody Thompson: Good, Patrick. Just trying to wrap my head around how to get everything done in time for the submission. I think it's Sunday that it's going out, from when we're recording.
Patrick: Yeah, we're recording Tuesday, so– to highlight to everyone else how much pressure there is, you're flying to Origins today, and I'm flying tomorrow or Thursday morning. Then we technically have a couple of days left, but both of us are going to be at a game convention hanging out, we want to play new games, we want to go to the Unpub room and test our games, we want to do a whole bunch of stuff. So, I don't know–
Cody: Yeah. Six hours a day of that will be me working the booth for Weird Giraffe Games.
Cody: That's what's paying for my ticket and hotel room so that I can go.
Patrick: Fantastic. I will have to come by and heckle you after the show. Let me know when you're working there, and I'll stop by with a– What am I thinking of? A straw, little pieces of paper– Spitball. There we go.
Cody: throw some tomatoes.
Patrick: Yeah, no. Very cool. Let's start with what's going on. I think you're going to Origins, right, Cody?
Cody: Yes. This is my first Origins, which I wasn't going to go because I would– Right now there's not currently a big ROI besides meeting people, for me to go to conventions. Especially big out-of-state conventions, just because they're expensive. To get a flight and a hotel and food and all that stuff, it'd be $1,500 to $2,000 dollars. That's without a booth or anything, and the most I– Since I wasn't planning on going I wasn't signed up for an Unpub room or anything like that, where I could get value with playtests and stuff. My focus this year has been to mainly just hit up all the small local conventions and do playtesting, because I feel like going to $100 dollar convention that's maybe $300 dollars total for me for the weekend is a much better value than just trying to go to a big convention and hope that I can get play tests and exposure.
Patrick: Totally. It is tricky as a designer. I'm lucky that I have a lot of game design friends here in Denver, and a couple of them are like “Patrick the Unpub rooms are open, go ahead and register now.” I got signed up for the Unpub rooms, and I got signed up for publisher speed dating. So, I got really lucky with game designer friends reminding me to do all the stuff, and I was already registered, so it was very easy for me to sign up for everything. But if you don't get those, it's– I don't know. You have to spend a lot of money to go to these events.
Cody: Yeah. That's another thing, and it's hard for me to justify. I have wanted to go to a Protospiel or Unpub, but we have such good playtesting groups here in the Seattle area. I think we have three very regular ones. We have one in Seattle that I go to every Wednesday, and then we have a group over here on the east side, the Redmond Bellevue area, they meet up every Tuesday and sometimes on Saturday. Then we have PlaytestNW that does all sorts of events, so we have a ton of playtesting opportunities around here. The only thing I would be getting is possibly new faces and exposure in different parts of the country, which is important, but–
Patrick: Anyways, it's a lot. It's unfortunate timing for this event that both of us are going to, it's right before the end of the contest, so there's no– I'm going to be really torn, I'm probably going to do, I'm guessing I'm going to do probably an hour or two of work tomorrow on my game and I'm probably going to do a half hour every day. Just little tweaks of things, just a half hour every day up until the deadline. I'm probably just going to be tweaking things, but if I didn't have this event I'd probably work a lot harder Friday, Saturday, and Sunday before the contest closed. It's just bad timing.
Cody: Yeah. Currently, if I wasn't going to the event, I'm confident that I could get something made up to have a nice submission. But currently on the list left to do is I need to make the banner, the game logo, the thumbnail image, the whole page. I still have to write the rulebook, technically. I have to get all the cards laid out and exported into a PNG so that I can submit them, and that mainly would be with fill-in art. Which wouldn't be too bad, because I can use that prototyping thing Multideck that I use?
Cody: But essentially, I have to do everything still, besides the game design.
Patrick: Wow. That's a lot of stuff left to do. It's a lot of stuff.
Cody: Yeah. So, we'll see if I can stay up late a few nights at Origins and do some work on my laptop.
Patrick: Why don't we start with homework? I'll kick this off– Sorry, I think I see one more note under “News.” You were busy doing other stuff for your Kickstarter for Vamp on the Batwalk, right?
Cody: Yes. That was another big damper on why I didn't get stuff done for where I want to be right now for the contest, is I have a Kickstarter that is coming up in the next couple months. So, we've been working real hard to get all that stuff done. I've got a new graphic designer that I brought on the team for mainly all the Kickstarter page stuff, and some box changes and layout, and then the rulebook layout and stuff. But that's big, because I've been depending on the illustrator to do all that graphic design, but the illustrator got a new job so things have been coming in a lot slower than I would like.
Patrick: I was thinking about time, and there's so many cool game design contests. There's the GenCant Roll and Write, which is with polyhedral dice set. So, your D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D20 from Dungeons and Dragons. I just got a really good idea on this, Cody, but I don't think I can do it. I'm just looking at my schedule, my bandwidth, my regular workload, my game workload, this podcast– Even though I just had an idea probably a week and a half ago, I just don't think I have the time to work on it, even though it fits so perfectly with the theme. It's D&D roll and write game, and I can't get it done. You have to pick. Sometimes I think there's too many projects, and you have to pick what you want to work on.
Cody: Yeah. When is the deadline for that one?
Patrick: It's the middle of July, so that's a little over a month from now.
Patrick: Anyway, let's start with homework. Because otherwise, I don't think we'll finish. So, I had two bits of homework. I had to make art for the box, which by the way, Cody, I just uploaded to the Google Doc so you can click on it. For listeners, it'll be in the show notes.
Patrick: I'm really happy I came up with this crest, so the game is called Bank of the Realms, and it feels like a traditional bank logo with these columns and a building and these nice pretty stairs, but then I also put a dragon on it. I feel like that– I'm really happy with this crest-like look that I put on the game.
Cody: I'm looking at it right now, and it looks cool.
Patrick: Yeah. It's on wood like it's supposed to be, like an old– It's supposed to be like a game that could have existed back before there was modern stuff, so the box looks like it's a piece of wood. Anyways, I'm happy with that. That came together maybe probably almost two weeks ago.
Patrick: Then my other piece of homework was to order a prototype. From the last time we recorded, which was a while ago, it's like two weeks. I was supposed to order a prototype, but I had the hardest time, Cody, figuring out how to lay out the tokens. I finally got all the coins done, I put them on a giant PNG file, but then creating the SVG cut-line was a huge pain. Cody, just if you scroll down a bit, you can go ahead and click– Yeah. It was a huge pain.
Cody: Yeah, I see.
Patrick: I will talk about it a little bit later, and you can laugh at how bad my cut lines are.
Patrick: They're horrendously bad, but it's good enough for now that I can submit the game and I'll refine the SVG cut-lines. I will have photos of this. If you want to see how bad it is, listeners, it is– Cody, would you vouch that it is hilariously bad?
Cody: It is hilariously bad. What program did you use to do this?
Patrick: Illustrator. It's the program is supposed to do it in, the problem is I just had a hard time scaling the SVGs with the file, and then I did something dumb where I made a front cut and a back cut which is not necessary. I need to change, there's only one cut-line, and you need to make your artwork work in a way where the back of the coin lines up with the back of the–
Cody: This one is even worse.
Patrick: Yeah. Hilariously bad, right?
Cody: Yeah. You could say that. This other one, the second one is sadly bad. The first one is funnily bad, and this other one makes me want to cry.
Submitting to The Game Crafter Contest
Patrick: The good news is, here's my thing. I am just about– I clicked the button to submit this to The Game Crafter, and I still have to submit action shots, but I have the banner, and I have the logo. I have all the stuff necessary for The Game Crafter, I have to take a couple action shots, and I have to fill up my– By the way in the chat, Cody, I put a link to my product page. I have to– I already have the rules in the Google Doc, I edited them last weekend. I'm going to paste them in and make them look pretty, and add some screenshots or pictures into the documentation, or into the rules.
Patrick: But I think Cody, this is ready to submit to The Game Crafter and then I have a lot of work to do to make sure when it's printed on The Game Crafter it looks good. There's still– I have a lot of work in the last five days, but by the end of today, I will meet all the minimum requirements. Does that make sense?
Patrick: I won't win at this point, but at least I meet all their minimum requirements. I'm going to officially submit my game to The Game Crafter. By the way, for anyone who has never done this before, you can submit your game to The Game Crafter contest, and you can edit it up until and I think even while the contest is going on. You can always update, so if you ever notice a typo you can always log in and change it, you don't have to resubmit the game or anything like that. It just uses the version that's live, so I'm going to submit it and keep updating as I go. I'm happy with that.
Cody: At least the contest I'm familiar with, they'll let you edit it up to the point when it's submitted, and then you're not supposed to edit it until the first wave of voting comes in. Then you typically have a week-long period to like make changes based on feedback, and then it goes until the second round and then the final round, or whatever.
Cody: At least the one I did.
Patrick: I don't know if there's any best practices on what you're allowed to edit and what you're not allowed to edit, but I want to say I forgot a video and I uploaded the video to the last contest a little bit late, but I think that's fine. Right?
Patrick: You just missed out on having the video for the first ten people that looked at the page. But anyway, so let me– Sorry, I got lost. My piece of homework was to order a prototype, Cody because it took me so long to figure out these SVG files. I ordered it five minutes before we got on the call. I had to urgently order it, which costs double. That's totally based on me being terrible with SVG files. If I was better at this, I wouldn't have had to urgently order this, but I did technically finish both pieces of homework. One was way later than I wanted to. I'm also really lucky that right now the urgent queue on The Game Crafter is only four orders, so they're going to make it tomorrow, Cody.
Cody: I'm looking at it right now, and it says just five. That's interesting. Because the link I think you might have meant for it to be to your product page, but it takes me to the production status page, which I have not ever been to.
Patrick: Yeah. Check out TheGameCrafter.com/status, and it'll show you how long it takes to make things. The other day, I want to say a week ago, Cody, there was one order in the urgent queue. If you place an order that day, you know it's going to be shipped tomorrow.
Patrick: It's cool to see that. But sometimes, Cody, there's like 20-30-40-50 orders in the urgent queue, and then even if I ordered it urgent, it wouldn't get to me in time. So I'm lucky that the urgent queue was so empty.
Cody: Yeah, that's interesting because it shows you today's performance, and last week, this week's performance. All of them are either fast or amazing right now.
Finding an Illustrator
Patrick: I want to say back last year I was doing something for Fry Thief, and I think The Game Crafter was so backed up it was like three weeks until they made and shipped my game. Which normally, it's like a week and a half, two weeks. Anyways,– If you're doing anything for contest, it's very helpful to look at the status page and know what the average is. So, Cody, I wanted to ask you. You wanted to find an artist– By artist this time I mean an illustrator for your game, did that happen?
Cody: Yeah. We actually– Me and my roommate that I'm working on, I think we're starting to use the title This is War: The Deck Builder, currently. But we found an illustrator for that game. We did a little thing, and it was my first time. We solicited submissions from multiple illustrators, and then I think we got seven or so, and then out of there, we narrowed down to the one we wanted to go forward with. Today, this morning actually, I'm starting to get some very early sketches for some of the other characters right now.
Patrick: Awesome. So, how many–? Because I know we talked a lot about “Maybe you could just get the cover illustrated, or just get the Dragon card illustrated.” What do you think you can get done?
Cody: Yeah. I should have made this a point before choosing this as the illustrator, but this was the one that I liked the initial sketch. We had them all do the jester first as like an example, and then I chose. We chose this illustrator, and then when talking about schedule, we needed stuff like– I was just like, “Yeah. Some rough sketches this week so that we can slap them on cards and have fill-in art.” Except for he was going on vacation that week, so he hasn't gotten anything done until just now today he's starting to get back on it. But according to his own schedule, things should be– We should be able to have all the illustration and everything done by the end of July.
Patrick: Awesome. But you can get one or two pieces done for this contest or no?
Cody: Yeah, we will see. He's starting to trickle in some sketches now that I'm giving feedback on. It's interesting because one of the reasons we hired this illustrator is because I think part of his art process is creating a whole story for the character. So, everything that we talk about when I'm like “I just gave rough briefs of what we think the character should be like. “These characters I'm thinking could be male, and these ones should be female. These ones can be like people of color,” and all this stuff to get a nice mix of diversity of characters. He creates a whole backstory for each of the characters, so the jester, which I should link a picture onto here–
Patrick: Please do.
Cody: The jester has this hat, like a typical jester hat, and he looks crazy, but the hat has all these different things hanging down. It has a wheel and an iron maiden and a wreath, and a little puppet on a noose. He created this whole backstory that the jester used to be one of the king's advisors or whatever, and whenever the king would ask him for advice, he'd reach up and grab one of these things on his hat. The noose meant death, the wheel meant war, and then the iron maiden was torture. Then there was the wreath, which was peace, but it's all the way in the back, so it's probably not ever going to get grabbed. Then the jesters all advised of that because of this little stuffed bird that it keeps on its shoulder named “Borgy.” So that was his outline that he made to create the character.
Patrick: That's cool. There's a lot of stuff there.
Cody: Yeah. He's applying that on all the characters. He just suggested today, and he just asked me if the blacksmith could have some steampunk looking prosthetic arm, or something. Before he sends a sketch, he sends this whole narrative of the character's backstory.
Patrick: Very cool.
Cody: I don't know if you've ever had in your interactions with artists if you've ever had anything like that.
Patrick: Not quite that detailed. When I was doing stuff for Fry Thief, the illustrator was like “I imagine by the title of this card that the character is doing this,” and I was like– Probably 80-90% of the time he was right, but I'm like “Actually, not quite like that. I was imagining it like this.” So there was a little bit of that, but not quite that detailed.
Cody: Yeah, I wasn't like “This character just got through a breakup and is now in this diner eating these fries because this is this place that makes him think of her,” or whatever.
Patrick: Yeah. No, not quite that detailed. But one thing I want to ask you, Cody, didn't– If I remember correctly on Twitter, didn't you get multiple submissions for an illustrator?
Cody: Yes, yes, I did. I got, I think seven, or so.
Patrick: So, how did you do that? Did you pay them, or was it just like a free–? Did they submit it for free? How does that work?
Cody: There was two that just wanted to do it for free that weren't– Based off their portfolio, I didn't think they had a good shot of getting it, but they still wanted to participate. So I was like, “OK, sure.” But then the rest of the artists, it was like $50 bucks for the sketches or whatever, and they still retain all the rights to it if I'm not using it or whatever.
Patrick: That's cool.
Cody: Just a, “I don't want to completely waste your time.”
Patrick: Yeah, and that was worth it for you? So if you had seven people do it, was there– The guy you hired, was he stand-out?
Cody: I think so. It would be interesting, and I'd have to go through the process again. Because this one was a bit rushed, because it was like the artist only had like a six-day turnaround time to get their sketches in. It's like the other two artists that I think were real contenders against this guy, and I don't think they had proper time because of all the other clients and stuff that they had to do work for. I think if I did something like this again, I'd probably take more like a month or so to find the right artist.
Patrick: Yeah, cool. So it sounds like you got what you wanted, but obviously, in a perfect world, you would take more time doing it.
Cody: Yeah. This was just like “OK. This guy did have the first illustration submitted to me, and then everything else has just been great.” So I'm hoping that the final product turns out as well as I hope.
Patrick: Good. So, I'm just looking at stuff. You're definitely not doing your metal coin, and you're not doing Homeworld. Right? Those are all off the table?
Cody: Yeah. Definitely not.
Patrick: No, there's not enough time. Right?
Cody: No. I will– To go back to the artist just real briefly, this is also my first time ever working on a project with another person where they have as much say as I do. It's like 50/50 mine and my roommates game, and so every piece of art I have to show him. I'm running all the communication and all that stuff, but every piece of art I'm showing him. So there are times when he's like “Yeah, I like this style of the art.” And I'm like, “No, I don't think I want to publish a game with that style art.” It has been interesting working with a partner through the process and needing to– Every mechanical change like currently there's like some powers in the game that I'm like “I'm not quite sure about this,” and he's like “No. I think I think it's fine.” Yeah, that's it. It's interesting, my first time working with a partner.
Patrick: Yeah. It's challenging, and some people can do it, Cody. I don't think I can. The only way I could do it is if I have control over the mechanics, and you appreciate– Or, I will take your feedback but I still make the decision, and you have control over the art, and you take my feedback, but you still make the decision. That's the only way. I think I want to know, like if there's a tie, whose vote matters? Or if there's an argument– Not an argument, but a– When there's no consensus I want to know who has the right of way, because I don't want to endlessly debate something. I want to know whose opinion outranks the other person. I'm happy to divvy stuff up. Like maybe I control this, and you control that, but I– Cody, it's tricky.
Cody: Yeah, for sure. I think I have final say over everything since it's going to be published under my brand. But it has just been, for one, it's my roommate. So we don't want to get in any argument that creates animosity over the next year or more that we have to live together, and then I think I'm also– I know he's mentioned wanting to, we haven't– I guess that is one of the things, we haven't really sat down and set the terms of “This is what I'm responsible for, this is what you're responsible for,” and so I don't know if he's going to pay half of all the development costs or if I'm taking all the development costs.
Patrick: I would definitely have that conversation.
Cody: Which we need to get that covered. It's one of the things that I've let slip a little because we've known each other for a long time, but the easiest way to ruin a relationship that you've had for a long time than not having business terms in writing.
Patrick: Yeah. I think it's a good idea to write everything down and decide.
Cody: Yeah. I think before we continue going too far, I think I'm going to have to have a conversation with him where it's like “OK, we need to figure out who says what and what's the plan here.”
Bank of the Realms Update
Patrick: Let me give an update on my game, I shared a little bit. So, Cody, I did start the product page for Bank of the Realms. I have the nice giant background image, which is just a picture of my board, and then some of the coins that I've designed on top of the board, which I think look cool and speak to the essence of the game. I have a nice little logo, and I just made the little shop image as well. Those are the three minimum things that you need, so I'm really happy with that. Let me ask you, Cody– I'm thinking about– I probably should make a video of how to play this game, and then I might as well include it on The Game Crafter. Because if I'm pitching this to publishers at some point, I need that video anyways.
Patrick: I might as well spend a little bit of time, script a video this afternoon, film it and do five minutes of editing and then put it up on The Game Crafter for the contest. Might as well, right?
Cody: Yeah. I completely agree.
Patrick: OK, Cool. I looked at the last contest, and only 5-10% of people had videos, so it didn't seem essential, but it's definitely nice to have.
Cody: Yeah. It's just one of those things if people are looking at your page it's like a check the box type thing. “Even if I don't ever watch this video, they put in time and effort to do that.” I'm looking at your page right now, and I think that's a nice cover image. It's interesting, and it seems bigger than the banner images I've seen before.
Patrick: What do you mean?
Cody: I don't know. I guess I don't remember. It's taking up– Like, the banner image is just taking up a decent amount of my screen size. Almost half, it seems, and The Game Crafter has a very specific pixel dimension that you have to upload or else it won't let you.
Patrick: I believe it's the exact dimensions, but Cody, one thing to consider– If you drag your browser left and right you will see how the– If you have a very wide browser it will take up most of your screen. If you have a very narrow browser, it will take up just a tiny bit.
Patrick: So, maybe it's a little bit wider than you normally have your browser, and that's why it feels a little bit more “Full,” I guess?
Cody: That's a possibility, but I think it's a good image.
Patrick: Good. I made reference cards, and what's funny about these reference cards is I was planning on using poker cards because I have extra. I just shared a link, by the way. First of all, I made these by myself, and I didn't have any graphic design help, you can tell that they look garbage compared to the other stuff I've put out. They look a little bit less nice, but it has all the information. Do you remember, Cody, how I have the quarter board? The quarter board has six pieces, and I only need four, so the reference cards are going to be two giant reference tiles because basically, they were extra.
Patrick: So that's why they're square, they could be poker sized, but basically since I have two extra slugs for the board which do me nothing, I might as well use these as reference tiles. Which I think are going to be a bit nicer and they'll feel different than cards anyways, and you'll just put them down in front of you.
Patrick: I got the SVG stuff done, and then what I need to do is the last thing I technically haven't done. I haven't added– I need to add five– These are the action cards of my game, they're the five actions that you can take. I haven't yet designed those. So, that is what I 100% need to do in the last couple of days. Right now I have a very– Some of the cards should have different backs, and right now they're all using the same card back. So that's technically minimum requirements for the contest, but obviously different decks should have different backs, and stuff like that.
Patrick: So I need to finish the action cards, five of them. I need to get an action card back, and I need to get two different backs for the pattern card– Or, three different backs for the pattern cards. So I need at least eight cards, I think it is? Then I need to finally copy over the rules into The Game Crafter.
Patrick: One thing I will say, Cody, I think I wrote the first draft of my rules in Google Docs probably like a month ago. Then I looked at them again maybe two weeks ago, and I made some edits, and then looked at them again this past weekend, and it's just amazing how much of the game can change in that amount of time. I had whole rule sets that I've tweaked and removed and gotten rid of, and also there's plenty of areas of the rulebook where I need to revamp things and go “I see what I was trying to say there, but that makes no sense now.” I don't know if you've started this yet, Cody, but I would write one draft of the rules now and then the day before you submit it to The Game Crafter double check it again. Because at least for me, giving myself time to write the rules and put it away for a couple days and come back to it, and then copy over the rules one more time, and revise them one more time really makes a difference for me.
Cody: Yeah. Rulebooks are a huge barrier for me because I don't like them. That's been something I've been dragging my feet on for a long time for Vamp until I finally just hired someone to explain how the game works and had them write the rules for me. Because I don't like rulebooks at all, which embarrassingly, I have six to nine games in like development or so right now and the only one I have any rules written down by myself is for Vamp.
Patrick: Oh, boy. That's not good.
Cody: Yeah. I don't know, and I guess if I don't remember a game or a rule for a game I'm developing it wasn't that important. I don't know, and we'll see if it ever comes back to bite me.
Patrick: So, Cody, what do you have to do? Homework.
Cody: Basically, everything. I need to– Like I was talking, I need to do the entire shop page and make all the icons for it, upload– I need to create the card files to upload to The Game Crafter, and I need to do the rulebook.
Patrick: That is a lot.
Cody: All while I'm at Origins.
Patrick: Yeah. I don't know if you can do stuff on the airplane and get WiFi? Maybe it's worth the $20 bucks or whatever to get WiFi on the plane so you can do a whole bunch of work.
Cody: Yeah, we will see. I'm going to definitely still try.
Cody: But if I was to predict I think there's probably a 25% chance. To make that chance better though, maybe I can convince my wife while I'm gone to do some of that stuff for me. That might be my saving grace if I can convince her to figure out how to do some of this stuff.
Patrick: Well, good luck with that.
Cody: Yeah. I guess we'll see in a couple days.
Patrick: And I will see you in Origins.
Cody: Yeah, for sure. We'll have to hang out.
Patrick: So, Cody. Where can people find you online?
Cody: Just on all the social medias @goldnuggetgames, mainly if you want to talk to me, I respond the most on Twitter. Then Facebook is just my personal, Cody Thompson. I have a business one, but I don't use it as much.
Patrick: On Twitter, it's @goldnuggetgame since that's what I remember from my chatting.
Cody: Hopefully, you'll be able to go to type “Gold Nugget Games” and see it before it pops up.
Patrick: I've been tagging all my pictures with #SimpleElegance. If anyone wants to follow along, you can see my photos there, or you might want to go back to the show notes because the show notes have all of the images that I reference. I usually bug Cody for images that he's working on as well, so basically the show notes for this episode and all the previous ones will have all the images. If you want to look through a timeline, you can go to Twitter. Type in “Simple Elegance” and you'll see a bunch of my photos.
Cody: So I don't forget, I'll send you a picture on Twitter that you can put in the show notes for that jester art that I had done.
Patrick: Right, yeah. So, listeners, you can visit the site at IndieBoardGameDesigners.com, you can follow me on Twitter, I am @BFTrick. Until next time everyone, happy designing. Bye-bye.