More than 1 year after we began touring, almost 2 years after I decided to self-publish and more than EIGHT YEARS after I made the very first version of the game, Magnate: The First City goes live on Kickstarter.
This is one of the most exciting moments of my life and probably one of the most nerve-racking. Not in the way giving a performance does; it’s a very different kind of nerves. Not like butterflies in the stomach or a rush of adrenaline, but a constant dull sensation: a sudden dawning that – holy crap – so much has been building to this moment and the weight of that is only beginning to dawn on me.
Is it because I feel unprepared? No.
There are SO MANY THINGS I would want to do better if we had the time again. Maybe I’ll even detail them in the blog someday (I’ve still yet to post that one about backer prediction! It will have to wait for later now). But I am proud of the preparation we have done. We have listened to the experts, put in the hours, tested what works, and dropped what didn’t: both the game and how its marketed (spoilers KS creators: they’re both really important!). It it, as they say, in the hands of the gods now. Indeed, along with these dull nerves, I have a strange sense of relief building. Right up until the last minute there are things you can do in advance to achieve different results – things you could be better at: “Maybe there’s still time to try X? Should we contact Y? What if we changed this to Z?” After a certain point the very impossibility of changing those things frees you from the weight of expectation. Sure, the campaign itself is yet to be managed and I can still fiddle with graphics till launch. But the reality is the vast majority of what could get us to funding (and beyond!) has already been decided: The vast hours of product development, the endless playtesting, the gradual building up of real grassroots interest and outreach. The campaign is critical but its also only the last few % of the actual work required to get to funding. The die – to use a rare historical reference and game analogy – is cast.
Uncertainty is stressful and constricting. This strange feeling – that I can no longer really change anything much – is quite counter-intuitively the most liberating thing of all. So with less than 24 hours to go, I approach this moment content and excited for what tomorrow will bring. And it makes me full of thanks for everyone who’s been a part of this journey. Because as much as this is my baby, my vision; it really did take village to get this far. Such a complex project only affirms my view that it requires a vast number of people collaborating and supporting such a thing to make it successful: both directly and indirectly.
I am terrified of thanking everyone individually for the fear I will miss someone out. So for now, I will only name those people by group, and hopefully avert the full blown outpouring of the Oscar acceptance speech (I’m British, after all).
First there is family who have supported the dream throughout the many years of design. Then there are the particular close friends, confidants and co-workers who suffered through less than ideal versions of the game, even with its euphemistically titled “runtime problem” (“you know 8 hours is not a marketable tabletop experience, James”) which took me too many attempts to solve. They’ve been there through thick and thin to make this happen and some have been beyond instrumental. Next are all the new friends I’ve made along the way as I began the journey into the world of tabletop publishing. Many were readers or professional contacts at first, but my experience so far is that (aside from the odd rotten apple) most of the people in the hobby games industry are lovely people and great company, even when the conversation is – shock horror – not about games. Then there’s my wider professional network (and I am sure many friends in waiting!), the importance of which cannot be overstated. Critical to what we’ve done so far are all the reliable individuals who share the same professional high standards as me; and are dedicated to helping their customers and peers succeed. They know that a rising tide floats all boats! Last, but no means least, all the fans that we have been so very , very lucky to attract already. Those awesome people who believe in the game and are anxious to get their hands on it before we’ve launched – in the end, only they will help us hit that target.
Thank you all.
A final request
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog series. I do hope you continue along, as I plan to continue creating it. Magnate is not the end for me, but – I hope – just the beginning if the fates will permit it.
If you are also keen to support the game, it would be wonderful if you can back it tomorrow. The truth is that momentum is critical to Kickstarter. Every backer counts. But a day 1 back, makes it much more likely we will hit our goal, and maybe, fly beyond it! Just hit that notify me button here and you’ll get that notification the moment we go live.
Now for some only semi-ironically enjoyed music to get me there. See you on the other side of that launch button.