Producing Fun #3: Paul Brook and Liam Kirkman - Startup Publishers

Producing Fun #3:  Paul Brook and Liam Kirkman - Startup Publishers

Producing Fun is a podcast about making tabletop games from a product perspective.

Paul and Liam run East Street Games – A UK tabletop game publishing startup. In this episode we discuss the financial costs of game complexity, the personal costs of game development, developing and marketing games under pandemic restrictions and accidentally offending eurogamers. Lastly, they reveal their three most important pieces of advice for anyone looking to publish games.

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I'm James, and this is producing fun, a podcast about making games from a product perspective.

Speaker 1


Welcome to Producing fun. This episode I talk to two guests, Paul Brook and Liam Kirkman. Paul and Liam run East Street games, a UK tabletop publishing startup, originally founded by Paul to produce a Viking themed skirmish game with a unique approach to character creation. Portland themes names were near the very top of my original invite list for this podcast, I felt sure that that unfettered take on the ups and downs of starting a new game publishing company would be really insightful. I am once again glad to say that I wasn't wrong. And if anything, the conversation proved to be even more fruitful than I expected. Their honest assessment of both their better and poorer decisions make for a set of really instructive and practical lessons on fundraising, the hidden financial costs of going complexity, the impact of personal taste on publishing decisions, marketing, and how to avoid accidentally offending Euro gamers. From a lovely story revealing the huge value of just being friendly to as many people as possible to a sobering one about the personal cost of making games. This interview was bursting with observations that I think even experienced game makers could do with being reminded of it was tremendous fun for me, commiserating with your guests setbacks and celebrating their successes always is. Paul and Liam are great people. And they've got some great ideas. I hope you find this one as much fun as I did. We joined the interview, just as I've asked Paul to take us right back to the beginning of the STS story.

Speaker 2


Absolutely, absolutely. So industry games actually started. Just trying to think I think I think it was incorporated as a limited company, I think in 2013. So a few years ago now, right? Yeah. My my first game was actually a Viking skirmish game, called the Valhalla sagas are really interesting. The time I was working on it, there were no there were no Viking skirmish games around on the market, particularly. By the time I launched, there was about half a dozen. And to make matters worse, the the most popular one was called saga. So. So the Valhalla sagas, all of a sudden people thought that the Valhalla sagas was saga, or that I was just like jumping on the saga bandwagon. Oh, no. How frustrating. So that so yeah, so shortly after launch Academy might have been just before launching. And I had to change the name to to Valhalla, and drop the Sagas bit from it. And that was, that was an interesting experience. And I, I toured the various Wargaming shows. And I see there's a big difference between war game shows and board game shows until the various board board game war game shows. And I think that year, we got we won something like half a dozen best participation Game Awards. A really interesting. So yeah, so that when it went down really well at shows. And but, you know, but hardly anyone's heard of it. If they if they if they didn't see a show.

Speaker 1


So presumably it was it was doing going down? Well, it shows this I understand it was going down? Well, it shows at the same time that you're in this kind of market where you know, where there had been none of these kind of Viking themed skirmish games, and then suddenly they're everywhere. Yeah, it was still it sounds like it was still doing pretty well, even in that environment. Right. And it at least at least at the conventions? Yes. Yeah,

Speaker 2


absolutely. Absolutely. But the other the other thing was that it was there was this kind of online aspect to it as well. Oh, interesting, that you create your crazy characters online, and then print off the like a sheet of paper and you play and that's your conveyancing or whatever. And it was it was very much incorporated into the core of the game. So it wasn't an optional extra. So I think that put people well, I was like, I think that was a problem for people sort of join it for people to sort of, I think that was a what do you call that barrier to entry? I think for people, it was the online aspect.

Speaker 1


Interesting. So was it your plan then as well to have rulebooks? And things like that also be part of that as a kind of web experience? Or is it just a kind of specific tool for character creation?

Speaker 2


So yeah, so the idea was that the the character creation was online, and it was and it was there to sort of help you set up set up your game pad before you had your game. And there was I did have a I did have a printed robot, but it was like at the time, you know, most robots, robots were sort of costing them 2025 pounds, obviously they they're more now and I just did up to minus, like a little pamphlet sort of thing for a fiver. So the idea was interesting. I was kind of I was kind of going through a different model, and and had some figures, I worked in partnership with a with a figure manufacturer and, and sort of had an associated line of figures with it. But yeah, and, and it was, it was really interesting because again, I did a I did a I did a podcast with with one of the Wargaming guys back then. And we did we did the interview. And then after the interview, he did a, he did a sort of a summary, after we'd finished the conversation with me sort of not not on the conversations, saying, you know, there was sort of the plus points and the minus points of it. And it was one of the things that was so interesting was I thought everything that he said, was really fair, and I hadn't finished all of the online stuff that I wanted to do. And I felt like I felt like it was incomplete. And he was sort of saying that, from his point of view, he was disappointed that he didn't offer everything that he was hoping for. And I was very much feeling the same way as him. But he was saying that, on the back of that. He said they'd never had so many people contacting him sort of saying, What are you talking about? It's a great game, you know, and it's like, Oh, interesting. So interestingly, there was, you know, there was a following there for it. And, and you know, and when I saw him at a show later, he was like, he was all apologetic and subtle say, Oh, I'm sorry, Paul. And I was like, no, no, no, I thought that I thought what you said was fair, you know, I thought, you know, I wholeheartedly agree with you, you know. And also, I think the other thing is, I think when you're when you're dealing with people in the media, my view is that it's important that they say that they say what's true? You know, I think that I think that if you if you produce? If you produce something that someone doesn't like, then then it's perfectly valid for them to say that, you know, I don't and I don't have an issue with that. You know, I think that I think that, you know, I think I don't think that every game is for every person. And I think that, you know that different reviewers will have different preferences. And if reviewers are happy to be honest about what they're about what they're reviewing. I think they have a the reviewers have a loyal following. So I'm gonna have a terrible tangent agent.

Speaker 1


No, I mean, I mean, but I but I do completely agree with you. I think I very much agree with that sentiment. And I think it's, well, it sounds like to me, that's a really important quality in being a publisher, right? You have to be able to listen to feedback from reviewers. And even if sometimes it's maybe a bit uncomfortable, because it's pointing out things that you know, maybe even in yourself, you think, Oh, God does, that bit is missing from it. Yeah, it's actually quite useful, right, both to you and the consumer.

Speaker 2


Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And more and more recently, it's been interesting, because I think, I think particularly when you have a vision for a product, that robot Royale, for instance, I had a definite vision for it. And whenever and right through the, through the proto playtesting stage, people kept saying, Oh, we can add this rule, we can add that rule, we could add the other rule. And I was like, no, no, no, no, I want this to be really tight. I want this to be, I want this to be essentially, like a really simple, simple game to get the get your head round in terms of rules. But actually, I wanted, I want you to really have them on the page to really have to think about what they're doing, which and obviously, you've you've played it, and I'm, I'm very pleased with the result. But you know, I don't know, I don't know what your thoughts are, Mr. Terminalia?

Speaker 1


Well, Oh, yes. Well, absolutely, I should have to indicate to the listener at this point that I have some interest in this, in that I was one of your super backers for your first Kickstarter project, robot rail, and I in fact, and immortalised as the Terminator as one of the robots from the game, so that just just for the record, just in case has any kind of public query after this or inquiry into it. So I think probably it's something I'd love to discuss a bit more time. But we're going to question that because to me to to bring it back to the DIS Valhalla games, you've got this game, you've got this really innovative idea for doing something with digital character creation. It's kind of natively digital to some extent in a way that lots of war games are still not right. If you were to look absolutely the big games, workshop games, they're still not like that. So I guess the next question I'm gonna ask you is, why what what happened to it? And why did you decide? Because as far as I know, you're not working anymore?

Speaker 2


What What kind of led you away from it? You know, I think when we said when I started extra games, had all these sort of big dreams of mini games workshop and all that kind of stuff. I think there's every if we're honest, I think every every games publisher does, and and it wasn't really achieving what I'd hoped. But also I one of the things I found was that I didn't I work as a computer programmer during the day and I found I was finding it increasingly hard to focus on programming in evenings and weekends and

Speaker 1


the busman's holiday. Yeah, exactly, exactly.

Speaker 2


So then after that, we then sort of moved on to I then played a game that some Friends we're working on, which was a zombie sort of game. And it's called bullets and bullets and brains by by a couple called Casper and Christine. And it was, it was an excellent game. And I sort of thought, right, okay, I'd really love to publish it. So, so so put together a plan to, to publish that. And, and I put a lot of money into, into developing figures and getting, getting sculpt, getting a particular sculptor to work on, on several ranges of figures, for quite a lot of money into artwork, and publicity and all that sort of stuff. And we got to the point where we were just about to launch, or we had just launched at salute, which is a really big war game show. Yeah, we basically we sort of went along with it. However many sets 100 sets, and we sold about, I don't 10 or something, and, and it was really, and and that was that was quite tough. Must be very difficult. Yeah. And then, and then I think we followed that up with you with by going to UK games. And then I think, and then after UK games, actually, my wife was sort of talking to him about, you know, how much I'd been spending on all this stuff,

Speaker 1


right? Yeah, well, it's a big investment, isn't it? I mean, huge, absolutely huge. I'm guessing again, can you can you put a finger on it at all? Something approximate? I can, but I'm not going to. Okay, so it's probably about the same kind of figure that I had spent bringing magnate to market then. So it's a sort of number that you almost, you just don't really want to talk about? Because it's such a substantial man, I get that I get that 100%. Yeah, I think people go into this, don't they? And they don't realise. They think that because of Kickstarter like that it's any kind of game can be manufactured very cheaply, even to bring it to markets, even as a Kickstarter stage. And actually, unless it's a very simple card game, that's just not true. Especially not with miniatures projects. No.

Speaker 2


And and I would say that, just an honest response, I'm just being really open with you. And you're listening, just to highlight one of the one of the risks that I would say, that was the probably the biggest challenge I faced in my marriage actually. Interesting. Yeah. You know, and we, you know, as you can imagine, you know, every every marriage faces challenges, but yeah, was, I think that was the, that was probably the biggest thing. And yeah, it was, it was a really horrible time, for me, actually, kind of really, really horrible. And quite, you know, yeah, sort of.

Speaker 1


Yeah. It's, I guess that that's quite a warning, isn't it? Which I think people need to be aware of is that I think that's, and thank you for being so honest about that. Because I think, you know, that is something I think, as you said, that's, you know, there's lots of challenges that people face. And I think one should never underestimate that, that like, if you're going to do this, it's obviously a big financial commitment. And any kind of big financial commitment, you know, can add stresses and strains, right. And you've got it, you've got to think about that kind of going into this kind of process. And I think that's a that's a valuable thing for any anyone listening to this to hear, I think, yeah,

Speaker 2


yeah. And it certainly has taken and it took a few years, for me to sort of recover from that. I think, I can't I didn't shut down the street games, because I couldn't face to face it or whatever. But after, after a few years, I kind of met a man I met a chap that was there was really into board games, and and he he was running the southeast London play test group. Greg saga, I don't know if any of you.

Speaker 1


So it was just saying a second. What so what's Greg's? What's Greg's role? Just because I think it might be a bit helpful, because I understand he runs the UK play test. Can you explain that a bit more detail what we do?

Speaker 2


Yeah, so yeah, so you can play test? Group is obviously I say, so. It's an organisation based in the UK. And they have it's like a started metre. I guess your laughter similarly, your listeners?

Speaker 1


Yes, it's a it's a regular meetup. I think people are probably pretty familiar with that. And it's a regular meetup for playtesting games.

Speaker 2


Yes. Yeah. That's it. That's it. And Greg was so great. Ran the southeast London one. So which was just in in a pub in Penge, which, which was, which was really good. I think now they meet at the ludicrous these days. Because obviously, when they started the it was sort of before the ludicrous existed,

Speaker 1


right? Yeah. Okay. Great. And so you met him at this. You met him and you start going to these regular events? Yes,

Speaker 2


yeah. Yes. Yeah. So I went well, Liam, I I've done I've done a lot of talking to this point. But why don't why don't you? I'd be interested to hear hear this story from your side.

Speaker 3


So I, I'd known you a year or two, through playing some war games I sort of knew of you probably met you a couple of times in a few years. And it was a sort of mutual friend of ours that brought us together. I was I was sort of from a job. Yes, the matchmaking. So I was I was recently made redundant from a job or games. But actually, since that time, so pretty much in the time that I met you as well, I'd started working at the loot request. And I pretty much as soon as I started there, I kind of in a way that almost ease through his transition to board games rather than board games. As soon as I was working at eluded list, I was just in the board gaming world like so quickly. And three years ago, or three in a bit whenever it's whenever opened. I didn't actually know much about too many modern board games, I played a handful. But now I now I could talk about them for days. And I'm very passionate about them. And obviously what I enjoy and what I don't like. But again, getting back to that. So we had that initial meeting. And I remember, you showed off some of the ideas you had. And and those, those concepts are really exciting. It wasn't a case of this was you weren't just a friend I knew. And these were just some ideas. I was like, like they're okay. They sounded quite actually exciting and promising from the start. So I know. Yeah, we so we came together. So that would have been about three and a bit years ago as well. So pretty much as soon as I started working at New Requests, so a few different changes that

Speaker 1


we're talking about about 2018. There. So the loot request, it seems, is quite a meeting point, isn't it for these because the local UK play test events have moved there. Obviously, you were working there. And I think it's just that's I just find that an interesting one because it wasn't it was not familiar with it. It's the one of the UK so I guess the UK is top ballgame cafes, I believe in fact, last year, it won the gamma Award for Best Game cafe in the world didn't it? So absolutely. So not just in the UK, it's the world, it's actually the world you can claim to being the world's best board.

Speaker 3


When the best bonding cafe and then I think it was best like, designed cafe. So I think me and from like an interior, like from an interior point of view. And also like the aesthetics, and I guess the general customer service and things like that. So it was one just for being overall and one was just the design of a

Speaker 1


thing is bloody it's it's bloody good. And it's got a lovely interior, we can say that. And also that it is also again, this really interesting meeting place where it seems that multiple people are coming together and meeting and discovering things because I know lots people I've met through the leader quest as well, it seems to be a really good venue for that. So So yeah, so So that sounds very interesting. So you found you obviously met Paul, you've heard his ideas and thought actually, these are really solid ideas, and they could make something so what's next?

Speaker 2


Um, so then we we got cracking on robot, right. And so robot rail was my first go making board game. And I wanted to create something that was quite where the rules were simple, but you really had to think about what you were doing in terms of like the gameplay. So I wanted the complexity to be like, What am I doing? You know, where am I gonna move? And all that kind of stuff? And I suppose, you know, yeah, so I think I think I'd like to think I like the cheap that, you know, I think is, you know, because I'm very pleased with it. I'm very proud of it. And I still enjoy playing it now, you know, next, you know, these years on and would you

Speaker 1


say that's a general principle that you're looking for? Is that something especially in in looking for an all games it was as a gamer in particular, you wanted that kind of vibe for it?

Speaker 2


I think that's I think it's my, I would say that that's my personal preference for games. And it's and I think it's one of those things that preference, I don't think does me any favours because I think it's extorter because I think on Kickstarter, people are looking for things that have this fantasy that or that fantasy bit or whatever. And actually, I'm, you know, I I tend to sort of kind of quite like things that are sort of fairly straightforward. Would you even

Speaker 1


call it a minimalist even in terms of its its approach?

Speaker 2


For robots While but yeah, they are not I wouldn't say that's necessarily like the the the goal for a street but certainly for robot Raul, it was it was very much a minimalist approach because because there were all sorts of ideas that we had for, well, you could expand out this way or, you know, we could do this or, and there's lots and lots of exciting ideas that were coming up and playtesting. And I just, I just kept banging them ways that say no, no, no.

Speaker 1


Um so it was that was that Liam who was constantly suggesting, have this idea have this idea and this idea, or Liam, were you quite on board with this quite minimally,

Speaker 3


I was sort of on board with it, knowing sort of the restrictions of the game and what the idea and the intention was off the game. And the the things that maybe added, like extra rules and making it bigger and things like that they were coming from outside. So whenever we played tested the game, and we probably had some of these ideas as well. But we kind of wrote them in a notebook, put them to the side thinking not yet or not for this specific game. And then when we'd go to shows and things people would enjoy playing the game. We didn't encounter many people that disliked it. But there were a lot of people that liked the game like, oh, yeah, it's really good. Can you can you have this? Can you make them do this? Can you make them move that way? And it's like, we were sort of not necessarily going to do that. But we'll take it on board just because of the style of the game.

Speaker 2


And again, I think going back to play test UK as well, obviously, play test UK, the people that go along our board, our board game designers, and I'd say the vast majority of them are Euro game designers. So they're, so they're always looking to add more complexity and more complexity and more complexity. Whereas that was that was really not my heart. That was really not my heart. Yeah.

Speaker 1


So that's interesting. So do you think that that typifies that a lot of what you've experienced the Sanibel, that there's this tendency amongst other designers to sort of continually add more complication? Yeah,

Speaker 2


I think that I think that the people that get into board games are tend to be the people that really love board games. And my observation would be that they that they played board games for a lot of years. And it's almost like they've kind of, they've progressed from, you know, from the entry level stuff, like, you know, Settlers of Catan earlier on, or whatever they've gone right through, and then they're looking to, you know, kind of up their medication in order to sort of, hey,

Speaker 1


I love that description. They, they start on Settlers of Catan. And in the end, they need 1400 cc's of an acronym just to get just to get a slight hit anymore. I like that idea of a lot.

Speaker 2


Yes, that's it. Yeah. So I think I think it's a real generalisation. And, and I don't want to do anyone a disservice. Because it's because I think I don't think it's right or wrong. But I know if it was one, I went along to one. And I don't come from, like, I say, I come from Wargaming background, more than a board gaming background. And I remember going on to one play, test meet up. And, and I just like and I and I play the game by that was a game that was designed by literally an award winning game designer. And, and we played through it, and everyone was kind of giving their feedback. And I just kind of sat there and I genuinely asked, you know, do people enjoy these sorts of games? You know? Like, like, I wasn't, like, I wasn't being like, it sounded so mean, and so big,


then you weren't invited back again?

Speaker 2


No, man, I was lucky to get away with my life, I think from that one. But it was a genuine question, you know, because it's like, I just thought I don't like I just don't like these sorts of things. Yeah. Like, I, I like, I like the light of things in life. You know, I like, you know, I like a bit of fun and all that sort of stuff. You know, I don't, I don't really want to kind of spend my life like learning a whole load of rules.

Speaker 1


I find this interesting, because I think my stereotypical view would be normally that people who've come more from the war, the world of Wargaming would tend to be people who would be into all the rules, right? Because their genre of games that or other category of games tend to be quite famous for being highly complex in the interest of simulating things so that's interesting to hear that your taste is not quite that is that something you always found then that generally the war games your or is there something different about your against in this kind of regard about when we're talking about complexity?

Speaker 2


Yeah, sorry. And we're also going back to your point about war games. There are different types of war games as well. So I I remember from your podcast with Lily obviously spent a lot of time not a lot of time but there was sort of touching on hawk and and the history and, and sort of what Oh, yes, yeah. Games what Games Workshop Friends alike. But actually, if you if you if you park that the Games Workshop shop side of things and go to the historical Wargaming, which is more kind of what I was interested in, you know, and have done some of the games virtual stuff, it's it's, it's not always that that hard it's not always that trusting up trying so that they'll often try to simulate things, but the rules won't necessarily be you won't necessarily have the rules lawyers that you have in games workshop where people are willing, because they know what they know, the rules better person even knows the rules better than Person B, you know, it's like it's like the rules. Yeah, the rules are tend, in that on the historical side, tend not to be as challenging as the as on in the sort of the fantasy sci fi

Speaker 1


arena. Makes sense isn't to say it's interesting. I think that's something that's Yeah, it's really interesting, interesting to hear, I guess they very briefly considered because I know there are some of them out there that are a little bit more complicated. But actually, to hear that actually, a lot of the historical side is not always as as fiendishly complicated, even though it's trying to simulate, it's kind of really interesting. So that makes sense a lot in terms of how I guess your game, tastes, shapes, what history is trying to do. Companies are very much shaped by their early employees. So I also want to know how Liam's taste ends up shaping you street games, I'd be curious to know. And know that. And I guess, because obviously, Paul started the company, what you see your role as in the company. Now, Liam, so

Speaker 3


I, so strangely enough, Paul does like these fun, fanatic games. And not too rules heavy. And in the last couple of years, actually, definitely during the lockdown, I've actually started to play some more of the heavier ones and enjoying them. And you know, some of those are in my sort of top five top top 10 games. However, I know that those are games I enjoy. But I could only wish to design even if I wanted to, because there's so many mechanics and components to it. So I wouldn't necessarily be rushing to design those types of things now. But what that kind of gives me is, I sort of, you know, that the mid sort of level games that you see these days, they take some influence from simpler games, and ones and games above, above those as well. So because I'm playing pretty much the whole spectrum, I feel like I can assess what our what our games might need, potentially. And it's generally the ideas or the additions that I might say, might be more complicated, they might be unnecessary. But it's it's like I'm the the upper part. And Paul might be the lower part in terms of rules or complexity, and then we kind of meet in the middle a bit more. And that's probably happened quite naturally. Because the first game with robot Riel, it was also probably the simplest game we've done so far. And then the next game was a little bit more complicated. So that was mob sitters, which is a card game, probably only complicated just because the rules pages were a few more pages of rules, but not a terribly difficult game to learn. And then what we're sort of looking at now is almost like another step above, but it's still sort of gateway esque area. It's not like a super heavy Euro, they may have some sort of Euro style element, they may have a little bit of a little bit of take that or something that we're you know, I know Paul coined the term take this is might be featured in in a new working on. Interesting, but yeah, so I I feel like because I enjoy probably the middle to high complexity. I kind of want to try and infuse that into my games. But I also realised that actually what we both enjoy working on together is that sort of, you know, if it was a scale out of five, we would like white like to work on like twos and threes, but not like a four and a five or something

Speaker 1


entirely. Exactly. I think that is that is the BGG complexity scale, isn't it? So that makes it that makes a lot of sense. So that's the only one I guess the next question that comes to me then on the back of that is thinking about what how you select projects, because a difficult thing that obviously all publishers face is that there are basically a theoretically infinite number of games that could be made. And the problem is which ones you're going to pour the valuable time into to actually sell them because you need to make money from them. It's not just a question of it being just a hobby. So how do you how do you how are you choosing these projects?

Speaker 2


I think criteria changes as we as we, as we go along, really. So our first two games. So obviously, we've talked a little bit about robot. Well, that was that was chosen because I was just really, I was really happy with it. And I was really pleased with it. And, and it seemed to be pretty much nailed down rules wise. You know, and it felt like they were, there were a limited number of components. And it was something that we could do relatively easily, or we didn't necessarily appreciate it was just how tricky it was going to be getting paid even with a small game, even though it had miniatures in I didn't, I thought, I mean, we I don't think either of us really appreciated how, how tricky that was some to, you know, to just even to get get that on the table was was, was a real surprise to us. So the next game we did was, was mob sitters, which is purely a card game. And that was chosen again, because at the time, you know, the been played out, we you know, been play testing it for a few years. And I was quite happy with, with how it was playing and how it was working.

Speaker 1


So would it be fair to say then that there's actually a, do you have a pipeline of projects, and you're kind of picking the ones that are most advanced from that then partly, because if you if you're only going for a few years,

Speaker 2


well, yeah, actually, until we get to until we get to the pandemic, so. So. So our next game, after after mob sitters was we had what so I think, you know, so I think we sort of planned when we started robot Royale, we planned I think initially doing robot, we're out lending mob sitters, then doing a game called inhumane resources.


We remember this Yep. Which was,

Speaker 2


again, that again, would need like four to six players. So you know to do that's not fully played tested yet. And obviously, the pandemic hit. Getting four to six players together, was going to be a bit of a challenge.


A big challenge. Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 2


So, and also, mob sitters and in human resources are very much games that you need to play face to face, you know, like we buy Liam's done a really excellent mod for for mob sitters, which means that you can play it online. But actually playing online isn't like, it's like a 10th of the fun that you have in person when you're playing it in person. And you're interesting, and you're sort of teasing each other and, you know, just like the natural human interactions.

Speaker 1


And so as I understand it, it's a game that has a kind of party game, vibe, right? So it's, there's, there's a limit of that to it in terms of it being a kind of family type game, and it's payable up to eight

Speaker 2


or 666. At the time we originally, I think we'd originally hoped when we were running the Kickstarter, we were we were sort of we were aiming for eight but but then when when the Kickstarter when we pulled the Kickstarter, and then what we eventually released was just for was just for six, six players. So now what we're doing is we're working on a two player game so so so probably this time last year, I was sort of saying to Liam, I think it'd be really it'd be really good if we did if we did a two player game and I didn't really have any thoughts about what that two player game could be. I still very much in the in the monster world in the gangster world. And and

Speaker 1


as in off the game rather than Yeah, that was your job. Reveal. Organised Crime specifically you were in the correct headspace as Bob says this four to six player game is all about like face to face interaction. I got you take that kind of mechanic Yeah,

Speaker 2


yeah. And and and that was very much like a gangster sort of world it's obvious it's quite light hearted light hearted because it's babysitters stealing from the monster basically. Oh, right. Yeah. But when it came, one can go into lockdown and I and in my head I was still I was still in this sort of in my head. I was still in this good and gangster he sort of world like and I started doing some to player I started doing a two player gangster game, which I think like was which I was quite happy with how he was playing. But then I realised that it's a really dark world and actually, okay, you know, I like I didn't like the like, you know, whacking people, you know, demanding protection money and all this stuff, you know, within, actually think about what you're modelling is really horrible. And it's, you know, and I just didn't I just sort of, oh gosh, you know, I'm really not happy with this. I really don't like it.

Speaker 1


Um, It's so interesting you say that because actually, it's one of the projects I'm working on at the moment has that theme. And what's interesting about it is that if you try and do it remotely realistically, it actually strangely can be both dull, and and also horrifying. So I can understand that really, it's not always the most appealing project. Now, I think we've got a solution to that. That to make something that I think will still work very well, that takes in a very different direction. But it's interesting to me to hear that that that was part of the choice that you realise. Well, there's like a comfort with theme question here. That seems really important in terms of selecting projects. Would you

Speaker 2


agree? Yes, yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And so we choose from how we kind of get on to our current and I are working on which is where you can you can see that I went through a complete 180 and and this game is called the blessings of Bixi and the blessings of victory. I like that. That's great blessings and pixie. And it's it's going based in the the theme is that your monks in the foothills of the Himalayas, and you're trying to become the next Bishop of your, of your area, or whatever. And you have to travel around the land, taking various things around delivering them to the lands and delivering to the monasteries and all that sort of stuff.


And you couldn't really get more different to gangsters. Could you?

Speaker 2


Yeah, exactly. So I literally did a 180. And, and, and then and then from and then, and then where the the tight vest comes in, which is which was actually that was a, that was a Greg ism. Again, we're talking about Greg right. Okay. Yeah, that was something a term that Greg came up with. And it's, and it's the idea that, basically, when you when you complete a land you get, you get two blessing paths. And you have to give one to your opponent, you have to give at least one to your opponent. But actually you can give both to your opponent without you have choices about whether you look at them when you don't look at them. And you get and basically the more risky that that, the more risky the choice you make. So if you give both to your opponent without, without looking at them, get, you get four, you get four points, if you get if you basically, don't look at them, I'm sorry, if you do look at them. And only given one, you get no points. So but and then there's great in between that. So

Speaker 1


interesting. So so my question, then, what's what's the pandemic development process looks like then for this, because obviously, this is something that I think a lot of people are probably aware of is a difficult thing. And I think a lot of people would be keen to understand how, like the practical of how that's working.

Speaker 3


Yeah, so the game was designed, like, over over about a year ago, or just under a year ago. And the very first play tests, we were, luckily, able to play these in person. It was a, it was maybe two or three sessions. And I know Paul made some iterations between each one, and it was gradually getting a little bit better each each time. And it was starting to feel quite a good, a good little game, it's changed even more since then. But the fact that we're working on this two player game, suddenly, it made it a lot easier to play test remotely. Because even if it was myself and ball, then we know we can do that. And we can we can play a mod on TTS. But even if, even if you've had people play tests, it only needs to be two people, we don't need to gather five or six people around a table in you know, in person, it makes it a lot easier to play test. And also, as well, it's probably almost kept us It sounds a bit strange to say, but it's probably kept us motivated. Because Because this pandemic, you know, no one's really know how long this pandemic is going to go on for. And it's only looking like there's light at the end of the tunnel in the UK, for example. But oh, yeah, when Paul design the game, and when we're in the very initial sort concept stages, we were thinking, if this thing goes, if the pandemic lasts for like three years, we should hopefully be able to have this published. And you know, suddenly, people that are stuck at home with their partners, or just like one friend that they play games with. This is a two player game that they could play.

Speaker 1


Oh, interesting. So you've actually think about it not just from the perspective that it was easier to develop during the pandemic, but potentially, depending on the length of the, you know, the certainly the lockdown measures, at least I'm really hopeful that they're not going to be that long, but if that actually, you could sell it into that environment as well as another is another opportunity.

Speaker 3


I mean, the other thing with the pandemic is even if it was if you know if it i hypothetical goes on another, let's say a year in the UK, for example. In terms of restrictions, then yes hypothetically, you can sell to those people and you know, they're stuck at home, they need something to play with maybe just one person. But also, even if everything lifts very soon, and the world gets back to normal, and a lot of people have been stuck at home, and they've, you know, they've opened their minds a bit more to what to play only games, there are a lot of games. Ah, interesting. Gateway games are like two to four, two to five, two to six kind of thing. But there's quite a few that you, I would never recommend, like, King of Tokyo is a great, great game by Richard Garfield, you would never play that two players, even though it says on the box. Like, it just wouldn't work.


I have played it to players. And I can confirm it sucked.

Speaker 3


Yeah, it's like you, you need that third, and even third is like, not amazing. But third is like, Oh, this is what the game is about. So I guess the bonus is that people are more open minded to to play only games, and they're a bit more exposed to them. And you know, there's lots of really good to play games that have been out in the last 510 years of Seven Wonders deal is incredible for, you know, 20 pound or 22 quid, which it sells for. I know, I know, the Impaler played it a few times. And it is just such good value, that I'm really, really raving about this game, but it just opens your eyes to what a two player game can be. If it's just you and one other person, so

Speaker 2


please greet by plastic soldier company as well. That's a that's a very good to play a game as well.

Speaker 1


Interesting. So okay, so then I guess my next question is that, are we going to see an explosion then in two player games? Because presumably, you're not the only people have had this idea. Right? That there's gonna be other people developing a lot of to play games out there. Does that mean the markets gonna be saturated, but to play games in two years time?


Well, that would be the Eastern way go.

Speaker 1


Just just when everyone else is doing it, we're gonna land at exactly that point.

Speaker 2


That's it. Yeah. But just just slightly off. Right. Yeah.

Speaker 1


I guess it's very interesting. I think it's going to be the, the, that's the way that I think not just the history's way, and this one, I think, I certainly feel like it's going to be the wave for lots, the whole market potentially, because it does seem like a very strong development choice, because it is much easier to develop, because either you can develop it with someone in person, because it's only one other person, or it's something that you can do online more easily, which is really interesting. Is that inside as well,

Speaker 3


it's, it's also something that you know, any anyone that was developing any kind of game doesn't matter, the number of players, that pandemic, as obviously sort of caused a delay, whether that's playtesting, or even manufacturing, like, you know, it's caused a delay somewhat. But that's, you know, some some designers or the actual publishers themselves, they're thinking, is this just delayed? And this comes out six months, a year later? Or is it they actively pursued other games instead, or as well, to fill that gap? But I suppose the way we're thinking we're, you know, we're working on our third game. And weirdly, even though it started as let's make a two player game, it's now become more of a, we've not just made it just because it's two players in the concepts. We'd like so much that, you know, as the pandemic lifts, and no one, no one plays to players anymore would probably still want to do weirdly. But yeah, other than that's gonna have that's not

Speaker 1


gonna change. Oh, well, I think the important the important part I liked, which I've not really considered before, what you said about that, some people's habits are permanently changed. And therefore, it's pretty reasonable to believe that actually, the two player demand will actually also be greater, as much as there might be a surfeit of them for some other developmental reasons, which I think is really interesting. So so far, we've not talked about any other designers projects, is that something that you would want to do in the future publish the work of other designers are you very focused on, on on what what Liam and Paul can develop?

Speaker 2


I would love Eastern games to be a publishing house where we, where we do publish other designers, games. We, we've we've signed a cover a couple of people's games, one of them actually, we signed quite early on. And unfortunately, we had to sort of go back to him after after sort of robot rail I think then sort of, I don't think we can do your game because it's, it's just too much work for us. It's too big, right? Like there would never be too many components. Too many mechanics. It's like it's as a as a game, like we, because Liam and I both have day jobs, you know, we wouldn't be able to, we just couldn't do it. You know, we just don't, we just wouldn't have the time to put that into into production. And I think that's, again, something that we've that we've learned that there are limits on what we can and what we can achieve. That's interesting.

Speaker 1


And what do you think the limits are in terms of what is the most time consuming aspect of these additional tasks you have to do?

Speaker 2


Um, I think that's, that's really interesting. That's a really interesting question. And I think it's really, it's really hard to say because it's, it's, it's almost like there's no big kind of like little mini dependencies on on things. You only need a little, you only need a small delay on on one thing for something else to be held up, you know, and then if it's not your day job, then you say, well, actually, I'll leave it to the weekend. And then the weekend comes and something Oh, well, I'd rather go out with my mates, you know, it's like, I'm in. And then, and then you slip to week, you know, and I think there's all sorts of just little things that can happen, that that push things that pushes back. So I think

Speaker 1


I think we How do you identify projects that were that's like within the comfort zone of where you what you can do right now, because we are not yet at the place where you can just live off the company?

Speaker 2


I guess it's it's, I feel like the number of components that the the literally how much artwork have we got to specify how many miniatures have got to be designed? You know, how many components have we got to get quotes for and, you know, all that sort of stuff.

Speaker 1


So it's a lot a lot more about gain complexity than component complexity. I mean, obviously, those two things do tend to go hand in hand to some extent. Yeah. So it's straightforward. It's not as perfect correlation between those two,

Speaker 3


it's probably fair to say it speaking complexity wise, but this particular project, it was, it was becoming apparent that actually, aside from sort of ongoing admin costs, and things like going to shows which were sort of a big expense, and it was becoming very apparent, apparent that artwork is one of the biggest costs, right. And for some of our games, I mean, for robot reality, the artwork costs were the front cover, we didn't really have any other external artwork, I don't think. Whereas mob sitters, we had lots of unique individual characters and lots of cards. And that wasn't extravagant, but it was noticeable. And so when we'd realised that, you know, this is what this costs the artwork on this other game. And it would have been lots of artwork, it would have been lots of cards, lots of boards, lots of probably miniatures scopes as well. And it wouldn't be such a big big project for us that it would have been very difficult to do. Without that money. Even if we did have all of the time and all of the expertise and we weren't doing our day jobs. And we could do Monday to Friday, nine five late very easily, it would have still been probably difficult without a lot of artwork costs up front, almost.

Speaker 1


So that that's very interesting. So that that makes sense. There's there's a big artwork cost challenge there. I mean, that's something that we've also in the next project I'm working on is a challenge, as well, and certainly for magnet was a quite punchy, and the component thing of saying it's interesting, because that's been my experience. I've been very fortunate that during this period of what I've been working in publishing magnate, I have been either for most of the time, either part time or for short periods being fully focused on this. So it's not something I've had to worry about fitting it alongside a full time job for an extended period of time. So so that makes total sense. And I think that's probably a quite important thing for people to bear in mind, if they are embarking on this journey that the components add, they add additional add a lot of additional time and then the issue you raised Paul, about dependencies, certainly something that's IV, I've encountered quite a bit. It's been how challenging that that kind of dependency issue can be. So we've talked a bit about the pandemic as a problem for development. What about marketing? Because I know that you know, a lot of small publishers rely on conventions as their bread and butter. So I'm kind of really interested to hear about how you've responded in that way and kind of where you see marketing going in future for your projects.

Speaker 2


Well, I'm absolutely hopeless at marketing. I'll be honest, James. Useless. I think I'm entirely the wrong person to be talking to about Martin. You know, Liam, do


you have some answers for it?

Speaker 3


I can, I can give some answers so neither Paul and myself are from marketing backgrounds. and also well, there's there's marketing backgrounds, and then there's sort of marketing and board games as well as a completely separate thing. Yeah, we we don't have that kind of experience. So we've been learning it over the three years. And some of that marketing has been either mostly Kickstarter focus. So it's, you know, it's about driving signups and making sure people sort of back on the first day as opposed to any other time. But it's just been a learning process since day one. We've made marketing mistakes, we've made some positives, however small, we see them as a positive, specifically, during the pandemic, like, I mean, like, probably every publisher on the planet, we we've really sort of feel the absence of shows. Because not only for the marketing benefits, but as a publisher, it's, it's really nice to see people hands on with your games. And, of course, if you're selling and they're buying great, but also, it's, it's more, you know, they're meeting you, and meeting them in person is probably some of the best marketing you could have. So without the physical show, it's very difficult. I think, I think it's obviously going to get better. But I think even with the digital replacements that they were, they were digital replacements, but they weren't really replacements at all. Some of some of the events did really well to do what they could be just can't replicate the in, in person experience.

Speaker 1


That's the sense I have. I have a chat with working for Chris, we've discussed this sort of briefly, it does strike me that that is a huge problem, not being able to recreate the fundamentally physical real experience of handling and playing games.

Speaker 3


Yeah, I mean, it definitely affects independence more than smaller, smaller people like us. But I can imagine that, you know, even even bigger developers and bigger publishers would have would have found it hard. I mean, they, they have people that are proper experts in marketing, online or otherwise. So they might not be feeling it as much, but they would have definitely noticed a drop somewhat from not having that prison presence that shows either through meeting just general customers, the public, but also just meeting up with anyone for networking, things like that.

Speaker 1


Yeah, very challenging, very challenging. Well, hopefully, the answers begin to emerge, I guess, gradually over time as to how this can be tackled. I know, it's something I'm spending a lot of time thinking about. But the right way to do it, I think is something that I know the listeners will be really keen to hear is, is even more about what you would advise them to do if they're starting a game company now, because I know there will be people who will be interested in doing that. They might be thinking, Oh, God, this is the worst possible time to do it. Maybe it is. But people want to make games, I know that even if the pandemic were happening, magnate was starting just as the pandemic was starting, I would still be trying to do it. Because it's my dream to publish a board game, and then and then start publishing more board games. So I would want to do anyway. So what would the three pieces of advice be if you had to pick three really top piece of advice? For someone who wants to publish games, not just design them? What would those three pieces of advice be?

Speaker 2


I'll start with, I'll start with my, with my midwife thing, which I think is first and foremost, my absolute number one, and then I think, maybe if we let Liam have a go, and then I'll and then I'll mop up with a third. So my first thing is, is basically don't assume that your that your game is going to sell, you know, so treat it as a from I would certainly say from my, from my experience, and you know, and, you know, hopefully other people will have, you know, a more positive experience, we, you know, be better at marketing and stuff than I am and all that sort of thing, and they'll and their games will, will fly off the shelves. But I would say I would say number one, don't assume that your that your game is going to be the next gloom Haven or whatever, you know, I think I think I've got a friend that's in the horse racing and, and he says whenever he goes along to the track, he taught he treats every win as a bonus, you know, goes along with 100 credits pocket wherever and if he if he if at the end of the day, he's going he's going away with his mind. He spent all that money. He still had a good day at the track. He's had a few beers. He's had a few bets. You know he's had a good day. You I think for me that that's where that's where I'm at. And I would say, first and foremost, I would say, Yeah, I'd say, Don't be prepared, don't gamble more than you're prepared to lose. Because I think that I think that if you're looking to make a business out of it, I'd say it's tough is a crowded market. And I think that there are no guarantees. And I think that there are probably, I, I'd have thought that there are probably easier businesses to start if you if you just want to make money.

Speaker 1


Oh, I think almost every business is easier. If you just want to make money generally don't pick a relatively small, crowded marketplace where you're competing and lots of other people who are so in love with doing it, that they will gladly do it for not very much money, which I think is something else that's really important. Important to mention. Yeah.

Speaker 2


So I think, yeah, so I think that's so that would be that would be my that would be my my first thing. And, and I suppose that's, that's a hard earned lesson for. For me really? Hmm,


what Liam? What about what's number two?

Speaker 3


So this question was, this was specifically people that want to publish games as well as design themselves? Not exactly. Okay. And self


self publishing and beyond.

Speaker 3


Okay, so I'm assuming this person's at a very sort of beginning steps. And they're asking everyone, what can I do that's still going to do next? I would probably say, It sounds quite basic, but try and meet as many people as possible. And, and just generally, have a conversation with them, and get to know them, and talk about what you what each other does. It sounds very business II and network II, but it's, it's about, you know, that that person you meet could be really influential to you, in a way you don't realise at the time. I mean, Paul might have a small story about this, from Ali Pele, a couple of years ago. But you know, all those small little things, they can help because you might get to meet someone, and they sound excited by your game and they want to play test it, you might get to meet someone and they know, they know another person that that is starting out doing some artwork, and actually, it's really good. And you could condition our work through them. Yeah, it sounds like a very obvious thing to say, but just get to know people surround yourself with people. And I suppose we talked about the ludicrous earlier, but just being surrounded by that world is a very, very nice thing. Because non cut well, not not, not sorry, not non customers, but even strangers when they walk in the door. There's a very nice sense of community, in the hobby itself. We may have felt it lacking in the last year, but not not lacking online, but just lacking in person I keep banging on about in person versus online. But it's just kind of keep in touch with people and have have rapport with people to just be able to talk about your projects. And, you know, you don't know who people are going to know. So they might be able to help you in various ways. And you can also help them as well help. But if it's playtesting, or doing some artwork for them could be anything really.

Speaker 1


That sounds like advice that's worth repeating. Because as you say, Well, you could say this was obvious, but actually, we love games. That's why we do this. What we don't love is networking. I think that's true for the majority of us who work in the games industry. So it's worth remembering that that it might not be something that comes naturally but it is something that's really worth doing. And you never know who's going to turn out to be someone important, right? And someone that's going to be continually working within the future somebody's going to collaborate with and so it repays being really friendly with everyone and being very open hearted with all those kinds of connections. Right. And in fact, you mentioned that Liam a story about that with Paul. Paul, have you got a story on this one?

Speaker 2


I heard I have. I don't know if you've heard this before. But have you heard it?


Please? I listened

Speaker 2


Gosh, sorry. So so we were at we're at the show with Adam pally one that

Speaker 1


is tabletop gaming live. Yeah, base not late September time, right.

Speaker 2


Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. The one that Chris from your previous show.

Speaker 1


Yes, correct. Chris, I get editor the magazine it's the magazine's own show. Alexander price. Yeah.

Speaker 2


So so it comes to us at lunchtime and and one of our friends was there and he sort of Oh, cool. Yeah, you want to come over and just take a break from it. So so that so we went over and you know, grabs a pint at the bar and just So I went and grabbed a table, we sat down with sort of having an outer sort of talk about the show. And this guy comes over, carrying, carrying something to drink in a pie or something. So it kind of goes, alright, let's be mindful, just sit down as it is packed is a great place. And like, yeah, have a seat. So, so we started chatting, and, and stuff. And, and, you know, I didn't want to exclude him from the conversation. So I'm sort of, you know, sort of, including, you know, what have you had, what have you seen and all this stuff. And he sort of say, you know, how's the show been, and all that, and the conversation goes along and goes along, goes along. And, and, and I've been so Annie's, and I've been talking about my games and sort of saying, how excited I was about robot morale and mob sitters, and I was talking very animatedly about them all. And this chap kind of goes Oh, yeah, it's interesting. And then and then eventually, so it says, Yeah, it's interesting design. Yeah, cuz I work in the eye. Yeah, I'm looking at, you know, sort of what you do for work. So I'm lucky enough to work in the in the board games industry. And so I just thought, Oh, it must be another publisher or something, you know, taking a break from the stand. And and so so no, because, no, I'm the actually I'm the senior buyer Asmodee. And

Speaker 1


ah, ha. So as this is, this is Asmodee is distribution arm. So this is their the senior buyer for basically the biggest hobby game distributor in the UK pretty much. Yeah. Wow. Okay,

Speaker 2


and, you know, and I've had friends sort of saying, What a nightmare it was trying to get in touch with anyone that has me and, and you know, how hard it was to try and get our foot in the door. And, and, and, and, and he sort of said, it was so interesting for him to, to hear someone that was just like talking about their games without knowing who he was, and without actually pitching to him as just like talking someone that's just genuinely excited about their games. Yeah. came over. It came over to the store later in the afternoon, and, and he sort of said, Any, and he said, Yeah, you guys missed it. Sorry, guys played robot while he's like, he goes, Yeah, that's it, guys. Yeah, so that's a solid. That's a solid game, but it's kind of a hobby market game. It's not not a mass market game. And I was like, Alright, okay, fair enough. That's, that's cool. He don't at that stage. We were just, we was trying to play sort of like a really raw sort of demo version of, of mob sitters. So this was right on the Kickstarter, before we put any money into artwork, but the cards were just like, literally clipart that we just downloaded off. Right. Okay. Using for playtesting. And, and he played that, and he sort of sat back and he said, he said, Yeah, this could be a mass market game. Last night. I'm like, wow, yeah, I'm in Georgia. Wow. Yeah, gosh, you know, interesting. He gave us his card. And he said, Oh, yeah, you know, stay in touch. So I emailed him, he said, You know, so it won't be me that you're dealing with it will be, it will be one of the guys. And and I emailed him, I think on the Tuesday after the show, so I'm not expecting to hear anything. And then I think a couple of days later, I got a reply. And he'd copied in, like one of the one of the guys that we're forced into, right. And you know, we've had quite a good relationship since then, really? So it's been

Speaker 1


fantastic. And you actually have sold some copies into distribution? Yes, yes. Yeah. So that's, to me, that is a classic example of exactly what Liam is saying, is that that that is such a good story. I'm glad you recounted that. Because that you just don't know who you're going to meet. You don't know, when you go to a place like this, what's going to happen? You know, and I think as we as things get back to normal, eventually, whenever that is that serendipity will only become more critical. Yes. So I guess that brings us down to our last piece of advice. So what what is the third piece of advice that you would give any startup publisher,

Speaker 2


I think, as you're talking about, about for publishers, rather than game designers, I'd say, I know this is like a really cheesy, cheesy thing to say. But if you fail to plan plan to fail,

Speaker 1


right, yeah, yeah. plan everything.

Speaker 2


You know, think about, like, think about what you're going to be doing, you know, six months ahead a year ahead. When when you you know, don't leave. You know, try not to leave things to the last minute. I know, I can be quite bad for that. But, you know, but try and try and at least think through, you know what's going to happen and like with your Kickstarter, if you do a Kickstarter, try and think ahead about what posts you want to be putting out Kickstarter, before you get to that time. So don't don't wait until you're in the middle of a Kickstarter. And so I think all you know, much more posts we put out now, you know,

Speaker 1


yeah, you want to clear plan for that before you go into The Internet Project,

Speaker 2


it's really it sounds so obvious, but it's so easy to, to just just run, you know, just to kind of run at things and not plan is, is so easy and so natural to do that

Speaker 1


if you're carrying on carried away by the kind of inspiration, right, that's that's something which is understandable. But I think again, as we've said, just because the advice is obvious doesn't mean that it's not really good. And I think that's a really good example to me of like, it's always worth reminding ourselves that we to rein ourselves in a bit, do some planning and get that right. Okay, brilliant. Well, I'm sure that will be that'll be very useful. Before we wrap up. I'd like to find out a little bit more about what we can expect next from Eastery games. So what should listeners Be on the lookout for from you guys coming up soon?

Speaker 2


All about the blessings a bit. So yeah, I'd


like Liam, tell us more about the blessings of big soup.

Speaker 3


We are sort of, I would say 60. Now probably about 70% of the way 75% of the way in terms of overall rules, I think, would you say that's fair ball?


Yeah, probably.

Speaker 3


But we're looking to, we're looking to publish this sometime in the next year, hopefully, probably a Kickstarter. And you know, there's going to be various reasons for that. But it's also going to be our most complex game in terms of components. Not necessarily where we are, it will be complex as a game. But you know, it's certainly gateway esque. And, yeah, so I've been forgetting about a year. And generally, it's quite exciting. Because, as mentioned, you go around, you go around the different areas, have the sort of Himalayan mountain setting, and you're just trying to deliver these resources. But also, what we didn't mention earlier is delivering the resources, certain lands has this sort of scale where one of the lands might be more favourite view. And you can actually, it's kind of got like a tug of war system. So if I give to a certain land, and then my opponent does, it kind of goes back, the dial goes back to the middle. So no one's really favoured at that particular land. There's a few funky little things going on with it as well. But it's hopefully, it's hopefully going to be our next game.


Fantastic. What can we expect art wise from it?

Speaker 3


And art wise, it's well, how do you mean, do you mean? Just

Speaker 1


so I'm just curious to know, how, you know, how is there a look in mind, what does the end product kind of look like? Do you have a kind of vision yet for the product? Or is that as a finished item? Or is that still something?

Speaker 3


Oh, okay, yeah, so we have a really nice prototype at the moment that was actually made by me. I'm not tooting my own horn here. But this prototype was made in like a role playing game Map Builder. And it's actually really nice for prototyping. But it's definitely not the final product, but it's going to be this really lovely map that's going to be very bright, very colourful, it's not going to be like a dark, you know, scary game or anything, and generally is going to be quite a few sort of colourful components. And our hope is to potentially have really nice monastery monastery miniatures. That's sort of in flux at the moment, depending on on what's happening with rules and also on costs as well. We're just looking into costings at the moment for what that might be. Because if that's something that's just out of this world, we'd have to reconsider it. Or if it's, for example, on the Kickstarter, the monasteries are wouldn't be wooden tokens first, and then they're upgraded, then that is possible. But there's lots of lots of things to consider. And we have to we've, we've learned so many things in the past about costings, that we sort of start to really need to get our margins like they need to start getting more perfect for us in a way.

Speaker 1


Yeah, that makes sense. I will I think that's something very critical, isn't it? I mean, I would personally always add that on as a fourth point, make sure you've got proper margins on all of your products, because I think that is an element. I know. It's challenging. Certainly, I've found that with magnate that it's not really quite at the level, that would be ideal for distribution. I think it's worth it anyway, I think hopefully, people will be wowed sufficiently by that. We can make lots more sales in the future. But it's one of those ones where Yeah, margin sounds like it's obviously critical to do again, one of those ones that you don't necessarily work out how to do properly until you've had the experience. So

Speaker 3


yeah, definitely. I mean, Our, our first two games have been reasonably small print runs in terms of they weren't made sort of in China at mass mass production. So the margins on those games work, we're never going to be, like, really good. It wasn't going to be like, we're going to make the game for like, one pound 50. And we're going to sell it for 20 quid or 15 quid. You know, but they weren't, they weren't completely, like, awful. It just wasn't something that was going to make us like, millionaires or anything. Or make it sort of Sorry, go on.

Speaker 2


I'd say I was just gonna say actually, I think the margins on robot rail were awful. And and I think, especially when you when you look at the lead cost of miniatures, and all that sort of thing, I think there were a lot of there were a lot of costs there that emerged addition to the production costs, you know, and yeah, it was, I think we we learned, let's say, robot rail was a huge learning experience for us.


Right. Yeah.

Speaker 3


That's true. But I suppose with robot Riel because that was mostly sold through a Kickstarter. We weren't like selling through retail or distribution. So even though it was a very small margin, we were still getting something back. Whereas, whereas mob sort of example is a little bit better. And any game going forward, we always have to bear that in mind,

Speaker 1


the blessings of big Sue is going to be a bit better margin, why isn't the sound of it with your experience? Yeah.

Speaker 2


And so so with the pixie is the, the, their place names and things and all of the names are Nepalese, actually, and the reason? Oh, really. And the reason for that is, a couple of years ago, I moved down to Folkston, from Croydon, and there's a large Gurkha base here. So there's a huge Nepalese community. Oh, interesting. Sorry, I wanted to do something to as, as almost like, a homage to them that you're honouring them.

Speaker 1


That's so cool. So we've got kind of a, you know, authentic language effectively from from from Nepal, which has been using the game which that that sounds really cool. Well, I'm excited to hopefully get to play it at some point, the not so distant future. That sounds really great. And I just want to say in general, thank you so much for joining me, and I'm sure hearing the story, the real kind of trials and tribulations that one goes through as a start up publisher is going to be of real interest to many of our listeners. Well, thank

Speaker 2


you for having us on, James. It's been really really good chatting to you. Yeah,


it's been it's been really good.

Speaker 1


Producing fun is produced by Naylor Games. If you enjoyed the show, follow us on Spotify, Stitcher, or other major podcasting platforms. Remember, producing fun is also a product, and it thrives on feedback. So please leave a review wherever possible, to simply send me your feedback directly. You can message me on Twitter at Naylor Games or write me an email James@Naylorgames. Until next time,

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