Essen 2011 Roundup

Sorry I didn’t do up-to-the-minute updates as Jay sent me frantic encrypted e-mails letting me know what was going on at Spiel ’11.  I was pretty sick over the last few days, so it was all I could do to decode them, read them, cheer weakly, eat the paper I transcribed the message on to, and then go back to bed!

We had several prototypes to show and are also looking for European partners for co-publication of Belfort and Train of Thought.  Here’s a recap of what happened at Essen for the Bamboozle Brothers:

Jay met with:

Kosmos, who liked Swashbucklers, were interested in co-publishing ToT and took the rules for EIEIO
Pegasus, who expressed strong interest in Swashbucklers and were also interested in Clunatics, ToT, and Lost For Words (depending on how their initial venture into party games goes with Pictomania).
Huch & Friends, who want to check out Clunatics, would like the rules for Bermuda Triangle, and copies of Belfort and ToT to evaluate as European releases.
Quined, who are evaluating Akrotiri – Jay gave them the updates they requested in terms of “spicing it up” so now they are going to playtest with the new additions we’ve made
PSI, who told Jay that Belfort has been sold in Europe (English copies, of course – but it’s a start!)
Queen, who Jay met with on behalf of our friend and fellow Game Artisan, Matt Musselman, to pitch Matt’s Bordeaux to them. They enjoyed Bordeaux and then Jay had time to show them our games – they loved Belfort and requested a copy for evaluation. Jay also showed them Swashbucklers and they were very excited by it. They requested a prototype of it as soon as possible. Jay gave them the prototype immediately after the convention.
Alea liked Bordeaux as well, and this company is Matt’s first choice. There wasn’t a ton of time, so Jay was only able to show our party games to Alea. Now, you might be thinking, “Alea doesn’t do party games!” and you’d be right. But what they can do is link us up with other publishers that do! They liked ToT, Clunatics and Lost For Words and took several sell sheets for these and EIEIO as well, saying that they’d show them to their colleagues. Nothing like getting a plug from one of the most respected publishers in the biz…
Hans im Gluck, who liked Swashbucklers and Bermuda Triangle. As Swashbucklers was slated for Queen, Bermuda Triangle went home with HiG – spread the love! HiG also really liked Bordeaux – go, Matt, go! Also of note: HiG was very positive about our sell sheets, so that’s a sign that it’s something we should all have on our “to do” lists. It’s one of the last things Jay and I do, but one that we spend a lot of time on, despite it seeming so simple.
Jolly Thinkers, who are a Chinese publisher – they were interested in Train of Thought prior to Essen so we took this opportunity to meet face to face and hand over a copy for evaluation.
Jay also had a meeting with Gamewright, who currently have Jam Slam, but I’m not sure what transpired in the meeting. Jay’s probably so burnt out on games that he’s sleeping right now. 😀

General Update

General Updates:

Train of Thought: It is pretty cool to have a game in the top 2500 on boardgamegeek (which means this is based on users rating it). Here’s the screen grab!

And it’s nice to see the breakdown of all the votes so far.  It’s valid and fair to see that there are a few people that just don’t get or like the game; it’s bound to happen with pretty much every game!  But it’s great to see so many people enjoying it! If you’ve played the game and want to rate it, then just log into (and register if you haven’t yet) and rate it at the very bottom of the page.

There’s also some exciting news about Train of Thought…but there’s still an official contract that needs to be signed before we make that announcement. Stay tuned.

Belfort: We’ve been getting a lot of art updates for Belfort these past two weeks and now we have seen all of it!  I’ve got to say that this game has the best rule book that I’ve ever seen!  Josh Cappel has gone above and beyond and we’ve upgraded his credit from Artist to Artist and Rules Editor. It is easy to read, has tons of examples and pictures and even has quite a bit of humour throughout. Some last minute tweaks and she’ll be off to the printers.

But Wait There’s More: We have some exciting news for our third game, But Wait There’s More – but we can’t tell you yet! Dang – not really a good update on that one.  Soon you’ll be in the loop.

Jam Slam: Just got word from the Product Development and Marketing Manager at Gamewright that Jam Slam received some nice marks and now they’re looking to see if they can find a slot in their 2012 line up or not.  Exciting!

Akrotiri: Got word from Zev at Z-Man games that he’s been crazy busy, but plans on getting this game on the table to test this month.  Can’t wait for this one as this is my favourite game we’ve made!

Junkyard and Lost For Words: We’re just getting ready to send these games out to Asmodee for review.

Secret Project: We’ve been told by a publisher of a type of game that they’d be interested in publishing that involves licensing a known property.  We’re currently doing a lot of research on this one.

Updates might be a little slow over the next week or so as I’m knee deep in packing for my impending move next week.  Moving closer to civilization and will be moving to Vancouver proper (instead of telling everyone that I live in Vancouver – kinda).

For my move I had to pack all my board games and they ended up taking up 15 boxes (and they were big 75 litre boxes)!  In case it wasn’t obvious, I love board games. 🙂

-Jay Cormier

Movin’ on up – slowly but surely!

As of March 10/2011, ToT is ranked on bgg as follows:

Board Game Rank: 2448
Party Game Rank: 52

I can’t wait to unleash Belfort on the world! It’s looking great and the chemistry between Josh, Seth/Michael and us has been nothing short of great. We went in with a solid game and are coming out with something that’s even better! Jay and I will be looking to get a commercial shot, in a different vein from the ToT commercial so we’ll be scripting that soon. I have music in mind already…

We’re hopeful that Jam Slam will be our first children’s game to be published. Gamewright is a strong company that really stands behind their product. They submit their products for a lot of reviews / awards and the market penetration they have in some of the different areas like bookstores (Chapters) and educational stores (Scholar’s Choice) is awesome. We’re anxiously awaiting word back from them – fingers crossed! I would love to see how they handle the flyswatters we’ve been using in our prototypes.

Same with Z-man. Z-man has great production value and they’ve handled some great titles (Agricola, etc.) so getting on their roster with Akrotiri would be a nice feather in our collective cap.

And Asmodee is another company that is very distinguished in the game publication biz. While Junkyard and Lost for Words aren’t exactly what you might think of as standard fare for the company that published SdJ candidates like 7 Wonders, they also have a few hidden gems like Jungle Speed and Good Question! for their lighter fare. So, getting our games looked at by them is a good thing. Getting one or more published by them would be amazing!

But Wait, There’s More! We’ll have to tell you more about But Wait, There’s More! in the near future – rest assured that it’s gonna be a busy few months for the Jay/Sen machine. Between all the games in production, out for review, and in development, I’m not sure when either of us will find the time to sleep. I’ll hopefully be able to do some updates while Jay’s moving, so that you, our faithful readers, aren’t left wanting!

-Sen-Foong Lim


Updates on other games

Two updates for you today.  The first is about the contest I won with a friend of mine, Don, from Toy Vault’s PiecePack competition.  We submitted the rules to a game we designed using a specific set of components that we called Cream of the Crop.  The top 5 games were chosen to be included when the game was released – and our game was chosen as one of the five!  We hadn’t heard from them all year – but today I got a response back from an email I sent that said that it had been back-burnered for awhile but is still in plans to hit the stores this coming year!  They are targeting a second quarter release.  Yay!

The second update is that Gamewright has been reviewing the rules to our Jam Slam game (previously called Jungle Jam) and he expressed interest in playing a prototype of it after reading the rules.  Now he did say he’s on the fence because he feels like Gamewright has a bunch of quick reaction games – in fact, when we pitched it we mentioned that this could be in the Slamwich family line – kind of like a spin off.  But he wants to see a prototype to play it – so that’s always good news!

We have had recent thoughts about changing the theme of Jam Slam to a witches cauldron – and we might do it and send both in, just in case he would prefer that it was NOT similar to Slamwich.

So some great holiday news for us!  Huzzah!
-Jay Cormier

Jam Slam rules Requested by Publisher

Just got word that Gamewright is requesting to see the rules to our Jam Slam game.

This is how it happened.  About 4 years ago, Sen and I invented a game called Jungle Jam (which I’ve written about a couple times already in this blog).  It’s been to see a few publishers already, and has undergone some improvements over the years.  Currently it is in the Great Canadian Game Design Competition and is a semi-finalist.  This is when we found out that the name “Jungle Jam” had been taken by another game and was entangled in some sort of legal dispute with a game called Jungle Speed.  Not to be confused with that game, we changed the title of our game to Jam Slam.  We’re expecting to find out any day now if it made it to the finals!

Concurrently to this, I’ve been invited to participate in a group called the Game Artisans of Canada – a group of game designers whose goal is to work together to provide the world better games and help each other out whenever possible.  Rob, one of the members heard that Gamewright was looking for quality submissions of games that were easy to learn and played in less than 30 minutes.  That described our Jam Slam to a tee!

Rob sent them a quick pitch to them about our game and they just expressed interest to see the rules for the game.  If they like the rules for the game then they’ll ask for a prototype in a few weeks.  One step at a time!

Special call out to Rob from Game Artisans of Canada for the heads up and the connection!

-Jay Cormier

There’s a few really cool things about this “day in our lives” as game designers. It shows:

a) That no matter how old a game is, a good design is timeless. Keeping old designs on the back burner, but ready for showing is critical. We usually only keep the latest physical version of a prototype for space reasons (and to limit our confusion!), but always have the older versions as files on the computer if something we did before is beneficial. If you know your game intimately, you should be able to parlay an older design into something good when an opportunity arises. Jay’s use of “Night of the Dragon” concepts for another game is a good example of a game that was sitting doing nothing on the back burner (we actually have a forum called “The Back Burner” where we stick all of our games that are on hiatus) being used for the good of all mankind by being transformed into a game that is forthcoming for the Piece Pack called “Cream of the Crop”.

b) Versatility is an asset, because you never know when a publisher will say “Well, we like what you’ve just shown us, but we’re really interested in a card game…” If all you make is hardcore gamer games, you might miss out on some things. Of course, don’t make kids games if you don’t like making them, but versatility pays off – that’s all I’m saying.

c) Making games that are not tied to a theme, but can be rethemed easily is a good idea if possible. The name change was minor and it doesn’t change a thing at all about the game, but if it had to be done, “Jungle Jam” (now “Jam Slam!”) could be rethemed to almost anything because of it’s simple mechanics. It has a really good base for being used with a licensed character. Imagine Dora or Diego telling you “I need 3 red grapes!”

d) The Chinese (in the case of Jay and me, I’m talking about me) have the same word for crisis and opportunity – Crisi-tunity. Seriously though, it is said that luck is equal parts opportunity and preparedness. In this case, opportunity presented itself through a colleague telling us about Gamewright and we were able to take advantage because we were prepared – we have sell sheets ready, our prototypes usually ready to ship, and our rules done up for blind playing. In this case, because we have the two prototypes of “Jam Slam” out already for the competition as Jay mentioned, we’ll have to make another copy. But usually, we’re on top of that now that we’ve had a few publishers ask us for multiple copies of a game at once, etc.

e) Collaboration extends past Jay and myself. Now that we’re really delving deeper into the game design/production industry, we’re finding gold at every turn! Through our relationship with Tasty Minstrel Games, we worked with Gavan Brown, the graphic designer for “Train of Thought”. That wonderful working relationship turned into Jay being invited to work with the Game Artisans of Canada. They’ve already been immensely helpful in playing our prototypes and giving awesome, no-holds barred feedback for improving our games. And then, as icing on the cake, they’ve been super great with things like this! Opening up doors for us on several levels – they’ve already helped up get consideration from Amigo Spiel (a well-known German publisher) and now GameWright. How awesome is that? I can only hope that Jay and I can reciprocate in kind!

-Sen-Foong Lim