The Bamboozle Brothers’ GenCon Experience

IMG_2556Wow what a whirlwind adventure! This was my first visit to GenCon and I loved it! I hardly got to experience most of what GenCon had to offer as I was busy pitching games almost every hour of every day – but no complaints from me because that was so fun!
Sen and I followed our own steps on how to prepare for a convention (it’s actually been awhile since we’ve attended a convention that wasn’t The Gathering – which doesn’t follow normal convention rules for pitching!). We set up meetings with 10 different publishers via email so that the afternoons of Fri and Sat were packed – back to back meetings all afternoon.
Thursday night
Sen arrived the day before but I flew in and got to the convention just before 5pm…which was good because we had a meeting set up with Dice Hate Me at 5:50pm!
Our first stop was at the Oni Press booth to set up a meeting with Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt and Charlie Chu as luck fell in our laps when Sen found himself in the right place at the right time and learned that they are looking to make a game out of the comic Sixth Gun. Meeting was set for the next morning – perfect!
IMG_2553Now it was time to meet Chris from Dice Hate Me. We had created a separate folder for each publisher we were meeting with and then put our sales sheets in the order that we thought each publisher would like each of our games. The pitch went great with Chris from Dice Hate Me liking Law of the Jungle, 9 Thieves and a game from Sen and another designer called Burning Rubber.
IMG_2571Then we went to the Nerd Nighters charity event hosted by JR Honeycutt (whom I met randomly on a trip to Texas 1.5 years ago!). We got to chat with other designers like Kevin Nunn and Luke Laurie about game design, which was really interesting. Then we had to head back to help demo our game, But Wait There’s More in hall D. We had a good turn out and since they were all adults, that allowed us to test our new Naughty Version expansion and was ecstatic that it went over better than expected! Yay!
Friday
SpielWe started the day with me trying to get one of the 100 per day copies of Mysterium that Asmodee had but the lineup was too big even though I bee-lined it to their booth. Boo. Ok, next we had an interview set up with The Spiel. If you’ve ever been to a game convention then you’ve probably seen them as they wear white jackets with large coloured meeples on it! The interview was fun and humorous and should be posted soon.
Next up was our meeting with Cullen and Charlie from Oni Press. It was Sen, me and Jon Gilmour (designer of Dead of Winter) in the meeting with them. I won’t go into all the details but it was exciting to chat about the possibilities of a Sixth Gun board game with them! Then Cullen said we really need to chat with Matt Kindt….Matt Kindt!!! For those unaware, he’s one of my favourite comic creators! Cullen took a photo of Sen’s business card and texted it to Matt – who reached out right away and set up a meeting with us.  Cool!
Jon Gilmore, Charlie Chu, Brian Hurtt, Sen, Jay

This happened! Jon Gilmour, Charlie Chu, Brian Hurtt, Sen, Ja

So now it was time to jog on over to our first actual pitch of the day. The exhibitor hall is ginormous that no single photo can do justice and so it can take quite awhile to get from one side to the other – not just because of the size of the hall, but also because of the amount of people you have to navigate through. This place was packed!!
RnRFrank from R&R Games was ready for us when we arrived and we chatted quickly about our game that we already have signed with him and learned that they’re really just trying to figure out the art for it as they want to get it right. Then onto the pitches. I love pitching to Frank because he’s very straightforward and that keeps things quick and still professional. We’ve perfected our pitch process now and so we really know how to use our time wisely with publishers. You never know if a meeting is going to get cut short or not!
Our process now is to bring out the previously mentioned folder (with sales sheets in order of importance for that publisher), and go through all of our sales sheets quickly. We preface the pitch by letting the publisher know that we plan on going through a bunch of different games quickly, using the sales sheets, and then the publisher can pick and choose which ones they’d like to see or learn more about. This is a great approach because now the publisher doesn’t have to feel like a schmuck by saying no over and over again. Instead they can simply say that they want to hear more about this one and that one – without having to say that they don’t like these other ones!
Frank liked our game 9 Thieves and Chrono Chickens! As per usual though we needed to keep the prototypes for the rest of the event to show other publishers. We could always come back near the end to hand over any prototypes.
FoxtrotNext we met up with Randy from Foxtrot who liked 9 Thieves and The Mystery of Mister E! A fan of the deduction game!
ZManWe met up with Zev from Z-Man and showed him our mini Akrotiri expansion as well as the rest of our games. He liked 9 Thieves as well! Martin from Filosofia came over and we chatted about our game Junkyard that they’re going to re title to Junk Art and will be released as the second game in the Pretzel lineup after Flick Em Up. We also chatted through a scenario for Flick Em Up that we were asked to design! He showed us the first expansion for Flick Em Up and it was awesome! Horses and ramps!! What a cool game!
APTravis from Action Phase was next and he really liked Law of the Jungle, 9 Thieves and Pig Goes Moo. He was cool with us sending him Print and Play files for the games though, so that’s cool!
Then we got to meet with Hasbro! We met Dougall at The Gathering this year, and so we were already very Hasbrocomfortable and friendly with him. We pitched our games in the usual way and he was blown away (I might be exaggerating to inflate my sense of self importance) by the quantity of games that looked good! We played 9 Thieves and a couple games from other designers – Snap Shot and Burning Rubber. Then our time ran out but he wanted to see more so he set up a time on Saturday morning to the rest. Fantastic!!
RenegadeWe had to boogie to our next pitch which was with Scott from Renegade Games. He expressed interest in SimpliCITY and Pig Goes Moo!
IMG_2570And thus concluded our pitches for the day though we did a couple hours of demoing But Wait There’s More which is always fun and funny. It’s so great watching people experience the game for the first time and realizing how funny this game is!
We thought we were meeting up with Matt Kindt after this but we rescheduled for the next morning. So I played my first non-prototype game at the con and it was Flip City from Tasty Minstrel Games! Neat game! Then we met up with Level 99 Games and played their new battle game, Exceed. We were joined by Josh Cappel and had some interesting conversations about graphic design.
Saturday
We started the day by meeting up with Dougall from Hasbro again. We only had 30 minutes but it was enough to try a couple more games and for him to express interest in Chrono Chicken – but only if we can come up with a better theme (and we think we have one!), as well as The Mystery of Mister E! That could fit in their Clue line up of games.
Then we shimmied over to meet up with Matt Kindt at the Oni Press booth. This was the highlight of the con for me. Matt, Sen and I talked for about an hour, with Brian Hurtt coming in halfway through to join in on the conversation. We chatted about the possibilities of turning Matt’s comic, Mind MGMT into a board game – and wow, that was cool to just brainstorm with him! We’re going to think about it and see if we can make something happen! How cool would that be??!!?? Matt was a super cool guy who has recently fallen in love with board games. His passion about games was great and we have some good ideas that will do his property justice!! So excited about this – I. CAN’T. EVEN.
Potentially the beginning of something amazing! Sen, Brian Hurtt, Matt Kindt and Jay!!

Potentially the beginning of something amazing! Sen, Brian Hurtt, Matt Kindt and Jay!!

Ok, back to earth and onto our next pitch which was more of a show and tell than a pitch. IDW/Pandasaurus had asked us to make a dice game for The Godfather as well as a Scotland Yard-esque game based on the comic Powers. We wanted to show them our progress on both of these games. First up was The Godfather game and they LOVED it! We’ve spent a lot of time play testing and tweaking this game to a point where we’re really happy about it! So glad they love it! Next up was Powers – which was presented as a Beta game. We walked through the direction we’re going with it and they were in full agreement on our decisions so far! Whew!
BD-TMGWe had to dart over to Tasty Minstrel Games after this to show Seth and Andy our Belfort Dice Game that we’ve been working on. We let them know that this was still beta as well. Normally we wouldn’t show a publisher a game that was beta but in both these last cases they seemed to make sense. It was a good opportunity to show what we’re doing and if they had any feedback that would change the direction of the development then it’s better to know now. And they did have direction! They thought there were probably too many dice in the game. They’re going to price it out, but we’re already thinking of ways to reduce the number of dice needed.
Then I got to meet Ryan from Mayday Games. While it’s great to catch up and meet with publishers we already knew, the big benefit of coming to GenCon for us was meeting new publishers and starting a relationship with them. Ryan was fun and after pitching one of our games and getting ready for our second he gave us a really nice compliment. He said that we’re the most organized and professional designers he’s met! That’s pretty nice to hear! We do take pride in our professionalism and strive to stand out from other designers (damn, why am I sharing this with everyone else then??!). Ryan liked a bunch of our games – Chrono Chicken, 9 Thieves, Law of the Jungle!
Next up? Shari from Ad Magic. Shari had agreed to publish our game Clunatics but wanted gameplay to be smoothed out a bit more. We fooled around with so many different ways to play this game and finally had a great suggestion from one of our play testers and it worked really well.  We showed her how the new version played and she really liked it! Yay! She assigned a project manager to the project and now we’re off to the races with this one! We had enough time so I pitched a game I’ve worked on with another designer named Shad Miller called Rack Your Brains. She had seen the sales sheet before and thought it looked interesting. I walked her through the first few rounds and she got it immediately and really liked it! We were in a rush but we left it with her and the project manager so I’m not sure if it’s happening yet or not!!
So we literally had to jog to a different hotel as we had signed up to give a seminar called, “How to pitch to publishers, the Bamboozle Brothers way.” We had borrowed a projector and we had a PowerPoint presentation to go along with our skits that went through all the steps on how we pitch our games to publishers. We had about 20 people attend the seminar and they seemed really engaged throughout, asking questions and taking notes. I really liked doing it and I think it’s just another thing that Sen and I do to try and give back to this community.
At 5pm we had our last But Wait There’s More demo to run alongside the publisher. Another set of fun people came and enjoyed themselves! Tons ‘o laughs.
For the first time, we got to actually go to a sit down restaurant for a meal! Crazy! Up until then we had been eating from food trucks and from inside the convention centre (dangerous – but the pot roast sandwich was delicious actually). We met up with JR Honeycutt, Tim Brown, The Spiel guys, Josh Cappel, Daryl Chow, Daryl Andrews and more at The Yard for a meal and lots of great conversation. Great stories from everyone about how their pitches went.
On our way out of the restaurant we bumped into Michael Coe and Nathan Hadfield from Gamelyn Games. That was serendipitous since we were on our way to a different restaurant to meet them! We chatted about our upcoming game that they’re publishing of ours called, Rock Paper Wizards and agreed to meet up again later in the evening.
First time meeting! Michael Coe, Jay, Sen, Josh Cappel, Nathan Hadfield

First time meeting in real life! Michael Coe, Jay, Sen, Josh Cappel, Nathan Hadfield

Crash-SCBack at the hotel we had arranged to meet up with Patrick from Crash Games. We really thought that he would like our game SimpliCITY. We were a bit bummed that SimpliCITY wasn’t getting a lot of love at the con so far. It’s our favourite game of the ones we were pitching. I think it has to do with the sales sheet I made. I think the art makes it look too busy and basic. Anyway, we played it with Patrick and everything was humming along and we scored after the first round. Then you could almost hear the click as Patrick ‘got’ the game. He really liked it!
IMG_2614Then it was back to the hall to meet up with Gamelyn Games again. We chatted about the direction they wanted to go with Rock Paper Wizards and Josh sketched up some ideas for the cover. That’s a fun meeting! We’re thinking of aiming it more towards a family friendly type of audience since we know that gamers will like it no matter how it’s packaged. Michael really wants to get this game into mass market so the packaging really needs to appeal to that market. Then we played Tiny Epic West – the next game in the Tiny Epic universe, and had fun playing it and providing some feedback afterwards.
Sunday
Renegade-SC-giveSunday was all about re-visiting publishers to hand over our prototypes. We had some decisions to make about which prototype should go to which publisher. It’s a great position to be in when multiple publishers want your games! So we had to factor many things into which publisher we should give our games to, but their need for exclusivity – that was a big one. Some publishers requested this and that makes it hard for us! We did give some of our games to publishers that wanted exclusivity but usually it was based on their enthusiasm for our game and their promise of how much time they needed. We also found out that Dice Hate Me was also interested in our word game, Lost for Words! Huzzah! I’d love for that game to find a home!
Patrick from Crash won the Bamboozle Lottery! He gets to take one of our prototypes back with him!

Patrick from Crash won the Bamboozle Lottery! He gets to take one of our prototypes back with him!

Some of our games went home with two publishers if they didn’t care about exclusivity, so it was smart of us to bring two copies of each game! We are so SMRT! One publisher was doing print and play and Hasbro wanted us to mail him copies afterwards as he didn’t want to carry all of them back with him. So we got rid of all of our prototypes with the exception of Herdables. Boo. And we had just found a way to make the game even better too. The good news is that Huch and Friends likes that game and was interested in publishing it (and gave us the OK to pitch to other publishers at GenCon). So now we will let them know about the recent changes and that might motivate them to publish it!

So as of right now, we have no prototypes without a home! That’s a great feeling!! GenCon was even more exciting than I thought it was going to be. I wish I was there longer as we had more publishers we could have pitched to if we had the time. Next step for us is to email all these publishers to touch base with them after the con, and to ship out prototypes to Hasbro. Stay tuned if there are any takers!!
-Jay Cormier

Gathering of Friends 2014 Review: Part 4

Our fourth post on all the pitches we had with publishers at this year’s Gathering of Friends! You can read the previous posts here:

Gathering of Friends in review Part 1- ZMan/Filosofia

Gathering of Friends in review Part 2 – Days of Wonder, Ystari, Abacusspiele, R&R Games, Zoch

Gathering of Friends in review Part 3 – Huch & Friends, Toy Vault, Mercury Games, Think Fun

iEllo

LOGOIELLOWe met with Stephan from iEllo and we were surprised that he liked the first game that we started pitching to him: Chainables. We actually hadn’t pitched this to many other publishers because we had brought it last year and found that a language game wasn’t a top priority with a lot of the German publishers! But Stephan really liked it and wants us to submit a Print and Play to his partner to try it. Of our other games, Stephan really liked What’s That and Zombie Slam. When we were pitching What’s That, he was nodding and getting the idea of the game – but then when I said the last part of the pitch – that everyone has to work together and figure out the commonality between everything – he lit up and said, “I want it! Let’s play – but I want it!” That felt good! He also liked Herdables and said if we could make it play up to 4 players then we should submit it.

We also played Ignotus with him and he was digging it right up until the end. The game had players getting rid of tokens – but the endgame proved to be a bit of a letdown as one player could have 1 token left and no one could do anything to stop it. He had liked it up until that point and then had to pass on that one. He did want to take Chainables, Zombie Slam and What’s That though – so…win!

Afterwards I was sitting with Sen and Josh Cappel and asked them to help me figure out how to fix Ignotus. As we were playing Josh was not really liking it because he doesn’t like deduction games. His thought is “you either 100% know it or you 100% don’t know it” and so he wasn’t too interested in the game. We persisted and Josh almost flippantly said that the game would be better if we could bluff. Hmmm –that’s interesting. We immediately tried it and it worked awesomely! Now it wasn’t about getting rid of your tokens but by gaining points – which you could only get if you guessed someone’s Goal Card. I met up with Think Fun and Huch & Friends again to let them know about the changes and they were both happy with the new direction for the game! It’s amazing to me that some of our games got interest from publishers – then we changed them while we were at the event and had to re-pitch them! I am way more confident with both Ignotus and Lions Share because of the changes we made though!

Repos

repos_prod_logoOur final meeting was with Cedrick from Repos. We kept seeing him while he was playing a game (like the 7 Wonders expansion, Babel) and we almost never met up. Fortunately we caught him on the last night he was there as he was heading back to his room for the night – lucky!! The only game we showed him was What’s That. We had shown him this game last year but we worked all year to improve the App and eventually it became so late that we decided to re-pitch it to him. We asked him if Repos had any ability to make apps and he whipped out his iPad and showed us the 7 Wonders App that is launching soon. It looked pretty damned amazing. We were convinced that they could do this game!! He left with his continued interest in the game and since the Gathering we have set him up with the App and are anxiously waiting their thoughts on the game once they playtest it in their offices.

So that’s it! A whirlwind of 10 days! Here’s a summary of the games we brought and the interest we got from publishers:

What’s That: Repos, iEllo, Mercury

Lions Share: Huch & Friends, Hans Im Gluck

Zombie Slam: iEllo, Mercury, Huch & Friends, Zoch

Rock Paper Wizards: Z-Man/Filosofia, Stonghold Games

Herdables: Huch & Friends, iEllo, Days of Wonder told us to connect with Blue Orange

Chainables: iEllo

Pig Goes Moo: Zoch

Ignotus: Think Fun, Huch & Friends, Abacusspiele

Towers of Nakh: Boo – no interest for this one. Weird – I thought this one would have appealed. We’re going to see if we can simplify it more, but I think it was a pass for most because of trying to think in 3D space was hard for many. I think there’s a publisher out there for this though!

That’s it for all of our pitches, but I have one more post about what else we did at the Gathering: play games! 🙂

-Jay Cormier

Sens-Turn

 

 

More picks!  This time I think there’s only 1 of a publisher rep though…Stephan Brissaud from iELLO (pronounced “Yellow”, if you were wondering).  Here he is playing Ignotus.

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Jay and I played this iELLO game, Phantom Society – oddly, a logic/deduction game as well, with William Attia and Martin Ethier.  They played the ghosts and they CRUSHED us.

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We also met the owner of Funagain.com during that pitch.  He was looking to establish a fulfillment service specifically for small publishers that ran Kickstarter campaigns.  Maybe we’ll here more about that in the future!  No pic, though…

After all our pitching was done, we got to play a lot of other games, including the following:

Coconuts from Mayday (monkey-shaped catapults fling coconuts into cups)

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Machi Koro from Pandasaurus (Setminion or Dotters of Catan – whatever you choose to call it, it’s awesome)

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And of course, some Tichu from AbacusSpiel.  Here’s Jay’s best hand of the game – a straight from 2 to the Ace that he got to play after I played the dog in the first play of the hand.

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We played the prototype Prime Time, designed by our friend, Gil Hova (Prolix, Battle Merchants).  Canadian ex-pat Greg Daigle (Hawaii) joined us in as well.
IMG_0852 And those of our fellow Game Artisans of Canada, Martin Ethier, Michael “Call me Max” Xuereb and Al Leduc (FrankenDie).   IMG_0871

 

Can’t hardly wait until next year!

~Sen-Foong Lim

 

 

The Gathering of Friends 2014: Part 2

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William Attia (designer of Caylus and Spyrium – and representative for Ystari Games) and Cyrille Daujean from Days of Wonder play my deduction game, Ignotus!

Days of Wonder and Ystari
Our second meeting was an impromptu meeting with Cyrille from Days of Wonder and William Attia (designer of Caylus and Spyrium) from Ystari. I knew William from last year, having played many games with him, and struck up a conversation with him and Cyrille. Even though I knew that none of our current games would really fit with either company, I asked if they were open to looking at some of our new prototypes. The event had just started and they weren’t busy so they decided to look at our new games!
I was right – we didn’t have anything that fit with either company! But that’s ok – they were really interested in a game I designed by myself – foolishly titled Ignotus (Latin for Unknown) – and they just wanted to play it because they liked deduction games. They both enjoyed playing it! Cyrille also gave us a contact at Blue Orange as he thinks our game called Herdables would fit well with them! How nice!
Abacusspiele

A table full of prototypes waiting to be pitched!

A table full of prototypes waiting to be pitched!

Every year I have pitched to Matthias from Abacusspiele and every year he has taken one of our games back with him, though they have yet to publish one of our games. Daryl Andrews, a fellow Game Artisan and myself set up a table full of the prototypes that we wanted to show off to him!

I like Matthias and got to play a few ‘real’ games with him at the event throughout the week – including a really late game of Tichu one night – and he was happy to look at what we had to present this year. I showed him what we had and we played through a few rounds of Ignotus and Zombie Slam. He liked both of those and requested rules for each to be sent to him so he could assess them further. Yay – 3 for 3!
R&R Games
We met up with Frank from R&R Games because he had a contract for us to sign for a game that we pitched to him last year called Pop Goes the Weasel. We had been negotiating it previous to the Gathering and so it was the perfect time for all of us to convene and sign multiple copies of the contract. He also let us know that they have been doing focus groups with it already and that they will most likely change the name of the game. Apparently the title makes parents think that the game is purely a kid’s game and not a family game. They’re not sure what the title will be yet – but they’ve also already replaced the mulberries with bananas! We’re pretty cool with these kind of changes since they’re based on a business decision that makes sense. This is another reason why it’s good to partner with publishers who have access to doing things like focus groups!
We didn’t end up pitching any of our new games to Frank this year since he said his plate was now full of family and party games and that they were actually looking for more Euro style games – which we didn’t have this year.
Zoch

Daryl Andrews pitching his games to Andreas from Zoch

Daryl Andrews pitching his games to Andreas from Zoch

This was a nice surprise as we’ve never pitched to Zoch before! Zoch is a pretty big deal in Germany, especially with thei big hit Ghost Blitz. We knew we would have a game or two that Zoch might like! The Zoch representative, Andreas, ended up being a good friend throughout the Gathering. We played many games together – including some fun Zoch games like Polterfass and Leg Los! After pitching our games he expressed a lot of interest in Zombie Slam! He expressed some concern that Zoch wouldn’t do a zombie game though – especially if it had guns in it, but he really liked the mechanic. We chatted and found out that he probably could do it with ‘cute’ werewolves and no guns. That could work!
Andreas mentioned that they were looking for a quick reaction game for next year so Zombie Slam might fit the bill. We also told him about our game Pig Goes Moo (previously called Ei-Ei-O!), which we didn’t bring for some reason (d’oh!). He expressed interest in that one too and asked us to mail it to him asap.

Next up we’ll regale tales of pitching to the likes of Huch & Friends, Toy Vault, Mercury, Hans Im Gluck, Think Fun, iEllo and Repos! Wow!

-Jay Cormier

Sens-TurnAnd again, more pictures to complement Jay’s words!

Ystari’s William Attia (who just celebrated a birthday – Bonne Fete!) and Cyrille Daujean (DoW) burn their brains to try to figure out what’s what in Jay’s solo effort, Ignotus.

IMG_0816We return the favour by getting a convention exclusive playthrough of Five Tribes, the next Days of Wonder product, facing off against the designer himself, Bruno Cathala.

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Jay pitches our card game, Lions Share, to Andreas (Zoch).

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Fair is fair, so we learn how to play Polterfass aka “Rumbling Barrels”, a dicey betting game, from Zoch with Andreas and Jasmine (Hans im Glueck).  One of our faves from the con!

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One of my personal favourites is a great drawing game where you use bits and pieces to create items for people to guess.  The twist?  You lose materials as you play, so you have less and less bits to draw the items with as you progress!  I *slaughtered* everyone at this game.  Andreas gave it to me to take home!  Game recognizes game.

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Later, we get Andreas to try out a game, Topsy Turvey Towers, from a fellow Game Artisan, Daniel Rocchi.

IMG_0884 I also destroyed Andreas (not really) at Machi Koro, so this pic is just to commemorate my victory.  IMG_0886

~ Sen-Foong Lim