Business is Picking Up!

Hey, remember us? I can barely remember the last few months! It’s been pretty exciting here at Side Room Games. Not only are we wrapping up the judging of the 54 Card Game Design Contest but we’ve also signed 2(!) games to publish – more on them in a bit!

We’re a little over halfway through all of the 54 Card Contest entries and we’re making a big push this weekend to get them all played. We may have to extend our judging by a week but we’re definitely going to get through them all. There have been some really good ones so far and there are some on the to-do list we’re really excited to play.

My personal favorite so far has been Neapolitan Sundaes by Jason Meyers. The basic gist is you’re connecting various sundae cards on a grid and trying to create links of 3 different characteristics on the cards (either toppings, fruit, or flavor). You score in the competitive version by matching a “favorites” card you get at the beginning of the game. When the game starts there are a ton of options and it’s easy to pick out good combos and get your feet wet. But when the board starts clearing out the difficulty level ramps up and you have to start planning moves ahead as well as avoid giving your opponents opportunities to make links. The way the game climbs in challenge as the game progresses really sets it out from similar games. It might make for a better tile laying game than a card game but the simple design, ease of entry, interesting decisions, and quick gameplay make it a real contender.

I’ve put some other notes on the rest of the entries on our Facebook page as well as via Twitter. As we finish up the testing process we’ll continue to update folks on our progress.

On top of the contest, we’ve been working with two designers and have officially signed their games to publish. The first is Black Sonata by John Kean. The game was created as a part of the 2017 Solo Print & Play Design Contest on BoardGameGeek and won 1st place in Below is his (amazing!) description of the game:

For more than four centuries scholars have argued over the identity of the mysterious Dark Lady of William Shakespeare’s sonnets. According to the sonnets, the Dark Lady seduced the poet and held him in an agonized thrall while also conducting an affair with the Fair Youth who Shakespeare also loved.

In Black Sonata you will find yourself in Shakespeare’s London, circa 1600, in pursuit of the shadowy Lady. A specially ordered deck of cards determines her hidden movements from place to place. You must deduce her location and then intercept her to catch a glimpse and gain a clue to her identity. You will need several clues to deduce her identity, but with each clue gained the Lady becomes harder to track. Black Sonata combines hidden movement and logical deduction into a unique solitaire steeped in literary history.

Can you finally solve English literature’s greatest mystery? Or will the Dark Lady elude you, melting from your grasp like a curl of smoke and promises?

I’ve never played a game like it and I knew I wanted to get it from a print & play version out to the community. John’s design is fantastic and his graphic design is really impressive. It’s basically a finished product – all that’s left is to push to get the Kickstarter ready to launch. We’re planning for a summer launch so stay tuned!

The second game we signed is Pocket Landship by Scott Allen Czysz. The original version is a solo game set in World War I where you command a landship (the original British term for tank) to clear a sector of enemy infantry, artillery and landships. On your turn, you roll dice and allocate them to your landship equipment to make attacks, heal damage, or utilize special abilities. On the enemies turn the dice are allocated based on the enemy set up and you resolve their actions. The really clever mechanic is that each enemy is trying to maneuver the battlespace throughout the game to get into a better position to attack you. A really fun game that’s challenging, tense, and an easy set up & tear down.

The original version was an entry in the 2017 9 Card Nanogame Design Contest on BoardGameGeek where you were limited to 9 cards, up to 9 dice and 9 tokens. Since his original design, Scott created an expansion to increase the number of enemies and player options. For what we plan to publish, he’s been working on coming up with some new enemy and player powers, as well as creating a 2-player cooperative variant. We’re also looking to re-theme the game with all new art and graphic design. I’m really excited about this one as well – the look and feel when we’re done is going to be awesome!

If you want to stay up to date with the progress of these two games and the 54 Card Contest results, sign up for our mailing list in the side menu. We plan on sending out monthly updates as well as notifications when our Kickstarters launch.

Until next time!

Getting Closer…

We’re only 12 days in to the 54-Card Game Design Contest and we’re already at 16 entries! So far they run the gamut: solo games, 4-8 player games, eurogames, “take that” games, games with awesome original art & graphic design, games that use a standard deck of playing cards. The team and I are working our way through the rules & cards of all of the “Component Ready” games and quite a few of them have gotten some great feedback in the less than two weeks they’ve been open to the public.

I’m continually amazed by the BGG community! Everyone is contributing to other designs in the contest. Whether it’s providing feedback on the rules, walkthroughs of how their plays went, ideas on how to improve/tweak/balance games, or graphic design & art suggestions, people just want to help make great games. I’m happy that we went this route to find games to publish – even if we don’t publish every single one, I’m confident that the feedback designers get on their games will help improve them and get them signed with other publishers.

Speaking of signing games… I think we’re dangerously close to signing our first game! One of the submissions we received was actually in a BGG design contest earlier this year (I won’t name any names since nothing is official yet…) I remember seeing the design during the contest and it seemed interesting but I didn’t get a chance to play it then. The contest was wrapping up right around the time Lorelai was born. So when it came in I started digging around on the design forums and looking into it. At first it seemed clever so I watched the playthrough video for it. Then I actually tried the game out (print & play files were available). And then I played it again. And again. And then I had Mike (one of the co-founders of SRG) play it. He was able to confirm my suspicion – the game was fantastic! We’re getting it in front of the rest of the team as soon as possible but I think this one is a keeper.

It’s exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time! We’re going to find a game that we love, make a commitment to publishing it, and do everything we can to get it out to the community. Hopefully we can do the game justice and put together something that the designer and the team can be proud of. I’m nervous, but I’m also confident that we can make it happen.

You should start seeing some more blog posts coming over the next few months. I plan on testing out contest entries as they become component ready so I’ll put some of my thoughts here. I’m sure the rest of the team will have inputs as well. Plus, if/when we sign a game we’ll update everyone and keep you in on the process of publishing.

Until next time!

Patience is Hard…

I like to think that most of the time I’m a patient person. But when I step back I realize that it’s a constant struggle for me. Sometimes I’m too quick to anger when my kids do something they shouldn’t, even though I’ve told them multiple times to not do it. At work, I’ve caught myself getting frustrated when someone doesn’t reply to a message I sent a few minutes ago (I know you’re at your desk, answer my question!!!).
I’ve also noticed my impatience on the hand full of game designs I’ve worked on. I get an idea in my head for a game concept, spend a bunch of time putting together a nice prototype, and get it to the table expecting it to work like a charm before the first playtest. I’m even trying to price out the manufacturing costs, shipping costs, and potential backer levels! And within the first 5 minutes of the very first playtest it’s broken. I want it to work! Why isn’t already done!?!

I’ve been consuming lots of game design media & content and it’s become much clearer that you can’t afford to be impatient when it comes to design. Playtesting constantly, iterating and reiterating, tweaking, getting feedback – these all take time. With so many great games coming to the market today, you have to do the work to ensure that your game is worth it. And the only way to do that is to be patient. You have to understand that 99% of the time a design just won’t work the first time. Or the second. But gradually, through an actual design process you can start to see progress. And that progress is what takes a game from an idea to something playable to something good to something great.

As a new publisher, I’ve found that patience is still important and still a challenge. We’re running our contest on BoardGameGeek starting on December 1st. Why isn’t December 1st yet!?!? I want to see some awesome designs that we fall in love with and just have to publish. Some of the submissions we’ve received through the site have been interesting enough to seek out more info. And with those as well, we have to be patient. We want to find the best designs out there and make them products. But we can’t publish them all and we have to be selective. And this is even more critical for us starting out since we can’t afford any misses in our first few published games.

Again, patience is the best and patience is the worst. 🙂 Until next time!

Our First “Board” Meeting

This weekend the guys got together to hold the first official Board Meeting of Side Room Games. Most of our planning efforts have been through email and messaging so we thought it made sense to get together to discuss business. And… Mike just got Gloomhaven in the mail so it made sense to get some “research” in and start a campaign. 😁

On the Gloomhaven side, that game is a magnificent beast! Without question the biggest board games I’ve ever seen. We started off watching the extremely helpful how to play videos on the Cephalofair website; if you’re about to start a campaign I’d highly recommend checking them out. I went with the Brute for our party and my inexperience as a “tank” in an adventuring party was quickly discovered. Opening the door to the second room and seeing 6 baddies I just assumed I could jump in and start crushing dudes. I was immediately met with volley of arrows from the 3 archers in the back of the room, turning me into a meat pincushion. After losing me so early in the scenario, the rest of the party was slowly overcome and we failed miserably.

My poor Brute was toast…

You would think such a rough loss would poorly color my judging of the game, but it didn’t. I loved it! I loved the fact that your decisions mattered and if you did dumb stuff you were going to pay for it. I loved the need for general planning on how to approach new rooms and villains. I loved the fact that the hidden goals and motives allow you to grow & mold a character into more than just stats & cards. And the story that gets told through the components as well as the gameplay was very cool. We’re itching to get a second crack at the first scenario; hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.

That is a lot of monsters…

On the business side, we’re still feeling out what the core responsibilities are going to be for the founders. I have ideas on where folks fit, but we’ll be working out a partnership agreement soon to formalize the roles and officially forming an LLC. Be on the lookout for future posts on how to do this, as well as any how-to’s/issues we ran into.

We also had an initial handful of submissions for game designs. A few of them seem promising so we’ve reached out to the designers to get more info and some video pitches with more details on how the game flows.

And finally, lots of questions on the 54-Card Design Contest that kicks off on December 1st. Check it out on BGG if you’re interested in entering a design, playtesting and providing feedback, or just seeing what happens. I know we’re stoked for it and I can’t wait to see what folks come up with.

Until next time!

Up and Running!

Welcome to Side Room Games!  It’s almost like we’re professionals… We have a website, a blog, email addresses, and a Facebook page.  Pretty exciting stuff!

We have big plans for 2018 so I wanted to start a blog to track our progress from start up to publishing our first game.  I plan on using the blog to let everyone know how things are progressing for us, what we learn through this process, and what colossal mistakes to avoid (we’ll try to keep that one to a minimum).  Hopefully folks find it useful, or at the very least entertaining.  🙂

In case you weren’t aware, we’ll be running a contest on boardgamegeek.com for a 54 card game design.  You can check out all of the details here.  We’re also accepting design submissions so if you have anything check out our Submissions page.  If you have any questions send us an email or hit us up on our Facebook page.

It’s going to be an adventure!