Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last minute preparations

With less than 24 hours to go before our Kickstarter campaign begins, we're busy with last minute preparations.  I've been tidying up our official website, adding a few more component pictures.  I've also been working with some French and German translators who have prepared versions of our instruction manual for potential European supporters.  I really hope we get a good push in our campaign from France and Germany - I think a hybrid strategy game like this has great appeal across the ocean.  And of course we're finalizing our Kickstarter page.  We've got a ton of info for potential supporters on there - multiple videos, lots of images, rules, etc.  And I think there are some fun stretch goals planned that we'll hopefully get to include.

We're aiming for $25,000.  I don't know if that's a little or a lot, but it's an intimidating number regardless. And to get a copy of the base game, a supporter needs to pledge $85 ($79 if you're an "early bird").  That certainly sounds like a lot, but I guess I can say a couple things about it.  First, I didn't have much say in that number.  That's just Eagle Games crunching the numbers.  Second, like most modern board games, Clockwork Wars is a quality product.  The production value here is very high, and we're obtaining individual art-work for over 70 different cards and game components.  Each one of those pieces costs money.  There will be wooden components, tons of big hexagonal tiles to build maps with, and at least 3 unique miniatures. Since I designed this game to play very differently every time, I think you're getting a lot of bang for your admittedly high buck.  

Fingers crossed!  Anxiety levels high!  Enthusiasm peaking!  Hope to see you on our Kickstarter page tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kickstarter videos

With the launch of our KS campaign only two weeks away, I've been busy working on various videos for our KS page.  Eagle is putting together a professional looking and sounding video (around 2 minutes) that will serve as a nice introductory "pitch" of the game.  I'm excited to see how it all comes together.  We just finished picking our voice actor.  I never thought I'd get a chance to be involved in all these nitty-gritty decisions.

I also finished putting together a 3 min video introducing myself, in which I also talk a little bit about where the idea for Clockwork Wars came from.  It's weird - I'm a professor, and I spend a lot of time in front a classroom blah blah blahing about lots of different things.  I never (or rarely) get self-conscious or nervous about that anymore.  But doing this video was a little horrifying.  First, you have to deal with watching yourself in a video.  It's worse that hearing your own voice and realizing you don't really sound like the "internal voice" in your mind.  Second, you worry about saying the wrong thing, coming off like an idiot, or arrogant, or confused.  Gakk.  I took a bunch of takes, and I think it came out fine, but I can't say I'm looking forward to seeing it on the KS page.

Finally, I'm putting together a sample play-through video, where I take people through 3 or 4 turns of the game.  This one was more fun and easier to do, but the raw footage has ended up quite long. I need to do some editing or try to do it again more succinctly.  I'm learning how to use iMovie, which is a nice bonus.

I understand that these videos are immensely important to the success of our project.  People will often run away from a KS page if the intro video is crap, and boardgamers expect to see a decent play-through video nowadays so that they can get a solid sense of the gameplay.  I think we're doing everything right and real professional-like, but the tension is building!

Oh, and check out this awesome art for one of our territory tiles.  This is what our "tower" tile is going to look like (or pretty close).  I love the lava rivers and arcane runes on the ground!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Official Kickstarter Launch Date

Well, we're finally ready to get this party started.  The KS launch date for Clockwork Wars is July 30.  You can follow any last-minute announcements at either our official website, or our Facebook page.

Right now we're solidifying our various stretch goals and add-ons.  It's at a time like this that I'm eternally thankful I'm working with Eagle Games, who have extensive experience launching and guiding successful KS campaigns.

Whew!  I'm excited/anxious to see whether all this hard work and patience pays off.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Game Length Variants

My apologies for the lack of updates or information this past month.  Another series of frustrating delays prevented us from launching our KS campaign in June.  You really learn to develop your patience as a game designer, especially when working with established publishers.  There are so many factors in play that are simply beyond your control.  In addition, we got some valuable feedback from playtesters who got a chance to try out Clockwork Wars at Origins.  I've been wrestling with some of the key issues for the past few weeks.

One concern expressed by a number of folks was game length.  This is a sensitive issue for me, since I always wanted Clockwork Wars to play fast: 90 minutes at most.  However, several of the learning games at Origins were clocking in at over 2 hours.  As such, I've been trying to tighten up the turn structure a bit and, more importantly, develop a couple different ways (variants) to play the game.

The basic game will now be a shorter, tighter experience.  It will last 7 turns, with an Early Age of 2 turns, a Middle Age of 2 turns, and a Late Age of 3 turns.  For those who don't mind having a more drawn-out strategy game experience, there is an "epic game" variant that is 9 turns long (3-3-3), as per the previous rules.

Shortening the game down to 7 turns necessitated a few minor rules changes.  Capitals now provide 4 workers per turn instead of 3.  And each player starts with 1 Sorcery, Science, and Religion IP each, to help kickstart discovery.

I've been playtesting this shorter version quite a bit lately, and there's a lot to like about it.  Every turn feels incredibly important.  The first turn in each age is all about maneuvering on the map and acquisition of key discoveries.  The latter turn is about acquiring Victory Points or court dominance.

Originally, I tested a 2-2-2 version, but a 2 turn Late Age had some issues.  Players who researched late age discoveries only got 2 turns to use them - and that's assuming they researched them right away.   This made late age discoveries far less valuable, when they should be the most exciting and "over-powered" ones in the game.  With a 3-turn late age, players get the benefit of having a lengthy final stage to the game where all their toys are in play.  

Otherwise, we'll still working through a lot of the component design and should have some updated (and near final) prototypes in time for GenCon.