Nexus #4- Making a Dream Real

Dreaming a dream is one thing — making a dream become reality is a whole other story. Transforming a game from an idea into a physical thing is a big step — where does one even start? Well, this week I asked our two heroes Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz these types of questions and we get to hear their experience with the making of their new game Nexus.

MAME1I’m a fairly handy guy. I have built all types of things from furniture to a full MAME arcade machine complete with coin door. Whenever I think of a project, I can spend weeks or months doing research looking at designs and what other people have done before I ever start on it. So, when I asked Jay and Scott about how long it took them to get started on Nexus, I was quite shocked. Jay said, “we started working on the game immediately. From that discussion over lunch we were working on it the next day.” And Scott added, “yea, the next day I was all in. I think I did most of the core mechanics that weekend and it has consumed every day of my life since.” — Holy crap! The next day they started working on mechanics? How could you possibly start on something so fast? Scott answered, “we already knew we wanted to create a dice-based heads-up combat strategy game like the one we made up as children.” Oh, well that makes some sense. They already sorta had the game idea in their head and just needed to modify the home-brewed games they played as kids. But, surely — don’t call me Shirley — they had to do some research first — right?

When I asked Jay about what research they did before starting, he chuckled and said, “once again, we did everything wrong in the modern sense. We didn’t research other games much at all. We knew what we liked and what the feeling was we wanted to obtain. ” Wait, that can’t be right. Come on Scott, I know you had to do some research first. Scott said, “not until ours was almost completed. Even then it was just to make sure we didn’t inadvertently duplicate something that already existed. We didn’t find anything like what we have created.” I can understand that I guess. I mean if you kind of had an idea for the game from when you were kids and wanted something different than what was already out there, refraining from doing research for the sake of ensuring originality seems the right way to go. If you did research on the front end, you might run the risk of taking ideas that are already out there and using them for your project — not that doing so is a bad thing — just sounds like you were going for complete originality — which is cool. So, you guys didn’t do much research beforehand, but were you guys active in the gaming community?

dream-to-realityWhen I asked Scott and Jay about their activity in the gaming community when they started designing their game Nexus, Scott was first to answer. He said, “yea, in the 80’s. We Rip Van Winkled 30 years away and now we are trying to play catch-up. In some ways I think that is a good thing. ” Then Jay added, “yea, we definitely were not involved in the gaming community in the sense that we were not active on forums and other groups. The two of us really just lived in a vacuum. It sounds sad, lol. But we felt comfortable just doing what we were doing.” Jay and Scott both admit they weren’t in the gaming community in recent years. I could see where not being in the community for a long period of time could possibly result in a game that is incongruent with modern trends. When I questioned Scott about this he said, “I look at what is being put out now and I feel we have a fresh take on things that the gaming community just might enjoy. Or maybe we will land flat on our asses <shrug>.” I guess it is refreshing to see a couple of guys make a game that they enjoy instead of trying to follow some market trending data. They might just have made something both nostalgic and new by not being overly involved previously.

I asked Jay what he has found the most rewarding since re-entering the gaming community. He answered, “since the project has started we have been putting ourselves out there and we really do realize what we’ve been missing. We have already met some really exceptional people and that as been very rewarding. Working with artists and creative minds on a daily basis has really been amazing.” See, this is something I have to agree with wholeheartedly. In all my adventures in life and all my projects, it was not the adventures or the projects themselves that made the most impact on me, it was the people I met along the way. If you think about it, you’ll probably agree. Think back to any conference, event, or vacation you have ever been on. Sure the scenery is beautiful, but the family, friends, and even strangers who you ran into make up most of the stories you tell others about your experience.

I know Jay and Scott have put a lot of time and effort into their game Nexus and they really can’t wait to share it with the world. As they are getting re-acclimated to the gaming community, they are meeting some great people — and so am I! As things continue to progress, I look forward to meeting the new characters we will meet that will ultimately be the stars of future stories we will all tell about this experience.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share — comments are always nice too!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/

 

Nexus #5- Information Embargo – what?!

Why does the word embargo make me think of a barge or a ship of some sort? Maybe it reminds me of the word embark. I don’t know. — is it a bad thing to start the blog already off the rails? — Let’s get back on track here. This week, I asked Scott Rumptz about the self-imposed embargo they are currently in for their new game Nexus and he gives his first-hand experience and thoughts about the matter. But first, let’s talk about what an embargo is and if you should use one for your tabletop game KickStarter. An embargo — technically an information embargo — is a predetermined period of time you decide not to release certain information about your game to the public. This includes information posted on social media, your website, previews, reviews, press releases, everything. Typically, an embargo will run until about 6-10 weeks before your campaign will start — then you will have coordinated the dates that materials will be released to the public. The question is, should you use one? The answer is, “that depends.”

embargoKeeping information about your game a secret for a period of time — an embargo — starts with it being a secret in the first place. If you have been sharing your game on forums and Facebook, etc. and getting input and feedback about your game all the way through the process, having an information embargo might not be the best choice. Although a case can still be made that by “disappearing” for a bit while you get your marketing strategy and materials together could still be a good way to go. A good instance of when to use an embargo is if you have done most or all of the work outside of the gaming community. For example, the game Nexus that Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz are creating — they were old-school gamers who got out of the hobby for a long period of time. One day, when they decided to recreate a game from their youth they didn’t need input from a large group of people since they were recreating something they already knew how it would play. Since their game was not already out in the public, an embargo was the wise choice. So, now you know what it is and when to use an embargo, but this begs the question — “But, I WANT people to know about my game! Why would I ever want to NOT tell people about it?” Great question! Let’s talk about some of the reasons why you might want to incorporate an information embargo before your campaign.

The first reason you might want an information embargo is you get to control the message. Ok, what the heck does that mean? Well, controlling the message means you get to dictate the conversation for a period of time by releasing only information you want to be discussed. For example, maybe you have dice in your game but you know that a big part of your market just totally hates dice — well, you can lead with other parts of your game to build excitement in other areas and — possibly — build enough excitement that they might overlook that the game has dice in it later when you finally release that information. Another thing is that every game seems to have it’s fair share of haters — concentrating your marketing to a shorter period of time gives them less time to take control of the conversation before your launch. Yes, some things people bring up are valid and can help you make adjustments, but at the same time, some people just love to hate on things and look for any negative to blow up as big as possible for whatever reason. Controlling the message is just one reason to use an embargo.

77c2910950Another reason to use an embargo is what I call effectual excitement — I got paid an extra 50 cents for that phrase. What I mean by that is making the best of the excitement the public has about a game for the first period of time they learn about it. The more excited someone is about something, the more likely they are to act on that excitement. They are more apt to sign up for your newsletter, join your social media, and — hopefully — buy your game — all based on their excitement for it. The problem with excitement is that it fades over time. If you know you are going to launch 8 months from now and you go ahead and start advertising everything your game has to offer — yes, more people will know about your game — but, the excitement level is a whole lot lower. The long period of time being exposed to marketing about your game could cause fatigue — where people are just tired of hearing about it for months on end — and could cause people to not pay attention to your calls-to-action — like buying your game upon launch! By holding back on marketing to just a couple months before launch — or even less — you can ensure your KickStarter will launch with people at maximum excitement levels and the least amount of product fatigue. Of course an embargo without efficient advertising will do no one any good — so make sure to do your homework and get everything set to pop off as soon as the embargo is lifted. As you can see — an information embargo is all roses! — Nope — as with anything, there are always downsides — and this is where I let Scott tell you his thoughts about the pros and cons of an embargo in a real life situation.

Scott, tell me about the struggles with doing an embargo.

Scott said, “I understand its purpose, the deliberate and focused release of information to walk people through the story we are trying to tell about our game. But I just want to show everyone all this awesome shit! We literally have hundreds of pieces of amazing artwork and some, as my daughter calls them, “savage” miniatures. Being in an embargo means I have to just sit on all this stuff and watch people talk about how they want more information about the game. Meanwhile I am yelling at my monitor, “I WANT TO TELL YOU! I REALLY DO!” Unfortunately we are too far away from launch date, if we show people everything now the excitement will die down before they can ever get it. I hate it, but that is just how humans are, excitement sells. Sometimes I wish we could be marketing to Orcs like this guy (ORK STABR).” — Seriously, check out this Ork Stabr guy on Kickstarter — funny stuff!

Scott, what are some of the positives you have seen from being in an embargo?

Scott answers, “the embargo makes us think outside of the box. We get to release cryptic and awesome images with no frame of reference and watch people try and figure it out. Deep down I like messing with people, so that part is fun. It has been really cool to watch the teaser campaign pick up momentum. We just have a few images out there at the moment and your articles and that is it. People are starting to connect some dots though and that is pretty cool. We can’t just say HEY LOOK AT THIS! However, we can leave a trail of breadcrumbs. A few people (like two) have even figured out the blood.stream

As you can see, an embargo can be both challenging and rewarding. Is it the right choice for you? Well, that is up to you to decide. Leave your thoughts in the comments below about the pros and cons of an information embargo.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/

Nexus #6- The Art of working with Artists -Part 1

I think most people can relate to having read a book which later gets turned into a movie. While reading, you get a picture in your head of what the scenes and characters look like and when you watch the movie, it often looks totally different than what you imagined. This same thing can happen when designing a game. You can spend months — or years — designing mechanics and writing lore — the whole time developing images in your head about what things look like. Then it comes time to hire some artists and bring these images in your head into reality. This is the topic of this week’s interview with Scott Rumptz and Jay Goike of D-Verse Publishing. I asked our two heroes about their experiences working with artists while making their game Nexus — and I recorded it for you to listen to!

Scott and Jay told me why art is so important to them and how they viewed artists in the gaming community as kids. It’s interesting how nostalgic they are when they talk about it.

danny1*artwork by Danny Cruz

Having no clue how any of this works, I asked the guys about where they located artists and how they approached them to work on their game Nexus.

 

As you heard, the guys said it was a worry of theirs that the artists might not take them seriously since they were not a large company and didn’t have a large history of games they had already produced. To combat this, they devised a strategy that would help build trust when working with them. Scott and Jay understood the obstacle ahead of them and adjusted their way of doing business to alleviate those obstacles. The first step was negotiating terms that were beneficial to the artists and implementing a NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement). They also sent along lore for the game of Nexus which, apparently the artists really enjoyed — making them even more excited to work on the project.

 

As Scott and Jay described, having well written lore will really help build excitement with the artists. This excitement will be carried through to the artwork on your project so take your time here. Scott and Jay didn’t stop there — they gave the artists — and future fans — the freedom to interpret the world of Nexus in just about any way they see fit.

 

bloodthirster*artwork by Danny Cruz

Hearing that someone is excited to do artwork based on lore that you’ve written has to be an incredible feeling. Actually getting that first piece back and seeing it with your own eyes — well, I’ll let the guys explain it to you….

 

There is a lot more to this interview with Scott and Jay about their experience with art and artists. Next week, we’ll pick up where we left off and how they were introduced to an incredible sculptor.

Let me know what you think about this sound-clip format. Should I do more like these or should I just continue on with the written format?

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/

 

Nexus #7- The Art of working with Artists -Part 2

Finding the right artists for your project can be like finding a needle in a haystack — seriously, has anyone ever looked for a needle in a haystack? — bad phrase aside, finding artists can be difficult. Something I found interesting when speaking with Jay Goike and Scott Rumptz from D-Verse Publishing is that a lot of the best artists can be found through relationships with other artists. If you think about it, this makes sense. If you are a specialist in your field, chances are you have someone that you look up to — maybe someone you have always wanted to work with but just haven’t had the opportunity. Well, if you find a project that you really enjoy with a company that does business that favors your specialty — odds are that you will recommend that person you look up to in hopes of being able to work with them on a project you believe in. What I’m finding out is there is a lot of ways to find artists, you just need the right approach.

*Art by Michael Rechlin

When looking for artists for a project, it’s ok to look for people outside of your genre. The trick is to send them the lore — hopefully you spent the extra time on it — and if they enjoy it, have them send you some sketches. That’s exactly what our two heroes Jay and Scott did when looking for artists for their game Nexus. They weren’t swayed when they saw the artists they were interested in specialized in a different genre. Take a listen to what they said about finding a guy called “Viking Myke” who shocked them with his first pieces.

 

 

*Art by Lorenz Hideyoshi Ruwwe

It sounds like letting artists do whatever they want can be very beneficial — but what happens when you need something specific and the artist just is not understanding what you want? Jay and Scott ran into this exact situation when working with an artist overseas who spoke only broken English which added an additional layer of complexity to the communication process.

 

The great comedian Steven Wright once said, “It’s a small world……but I wouldn’t want to paint it.” This adage rings true when you start working with people from a community — and the art community is no different. Listen to what happened to Jay and Scott with a couple of their artists they commissioned to work on Nexus.

 

*Sculpt by Roberto Chaudon

What I am discovering is there are many benefits to being flexible in the way that you do business and having a project that excites those around you. One of those benefits — which could easily be overlooked — is getting referrals from artists on who they think would be a good match for other areas of your project. Scott and Jay were fortunate enough to get this honor from one of their artists when they started asking around for a sculptor.

 

*Art byHelge C. Balzer

The referrals and recommendations didn’t stop at a sculptor. Jay and Scott needed to find someone to do an epic scene for the box cover that would incorporate all the different facets of their game Nexus all in one shot. Listen how the artist not only delivered but also suggested a detail that would be immediately incorporated into the game.

 

If you take anything away from this blog post — you should remember that doing business in a way that puts the artists first instead of yourself and taking the time to write immersive and unique lore — both will take you a long way with making the right connections at the right times.

Next time I am interviewing the artist Danny Cruz himself! His art is nothing short of amazing and I can’t wait to hear what he has to tell us about his experience as a professional artist.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share!

To learn more about the game of Nexus, go here: https://d-verse.com/nexus/

Artist Spotlight: an Interview with Danny Cruz

Nothing seems to catch my attention faster than a good piece of artwork. Art that is done well tells an entire story which is communicated in just a few seconds. The skill required to accomplish this takes years to acquire — and a lifetime to perfect. Some artists sit down, create their art, and think nothing of it — others, like the one I interviewed earlier this week, study and hone their craft for an entire lifetime.

This past week I was fortunate enough to speak with the very talented artist, Danny Cruz. You may have seen his work on the game Kingdom Death: Monster. Danny shared some insights about his experience as an artist and what types of projects he enjoys working on.

Danny---Lanista-3

*Art by Danny Cruz

I asked Danny how he got his start as an artist and what were his early inspirations. Like many others, Danny started drawing at a young age and realized he had a talent for it. Listen to what he shared with me about his early years and which artists caught his eye. 

 

I think everyone loves a “big break” story. Danny tells me how he got a couple of big breaks that he still benefits from to this day. He says he no longer has to go out and find work, rather the work seems to find him as a result of previous success.

 

What I found interesting is that although Danny has had such a great response to his art, he sets the bar for himself almost impossibly high. He tells me he is constantly trying to improve on his skills — trying to “level up” enough to impress his most harsh critic — himself. 

 

Danny---Hoarder*Art by Danny Cruz

Being new to the tabletop gaming world, I wouldn’t know who Danny Cruz is if it wasn’t for his current work with D-Verse Publishing and their game Nexus. I was curious to see what he had to say about the lore in Nexus and how he brought the characters in the game to life.

 

Getting a glimpse into the mind of an incredibly talented artist such as Danny Cruz was a great experience. Danny’s never-ending quest to perfect his craft is nothing short of motivational. He is a great example of someone who was given an ability and rather than squander it, he has turned it into something that will move and inspire people for generations to come.

If you would like to see more of Danny’s art, you can visit his DeviantArt page at http://dannycruz4.deviantart.com/

Next time I will be sharing the interview I did with the artist Michael Rechlin — also known as Viking Myke. It will be interesting to see Myke’s perspective on being an artist in the world of tabletop gaming.

If you like what you see, be sure to follow, like, and share! Comments are always nice too!