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Monday, 17 June 2013

Adventures on the Tabletop

There are many aspects to our hobby that go unnoticed, even by those enmeshed in the culture of it. This week’s guest post is from Prof. Douglas Morse as he delves into the secret world of Conventions. Take it away Doug.

The Secret World – Douglas Morse

There is a secret world of board game events that most fans don’t know about. It’s not a seamy underbelly like the backroom poker game. These are events in brightly lit convention halls and hotels. At the same time, the major cons have their own secrets hidden from the casual gamer. As I’ve worked on my documentary about game designers, Adventures on the Tabletop, I’ve been discovering the hidden corners of the tabletop universe.

In filming the documentary, my first event was the New York Toy Fair. Gaming is not allowed at the toy fair. It is almost unheard of for a game to be played all the way through. What you will see are demos and pitches. The Toy Fair is an industry only event and is focuses primarily on companies and retailers. As its name implies, it focuses on the big toys from Mattel and Hasbro. Yet there is a section devoted to Tabletop Gaming. Companies like R&R Games, Ravensburger, Queen Games, and Mayfair show off their new products to the many retailers moving from booth to booth. Smaller publishers too can purchase booth space next to the big boys. The retailers are often a mom and pop operation who will order literally a handful of copies of a new title. Buyers for Amazon.Com also visit booths to round out their on-line selection.

image

A pre-production sample of Explorers and Pirates (note the unfinished pieces) from the NY Toy Fair.

The consumer is a fickle beast always looking for a great new gaming experience and the publishers and retailers try to predict what product will be a great fit for their store and customers. Everyone is relying on instinct and past history. The retailers move from booth to booth, demo to demo as designers and publishers pitch their new games to the retailers as the focus is on the new.

A secondary dance is also taking place. Designers slip away from a demo booth to pitch and demo their prototypes to other publishers. Surprisingly, there is little competition between publishers for games. Specific games are good for specific publishers and designers. No one is worried about passing up the next Spiele Des Jahres. Designers and publishers want to collaborate on the right game and with a great game that is not quite the right fit, the publisher may well recommend another home for the game and designer.

Another unique event is the invitation only Gathering of Friends. Hosted by Alan Moon of Ticket to Ride fame, it is a ten days of gaming (adults only please, no kids) where an ever increasing group of passionate gamers get together (now in Niagara Falls with nearly 400 attendees) to play games, and more games, and even more. The event takes on the personality of the host: kind, funny, intelligent, and passionate about games and gamers. There was a ten year gap between my attendances. What I missed this year were the tournaments: Settlers, Wildlife Adventure, Modern Art, Adel Verpflichtet. The gaming industry has undergone a large change as Euro-gaming has exploded and moves towards the main stream. The preponderance of new titles, and the gamers that love to try them, has overwhelmed classic titles.

Also new to me were the number of prototypes being played, and pitched. As the hobby has grown, so has the number of new designers and games being playtested at The Gathering. Representatives from well-respected game Alan Mooncompanies are at The Gathering and pitching games has become part of the event. The quality of the attendees’ games is very high and many prototypes go back with the publishers for further play testing and development.

(Picture) Alan R Moon with his first published game, Black Spy. Now are-released by Z-Man Games.

I also filmed at PAX East. And it was a madhouse. Primarily a video game event, the tabletop gaming continues to grow. As the video games area shuts down at 6pm, many of the video gamers, looking for something to do, drift over to the tabletop area and find a similar gaming experience. Tabletop gaming is filled with a familiar set of tropes: armies, dwarves, dragons, and civilization building. But instead of shouting at someone through a headset, the opponent, or ally, is at the table with you. As gamers get older, they seek a family gaming experience that involves interaction rather than staring at a screen. PAX has shown us the dynamic interplay between gamers of both worlds.

Tabletop

At the Tabletop Free Play area of PAX East. Browsing the Library.

Then we get to the venerable Origins. It is where I am now as I type this. Unfortunately there are no secrets at Origins, no great new energy. When I attended many years ago, there was a tremendous energy. Now it feels more like a local event. That said, some of the best designers and publishers are here including fantastic new designers. So if there is a secret for the casual gamer is that your idols, and new friends, are within reach. You don’t need to buy a shrink wrapped game and retreat to the gaming hall. With just a little confidence and the right timing, you could have a lengthy chat about gaming with one of your design idols or authors. Access is key. Not everyone is at Origins, but many of the best are still here and everyone is courteous, if not enthusiastic meeting the fans.

Ogre

Steve Jackson played a Grandmaster version of Ogre taking on 12 players. It was an easy sign up. Here he is with the Kickstarted Designer’s Edition

My filmmaking journey will likely take me to Gen Con – a convention I’ve dreamed of attending since my teen years. I will also likely get to Essen, perhaps the largest game fair in the world. My journey through the secret world of gaming continues and there are secrets I’ll be sharing in the movie that haven’t been documented anywhere else. We will see what really happens in a pitch, how games make the journey from inception to prototype to playtest and development both from the designers and the publishers perspective.

I would love it if you would take a look at my page for information on how to get a copy of my documentary about Tabletop Game Design. The website www.tabletopmovie.com for now points to my Kickstarter campaign where there is the opportunity to get specials bonuses for backing the project. After that, further information and videos will be posted on the website.

Doug Morse is a professor of Media Studies and Film at The New School for Public Policy. Trailers and clips from his films can be seen at Grandfather Films Adventures on the Tabletop is his seventh feature film.

Doug

Here Douglas Morse directs his adaptation of Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

UK Games Expo through the eyes of a Child

Sometimes, as adults who are still playing with toy soldiers, we forget that games started out as a way to entertain our children. So this week I wanted to bring you a guest post from the lovely Mark Collins from Grim Tree Games (follow him on twitter) as he describes the way his 5 year old daughter perceived her first UK Games Expo.

Hello all. As you probably know, the UK Games Expo was last weekend, and it was a big success. Bigger venue, larger attendance, and pile and piles of quality games. Lots of happy gamers.

It was made a bit more special for me this year however. I helped out with the UK Gaming Media Network on the Saturday, and helped my brother play test his new card game ‘Parasite’, both of which I enjoyed a lot. The true treat though, was that my first born daughter was old enough to come and play games.

I was worried at first, she is only 5, and like all 5 year old children sometimes has the attention span of a goldfish. That’s not her fault, a 5 year old brain operates at the speed of thought. By the time she has worked out if something is a good idea or not, she has generally already done it.

We play games at home, but it’s been the standard kids stuff, Buckaroo, Pop Up Pirate, the kind of game where something is spring-loaded ready to explode and scare the life out of me. This was a chance to play some thinky games with her and connect on that level, also to get her playing these games with other kids.

I started the our online store with an older age range in mind (rather selfishly my age range), so it was an opportunity so see more family orientated games in action, the idea eventually put them cubequeston the store. We headed over to the Coiled Spring stand to see what they had on the demo tables. We played Cube Quest and Spooky Mirror Castle on their stand, and she loved them.

In Cube Quest you build a castle made of cube soldiers around a king cube, then flick them at the opponents castle trying to knock their king off the play mat. Plastic cubes were flying everywhere. In Spooky Mirror Castle you are trying to work out which of 4 ghost figures are kids dressed up and which one is the real ghost, also and which colour candle the ghost is holding. You can only see the candles by placing the ghost in the middle of the board and using a mirror to look under the candle. However if it’s the real ghost the mirror disappears so you have to deduce the colour from the other ghosts. You also have to move around the board collecting tokens before you can guess. She was totally engrossed. The games were for all ages, it wasn’t like I was dumbing down to play with her. The games put us on a level playing ground, so we all got something out of it. When pickadogwe left the stand all we heard about was the “spooky castle game” and the “flickly game” (Cube Quest). We ended up buying them, but keep a look out on the store as we want to stock these soon.

After that we went to the Imagination Family gaming area. There was a large table of games to choose from, but better than that there were the Imagination Gaming staff around to ask which game would be best to try. We had a game of Pick up Dog, an awesome quick reaction card game, and Dobble, another quick card game. Both needed fast reactions as there was no turn structure, it was just a free for all.

Pick up Dog had you picking up cards with pictures of dogs on them with slight differences. You had to pick up the same picture or one with 1 difference, the person with the most cards won. Harder than it sounds. In Dobble you have a deck of round cards with random pictures on. There was a central discard pile, as fast as you could you drew the top card from your deck and had to find a matching symbol on the top face up card on the discard pile. When you did you put your card face up on the discard pile, therefore changing all the pictures again. The first one to put all their cards down won. Super Super simple, but lots of fun. I would like to thank the Imagination Gaming staff who made sure we had rorysthe right game for our daughters age and stayed and played it with us till she was happy with the rules, they did a great job.

Lastly, we had a go with a set of Rory’s story cubes. For anyone who doesn’t already know, it consists of 9 dice, each with a random assortment of pictures on dice faces. You roll the dice, then use each dice and the picture rolled in turn to tell a story. There are no winners or losers, its just an exercise in imagination. I thought my daughter would go for this, she loves telling stories, they generally tend to involved princesses. It was another game that sounds interesting, but only really shines once you are playing it. So we bought that as well :)

At the end of the day I asked her if she had a good time, she said she had a brilliant time and couldn’t wait until she got home and could play her games again. I had a brilliant time as well, getting to play a different type of game and share it with my daughter, and see her enjoy the hobby for the first time was amazing. Based on that we are going to look at more family based games and events for the store. Its always been about doing what we enjoy, and now I get to share it with my family.

Hope everyone else that went had a great time, and if you missed it be sure to get there next year!

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Board Game News 28: More Kickstarters than you can shake a stick at!

Cornish Smuggling, Film Noir, All Out War, Superheroes and Documentaries, we’ve really got you all covered this week!

Grubin Games

Grublin Games is proud to announce the release of Cornish Smuggler, a strategic board game for 2-4 players. Cornish Smuggler has already smashed it’s goal on Kickstarter but you can still get in on the action here.

Cornish Smuggler, allows players to assume the roles of smugglers in 18th Century Cornwall. Players can buy and sell goods for gold while employing a network of local characters, secret knowledge, hidden locations, bribes, dirty tricks and a healthy dose of cunning to evade the attentions of the customs officers and the other players.

Smuggling in Cornwall wasn’t just an individual enterprise, it was highly organised and involved a staggering variety and number of people in the community. Fisherman and housewives, village carpenters, town clerks, miners, vicars and even witches…they were all in on it!
Cornish Smuggler represents a significant departure from the classical 'pirate' themed game. This is a game about dodging the Law, employing the local vicar, building a network, discovering and using secrets, renting out the mayor's wine cellar, and generally getting rich. It’s a surprisingly accurate historical representation, set in real places in West Cornwall!

In Cornish Smuggler, the choice of which goods to buy is key. As a player, you choose how much to sell your goods for; sell them cheap, and everyone will love you…your reputation and influence in the community will soar…but will you make a profit? With an increased reputation you can transport contraband more easily and evade customs, but to win the game you must have more gold than anyone else.
Customs officers will be constantly searching for contraband goods and their movements are entirely dictated by the actions of the smugglers, but…they can always be bribed! The higher the price you sell your goods for, the stronger the customs forces become...
Players can choose to buy large bulky goods, which are hard to fit on board ship (because goods and ships are all different shapes and sizes) or smaller, more easily transported goods which are worth far less. Also different sized towns offer different prices for goods. Smaller towns offer a lower price, increased reputation and a lower risk of having your goods seized by customs. Larger towns offer better prices and allow smugglers to sell more goods, but doing so is generally much more risky.

Cornish Smuggler is a balanced, fast-paced game that recreates the spirit of the smuggling age. Players are kept guessing about the outcome right through to the very end, just as the designers intended.

This is a game which is based on real things that happened to real people in a real place. All the things that you can do in this game are, to the best of our knowledge, things that people actually did. It’s not about one person sailing ships, commanding crews and firing cannons. It’s about building a network, a community of people, hidden secrets, secret coves, beer cellars, backyard sheds, mineshafts, mysterious signals and a whole host of other things that enable you to smuggle your goods.

We’ve researched what happened and we've done the absolute best job we can to capture the feel of the time within a game that is balanced, engaging, fun to play and keeps you guessing all the way through.

We didn't want to make a game where the theme seemed 'pasted on' or the mechanics seemed...overly familiar. We planned that every aspect of this game would complement all the others and, after more than 400 hours of testing, we feel very strongly that we've done just that.

IELLO Games

Guardians Chronicles is an epic semi-cooperative board game of superheroes and villains, in which the four brave heroes of the Liberty Patrol try to stop the dark schemes of one of their worst enemy: evil Pr. Skarov.

While one player plays the villain, safely retreated in his lair, the other players have to cooperate if they want to enter his base and evade all his minions and traps. Only by joining their forces will they succeed in stopping Pr. Skarov’s madness.

Guardians Chronicles provides an intense, immersive game experience, thanks to its abundant material (including miniatures of heroes, villains and minions!) and simple yet comprehensive game system. The rules focused on bringing life to the superhero in each player, by making them work as a team and combine together their own, unique superpowers in order to defeat Evil in several, different scenarios.

Guardians Chronicles is intended to be the first of a series of games telling the adventures of the Liberty Patrol against ever darker threats and enemies…

 

CROWDFUNDING

The game is currently being crowdfunded as a Kickstarter project. This allows the many backers to share their ideas on the game and give their input to the designer and publishers. Additional contents will be made available through many stretch-goals during the campaign, which ends on June, 18th and is already more than 70% funded. New insights on the game are revealed on a daily basis both on the Kickstarter page for the project, and on Facebook: artwork, rules, contents details, etc.

Titanium Wars

titanium-wars_mockup_ENAlso from IELLO comes Titanium Wars

FIGHT FOR TITANIUM, WIN FOR SUPREMACY!

When venturing in Limbo at the edge of the galaxy, scouts found a new form of energy: Titanium. First experiments showed it could push back the frontiers of technology, and even open new horizons for human capabilities. This news was more than enough to stir up the greed of humankind’s greatest factions. Each has sent fleets to take over nearby planets where Titanium is abundant – and even seems to be in constant expansion. From that point on, armed conflicts were bound to happen, and this war will be settled only by controlling the Titanium deposits...

Purchase buildings to master new technologies and increase your earnings. Buy units to expand your fleet and enhance your spaceships with powerful equipments. Explore the edge of the galaxy and adjust your tactics to seize control of new planets rich in Titanium.

Build your fleet, choose your enemies, and get the precious titanium!

FEATURES:

· Countless possibilities to build and equip your own fleet.

· Fast and smooth gameplay with no waiting for your turn.

· Impressive artwork.

Players: 3 to 4. Age: 12+. Duration: 60 to 90 min. Language: English.

Contents: 235 Arsenal cards (65 Units, 96 Upgrades and 74 Buildings), 12 Planet/Event cards, 50 Tactic cards, 8 Leader cards, Credits (50¢, 100¢ & 500¢ bills), Damage tokens, 1 first-player token, 4 Player-Aid cards and 1 rulebook.

Out: JUNE 2013

Suggested Retail Price: $39,90 / 29,90€

card_examples

 

Dicey Llama

The guys from Dicey Llama would like you to know about their upcoming Kickstarter…

Glendale, CA – A local entrepreneur announces today that he will be launching a KickStarter campaign for his card game series, PLAN 4, on June 1st, 2013. Like many before him, he will put his creation on the Internet and place its fate in the hands of the world. However, unlike many before him, it will be done using only domestic resources from start to finish. No outsourcing. No overseas manufacturing. Just a genuine Made in the USA tag on the box. Dicey Llama’s founder and president, Trevor Wingett, has big dreams in a world of cutting prices and increasing profits. Especially in a time where digital is so much more popular than analog entertainment.

“It pains me to hear about businesses - large and small alike - closing their doors here [in America] and opening them overseas,” says Wingett. In an economy of cutting the fat and increasing profits, Wingett believes that America the beautiful can also be America the profitable. “PLAN 4 is a game about collecting the four resources you need to complete your ‘plan’. It isn’t much different from what I am doing now. My plan is to launch my game and the 4 resources I need are: a good design, capital, public awareness, and a domestic commercial print shop. I have the design and found a few print shops. The rest is where the KickStarter campaign comes in.” KickStarter is a crowd-funding website that specializes in creative projects in the arts and technology.

Wingett knows that others share his ideals of bringing back Made in the USA and is reaching out to them to spread the word about his project.
It will not be an easy venture and Dicey Llama is prepared for that. “Hard work and dedication has gotten me this far and it will get me even further,” says Wingett. PLAN 4 has gotten rave reviews from those lucky enough to test it out and will be having events from now until independence day for the public to get a chance to play the working prototypes. The KickStarter campaign begins on June 1st and goes until the 28th. For more information about the game or the company, check out www.facbook.com.diceyllama or, find it on www. kickstarter.com in the month of June.

Havoc Boards

The guys at Havoc Boards would like you all to know about their Kickstarter Campaign

Havoc Boards are maps that can be used to play classic strategic war games on unique and real-life map locations. Each map has been painstakingly designed from scratch with incredible detail, with over six months of design going into our initial 15 maps!

Each map has been exactingly play-tested and offers an entirely unique playing experience. The maps are as geographically accurate as possible, with minor territorial changes to ensure excellent gameplay. 

Remember, Havoc Board rewards include only a classic board style or engraved wood Havoc Board and one set of map specific territory cards, unique to the map ordered. If you intend to play Havoc Boards, but don't already own RISK®, go pick up a copy for the full Havoc experience!

 

The Big Fix

The guys behind the Big Fix would like you to know a little more about their Kickstarter Campaign,

The Big Fix is a strategic and psychological card game that puts each player in the shoes of one of Film Noir’s most iconic roles. As the Private Investigator, the Femme Fatale (or Homme Fatale), the Politician and more, players uncover clues and trick their friends, all while searching for their enemies’ true intentions. Six roles, five agendas, three vices, and twelve character cards combine randomly so that a new story is told every time you play.

From top to bottom, The Big Fix is designed to play and feel like a Film Noir. Our goal was to create a game which is not only fun and strategically deep, but makes its players think and act like they were a character in a Film Noir. The game emphasizes individual agendas, simultaneous and interconnected player storylines, and temporary alliances driven by mutual benefit - all of which are key themes and motives in Film Noir. Winning at The Big Fix requires strategy, cunning, and a hard-boiled attitude.


Adventures on the Tabletop

Douglas Morse from Grandfather Films would like you to know about his documentary….

Adventures on the Tabletop explores, in depth, board game design. We’ll take you from inspiration to prototype to playtest of both new and established games. We will get into the nitty gritty of game mechanics, game balance, and game theory. From prototype, we’ll bring you into pitch sessions as designers pitch major publishers from Hans im Gl├╝ck, R&R Games, eggertspiele, and AbacusSpiele. We will discover what various publishers are looking for in theme, mechanics, and play.

Listen to The Game Whisperer Funding the Dream with director Douglas Morse

Furthering our exploration, we will then follow the games into the play testing labs of the publishers in both the US and Germany. We will watch as rules are probed, learn how designers collaborate with  publishers and experience the extensive playtest and development process from mechanics to theme.

Then we follow games to manufacture as publishers and designers look at game packaging, tolerances, and of course consider cost of components. A game is then released to market to reviews, positive and negative, sales big and small, and potential awards like the Spiel Des Jahres.

In the movie, we will interview giants of the gaming world from Alan Moon, Klaus Teuber, and Reiner Knizia. We'll discuss the design of Ticket to Ride, Settlers of Catan, Lord of the Rings and many more.  We’ll also take a comprehensive look  at the independent designers and distributors such as Tasty Mistrel Games, Greenbrier Games, Game Salute and how Kickstarter is transforming not only distribution, but game design itself.

The plan: We have already interviewed designers and publishers at PAX East, Alan Moon’s Gathering of Friends and the New York Toy Fair -- amassing many hours of footage. To continue our journey, the filmmakers must travel: BGG.CON in Texas, Origins in Ohio, Tilt Factor and Game Salute in New England, game design companies and the Essen Game Fair in Germany.

This Kickstarter campaign will help determine travel to conventions, publishers offices, and designers labs

Out This Week

And finally, this week’s new releases courtesy of Board Game Guru

Its expansion week!

‘Village Inn’ (for last year’s Kennerspiel winner ‘The Village’) , adds two new buildings and the bits for a fifth player.

‘Serpents and Wolf’( ‘Spartacus Blood and Treachery’) adds new factions and team battles

‘Age of Enlightenment’ (‘Rivals for Catan’) includes three mini expansions

‘Pilot Academy’ (‘Phantom League’) adds new Captains,Ships, Missions and a tweak to the battle system

‘The Battle for Normandy Expansion’  lengthens the campaign till August and includes the maps necessary to play the Mortain and Falaise pocket scenarios

Other releases include:-

The reprint of the 6 Chapter packs of the 'Clash of Arms cycle' for ‘A Game of Thrones Living Card Game’

‘Five Points: Gangs of New York’ – an area majority game from Andreas Steding (‘Hansa Teutonica’. ‘Kogge’ and ‘Firenze’)

‘Mage Wars Spellbook 1’

‘Dice Set for Descent 2 Edition’ – Another set of the nine dice from the base game

‘Sonne und Moon’ – a competitive patience card game with stunning artwork

I have added the games released (that I could source) whilst I was away to the new releases section. My pick is ‘Forbidden Desert’, the latest co-operative game from the master of the genre Matt Leacock (Pandemic, Forbidden Island)

Restocks

X-Wing Wave one ships are back in as is the base game.

'Netrunner' is back in as well as the fifth Data pack, 'Humanity’s Shadow'

Happy Gaming

Paul

Next Week….

Thanks Paul and there’s lots more still to come including the UKGMN’s coverage of UK Games Expo, a guest post from our friends over at Grim Tree Games and a review of the fun little filler Space Dice.

Monday, 3 June 2013

So You Want to do a Kickstarter

Crowd Funding, be it Kickstarter or Indiegogo, or any other form of independent publishing, has become a way for small start ups to get their product out there. Some projects are good, others are bad, some make their targets and others don't, but there is no denying that Kickstarters have become a way to circumvent some of the barriers that have been placed in the way of independent growth in the past. So this week we’re going to have a guest post from the lovely guys over at Albino Dragon on the benefits and pitfalls of running a successful campaign, take it away Erik.

After having raised over $350,000 on Kickstarter (with a project that is still open), I get a lot of questions about what it takes to make one successful. Here are the top twelve things that we've learned along the way.

1. Kickstarter is a community - Don't just launch a project without becoming a part of it first. Back other projects and see what you do and don't like about what they are doing. What rewards excite you and what makes you want to open your own wallet? If others are doing something similar, reach out to them, maybe there is a chance for some cross promotion so that you can help each other. And most importantly, solicit your own backers for feedback. Many of them have an idea of what they expect your final product to be so take the time to bring them into the design process if at all possible.

2. Know your numbers - You should know what everything is going to cost as best you can before launching. This includes production, shipping (including supplies, fulfillment, etc), at what price point your margins go up and you start to enjoy economies of scale, and advertising. Don't just guess, because if you're wrong and you just barely hit your target, you're going to have to make up the difference out of your own pocket. Don't forget those Kickstarter and Amazon fees either.

3. Shipping - I hit on this a lot and for good reason. This can sometimes be more costly than the production itself. Know your shipping costs. If you run a successful project, especially one with a lot of international backers, it could end up costing you a lot of money in the long run. Make sure you know what size package you need to ship each reward, how much it will weigh, and what carriers you will need to ship (some countries you have to use a specific carrier).

4. Advertise - Make sure you do this BEFORE you launch your project. People should be anticipating the launch so that they are ready to open their wallets when you begin, not finding out about it halfway through the project. You don't want to wait until you get to the mid-project slump before you start getting the word out. Talk to bloggers, reviewers, post in forums, anywhere anyone will listen before you launch your project. Keep running ads on appropriate sites to keep getting eyes on your project. We really like Kicktraq.com because every user on there is looking for a Kickstarter project to give their money to.

5. Quality - If we were a big corporation with a mission statement this would be in there somewhere. You may run one project and trick your backers into pledging for a substandard product and save yourself a few dollars, but you'll never see them as a backer again. We always spend a little more on quality products so our backers feel they got their money's worth.

6. Goal - Put it too high and it will seem unattainable. Too low, and once you fund, there isn't an incentive for anyone new to come on board. Make sure to have some stretch goals built in there to keep giving your backers a reason to get the word out and stay engaged with your project.

7. Stretch goals - I generally hate these. Put them in too early, and you just end up lowering your margins for no good reason. The point of the stretch goal is to get backers excited about the project so that they'll push hard to get something extra. Too often I see where I'm asked to basically just give something away for free just because we've already funded. If you can find ways to add value without cost, then you want to do this as much as possible, but be wary of adding anything without thinking it through completely. Remember that if you have to send something extra, there are fees and additional shipping eating into that.

8. Transparency - Or what most people call it, being honest. If you make a mistake, admit it. If you don't know, say you don't know and go find out. People can tell if you are genuine and as soon as they find out that you aren't, they will turn on you. We have always been open about our costs, how we do things, and why. It's gone a long way to strengthening that trust with our backers and many times it's led to suggestions that have helped us improve our processes.

9. Trademarks - Make sure that you've researched any chance that you might be sued for the name or product that you are putting out there. Most small projects will never have to worry about this, but if you happen to become a big success, it will make you a target for anyone that thinks they can get some extra money out of you. Even if you think you're in the clear after some searches, it pays to have a good exit strategy if things get heated (changing the project name, etc).

10. Passion - This should probably be much higher on the list because it's so important. Pick a project that you are passionate about! If you're not, how can you expect anyone else to be? If you are excited about what you are doing, you'll be able to get other people excited as well.

11. Experts - Every once in awhile I come across a guy that thinks he has all of the answers on how to run a Kickstarter project. More often than not this guy has either never run his own project, or hasn't made much money beyond friends and family. Even now, I would not consider myself an expert by any means as the landscape is constantly changing. So if someone volunteers to take your time and/or money using this moniker, I'd run the other way.

12. Success - Once you're successful, everyone wants to talk to you. I'm flooded every day with questions from project creators wanting to know why their project isn't doing well. Most I answer, but most of the time their campaign is failing for two reasons: it's either boring and/or they haven't put much work into it. It's pretty obvious who has done their homework and who hasn't. I don't have a secret formula. Actually I do, but most people don't want to hear it. It takes hard work, time, and a little bit of luck. If you're not willing to submit to these three, chances are you're going to fail.

There are probably a lot of other pieces of advice that I could give, but these are the biggest and most important from what we've seen across seven projects so far. I hope that you find this helpful and that you'll contact me someday if it's helped your project in any way.

by Erik Dahlman, Albino Dragon

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