Kickstarter Update: FUNDED!!!

We did it guys! We successfully funded on Kickstarter, and with about two days left to go! This means that for all of you who have pledged your support already, and those still pledging (thank you!) WarMage: Apprentice Edition will indeed be coming to a mail-box near you in the upcoming months!

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We’re so grateful to all of you who have helped us on this journey either by throwing money at us or by other means, we have no real words. So, to show our gratitude, we’re giving a special little thank-you! We’re doing away with our stretch goals and adding those extra spells in to all the decks anyway. So everyone who ordered the $35 or higher base game will get 12 extra spells, and everyone with the $50 or higher Empyrics expansion will get 6 additional spells above that! This is our way of saying thanks for making our first attempt at crowd funding one of our games a success.

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If you want to check out the Kickstarter updates, click here, and of course there’s still a little bit of time to get in on the action yourselves if you haven’t already!

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WarMage Press Release

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“The fragile peace between mages has always been kept by the legendary WarMage of High Bastion. From the Stone Seat, the authority of the WarMage over the mages of Elerania has been absolute and unchallenged for decades… until now.

Now the WarMage is dead, the world of mages is in chaos, and the Stone Seat stands empty–waiting for the most ambitious, most powerful mage to claim its glory…”

Game - Unboxed

WarMage: Apprentice Edition is the first installment in the WarMage series, a stand-alone competitive card game in the style of Yu-Gi-Oh! or Magic: The Gathering, for two to nine players of all ages and suitable for challenging both beginners and veterans alike.

Summon your magical might and do battle against other aspiring mages, wielding communal spells from six unique disciplines of magic to launch attacks, hinder your opponents, empower yourself, and control the battlefield in a shifting, dynamic fight to be the last mage standing!

Get in on the action (and try out the print-and-play demo) by supporting the WarMage: Apprentice Edition Kickstarter campaign from October 14th to November 13th at:

www.tiny.cc/WarMage

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“I loved it; it was really quick and easy to pick up, I thought it was a great party game. It was really crazy, chaotic–there were a lot of powerful spells and effects… It was a lot of fun!”

~Eric C.

“Cast, counterattack, counter-counterattack; WarMage is a fast paced, magical mixed martial arts fight that, win or lose, will leave you craving more.”

~Brian F.

“I enjoyed WarMage–I liked all the bizarre spell combinations that end up happening in the game, even when they’re unintentional! Even when you end up killing yourself instead of everybody else…”

~Tyler W.

“Wield your spells tactically, or you may see them turned against you. Win or lose, WarMage’s unpredictable struggle for supremacy will leave you clamoring for a rematch.”

~Kendra B.

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If you would like to feature this press release on your own website, please feel free. We only request you keep the links and photos intact and link back to our website.

The WarMage Kickstarter

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We’ve got big news! You may have already heard, or guessed, but we’ve decided to crowdfund our next game, WarMage! We’re using Kickstarter, and we’re terribly excited to be bringing the game to you with the possibilities for expanded content and exclusive rewards which Kickstarter can offer!

WarMage: Apprentice Edition is our magic-battle card-game, in the vein of Magic: The Gathering or Yu-Gi-Oh. It’s sort of a hybrid between collectible card games and deck-builders, where players play entirely from the same deck with no need to buy tons of booster packs. Players do battle with each other using spells from six unique schools of magic in order to take the throne as the WarMage of High Bastion, the most powerful mage in the world of Elerania.

Box & Components Spell Cards Wound Cards Mana & Rune Cards

The Kickstarter campaign for WarMage will launch officially on October 14th, and will run for 30 days! We have many unique rewards planned, as well as a convention appearance, so be sure to come visit us for a live trial of WarMage at SHADOCON (Saturday, November 1st) if you’re in the Central Florida area!

Random Design Thought: On Kickstarter (Part 1)

Hey, everyone; James here.

This Random Design Thought is less about games themselves, and more an exploration of my recent experiences in starting to put together the upcoming Kickstarter campaign for WarMage: Apprentice Edition. We’ve never run a Kickstarter before, and while there are plenty of resources written by people after they’ve run a campaign or two, I haven’t found many people who have written about their experiences constructing and designing their campaign, and their expectations and hopes. I think there’s some valuable information lost because of that; even if it’s just a sense of solidarity with another creator who’s gone through the same thing that you have. We tend to polish the past a little, even when we don’t mean to, and a lot of Kickstarter post-mortems that I read tend to have this implication that the creator knew largely what they were doing along the way–when I suspect a lot of what makes a Kickstarter so time- and attention-consuming is that there’s only so much you can hold onto it and plan for it, and the rest of it is just holding onto the reins and hoping it doesn’t buck you into the dirt.

So I thought I’d just put down some thoughts I’m having about our upcoming Kickstarter over the next several Random Design Thoughts posts, and then revisit things afterward to see how my thoughts matched up with what happened.

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The ‘WarMage: Apprentice Edition’ Kickstarter campaign cover image… or at least how it is right now.

First of all, while in my personal life I tend to be less than organized in a lot of ways (you should see my bedroom; it’s like someone set off a bomb in there), when it comes to creative projects and the like, I’m a pretty attention-to-detail kind of guy. That’s not to say I always get the details right–Caytlin routinely educates and corrects me on any number of things, as does the rest of the Roan Arts team–but I do always try to pay attention to them. So the first thing that I’ve done is research.

The most valuable thing we got out of going to Tampa Bay Comic Con (apart from joining the IGA) was a sense of position and direction as a studio. We went into TBCC not actually knowing how far along we were or how we were doing, and came out of it having learned that we’re much further along than we’d thought, and that we were probably ready to take the next step and move toward a Kickstarter. We try to be conscious of not moving too fast for our own capabilities and capacity.

So, we knew we wanted to do a Kickstarter and were probably ready to do a Kickstarter as long as we could do it on our own terms. Not shoot for the moon, but put together something respectable as our first attempt. The next question was, HOW do you put a Kickstarter together? That’s where we spent time researching, and learned a lot about not only the nuts and bolts of Kickstarter, but also about what we needed to know and decide before we could even make certain decisions, and what we liked and disliked that we saw in various other campaigns; we made sure to research Kickstarters that failed to reach their funding goals, as well as those that succeeded (and those that succeeded wildly, to be ready for that).

What We’ve Learned (Or What We Think We’ve Learned) So Far:

(1) Carefully consider your backer rewards, from a bunch of different angles. We’ve all got some kind of sales experience, even if it’s just retail sales from back in the day. There are a few things that you can pick up from that, like pricing things to encourage the buyer to up-sell themselves (‘well, for only $ more, I can get this, too…’), grouping price points together to aim for different kinds of backers (we’re doing a few groupings, to accommodate people who just want to help, people who just want the game, people who want something exclusive, and people willing to put in a big sum for a big reward), and making all the tiers a smooth progression (every tier we have planned builds on the tier below it; you’re never choosing between things, only choosing how much you want to add on top of what you’re getting).

(2) Really spend time working out your plan for shipping, fulfillment, and rewards. These are things that really need to planned out before you can put your campaign together in the first place. Do the math, and really brainstorm and look at your options. We’ve found a couple of cool things we can deliver on based on how we’re proceeding in these areas.

(3) Make the page visually appealing and fun to read, keep your initial video short and personal, and don’t overstay your welcome–and a lot of other aesthetic things which all compound on each other. Write a script for your pitch video. Consider how the reader’s eye will move down the page. Don’t let too much text go by without something breaking it up. Outline the information you need to give, and lay it out; then do it again, and again. Get feedback, and take it seriously.

(4) Figure out your plan for stretch goals. In fact, do everything you possibly can stand to do BEFORE launching your Kickstarter, so you’ve got plenty in your arsenal when it goes live.

(5) Be ready to engage your audience as often as you can. When your campaign goes live, it’ll become your full-time job until it’s over–then it’ll just be part-time. Figure out who on your team has, if not the time, then the energy, to be engaged consistently for a month.

(6) Be ready to succeed wildly, and fail spectacularly. There’s no telling what will resonate with an audience. Our game might be picked up as the greatest thing since sliced bread, and we might get funded a hundred times over. Or we might not even get a single backer. So it’s important to be ready for both possibilities, and of course, to do everything possible to push things toward the former and away from the latter.

So, What’s Next?
On the front end, we’re currently in the process of mocking up the campaign page, and reviewing it amongst ourselves before we start asking other people for feedback. On the back end, we’re finding and backing good projects to help build some credibility and support the community, we’re working out the logistics and technical points, and planning out our video(s). I’ll keep checking back in as we continue in this process, and learn, and make mistakes, and grow from them.

Random Design Thought: Theme Vs. Mechanics

(Programming Note: We’re experimenting with moving our Random Design Thoughts to the dev-blog from the Facebook page.)

Let’s talk a bit about balancing the theme of a game with it’s mechanics. A good game needs more than just functioning mechanics, they must be engaging. The act of rolling dice or playing cards is intrinsically fun in and of itself. Clever ways of using the dice and cards do add to the fun and challenge of a game, but what really brings it all together is creating mechanics that fit with the meta of the game.

To better illustrate my point I’ll use an example. Say you wanted to make a card game based around dueling samurai. You decide each player has a deck of samurai cards that each are of a different faction and on their turn they challenge other players to honor duels. Simple enough, the active player picks an opponent  and they each lay down a samurai card. But how is the combat resolved? One way would be to have each player roll a number of dice equal to whatever combat stat is on the card, add the results, and compare. The first player to win three out of five roll-offs wins the battle and is one step closer to winning the game. Does it work? Technically, yes. Does it feel like the archetypal samurai duel, two warriors staring each other down in a blizzard of cherry blossoms? The sudden charge, swords flashing in a single pass and the loser falling dramatically while the victor faces away, sheathing his blade? Not reallyHaving multiple dice rolls and adding individual dice results for a total is far too cumbersome. Multiple rolls may not be the best mechanic to get that feel. Perhaps a single roll or playing a hand of cards all at once would better imitate the quickness and precision found in the samurai style of fighting.

But what if you find that you like the mechanic better than the theme? Just change the meta to something more suitable. Perhaps the multiple roll offs would give the right feel for knights dueling, the gaining and losing of advantage in the struggle to land an armor rending blow. Usually, loyalty to the initial theme wins out and the mechanic changes, but always save the old rules. Sometimes the feel of the mechanic can generate new ideas. Why not have both a samurai game and a knight game?

~Sam

Con Report: Tampa Comic Con

So, we went to the Tampa Bay Comic Con this last weekend as a group (those of us close enough to make it). We stayed for the whole three days, and it was worth every minute. There were a lot of good times, and we had fun. We also learned a bit, got to show a few people our games and such. But really, the highlight for us was getting to meet some other small game developers and networked a bit. As a result, we are now delighted to be members of the Indie Game Alliance! The IGA is a group, a bit like a guild, of small game-development companies who have banded together to share expertise, cross-promotion, and extend the reach of our collective games so they can be demo’ed at a wider range of events than any individual small company might be able to manage.

Really, it’s just so exciting to find a group of like-minded people trying to make games. Finding our peers really boosted our morale as a whole. That’s sort of what comic/gaming/SFF/Anime/generally geeky conventions are all about. You go to have fun and learn stuff, but really you go to find your community and embrace them. So, in that respect alone the Tampa Con was a success for us!

Otherwise, the convention had it’s ups and downs like any other. There were lines to wait in, and panels to choose between because they were scheduled simultaneously (who scheduled the zombie apocalypse and post-apocalypse fiction panels at the same time?!?). Some of the panels were well-run, fun, and informative, and of course some of them…ah…weren’t.

Overall, I’m not sure that we’ll return to this convention, for a variety of reasons most of them not really related to the Con itself. But thanks to the IGA, I’m sure our games will be there next year!

Tampa Bay Comic Con! (and other news)

This week’s very exciting news is that Roan Arts, in the persons of James, Sam, Brad and Kestrel, will be heading to the Tampa Bay Comic Con for our first convention together. We’re not attending “officially” (we won’t have our own booth) but more as a scouting mission with attendance at this and other local cons in mind. We’ve all been to conventions of various sorts before, but this will be our first time going as the face of “Roan Arts”. So if you’re also at the convention on August 2nd, look for us wandering about looking thoughtful! We’ll all be wearing Roan Arts shirts, and we’d love to talk to you! ^_^

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In other news, Hunters: Battle of Arkady received its (and our!) first review this past week! The winner of our contest asked if she could write a professional review for Across the Board Games. Check it out if you’re interested in outside opinions of Hunters. We’re very grateful to the author, Nicole, for her fair and eloquent piece.

Finally, we will be taking a bit of a break from game-releases for a little while. We have several projects in motion right now, from the PC-game James is working on coding to a complex table-top RPG we’re all working on. We also are discussing new avenues of bringing our games to you, so we’ll be focusing on all that for a bit. Never fear, we’ll still be active online and any new developments will certainly be announced to the community as soon as we are able!

New Game Release: Ars Victoriae

“Plan and adapt your strategies.
Predict and outwit your opponent.
Place your tiles carefully and secure your triumph.
To the victor goes the glory.
To the victor go the spoils.
This is the art of victory.”
~General Beauthuvus

Ars Victoriae box, showing tiles and point counters.

Ars Victoriae box, showing tiles and point counters.

Nearly three hundred years before the invention of Chess, the Roman General Beauthuvus created a competitive game of tiles based on ancient games of strategy and tactics (such as Go and Petteia). This game, which became widely popular throughout the northern border province of Arbraen–primarily among the Legions’ soldiers due to the province’s militant society and frontier location–was commonly called ‘Ars Victoriae,’ which translates to “the Art of Victory.” Ars Victoriae was simple enough for a child to learn, and yet could take a lifetime to master; common citizens and soldiers alike enjoyed it as a way to gamble, whereas commanders and lieutenants used it to practice and develop their skill in strategic thinking. It was portable, requiring only a set of simple tiles and coins for score-keeping, which helped ensure that Ars Victoriae was played from the halls of the rich to the homes of the common people. Several of the greatest heroes of Arbraen, including the famous gladiator-turned-soldier Samendai, were discovered due to their prowess in playing the game. Over the following five centuries, as the Roman Empire rose to the heights of its greatness and then crumbled into the dust of legends, Ars Victoriae fell into decline and vanished along with it, and the once popular game of tiles ultimately faded away into obscurity–although its influences can be seen in many other now-classic strategic board games around the world. Now, thousands of years later, thanks to the recently rediscovery of an intact set by Inarounhed University’s Dr. James Andai, and the painstakingly-reconstructed archaeological evidence left behind by the avid and ancient game enthusiasts of Arbraen, you can rediscover the “Art of Victory” and test your strategic thinking with Ars Victoriae, the classic game of wit and warfare!

Ars Victoriae is available for sale from Roan Arts LLC through our TheGameCrafter Store

Designing Women (in Games)

Probably, if you’ve paid any attention at all to gaming-news this past week, you’ve probably heard about the furor surrounding developer Ubisoft’s E3 announcement about their new Assassin’s Creed: Unity game. One of their creative director’s, Alex Amancio, came out and said that it was just “too much extra work” to create a female playable assassin. Predictably, the internet exploded on his face, the outrage bringing in arguments ranging from historical accuracy (the most famous French Revolution assassin is a woman) to game-design (they could add a lot of other extra features, but women were just too much time and effort).

Really, the most notable bit about this whole thing is how blatant and tone-deaf Ubisoft and it’s representatives were about the controversy. Usually game-companies just don’t bother to explain why there’s no female playable-character option, and expect their customers to accept this state of affairs as de rigeur. Ubisoft should have realized that the culture is changing (slowly and painfully) and blatant sexism is starting to be called out on a more regular basis, even in the “traditionally masculine” world of game design.

Honestly, it’s not so much that in this day and age I expect gender equality to be achieved without thought or effort. We’re not to that default point yet. Maybe some day, but not yet.

But I do expect that people will be thinking about these issues, and putting forth the effort to counteract them. Some people are. Some people are making a point of including some sort of diversity in their artistic endeavors. Maybe not in every single one, but at least in a few. But all too many people are pushing back against this swing toward greater equality (in all realms, from gender to race to sexuality and beyond). Some people push back out of laziness, and others out of fear of change to the status quo. Some people are pushing back out of pure self-interest. After all, the current cultural climate greatly privileges certain folks over certain other folks (you all know who you are, whether you admit it or not).

Some people want to fight back harder against the upholders of the status-quo. I understand the feeling, but that’s not my way. My way of bringing about change is by educating the next generation and outlasting the last one, while making the effort to be as inclusive and open-minded as I can be personally here in the present.

Meanwhile, people who make an active effort to dis-include me and my friends can not only kiss goodbye any hope of earning my dollars, but they can certainly count on my active attempts to prevent anyone I know from spending money on them as well. After all that effort to show how much I am not welcome in their game (or other media) world, they should be delighted to learn I’d rather spend my money (and time) elsewhere.

~Kestrel


 

I just had to chime in as well, and piggyback on Kestrel’s sentiments.

Situations like this make me think back over the role of women in games–being in them, making them, and playing them–over the course of my life. Women have come a long, long way in all of those areas. When I first played an MMO (Asheron’s Call), back in the ancient and dusty days of dial-up, it was a huge deal to meet a ‘girl’ playing the game. As time went on, more and more showed up–because games are fun! I’ve served under several female guild leaders in my time, and now live in a world where there’s a solid statistical likelihood that I will get my butt kicked in a game by a female gamer pretty much every time I play a game (a spot which used to be reserved for my older brother when I first started playing games). Women play games. They’re here to stay. And thank goodness! When we’ve accepted more complex narratives in games due to well-made female characters, those games have often been praised for breaking new ground in games. Guys, let’s face it–we aren’t really THAT complex and interesting (and I say that with love). There’s only about a dozen core concepts you can get out of a male-dominated game. But put in women–not just as an option, or god-forbid as a ‘women in refrigerator’ plot device, but as a central point to design around–and the concepts that can be explored blow wide open with new possibilities. Put in the effort; learn how to reach this large and growing demographic on their own terms and include them (read: the treatment we’ve enjoyed for so long), and I’m firmly convinced that the benefits will far outweigh the costs.

~James

SHINIES Release!

Our second game, SHINIES, is now available for sale from our GameCrafter Store!

SHINIES Card Game

SHINIES Card Game

SHINIES is a simple, silly, hectic trick-taking game the whole family can enjoy. It is easy to learn, simple to play, and suitable for children ages 8 and up. SHINIES has all the fun and strategy of classic card games, with an imaginative new twist. Deal the cards and take part in the chaos of the Squirrel Market to see who can come out on top! Recommended for 3 to 9 players

The box contains instructions and 36 beautifully illustrated playing cards. Card art was provided by Caytlin, our Artistic Director.

SHINIES Box Contents

SHINIES Box Contents

What kind of squirrel are YOU?