So, I ran a second Kickstarter last month. The first was in 2014, for Manifest. So much had changed since those days, way back 4 years ago. For a start there is now a massive amount of competition, with most games coming to Kickstarter looking very professional and with a big crowd pushing them forward due to pre-funding marketing campaigns. In addition to the expected mid-campaign slow-down, we had to contend with a percentage of backers choosing to cancel their pledges whenever another shiny new game was launched. Not for the feint-hearted.
We did well, despite all the competition.
What helped? AuZtralia being a Martin Wallace design, with great artwork, and a lot of legwork on the promotional side by myself and some crucial helpers (thanks Ella and others). The game also received fantastic reviews from key influencers like Rahdo, and Heavy Cardboard.
A great success!
- Funded in 12 hours (I was desperately wanting to go to bed, but backers on the comments were chatting and encouraging me to see it out to funding, which happened about 1 am local time.)
- Campaign ran for 24 days March 6th – 30th
- Backed by 3,863 people
- Total raised NZD $274,210 (the goal was $50,000)
- Fully localised/translated into six language editions as well as English
- First print run = 16,000 copies
- Partnership with Stronghold Games and six other publishers.
If you missed the AuZtralia Kickstarter, the game is now available for pre-order on BackerKit, and is expected to ship to customers in September. There are a limited number of earlier Martin Wallace (Treefrog) and SchilMil titles available there too.
Some of the improvements that were made to the game thanks to backer support:
- Double sided map board, with two distinct rules sets
- Realistic resources replacing the wooden cubes
- Solo game objectives x 10
- Two-player challenges x 5
- Extra tiles to add ‘Spawning Temples’ for a tougher game
- A miniature metal Cthulhu figure (only available in the KS edition while it is on pre-order)
This week Martin was here at SchilMil HQ in Auckland, and we ticked off all the English artwork ready for manufacturing to commence.
Now for a rest, and some planning what to do next ….
Fantastic News – Martin Wallace teams up with SchilMil Games!
We are delighted to announce that we’ve just entered into a two-year contracting agreement with internationally renowned board game designer Martin Wallace. Martin has resided in New Zealand since 2012 and we have already worked with him informally on several projects.
Originally from the UK, Martin has designed more than seventy games via his company Treefrog and other major publishers. His 2007 game Brass was re-launched last month on Kickstarter by Canadian publisher Roxley and received $1.7 million in pre-orders.
Martin’s expertise and experience will be invaluable to us and we are really pleased to have him on board. Initially he will be helping us refine a prototype we have under development and we’re planning to publish and re-launch some of Martin’s older designs under the SchilMil Games brand.
We’ve brain-stormed a number of other concepts together in the last few months, so we are both excited that more new games will appear as a result of this collaboration. We’ll be keeping you posted on our web site and social media as we develop these projects and I hope to have more news for you soon!
Amanda Milne of SchilMil Games and Martin Wallace at a Board Games event in Auckland, May 2017
Winter has arrived with a gale and a storm here, leaving plenty of time for a concerted burst of game design. The Devil’s Goat has been out and about terrifying play-testers at Board Games By The Bay, WellyCon as well as at some of my local Auckland games groups.
In other news – all SchilMil games are now available at great prices on Amazon.com, and supplies are on their way to Amazon.co.uk
Since it’s inception The Devil’s Goat has changed quite a bit:
A mock up cover - not final artwork
- the roles are no longer secret
- the deck of Action cards has given way to an Action placement mechanic
- Goat attacks are randomised using a small deck of Attack cards
- there are now pubs on the map to shelter from harm
- instead of a Hunter, there’s a Doctor role to heal the wounded islanders, and I am thinking of adding a Priest as a 5th Character.
The theme, the different Character’s goals and the mechanic are the things most often mentioned by play-testers that they like about the game.
Peter Kenny has written a spine-chilling intro:
I will be starting to run supervised and blind test sessions mid-June through late August. If you are not already on our Tester’s list, sign up now!
The Devil’s Goat in play at WellyCon, and a close up of Amelia’s player board
About a month ago I was talking to a friend, who is also a game designer, about how he got his inspiration for designing new games. At that time I had a sudden brain wave that a ghostly goat that appears in a short story written by another friend* could be the basis for an interesting game.
A couple of iterations later, I have a working prototype that is about to start formal testing. The working name is The Devil’s Goat. The setting is Guernsey in the Channel Islands circa 1895 or thereabouts.
Guernsey has a rich history of such goings on…. Article on bbc.co.uk
“Witchcraft is said to abound in the island. Both black and white witches are said to practice in Guernsey.
The black witches were said to practice ritual witchcraft. They held assemblies and covens to summon demons and devils. The black witches were said to be led by an unknown person, who often disguised himself as an animal.
Although the leader changed, it was always known as the Devil.
Reports say they usually disguised themselves as cats and goats.”
In the game, players take on one character who lives on the island. Each has their own secret agenda. Rumours abound, goat sightings and attacks occur regularly; foreign journalists pay good money for stories to print. Each player is trying to achieve their own goal before the Evil Goat runs amok and tries to kill them. At that point in the game it becomes a team effort to stay alive: the characters versus the Goat!
Here is a sneak preview of some of the prototype components. Proper artwork is a wee way off.
As an aside: proof that I am a city girl at heart: I went to Whitcoulls toy department to buy a mini goat for the prototype, and I had to ask for help to tell them apart from the sheep and the cows!
* The Defenders of Guernsey by Peter Kenny
Thank you to all who submitted name suggestions for the Rock Band game that’s under development. There were 88 names suggested! And lots of good ones.
I have not made the call yet as to what the game will be called. This is because it is undergoing major renovations in both look and mechanics. In gamer lingo it is currently a mix of worker placement and area control with some simultaneous action selection. We are pretty sure that the era will be the 1970s.
I am meeting regularly with the co-designer (even though he is not in Auckland) to test our prototypes, and will be looking at resuming wider testing once we have something solid to unveil. The $100 prize will still be open if we use your name suggestion.
In the meantime I have done an interim prize draw with all the people who submitted names, and can announce that a $50 store voucher goes to Clisa Tait. I will be in touch with you Clisa.
Happy New Year!
Since Manifest has built up a head of steam and is journeying well I’ve turned my attention to designing a new game. It is a theme that has been rumbling around in my head for many months; I have now built a prototype and started testing it.
This is a worker placement game where your aim is to put together a rock band, take them on tour and record albums whilst keeping the band members out of too much trouble. Just about every thing they do creates trouble so you need to balance your actions to keep them productive.
The first few tests have gone really well and I am getting great feedback from play-testers that is helping me tweak and refine the mechanics. There is no real artwork yet so not much to show off. But I need your help ….
I have been struggling to come up with a short, snappy and meaningful name for this new game so I thought I’d run a competition to ‘Name the Game’.
Please enter as many times as you like. If I choose your suggested name you’ll win your choice of games from the SchilMil store up to the value of $100, and a credit in the new game if it gets published.
The competition is open until the end of the year. I shall announce the name of the game in early January.
In other news, we’ve invested in a new domain name to showcase our great NZ designed games. Check it out: www.newboardgames.nz
Left: Rockers playtesting the game currently known as ‘Stoned Age’ at Board Games By The Bay – November 2014.
Finally, I smiled when I read this recent article in The Guardian about Board games Golden Age. The picture shows Thirsty Meeples cafe in Oxford where Komodo is one of the games in residence. “a community of independent designers and publishers has been steadily producing innovative, exciting and beautiful games offering experiences beyond even those of the most sophisticated gaming hardware.”
The Shipping News!
MANIFEST was officially released August 20th and has now been delivered (or at least on its way) to the 300+ Kickstarter backers. The game is available from some of SchilMil’s existing retailers plus a few new locations in the USA, Belgium, and Canada as well as on Amazon US & UK , and Ebay!
It was an amazing experience, to garner world-wide support for a product that doesn’t even exist yet, and then to deliver it and meet the backers’ expectations. I can see why some games publishers swear that crowd-funding is the way of the future.
An added bonus of the Kickstarter was having enthusiastic backers around the world helping promote the game; three of them even gave their time to translate the rule-book into their language, so there are now French, Italian and German rulebooks.
We have put Australia and NZ on the games’ world map. One of the ‘Stretch Goals’ funded (there were five in total), allowed us to print a double-sided game board so it has a traditional map projection and also an Antipodean centric map with New Zealand slap bang in the middle.
Feedback on Manifest
“Absolutely love this game. Perfect balance of strategy and ease of learning/teaching it!” – Benjamin, Texas
“Managed to squeeze in a quick game with my 7 year old son. Had a blast. He kicked my butt.” – Craig, Wellington
“This could be one of my most favorite games to come along in years.” – Andrew Fischer, Pennsylvania
Club Fantasci Interviews Amanda Milne
I was approached recently by Club Fantasci blogger David Lowry and this interview was the result.
If you haven’t yet joined the SchilMil Facebook page, now is a good time as we are running a series of easy competitions with game prizes in the lead up to Christmas. Three games have been won in the last month.
First the break-up news:
Julia Schiller and Amanda Milne have agreed to divide their operations into two companies to better meet local and international demand. To this end, Julia Schiller has left us to form a new company, Cheeky Parrot Games, which will focus on the Australasian market and family games at an attractive price point. SchilMil Games will continue to design and market premium board and card games internationally. Amanda will continue as Managing Director.
Both Companies have agreed to continue marketing and distributing SchilMil titles jointly. Cheeky Parrot Games will act as a non-exclusive distributor for SchilMil products within New Zealand and Australia. The change will have no impact on the availability of SchilMil products or the schedule for Manifest, our new board game, which is currently at the printers and due for release in August.
And on that subject:
I am happy to announce that the Manifest artwork is all now with the printer and the online proof has been approved. Pending a small issue with sourcing round-cornered dice rather than square dice, the print production should be speeding ahead with a great tail wind behind it. The August publication date seems to be achievable at this stage.
Getting it all together took a solid month of focussed and detailed work that started straight after the Kickstarter campaign ended. The extra goodness we are able to add to the game due to meeting all five stretch goals will make Manifest an even better game than we had envisaged. These stretch goals allowed us to add:
- A tailored plastic tray to hold all the bits in the box
- A set of five Company Advantage cards (for a variant)
- A black pirate ship (another variant)
- A double-sided game board, with an Antipodean centric map on side B (shown below)
- Custom dice for those pirate rolls
Here’s an exciting chance to be part of our Manifest game. Send us an email with the answers to the questions below by 5:00 PM on March 26th (New Zealand time).
We will draw a winner from all of the correct entries. That person gets the chance to be pictured on one of the Action cards (provided this or a subsequent Kickstarter campaign is successful.) The winner may also pick the caption for their photo and the city for their newspaper.
1. How many different men are shown playing Manifest in the main campaign video?
2. Which language have the directions been translated into?
3. How many cargo tokens will be in a Manifest game?
4. What is the last day of the campaign?
5. If $28,000 is reached, what will be added to the game?
6. Name any one of the four other games SchilMil has published.
Hint: You’ll find the answers by visiting the Manifest Kickstarter campaign page.
Send your answers to firstname.lastname@example.org
Today we launched Manifest on Kickstarter, the crowd-funding website. It is our most ambitious game yet – with lots of components, beautiful artwork and a great theme!
It has gotten off to a pretty good start, with over $1,100 pledged in the first 2 hours. However, we do need to maintain momentum and reach a bigger crowd than Julia and I ourselves can touch personally.
Here are three ways you can support us:
1. Watch the main video on the Kickstarter page to the very end — it is only 2:26 mins — as that helps increase our % of ‘completed views’ on Kickstarter. If the % is high enough it will help get Manifest featured on their home page.
2. Back us! For as little as $1. Every dollar helps.
3. Think of a friend or colleague that may be interested in Manifest and share with them the link www.manifestgame.com which will direct them straight to our Kickstarter page.
Thank you. Your help is appreciated.
Schil and Mil
We are now so close to launching the Kickstarter campaign for Manifest, I can almost feel the sleepless nights waiting for me.
All the artwork for the game innards and box has now been done, and the rulebook is 95% complete too. We are planning to launch the Kickstarter in the first week of March.
The box will be 29.5 cm square – the same size as Ticket to Ride. Here is the artwork for the box top and back panel
We had a great surprise on Jan 1st NZ time (although it would still have been 2013 in Seattle) – most of the artwork including previously unseen components arrived from Franz Vohwinkel.
We are extremely happy with Franz’s designs and are proud to show a sneak preview here even though these are not quite finalised.
Two of the five (Shipping Company) player boards:
A part of the game board showing Franz beautiful illustrations:
A Contract Card:
Over the next few weeks we’ll be making some good prototypes with the final artwork and doing a last round of play-tests as well as sending some copies to reviewers in advance of launching the Kickstarter campaign. That is scheduled to start mid February if all goes to plan.
So, they arrived.
Granny Wars is now in stock and around 150 copies have been relayed back out again to fulfill our PledgeMe supporter and retailer pre-orders.
Here, co-designer Brad Thompson looks chuffed as he signs the first copy of his first game, to be sent to the winner of the Jack Vasel Memorial fund auction.
The store is now fully equipped with new combo deals, perfect for those Xmas gifts of fun!
We are very happy with the new manufacturer, and intend using them again for future games.
On that note: we are moving closer to a final colour scheme for the Manifest cover. Here are three of the options that Franz is working on combining for us.
We had a tense few days waiting for the Granny Wars proof copy to arrive.
It was down to the wire, as we were fast approaching the cutoff time for the shipment to be cleared into the forwarder’s warehouse.
But we made it – just.
Here it is:
The one-piece box closes magnetically, and there’s nice swish glossy varnish on the cover logo. We are very proud of the finished result and look forward to the other 999 siblings arriving on the boat in a few weeks time.
Beamingly yours, J & M (ps don’t tell Mr K)
Summer is coming. Auckland is warming up, and we have several rods in the fire, ready to be pokered into action. Does that even make sense? Who knows.
With Granny Wars being printed, we are resuming work on other projects.
Manifest is next in our production queue. We’ll be using Kickstarter to raise funds for manufacture, and we are encouraged by the great feedback it has been receiving from testers. We’re in discussion with potential manufacturers and have had some initial sketches from Franz for the cover. We are also moving forward with testing both small and large extensions and variants, including an “Expert Level” deck-building game.
There are a few promotional things on the horizon:
- A customer based in Indonesia is helping us promote our games in Jakarta and in Bali (perfect exposure for Komodo and Kenakalan).
- A small feature on our games appears in the Summer issue of AA Directions magazine, including a competition to win a full set of our 4 titles.
- We’ve booked some summer market stall dates at the Browns Bay craft market on Nov 16th, Dec 7th and 21st. Come and enjoy the live music and great atmosphere at this market near the beach!
- We are developing a Lesson Plan to help teachers use Komodo in schools.
Manifest cover options – initial sketches from our artist in Seattle:
Our first experience using a crowd-funding system (PledgeMe) just finished last night.
We made the target plus a little bit: money that will cover about half of the manufacturing and shipping cost of Granny Wars. It was exciting to run such a campaign but hard work. We think it will be even more so when we run the Kickstarter campaign for Manifest next year.
This is what our control panel looked like in the closing seconds.
We are very grateful to all 71 people who backed us and are looking forward to sending their rewards in due course.
If all goes well, Granny Wars will be officially released at the start of December, just in time for Christmas. I’m sure Mr. K is anxiously awaiting his new companions.
So much to do, so little time to knit!
In the last week, we’ve finished shooting and editing the promotional video, signed off the artwork for the box cover, launched a crowd-funding campaign on Pledgeme, launched a canine auction on TradeMe, agreed on a manufacturer to use, and started to lay up the artwork for the game to be printed.
Now where did I leave that knitting…..zzzzzzz.
The new SchilMil games under development have moved closer to realisation. Testing and blind testing has proved that we have got two very fun games to unleash:
Granny Wars: a game of Tit for Tat is a fast-playing card game of secret identities. We’ve commissioned artwork and are planning the PledgeMe* campaign to start later this month. One of the reward levels will allow you to honour your Gran or Granddad by having them caricatured on a card in the game. Plus there will be lots of other exciting options too. Watch this space for full details.
Manifest – the game of shipping, cargo, pirates and other trouble at sea has gone through a multitude of changes since its first inception over a year ago, and is getting rave reviews from testers. This one is going to take longer to work up due to the larger scale and complexity of components. As a start we’ve made an agreement to work with Franz Vohwinkel, an experienced board game artist who has worked on hundreds of games, including classics such as Settlers of Catan.
Closer to now, we’ll be showing our wares at the NZ Spring Gift Fair at the ASB Showgrounds on Sept 1-3. If you will be there, come and say Hi to us at stand 4040.
* PledgeMe is the NZ version of Kickstarter – here is a talk about Crowd Funding by its founder Anna Guenther.
Those two that call themselves the ‘Designers’ are getting me hot under my leathery neck-skinned collar.
Here I am locked in the prison they call ‘The Warehouse’ while they go swanning off around the country to various shows and conventions parading new boxes with silly labels such as ‘Manifest’ and ‘Granny Wars’ on them.
It was bad enough when the monkeys turned up. I’m now over that – but these days even the bl***y borscht is getting more publicity than me.
Wait ’til I bust outta here and run amok through downtown Auckland.
That’ll get me back in the headlines. Ha!
I mean just look at this – it’s all about shipping and pirates – where are the REPTILES?