Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dave Trampier's Artwork

If you would like to see some of the store's collection of Trampier's artwork, we have posted photos of the color pieces we own, including the 1st edition DM Screen, on the Castle Perilous Games & Books website . We still have a few black and white pieces to get up and should have those posted by early next week.

I plan to work to find the executor of Trampier's estate and see what we can do regarding getting the Wormy collection published as he wanted.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Dave Trampier, Wormy Artist, Passes Away

Dave Trampier, best known in the gaming world as the creator of the strip Wormy, passed away last Monday at Helia Heathcare, here in Carbondale.

Trampier worked as a staff artist for TSR for almost a decade, painting the cover for the original Dungeon Master's Screen, as well as working on the company's Gamma World and Star Frontiers games, leaving the company in the late 80s, after he felt the company reneged on an agreement to publish the first volume of a collection of Wormy. I do not know what he did for the next several years, but about 1998, he started driving a cab for Yellow Taxi in Carbondale.

During this period, he adamantly refused to have anything to do with the gaming industry, politely rebuffing any inquiries from companies wanting to publish Wormy.  He only came into the store once, back about 2008, when Valley Games printed a new edition of Titan, which he co-designed (with Jason McAllister), in order to see a copy of the game.

I next heard from him a couple of months ago, after he had a stroke and Yellow Taxi shut down due to tax problems.  He wanted to sell some artwork in order to cover some expenses, so I bought several pieces from him and discussed the possibility of publishing the Wormy collection.  He was quite interested in doing so, asking about Kickstarter or companies that might be interested in working with him to bring the book into print.  I suggested Troll Lord Games, who had tried contacting him several years ago about re-publishing Wormy and he was interested, though he still harbored hard feelings towards TSR and WOTC, as he wanted to make certain that Troll Lord Games had no connection to either company. He never moved forward any further on that front though, understandable as his doctors detected cancer and his health deteriorated.

He thought he was getting better though, as about three weeks ago, he agreed to appear as a guest at Egypt Wars, a gaming convention in Carbondale, and display the Wormy collection mock-up he still had from 1988.  Since Troll Lord Games will appear at the same show, I hoped the two might talk and move the publication of Wormy forward. Unfortunately, that won't happen now.

Update:  If you would like to see them, we have posted photos of some of the artwork I bought from Trampier on the store's website

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Evolution of Kickstarter

Had an interesting conversation with a publisher at this year's Gama Trade Show. This publisher, who shall remain nameless, has released a number of games over the past several years, and by gaming industry standards, is pretty successful.  However, despite the fact that the company could fund its next release internally, it has decided to fund it through Kickstarter and I found the reason why interesting.

Instead of a source of funding, this publisher now views Kickstarter as a promotional channel, a medium to use akin to email, print or Twitter. They believe that launching the product on Kickstarter will generate attention and anticipation for the game's release, moreso than if they had used their traditional promotional methods.Lots of people follow Kickstarter, and other crowdfunding websites, for their first introduction to new products. Those people are primed to want the new, so where better to launch a campaign for a new product.

This publisher isn't really interested in crowdfunding the release. The funding level is set much lower than it will actually cost to produce the game. The company expects to exceed the funding level by a large percentage, creating yet more buzz about the game.

This certainly moves away from the original spirit and use of Kickstarter, but, with the amount of new product coming out every month, one cannot blame publishers for looking for any avenue they can utilize to get the word out about their games.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Notes from the Game Trade Show

I am sitting in room 111 of the Sands Motel in Grants, New Mexico as I write this, having just driven twelve hour along Route 66 from Las Vegas after the 2014 GAMA Trade Show and wanted to take a few minutes to reflect on what I took away from the show. In no particular order:
RPG companies are back, at least at GTS—This is the strongest showing of RPG companies I remember at GTS in several years.  Besides perennials Paizo and WOTC (who for the second or third year did not have any products displayed at their booth in the exhibit hall), I saw displays from Pelgrane Press, Green Ronin, Palladium, Eden Studios (which looks to have a really hot property with its new Adventure Maximus game. After seeing it, I immediately doubled my pre-order), Flying Buffalo (which had some promotional material for the new edition of Tunnels and Trolls but, sadly, no mockups), Catalyst Game Design (with a new RPG based on the Valiant Comics universe), Atlas Press, AEG and Chaosium. I probably missed one or two, but for a show that has heavily shifted to boardgames in recent years, the number of RPG companies there made an old roleplayer like me happy.
Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors are a thing—Admittedly, I am not a big fan of either show, but a lot of people are, it appears, at least based on the number of licensed properties I saw shown there.  Both Steve Jackson Games and Cryptozoic had Adventure Time card games,while Catalyst showed off a new Bravest Warriors card/dice game.  A couple of other companies had licensed the properties as well, so expect to see more games playing off both in the next year.
International TableTop Day gets an upgrade—Still no word on Season 3 of TableTop, as Geek & Sundry will neither confirm nor deny the status of production on season 3.  However, the rumored premium package did get announced. It costs quite a bit more than the basic package does, approximately $750 compared to $50 for the basic, but does come with many more promo items as well as full copies of several games such as Roll for It, Smash Up and Munchkin. I did get the answer to something that has bugged me since last year’s International TableTop Day, namely, why did the kit include promotional items for games that did not appear on the show?  It turns out those games are ones Wil Wheaton really likes, but for one reason or another, do not work well in the TableTop format (Wheaton discusses what a game has to have in a Not the Vlog post on Geek & Sundry). He thinks them worthy of greater attention though, hence the promotional items. I have heard some stores already complaining about the cost of the kits, however, since part of the money spent goes to help fund TableTop, and considering how much money I have made as a result of TableTop, I figure buying the kits a good investment.

Friday, March 21, 2014

International TableTop Day

The store will once again participate in International TableTop Day  and has opted to go for the premium kit, meaning that we will have more promo items to give away to participants.

We will have promo packs for Gloom, promo cards for 7 Wonders, Munchkin and Fluxx.  Incidentally, in order to get the most use out of the Fluxx card, you will have to come to International TableTop Day wearing tie-die. Just a heads up.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Questions for Companies at the GAMA Trade Show

Gale Force 9-Has your company completely dropped the miniatures accessories that it started out with.  Yes, you have a couple of great boardgames.  Both Spartacus and Firefly have done gangbusters, but you started off with stuff like flock, sculpting tools, files and other accessories. Restocks of these have been non-existent. Are you planning to continue with these lines or are boardgames your future?
WOTC-So far, you have done a really good job building interest in D&D 5th/Next, but I haven’t heard a whisper about any organized play program. You’ve seen how Pazio has leveraged Pathfinder Society to drive sales of the Pathfinder line. Will you have something ready to go when the new Player’s Handbook releases at GenCon?
Also, it would be really nice if you would modify your store locator so it sends out an annual reminder to check the locator and update store information. If a store doesn’t click on the link within a reasonable amount of time, delete the store from the locator and get rid of the zombie stores in your system.  If Steve Jackson Games can do it, you certainly  should be able to do so.
Konami-Could you modify your tournament software so that we can create and sanction tournaments the day of the event? It would sure be nice to be able to sanction a tournament on the spur of the moments and give the players their Dualist points. By the way, did you ever decide what you were going to do with those Dualist Points, because if you have, I certainly haven’t heard about it.
Geek & Sundry/TableTop Did you ever come up with any sort of make-good for the stores that were supposed to appear in the live streaming during last year’s International TableTop Day? Yes, they got a line listing at the end of the event but that’s not the same as their five minutes of “fame”. Also, I saw mention of a “premium package” for this year’s event but since ITTD is only two weeks away, I assume that’s not gonna happen?
Games Workshop-I gotta admit, the weekly version of White Dwarf has done much better than I thought. However, could you PLEASE start putting paper invoices/packing lists with the shipments again? It would make my life so much easier.
WizKids-Are we done with the announcements of delays in shipping just days before the release of the product? And could you please cut back on the number of releases? I swear, I thought Konami overdid it with their release schedule for Yu Gi Oh but you are coming out with a new set every month. Slow it down before your customer base suffers burnout. And could you go over the War of the Light OP program again? I’m still not clear on how it will work.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Game Store Growth estimates that the hobby game market grew about 20% over sale sin 2012, continuing a continuing a run of growth for the past five years;

2008- -5%

The size of the gaming industry has roughly doubled since 2008, with a large chuck of that growth funneled by the increase in both sales of the Magic card game and boardgames, sales of which have also almost doubled over the same period.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Top Selling Games

The ICV2 website has posted lists of the top selling games for the Fall of 2013:

Top selling boardgames

Top selling trading card games

Top selling role playing games (sad to see D&D down at #4)

Top selling non-collectible miniatures  (interesting to see that Warhammer Fantasy Battle did not make the top 5)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

TableTop RPG Series

Geek & Sundry is considering a webseries ala TableTop, only with people playing tabletop RPGs rather than card and board games.  TableTop has done this a couple of times with Fiasco and Dragon Age and it has worked pretty well, as long as the hours of gaming are edited down to a compact 30 minutes or so.

In addition the G&S webseries Spellslingers showed that people will watch other people play Magic the Gathering, enough so that the series will return for a second season.  If viewers will wathc people playing Magic, certainly they will watch them playing RPGs.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Why I Love Steve Jackson Games' Store Locator

Last week, I also received an email from Steve Jackson Games, asking me to confirm that the store still operated and to update our information on their store locator.  Yes, Steve Jackson Games has a store locator and it is probably the best one in the industry, for two reasons. 

First, it is quite easy to register with the SJG store locator. A couple of minutes spent entering information into the website and you are done.

Secondly, and just as important, the SJG store locator polices itself.  Regularly, the website sends out a confirmation email, asking the recipient to click a link to confirm that the store remains active. I assume that, if no one clicks on the link, the store locator removes the store from the locator ( I assume, we always click the link so do not really know what happens if you fail to do so). From what I can tell, with the exception of Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator, once a store gets onto a company’s store locator, it remains on there until the locator itself goes defunct. Even WOTC’s store locator, which sends us about 5 times the traffic of the SJG one, never asks stores to update listings or removes stores no longer in business. I know of a number of store owners who have said that when they do a search for stores in their area through the WOTC store locator, a number of stores come up that went out of business several years ago, which confuses potential customers and directs sales away from existing stores.  If SJG can have their locator send out a regularly scheduled maintenance link, surely WOTC could do the same.

Another locater that does a good job of keeping its list clean is Diamond’s Comic Shop Locator.  Of course, it uses a different mechanism rather than just registering on the site. You can only appear on it if you have a Diamond account, which almost all comic shops do, and pay a fee, currently starting at $50 a year. This serves as a great way to winnow out inactive stores.  If you don’t pay, you get dropped from the locator. Here’s hoping someone eventually does something similar for game stores sometime.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

No Virginia, There Is No Adventure Time Promo Card

Given the problems about missing promos for Cryptozoic’s DC heroes Deck Building Game I mentioned in last week’s column, I was rather amused to see how quickly miscommunication can spread and require a brisk tamping down.

Several retailers had been discussing the new Heroes Reborn expansion for the DC Deck Building Game (one would think they could have come up with a more wieldy name for it than that) and questioning when to expect receipt of the promised Starfire promo card.  One participant mistakenly typed “Adventure Time” instead of “DC Deckbuilding” and the gates opened.

“What Adventure Time promo card?”
“What’s on the card?”
“How do we get one?”

“I never saw anything about this. When do they ship?” and so forth.  It took a couple of hours before it was made clear to everyone that there was not, had not and, as of right now anyhow, would not be an Adventure Time promo card.  It was actually pretty interesting to see how quickly the miscommunication spread from a simple error in typing.

Just to make it clear there is no Adventure Time promo card currently available.