Scythe, Hype, and Lessons Learned

4 December 2014 | 62 Comments

This post is going to be a little different than what I typically write on this blog. The purpose of this blog is to help other Kickstarter creators by sharing my mistakes, insights, etc…hopefully this post will serve that purpose. I feel like there is something to be learned by what I’ve experienced over the last few days, but I’m not quite sure what those lessons are yet.

Also, just so it’s clear, this is not a self-congratulatory post. I’m really just trying to sort out my thoughts to figure out what the hell just happened and what I need to do about it.

1920_scythe_finall_27On Monday morning (a little over 3 days ago), I sent out our monthly e-newsletter to our 8,451 subscribers. This particular e-newsletter contained some big news: I’m designing a game called Scythe in a world being built by an extremely talented artist named Jakub Rozalski. You can see the cover art on the right–click it for full detail on BoardGameGeek.

If you missed the full story, you can read it on the archived e-newsletter.

Going into this announcement, I knew we had something special–that’s why I pursued the Scythe board game rights. Then again, we all think we have something special. That’s why we spend time and money creating things. We think our ideas are unique and special.

So I didn’t really know what to expect after the announcement. I certainly did not expect what happened.

From my perspective, it felt like Scythe broke the internet. I’ve never seen that many tweets, likes, comments, etc about anything we’ve done, even on Tuscany’s remarkable launch day on Kickstarter ($158,000 pledged in 24 hours) or Euphoria’s opening week, when it crept close to the top of the hotness list on BGG. Euphoria is the closest comparison, because the image I posted of all the components in the game (the retail components) on BGG went on to garner over 400 thumbs, the most of any BGG image in 2013.

Here are a few stats from what’s happened over the last few days regarding Scythe:

  • 2014-12-04_1511Scythe was #2 on the BGG hotness chart on the first day it was eligible, and it’s been #1 on the chart the last two days.
  • The box art on BGG is the #1 image there, with 256 thumbs.
  • The announcement image on Jakub Rozalski’s Facebook page has received 1,106 likes and 73 shares.
  • The announcement image on the Stonemaier Games Facebook page has received 156 shares.
  • The Scythe page on our website has received 8,198 views in the last 3 days, which is more than any other page on the website in the last 30 days (this website averages 1,454 page views a day).
  • Our e-newsletter subscriber total–which usually goes down after an e-newsletter when a dozen or so people unsubscribe–has increased to 8,584 over the last three days (+133 subscribers).
  • Not to mention the countless tweets, e-mails from people, reviewers, other publishers, etc.

All this for a game still in very early development! A huge amount of credit goes to Jakub’s art–there’s no way this announcement would have made a splash without it. It also helps that Jakub has been fostering his fanbase for a while now. He has over 10,000 followers on Facebook (compared to 2,675 Stonemaier Facebook fans).

Needless to say, the last few days has been a whirlwind of activity–it takes a lot of time to keep up with all the comments on BGG, Facebook, this site, and Twitter. In fact, ironically, for a game that doesn’t exist yet, because of all the excitement over the last few days, I haven’t had any time to finish up the preliminary design.

So on top of all this attention Scythe has been getting, now there’s a ton of hype about it…no pressure on me to design a great game, right? I wonder if there’s such thing as too much hype. Does it only lead to people getting let down in the end if their sky-high expectations aren’t met?

Writing this has been very cathartic for me, and I think I have three insights to share from the experience that might benefit other creators (particularly tabletop game creators):

  1. Hype can hinder creativity. I think this is the first time I’ve ever thought, “Oh, this is why some companies have people whose sole job is to handle social media.” Social media is such a great way to connect with people, and I love it, but it’s also a huge impediment to creativity if you aren’t able to tune it out for a while. Until today (and especially the first two days), the noise about Scythe online was so loud that I wasn’t comfortable tuning it out, so I wasn’t able to work on the game at all. So I think the key is to be able to tune in and out at the right time…or hire someone to always be tuned in when your company gets big enough.
  2. Capture e-mail addresses when you have the chance. A few hours after the Scythe announcement (around the time it hit Reddit, driving tons of traffic to this website), I realized that I had made a crucial error: There was no link for e-newsletter subscriptions on the Scythe page. I was missing out on all the people who might subscribe just to find out about Scythe when it launches on Kickstarter in 2015. So I quickly added a link, and I saw subscriptions exponentially increase.
  3. Announce with art. Around this time last year, Plaid Hat Games announced their new game (in partnership with Rob Daviau’s Ironwall Games), Seafall, by placing a single iconic logo on BGG. The logo says everything about the game–it’s the perfect marketing tool. So for Scythe, I wanted to use the same technique of giving people something tangible to associate with the game (hence the use of the cover art for the announcement). Jakub’s art sells the game even when very little is known about it. If you use this method, make sure to get that art on BGG with plenty of time to spare–sometimes it can take a day or two to process, and if it isn’t final cover art with full graphic design, it will get rejected from the “Games” category on BGG (the most visible category).

That’s all I’ve learned so far–it’s a work in process. If you have any thoughts, insights, or feedback, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

62 Comments on “Scythe, Hype, and Lessons Learned

  1. If there is going to be just one “big art reveal” (and possibly just one trip to the hotness), I’m strongly in favor of those events happening just before the KS launch. Ideally, you’ll have a near-finished preview page, and will capture fans with the “remind me when this goes live” button.

    My experience with Ophir was similar (but obviously lesser by an order of magnitude). Our reveal of Naomi’s art elevated the game to #4 on BGG hotness (and got me in the “people hotness” – weird!).

    But we had (arguably) no way to capitalize on the hype. Six weeks later, we launched a KS that would eventually fund (plus 15%) in the last few days. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened with different timing though!

    —-
    I’m certain you’ll have more awesome reveals over the next year, Jamey. For what it’s worth, I would save a big one for the days leading up to launch.

    C

    1. Chaz: That’s a great point for discussion here–when is the best time for this kind of announcement? As you said, it’s tough to replicate that initial burst of hotness.

      In the case of Scythe, because the world of the game is still being built, I wanted the audience to be privy to its development for a while by following Stonemaier and Jakub on social media. But I think you are very wise to suggest that we hold something big until right before the Kickstarter launches…now I have to figure out what that is. :)

      1. I 1000% agree. You blew your proverbial load a little too early here. I agree that it may stifle your creativity as you will have so many people now telling you how the game should be. It has also introduced a timer on the game where people will be expecting this by next year.

        I totally agree with Chaz that the art reveal should be made with the KS announcement, within 1-2 weeks of campaign launch. This way you’ll actually be able to reap some benefits of it. Steampunk Rally was in the hotness for a week and a half and that eventually died out and was not able to get back on even when we were doing BGG ads and the campaign was the best performing campaign on Kickstarter for nearly a week.

        You can still have the community follow the project without showing them any artwork. Sails to Steam (by Matt Tolman) is one that will most likely be published by Roxley next year, and we have had a ton of art done for the game for over a year now, including the cover. S2S has gained a reasonable following from blind playtesting and people following along on BGG. We have not released any of the artwork, and that’s been the correct decision.

        Live and learn. At least you know the brand is marketable.

        1. Gavan: Thanks for sharing your opinion. I actually think it was the right strategy for this particular game and the way the world is being built around it, but we can revisit it to see who was right when we launch the Kickstarter in 2015. :)

          1. I ain’t biting that. The KS will be quite successful regardless of the timing of the art release. :) As I said, we did the exact same thing with Steampunk Rally, and it worked out well. :) It wasn’t a mistake, it simply introduces some new challenges…. which I’m sure you are more than capable of handling. Good luck! :)

    2. Hey Guys, great discussion idea! Here are my thoughts.

      If you could get ready to launch by about April 11, 2015 you could organize additional event as the International TableTop Day: https://www.facebook.com/TabletopDay https://tabletopday.com/
      “Our goal for TabletopDay.com is for it to become the gathering place for the local communities of gamers to post events and find each other, like an event-based social network. Gather Your Party is the first step toward this goal, and toward maximizing participation in International TableTop Day 2015. With that, we invite you to Gather Your Party and Play More Games!”

      Getting involved with Geek&Sundry and Wil Wheaton would help such a game designer as yourself a bit (A LOT)!

      So now to the idea. Buy advertising TabletopDay you could throw in an extra like play-testing Scythe during the event. You can tweet about it with #GatherYourParty this gives a chance to be noticed by some of Tabletop fans.
      Additionally I see Geek&Sundry help promoting independent Youtube producers, why not established tabletop game designers…

      What do you guys think?

      BTW, I am starting to organize such an event in my town in Poland (about 60.000 ppl). I know how hard event management is but I am sure I can manage something like that. IN THE FORCE WE TRUST!

      1. After a night of sleep I comprehended that my idea has nothing to do with the topic of the discussion, so sorry for venturing off topic.
        I do think that 2 weeks before the launch should be spent on gradually building up hype and explode the moment you launch.

  2. It really shows you’re hard work as a quality publisher coming through. All this proves is that hard work and dedication can be immensely rewarding. Great job! :) Also if you need play testers I’d love to help out!

  3. I do believe the cover is very important! If I was going to do our game over again, I would do the cover, earlier in the process.

    I think what really helped your hype grow was your game description. I think your dropped some big buzz words when you said it was a combination of Kemet and Agricola. This is exciting because the mind starts racing and guessing how those two great games could be combined. I think this will also lead to a lot of pressure. This is why most people don’t like movies as much as the books they were based on. It almost never turns out how they had envisioned it. It’s easy to imagine a game that has all the positives of both Kemet and Agricola without the negatives, but I can image to deliver such a game is another story. If anyone is up for the task, I’m guessing you are. I’m excited to try it out.

    Well done on building the hype, and thanks for sharing your results.

    1. Seth: That’s a keen observation about those buzzwords–a number of people really latched onto them. I almost mentioned Chaos in the Old World too, as the asymmetry is similar, but I didn’t want the theme of that game associated with this one.

      I will say that I was surprised by the ensuing discussion about cardboard standees versus minis. People have a lot of opinions about that topic, even when they don’t know how the game works! :)

      1. I think was even better for buzz and hype that you didn’t give them more details. It’s like the Stars Wars teaser trailer that just came out. So much buzz and strong opinions, but it’s because we know so little.

        I agree, it was probably good that you didn’t mention Chaos in the Old World since that probably would have had a negative affect on some due to its theme. I’m personally not a fan of the game, and not due to it’s theme. I just think there were some very poor design choices made, but it does have cool asymmetry. (not balanced in my opinion)

        1. Yeah, asymmetry in a game like this is tough–it’ll take a lot of playtesting. I’m curious about the other design choices in that game you’re not a fan of. I must admit I’ve only played it once, and while I respected it, I wasn’t excited to return to it.

          1. You weren’t supposed to read that, Joe! (and I’ll still gladly play Chaos with you at any time…in fact, in light of Scythe, I really need to play Chaos with you to dig deeper and learn more about it)

          2. Joe – no offensive intended by any of these comments about Choas in the Old World. Some of these are probably nit picky, but I still feel they are poor design choices.

            Jamey – here are some of things I felt were poor design choices (the last 2 are the biggest issues for me, but I think all are valid):

            1. There’s a rule in the game were everyone can lose. This doesn’t happen very often, but I don’t find there is a place for conditions like this in non co-op games. No one is happy when this happens.
            2. In combat when you roll a six you can re-roll. I kind of really like this, because I love games that allow for critical success. (I’m not a fan of critical failure, like lose your turn stuff) The problem comes when the game allows you keep rerolling sixes. In those cases when one play kills 5 guys with one guy, the fun is only one sided. Happens rarely, but why allow extreme cases that ruin the game?
            3. Poor tie-breakers. The game allows you to win in several different ways, but if you both win, one way has an arbitrary preference over the other. I’d so much rather have one way to win like just points, but many ways to get those points. Having multiple victory point like tracks is kind of silly. Also when players both tie on the point track you have some arbitrary threat meter that determines the winner. I know people hate ties, but I’d rather tie than lose by a poor tie breaker.
            4. Points aren’t score very continuously. This is one weakness for me with the manhattan project too. The points are often score in big groups. I believe it’s better to score things in smaller chunks. It can be frustrating when you barely lost because you didn’t finish one thing but the score doesn’t reflect this.
            5. Each player has a unique deck of cards that has action cards that allow them to do cool things. These are fun, but some of the decks have too many duplicates of the same card. I rather have smaller decks with less duplicates that I have to shuffle more often. Most of the time having duplicates is ok, but if you get a hand of 4 cards and they are all the same card, that’s no fun. You no longer have real meaningful choices. I know this is another thing that happens rarely, but why allow this situation to happen in the first place?
            6. So one of bigger issue I have with the game is that the game plays you. The game gives you the illusion of multiple paths to victory, but in reality many of the characters have only one real way they can win. Yes there are exception, but for all intents and purposes if you don’t play your character in one particular way you will lose. This takes away most meaningful choices away from me. Once you’ve learned the game and your character, the optimal choice is almost always clear. I never find myself thinking, I wonder what route I should go. Instead it is like, this is the obviously the best choice, I hope it works out.
            7. Also the character really aren’t even closed to balanced. Now I don’t think this is an issue for games when everyone has played a lot since because the game is kind of self balancing. For example if one character is better than the rest and everyone knows it, then everyone just needs to focus on him a little more and he’s magically balanced again. This works until you have a new player, than it becomes a game of politics of convincing him what to do.

            Sorry for the big list. In the end I didn’t feel the game gave me many meaningful tough decisions. I just made the obvious best choice and hoped things worked out. The biggest indication for me of a poor game, is when I win it and yet I didn’t enjoy it, and I’ve won almost every time I’ve played. In the spirit of full disclosure, Game Themes don’t excite me much. This theme didn’t bother me in the least bit as it does some, but I know some people really like this game based on the theme.

            Joe – if you still reading this, there is still a really big list of things I like about the game. There is a reason the game is on the top hundred.

            Let me know if you want me to list the things I like about the game.

        2. No offense taken, Seth. Not every game is for everyone, and I enjoy the opportunity to discuss it with other designers. I will address your points in the same order.

          1. I’ve seen that happen only once in probably 50 plays. It was a little anticlimactic, but also interesting in that no one had ever seen it happen before. I’m inclined to agree with you on this point. Whereas no one was made unhappy by it (the novelty that it actually happened went a long way), I don’t know that it needs to exist. This makes me wonder if there were situations in playtesting where the game sometimes came to a halt, and this was a clock to make sure the game ended. Still, very rare, and if it wouldn’t have happened, someone else would have won one of the other ways the next turn for certain.

          2. I think that this is another situation where it’s not something that frequently occurs. However, that said, my thinking that this isn’t as big a deal may be influenced by my general personality. I still have fun when I’m on the receiving end of that beating. It is way more satisfying to have one guy go on a hot rolling streak and beat your face in than it is to come in with overwhelmingly good odds and whiff with a bunch of bad rolls. That is disappointing, but it happens. Perhaps a good house rule fix for this would be that if you roll a six, you are allowed a reroll with +1 to the result, but further sixes wouldn’t get rerolls. In this way, you have better odds of getting a 2 for 1, but just this side of impossible to get a 5 for 1. This does eliminate almost all of the possibility of a Cultist or Warrior taking out a Greater Daemon though.

          3. I can’t speak to how arbitrary this is. The turn order matters pretty strongly in other aspects of the game, so this might actually be intentional design, but I can’t say for sure. This is one of those situations, like the other two, where it rarely comes up. I’ve seen a LOT of very close games, but I can’t think of any (in my experience, your mileage may vary) where there was a tie to be broken.

          4. This is one point where I disagree. While Domination scoring isn’t something that happens every turn, it happens with enough frequency to make point scoring a slow burn with occasional bursts. I don’t think that this is a problem, and morever, there are plenty of occasions where it is to a player’s advantage to keep a place from ruining too quickly to milk more points from it, if they can ensure that they keep control of it, which is a gamble if you’re wanting to keep that steady point stream.

          5. This is something I go back and forth on. There are some weaker cards, but all of the cards that appear in 4x are generally speaking cards I am never sorry to see. Khorne’s Battle Cry is a good example of this. He has 4 of them, and it’s pretty unlikely that he will have all 4 in hand at once. It’s a late game card, and may get stuck in my hand early in the game without a good (enough) time to play it, but I’ll take that rather than not have them. The times when you have a hand of 4 of the same card, odds are it’s one of the better cards in your deck. Some things are limited in number because they are too situational (A Great Foul Corruption) and some because they are too powerful otherwise (Drain Power). I think that these were intentional design decisions, but that said, I wouldn’t be opposed to trying a game with smaller, streamlined decks that need shuffling more often. I do think that this would give Tzeentch a huge boost though.

          6. Hmmm. I see your point here, but I’m not sure how big of a negative this is. That is certainly intentional design. When you play MtG, a mono-red deck is going to be horrible at life-gaining. A blue deck is going to be bad at direct damage. Khorne can win by VP (and I actually think is stronger with it than he is given credit for ). Nurgle can’t really win by Threat Dial, though a lot of people seem obsessed with trying to make that work. Both Tzeentch and Slaanesh can go either way pending the board state, which is not something you can just decide at the beginning of the game. I will concede that you’re right about Nurgle. If you come into the game thinking “Today’s the day that Nurgle is going for the dial win” then yeah, you’re probably aiming to lose. There are also matters of what you draw, and how other people play. There are certainly calculated risks in your choices. I will say that the safe play is always fairly obvious, but the optimal play a bit less so.

          7. We agree that this is a self-correcting thing, and I don’t mind the politicking of a new player. If left unchecked, Khorne will run away with it, this is true of experienced players and inexperienced, so I just advise that you need to plan around Khorne. Once you do that, the game balances itself rather nicely. Would it be nice if you didn’t have to do this? Probably, but it’s a small price to pay for a great game.

          Most of the more meaningful choices are in how you stall out your opponents to where your important placements are relatively unmolested, which leads less to the area control aspects and more to being mindful of the turn order and limited availability for card placement. This all said, sometimes a game doesn’t click for whatever reasons. I am getting ready to move Draco Magi to my “for trade list” for similar reasons. I understand the strategy and how to manipulate things to my benefit and win the game…but I’m not having fun. I haven’t run into that issue with Chaos in the Old World.

          I’d be more than happy to hear the things you like about it, there are definitely good reasons for it to have the ranking that it does, but we’ve already taken this thread way off track. Ideally, if my contributions to this game can get it an average between Chaos and Agricola, then this could easily become my favorite game. So far, the stuff Jamey has mentioned has made me feel like he’s making a game just for me. :)

          Jamey: You’ve got a deal. Let me know when you want to round up some people for Chaos in Nottingham.

  4. The art is pretty huge.

    I belong to a gaming group that meets every Tuesday night and there are generally 35-55 people there each time. I was teaching a game of Imperial Settlers and as we were finishing up someone happened to ask if I’d heard about Scythe and the incredible box art. I said yes, that I was a Stonemaier Games subscriber so I’d seen the picture but others didn’t know anything about it. Instantly everyone was heading to BGG to ogle the box art – it’s a powerful draw.

    1. Lori: That’s really cool that a single piece of art caused that type of reaction. I think I spent about 10 minutes just looking at every aspect of it the first time Jakub sent it to me. :) There is something special about his art–something about the nonchalance of the farmers despite the nearby battle. I think it perfectly captures the essence of the game, but I wonder if there’s something about the art by itself that touches on our humanity (or perhaps just our fondness for mechs).

  5. I definitely think leading with artwork, especially box art, can be an early boon to efforts at raising awareness for any new game. There have been a number of projects that made it on my radar simply by their box art coming up on my Facebook feed or BGG: Ophir, Shipwrights of the North Sea, and now Scythe, to name a few.

    Just having “good” or “appealing” art though I don’t think is enough to garner attention. There are some games that have artwork I recognize as being very good, and yet it doesn’t inspire me to keep track of its development progress, or even click through to find out more about the game. The art needs to do something different, present itself as edgy, or really convey a “feeling” that says something about the possibilities of the game even without seeing the rulebook. I think what you’ve presented for Scythe does this wonderfully, particularly for the latter; for me, at least, it really gives off a ‘Samurai 7′(the anime, not Kurosawa’s original Seven Samurai) vibe. Even if the game ends up not having any relation to the sort of possibilities I envision given that association, it’s that initial attention-grab that matters for spreading the word!

    1. I like what you said about the “feeling” art can evoke–that makes a huge difference. There are some games where I want to climb into the box and experience the world firsthand, despite the dangers that await. Scythe is one of those worlds for me.

  6. I’m curious, Tiny Epic Galaxies seems the peak of their interested was late last month, but that might change as well. They’re not dropping on KS till January. I’m really curious how the hype translates. They’ll have there’ 2 games in backers hands during that project. I think past history helps. It’s a new world. I think for a new publisher, it’d be best to time the hype right near the release for someone like yourself with street cred in the gamer world, it’s worth letting things build up. I do question announcing this prior to your other new game that’s coming out. IT’s a learning process for sure, but peps are stoked that’s for sure. Your first 2 game set a high bar

    1. Jason: Yeah, I wasn’t exactly sure if I should talk about Scythe before Between Two Cities, but I didn’t want to wait 4 months to start talking about Scythe. They’re such different games that I didn’t think one would cannibalize the other, and I wanted to invite people into the world that Jakub is building for Scythe. I’ll definitely be focusing more on the hype for Between Two Cities over the next few months, not Scythe.

  7. Jamey,
    What a humble post. I really appreciate your newsletters and posts. This one is no exception. You really exemplified what my son and I said to today about you. You are always willing to help others and the lessons you learned as you have created Kickstarter projects are invaluable to many others. And that is so important to other project creators. Thanks so much for your help! We’ve learned so much from you. Stan

    1. Thanks Stan, I appreciate that, and honestly, it’s good to hear. The last few days have been quite surreal for me (even though it’s just superficial hype), and I wanted to share that experience, but not in a braggy way. Hopefully that’s the tone I conveyed, and I’m glad my mistakes/insights might be helpful to others!

  8. I am one of the few that LOST interest in the game because on how it was handled. Of course I think that the art is amazing, but I am one of those that think that first we should have a great game idea (be it a mechanic/theme/whatever)…and then we should focus on art.

    Clearly nice art helps sell the game and also helps with the theme… but is it enough? Say we are making a game of star wars. The world is sooo large and deep, that it might spark imagination and aid in the game design. In this case, we are trying to make a game out of 3-4 pieces of art…and in this case I feel that it might limit or bring clunky mechanics (“I need to add a big baddass attack because there is one in this art”). Maybe I am wrong and the game turns out to be the best one, but my initial opinion on the game will be biased.

    There are some companies that focus more on the art than their games, and I somehow feel that it hurts the gaming industry. I know this is not the case of Stonemaier games, you will not publish the game if you do not believe it is complete,

    will not try the game, or that I against that oneit is my single opinion, not their games on that

    1. MK: I think you might be a little confused and misinformed about the development of this game. It’s not like Jakub created this piece of cover art and then I designed a game around it. Jakub’s art and worldbuilding inspired the design of the game (pretty standard theme-before-mechanics game design), which you can read about more in detail on the Scythe “about the game” page or on BGG. After I figured out the core mechanisms for the game and how they’re intertwined with the theme, Jakub and I discussed how we could represent the game through the cover art.

      1. Hei Jamey,

        Then I must be missing something. So, Jakub created the world in hopes of someone making a game around it? Then you contacted him with some ideas…and then he is following up with more art?

        1. MK: No, Jakub started creating art in a series that he called his “1920s” series–he’s been working on it for a while now. I found the series, was intrigued by the world he was building, and approached him about the idea of designing a board game set in that world.

  9. The thing is: The art from Jakub IS rreally inspirational. I saw a picture on twitter and I immediatly had some ideas about this game world and a game that would feature this. I guess many people feel the same, hence the joy that youre doing something with it.
    But of course there is a big risk. Creativity is a difficult beast, as specially if you want something great coming out of it… I just published Wir sind das Volk, which sprung from a simiar “great idea” and it took 7 years and a co-author to make it live up to the expectations :-)
    So, yes, taking your time is important I guess :-)

    1. peer: Absolutely, there is a risk. I think the key, as you noted, is to take our time to get it right. If it’s not ready for a Kickstarter in 2015, that’s fine. I’d rather get the game right than rush it out.

  10. Joe- I think those are some great points! I’d love to share the things I like about the game too, but you are probably right, this probably isn’t the best place for it.

    Jamey – I love discussions like this, and I think they are great from game design. I think this is part of the purpose of us playing the already published games at your designer day, but I felt it was hard to have these kind of conversations there because really only one person at the table had already played the game. Do you know of a good place to discuss the pros and cons of games like this for design purposes? If not would you think there would be a benefit of such a place?

    1. Seth: I typically go to BGG for those types of conversations, even for unpublished prototypes. Do you think their forums aren’t conducive for this type of discussion?

      Thanks for your list of observations about Chaos–they’re very interesting and helpful to keep in mind as I develop Scythe.

  11. Jamey: Yeah BGG is probably the best place to do since they already have the database, but it would nice to have more discussions centered more on the design decisions with others and hopefully those who are also interested in design.

    I know when I was designing Stockpile, we would look up all the other Stock related games and sift through the comments to grab all the common pros and cons for each. We wanted to create the game without the other common cons that other similar games had and at the same time have pros in different areas to legitimatize the need for our game in that space.

    I’m probably just dreaming here but it would be nice to have some sort of pros and cons data base, where we could easily find the common complaints of certain types of games. Or a place where discussion of such was the purpose of the group/forum.

  12. How do you build a sustained wave of interest in a game over a long development cycle then keep it going through a kickstarter campaign? Do you partner with your developers and freelancers to assist with the marketing and communicating with the game community? How does that impact NDAs on games still in development?

    1. T.R.: That’s a great question, and I’ll be exploring the answer firsthand over the next year. :) I think part of the answer is to give people something interesting to pay attention to little bits at a time and a way to pay attention to it. For this particular project, Jakub and I have talked about what he can reveal and how often he can reveal it, and when he does, I’ll be sharing the same content on Facebook and BGG (more from a design/mechanisms perspective).

  13. I keep reading something about “box art” and how it generated a bunch of interest … honestly, I saw something in text about a new Stonemaier game designed by Jamey Stegmaier and was instantly interested. It had nothing to do with the art — Although once I saw it, I thought it was nice box art, and started figuring out where in my Ikea shelves it would look best, since I have games facing outward in a “wall of art” arrangement (Sort of like how Dan King, reviewer for the Dice Tower, has his done behind him in his videos).

    1. Maybe it might be a nice “link” game between my Sci-Fi section (Manhatten Project, Mission Red Planet) and Uwe Rosenberg section (Caverna, Fields of Arle, Ore & Labora)… Farming meets Sci-Fi… we’ll see :)

    2. Murr: Wow, that’s really cool to hear! Thank you. We’re currently not sure about how big the box will be or what shape it will have–it might be a rectangle, or it might be square with the art in letterbox format. Either way, hopefully you’ll have a nice place for it on your shelf. :)

  14. It is all thanks to the both, the mesmerizing art of Jakub & the great work Jamey does.
    People simply want to be more connected to it.

    Then when you add alternative history, mechs, great art & fascinating designer you are asking for success… high expectations intended :)

    To be honest one couldn’t ask for a better end of the year or a Christmas present that Jamey just got. Thank you for writing this inspiring article.

    PS: Re the Old World… it is awesome, the asymmetry captivated me. Though you get the feel one colour is ‘easier’ to play than the others or it is simpler to grasp all the guy is about. After all ‘Blood for the Blood God’ says it all. Though I prefer the green guy. All are great to play. It is like having many games in one… I think this is what an asymmetry in a game is about.

    All the Best & Merry Christmas :)

    1. Konrad: Thank you! It has been a fun way to close out the year (though I’m even happier to be able to start shipping the Treasure Chest and Tuscany to backers).

      “It’s like having many games in one”–I’ve never heard that line, but that perfectly sums up what makes asymmetry great. Well said!

  15. When I first noticed Scythe on the hot list of BGG I opened its detail page to find out more. My first reaction was “Wait, is that all?”, because all I saw was the box art and a vague description of the game. I had the feeling that it probably was a bit too early to announce it or at least I wondered why it made its way up the hot list.

    Then I noticed that Scythe is a Stegmaier game and that you are (willingly or not, definitely undoubtedly) some sort of Kickstarter expert for boardgames with a great blog, great games and most importantly: loyal followers. So the answer to why this relatively short introduction of a vague idea plus art was enough to catch massive attention.

    I subscribed to the game on BGG and since this day every now and then I see new posts appearing in the forum. Honestly, most of these posts are bothering me a bit. They are childish and distract (me) from the facts. Today someone else posted about his/her feelings, which are pretty similar to mine. A bunch of people (loyal backers with spare time?) seem to flood the forums and with every joke that appears, my interest in Scythe decreases. No actually it doesn’t but I miss discussions with content on the forum. Maybe there isn’t much right now, which is OK, but the early “announcement” created this space for discussions, expectations etc. which is now like an open market place in a ghost city with people crossing it, willing to chat about things, but nothing to stop by and actually debate over.

    That being said, the art is phenomenal and at least the upload of the game to BGG served Jakubs amazing art and skills for now.

    All the best for your design process!

    1. Daniel: Thanks for your comment. I didn’t recognize the people who posted the joke entries in the Scythe forum, and I’m sorry they were a turn off to you. I didn’t encourage them, but I must admit that a few of them made me chuckle.

  16. You have revealed art early, but this could be the start of a long and adventurous campaign. It’s up to you to manage but you do have many resources at your disposal in your ambassadors. Some could even be compelled to write a few short stories…

  17. I think what you are experiencing is in part is indoctrination of the movie industry on society and the need for both visual graphics and supporting text. I imagine you would build even more hype with a mysterious “teaser” video trailer. You see this trend now with book launches and I think that board games will soon follow.

  18. Great Job Jamey!

    Coming from an Internet marketing background, I think that EVERY great idea begins with a website. You are already a hype generating machine when it comes to game design and that’s both because you create excellent games and because you have given sooo much to this community (seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read every page on a website before).

    But like you said, one giant flush of excitement with nothing you can directly influence to show for it.

    You have this website so you already know how to work the blogging software. Start with a new domain that you can put up a quick description of the idea of the game and a newsletter sign up. Since you already have a well-trafficked site, you can add a subdomain like “scythe.stonemaiergames.com” or something, but I like having just one site dedicated to it like “scythegame.com” or something. That way, once everyone wants to buy it, they search for it and you are at the top of the results to control how it’s purchased. Like if you make more money and don’t mind the hassle of doing the fulfillment yourself, they purchase directly from you or if you only want them to buy the games from Amazon (and not through a game-scalper), then you still have the power to direct them.

    Game scalper? Google “Cards Against Humanity” and see how many fake websites there are to scrape a small profit off the sale of the game that will probably still come from Amazon anyway. If it’s all about the customer, make sure you control that they only buy from the source that helps them retain all their rights to refund or exchange.

    Beyond that, there would definitely be a place on your site where they put in an email addy and you can update them every step of the way. Want to have a massive first week on Kickstarter? This might be the best way to engage with people so THIS game is their very own!

    Thank you so much, Jamey!

    I am one of those research guys. I want to make my game, but I want to do it perfectly (or as close to it as I can) the first time. This site has been my bible so far.

  19. Jamey: You can do some great things with still images in Adobe After Effects. If you’d like you can check what I made when I was learning the software in November: https://youtu.be/lqMK8uPrWX0?t=48s
    It is an early concept, I improved it since but you can get the idea. I should have After Effects set up again some time in February if you need it, I’m happy to help.

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