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My road towards Kickstarter: Lessons Learned


robert4818
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I was thinking the modular idea might work better if it was built to snap apart. I know that sounds like it leaves a messy edge but the kids would love it. Snap off dungeon rooms like squares of chocolate.

 

I would definitely aim for the much-maligned "lowest common denominator". If you could arrange even just to snap-into-quarters some of the full-size squares, that gives player s a lot of freedom to open up their new toy and just play with it.

 

I would ask, not what you can do for the perfect finished product, but what can you do to make this product immediately fun and engaging. Like, if you could demo it at cons just by pulling some out of the box and letting people mess with it. The very most they should need is a regular box cutter, hardware store or craft knife, in any case, but if it was something people could just get into right away, you're a lot closer to a winner.

 

Maybe you could set up groves in wall sections to permit quick if dirty snap-out of doors.

 

It's like Reaper's broccoli bases. 90% of forum-dwelling hobbyists hate 'em, but customers - real people with real money - love to be able to pop a mini out of the blister and start playing right away. The massively successful Bones project and line actually goes further down the same path.

 

Then your next question is "how do I have this product have more visual appeal than any other 3D dungeon that literally takes 2 minutes to set up?" I think that's potentially a tricky question, but I'm imagining something like really gorgeous made-to-measure cards that drop right into the rooms and corridors and flip to reveal traps?

 

Maybe if you can't have snap-out doors you can have stickers for doors. Other stickers could have pretties on them for dart-shooting traps, runes, or portals. Kids would go nuts for that.

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Would you consider a medium change?

 

If you were making a plastic grid board with 1/4" grooves between the squares, or holes at the intersections and walls that fit into those grooves or with pegs that fit into the holes, then the product would be more flexible, space efficient, and less likely to be damaged.

 

Eric

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I like this as a possible middle ground between drawing lines on a Battlemat(fast, low cost, not real pretty) and Dwarven Forge type products(slow, costly, very pretty). Do consider gaming table size. Mine is 4'x8'. On this space we have to fit maps(anything from pre-printed tiles, printed buildings, Battlemats, your product, etc), dice, minis, player paperwork(character sheets, SSD's, mech diagrams, etc), food, drinks, rule books and electronic gizmos. Don't think that you will have the entire table area for your product. 4' x 8' is one common size, 5' x 6' is another-2 folding tables side by side.

 

Suggestions:

1. Consider including some clips to hold the units together. A couple of wider ones could have door stickers on them to allow owners to quickly place doors without having to permanently modify the unit.

2. Make available pdf files of the floor layouts so GMs can print off and make notes on before the game starts.

3. Try to find out why Chessex chose 23"x26" for their Battlemat. (I have no clue why it is that size. If due to material availability when they started, it doesn't help you. If they had some study that shows folks like that size for some reason, could be useful to you.)

4. Consider making some layouts for standard RPG locations like Taverns, small temple, and a jail.

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I like this as a possible middle ground between drawing lines on a Battlemat(fast, low cost, not real pretty) and Dwarven Forge type products(slow, costly, very pretty). Do consider gaming table size. Mine is 4'x8'. On this space we have to fit maps(anything from pre-printed tiles, printed buildings, Battlemats, your product, etc), dice, minis, player paperwork(character sheets, SSD's, mech diagrams, etc), food, drinks, rule books and electronic gizmos. Don't think that you will have the entire table area for your product. 4' x 8' is one common size, 5' x 6' is another-2 folding tables side by side.

 

Table size is something I've considered. Which is another reason why stacking can be a beneficial feature. By being able to stack tiles, you can create a 3ft x 3ft dungeon that has multiple levels, as opposed to one giant dungeon of one level.

 

Suggestions:

1. Consider including some clips to hold the units together. A couple of wider ones could have door stickers on them to allow owners to quickly place doors without having to permanently modify the unit.

Clips probably won't be available. That being said, I do have plans for having "Standee doors" that can be placed in wall openings, or even immediately in front of a wall for a temporary door location.

 

2. Make available pdf files of the floor layouts so GMs can print off and make notes on before the game starts.

That sounds like a plan. Consider the idea stolen!

 

3. Try to find out why Chessex chose 23"x26" for their Battlemat. (I have no clue why it is that size. If due to material availability when they started, it doesn't help you. If they had some study that shows folks like that size for some reason, could be useful to you.)
Not sure how this could help, but may look into it.

 

4. Consider making some layouts for standard RPG locations like Taverns, small temple, and a jail.

Some of those designs are already made (temple, tavern) Some stuff like the jail are easily done using one of the multi-use tiles.

Though, I don't think any tile will have a name that points towards "Temple" or "Tavern" I want the tiles to be fairly genre neutral, and let the shapes speak for themselves. Its a reason why I've resisted the urge to add in extra details like stone flooring.

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While I do some wargaming, I mostly do RPGs, so most of what follows is from that perspective. I use miniatures, props and terrain heavily in my games and have a decent collection of Dwarven Forge, Miniatures Building Authority and various other set pieces. If I can find (and afford) something that makes a game more fun for my players and me I'm very interested in it.

 

I think of terrain in terms of expense, flexibility, customization, appearance and ease of use. Expense wise the bottom end is drawing on my mat. Drawing, then custom terrain, then the DF pieces is best in flexibility. Creating custom pieces, e. g. Hirst Arts or a block of Styrofoam and a hot knife is best in terms of customization. Appearance is going to depend on skill, but the DF pieces look good straight out of the box. Ease of use is drawing, then the DF. I separate flexibility from customization with flexibility being layout and customization being changing the appearance. You need to find a desirable combination of those where you are the clear good choice. Drawing is hard to beat just because it is cheap, easy and flexible (Even with the pieces I have it is still what I use about 95% of the time.) The other methods involve trading those things off for appearance.

 

(I really didn't mean for this to sound as mean-spirited as the next part came out to be, sorry.) I know the initial product is something I would have no interest in. It combines a difficult to use size with very little flexibility and a less-than-attractive appearance. (if I have to cut it for a specific purpose it just got less easy to use than my Dwarven Forge pieces) The generic nature is a negative point to me because while we play a fairly decent variety of RPGs the fantasy ones are about the only ones that we regularly use miniatures with and if I'm ok with a generic appearance I can just draw it. I have a few things like the initial concept that were custom made and I never use them. They seemed like a good idea at the time I got/made them but in practice we have literally* never managed to use them. Storing tiles that big is also a major issue. Even 12 in. x 12 in. tiles eat up a lot of storage space. Storing them where they don't get damaged is even harder.

 

The snap/cut apart concept that you posted created a completely different reaction in me. It would fill a good niche. I saw that and I wanted it. It would be great for those times when I need a couple of walls/terrain pieces to set up a quick scene. Cutting it apart would be less of an issue just because I'd do that once when I got it, put them in one of the drawers in the DM stand and grab them and go when I needed them It gives me a slightly better appearance, and is probably tied with drawing for ease of use. The appearance bump justifies the slight expense increase (for me). I'm going to test the Dark Platypus Studios bendy walls and see if I can do something similar with them actually.

 

I think you need to get a clearer picture of how you want these to be used and who would use them that way. What is your main selling point? What problem do you solve? Once you know that choosing between trade offs becomes much easier. Try to get a few different groups to play multiple sessions/adventures/battles with them. If the GMs/players aren't asking to keep using them after they get a good taste you probably need to seriously rethink things.

 

If the manufacturing process is forcing you to make design decisions that run counter to what your market is interested in (and I am not assuming the market agrees with me in the slightest, I know I tend to be the odd ball in what I want.) I would reconsider the material. Could you do the same thing out of the stuff the interlocking rubber mats are made out of? I would back off from the specific Styrofoam slightly and try to see what your other options are. The Styrofoam may be the best, but a lightweight material that tends toward being flexible rather than being rigid would hold up better, might be stronger and might be easier to design for. Styrofoam is easier to customize but if I read you correctly your target is customers who just want something they can drop on the table, the customization isn't much of a selling point for that.

 

I suggest multiple sessions/adventures because as a GM, the "oh look, this set of rooms again" factor scares me off the first design. My players might or might not care. I could use inserts to kind of get around that but that starts going to the area where it might be more trouble than its worth, especially if the inserts are less inclined to stay put over time as the material gets small dents in it. Also, even if they play test well your potential retail customers won't see your play test data.

 

While I like the idea of a stackable dungeon/building it has one serious downside. At least for RPGs, people sitting at a table need to be able to clearly see in to it. Others have talked about wall height, and I think you are right in dropping it to at least 2 inches, but I see the stackable problem as a matter of perspective. If I stacked those three levels high my players would be hard pressed to see what was going on without standing up. I could just take the top piece off and use it on the table but that eliminates the stacking. Also, with them stacked I can't really do characters on multiple levels. We've tried stacking stuff before but if you are going for layers it tends to be self-defeating. Building multilevel rooms is a different matter. Especially without gaps in the external walls, a stacked building/dungeon is just a pedestal for the top layer.

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Just my thoughts. I hope you make something really cool. I like new toys. :)

 

Shane

 

* And I do mean literally, as in we have never found a use for them in gaming. Every time we thought about it there was something else that better satisfied the need. As a (sad) side note, I think I just figured out what to throw out next time I'm cleaning out stuff.

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Well, This semester has fallen behind me, and now its time to turn my focus back towards this product. I'm waiting on some quotes from the manufacturer (who is waiting on some quotes from the mold maker).

 

In th mean time I've spent the last couple weeks making a 9-piece demo board. There are 5 tile designs in the 9 piece board. As these have all been built by hand, angles and lines aren't nearly as precise as I would like. (I just can't cut straight.) There's still plenty of work to do on these, caulking to hide the seams better, a coat of grey paint and stone texture to minimally emulate the look of the gray foam that will be used in actual manufacture.

 

However, Here is how it looks right now. The yard stick iis on there for scale purposes.

 

398588_4469065397329_2123598715_n.jpg

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