What Backers Want

What Backers Want

So, as a game developer I made the decision to publish my own design. In doing this I have to choose how to raise the funds for publishing. A common way to do this is through crowd funding via Kickstarter. It is relatively easy to set up your account and build a Kickstarter page. While there are many things to consider for your page and campaign and I am going to limit my discussion to the path I chose to go and the result of that choice.

When I made the decision to use Kickstater there are a lot of blog posts out there that will give you information about what to do and what not to do. In the end there is no right or wrong answer because what works for one person may not work for you. Also Kickstarters are built to custom fit a project. No two projects are the same, so while you do things that others before you have done, you may not get the same result. Though there is a frame work you should follow.

My choice was to build an interactive campaign. I have backed many games through my 2 accounts on Kickstarter. I have seen campaigns that fund and give three updates in 30 days, and they are very small boring drab updates. I have also been a part of a themed campaign which was something it seems that backers want. They not only want the product at the end but they also want a fun and exciting campaign. I read a post some time ago that discussed how many campaigns are boring and don’t offer those fun things for backers to be involved in.

Reading that I thought to myself, self, I need to do something different than other folks are doing. I need to have a fun and make it fun for the backer. I need to have a way for the backer to engage with my product. I need to ensure that the backer has all the needed information about my game and the world that it is set in. By doing this I will provide that fun and thematic world that backers want.

So our team came up with the idea of live missions. I would create a series of missions that are written and themed to the gangster theme which my game is centered around. So while I was working on this idea, I also hired a writer to come onto the project and write me 12 stories about the Hooch world. They would be short stories that would depict the things that occur in the game of Hooch. While fleshing out the ideas for the stories we were able to develop a large world that lives and breathes.

We developed places and people to fill those places. We developed characters with proper names and began to create a back story for each Criminal Syndicate in the game. We gave each Syndicate a distinct ability and created a world around them that helped this ability to stand out and be useful in a meaningful way. So we just did not make a game, we created a world and placed the game into it. I would say this is very different than most Kickstarter and we felt good about the amount of content we had created.

However, we thought we could do more. Using the Missions to push this content I wanted to give backers the chance to get things to personalize the game for them. Many campaigns allow backers to spend a large amount of money and get a custom game, card or be a character in the game. This helps the folks that have money at their disposal to get something very cool and it is a neat concept. But, I wanted to do something different; I wanted to offer this in a limited way to all backers. So for each Mission a backer completes they can get a card for the game that they can print and place into the game. This card is personalized just for the backer and now the backer can have some special cards in their version of the game when they play it.

But still I wanted to go further. One of the things that can happen during a Kickstarter is the interaction between the campaign and the reviewers or bloggers. These are sites that help to push your game and show your backers that the product they are backing is a good one. So to the folks that played my game in order to review it, I wanted to offer a way to drive my backers to their site. Now maybe they already knew about this site, but maybe they did not. The idea being that it would help to generate traffic to the site. I can do this by placing information on the site that is needed for my Missions. So my backers that are doing my missions have to go to the review sight and find information for the Mission and then report the information back to complete the Mission.

So I hired a writer, after effects and video person, a novelist, and collaborators to help me design each Mission. The end result is 10 Missions built in special software that is not used on Kickstarter. There are twelve stories that are built on the Hooch world depicting the events of Syndicates and the world of Prohibition that our game is set in. One short 25 page story based in the hooch world that is different and gives backers a clear view of the world and how the world works. We also created a tabloid for Temperance Town that would talk about each of the Syndicates and describe how and what they do!

So looking at all of this contact I wanted to make it useful to the backer. I took the stories and would weave those with into the issues of “The Flapper”. So now all of this very cool story line would be included into the missions and help to theme the campaign.

So in the end we have a set backstory that is really nice and everything fits well into that story line along with “The Flapper” and the Missions. Only trouble is, I am not having much success in bringing folks to my project. I am advertising on sites, and have passed the information on to many media sites. I wonder if they are just not paying attention of if it really does not matter to a backer that they have interaction. Do they care about the content or do they just delete the update that you put out even when they know it have free personalized rewards attached to it?

If you are looking for the interactive campaign and want to be part of something very cool and different then you should at least check out the project. If you like gangsters and want free rewards for completing interactive content you should check us out. 

If you are a company or indie publisher and you want to see a different kind of campaign you should also check us out.

please see us here on Kickstater 

Thank you for your time and interest. if you have feedback for us please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

Jason Washburn

Hand Management in Hooch

Good Morning Everyone,

Today I wanted to talk about the Creative Card Management mechanic we created in Hooch. This mechanic causes you to make some rather difficult decisions during game play. The first thing the active player does is discards down to five cards on their turn. They play their turn, buying store fronts, payroll characters and attacking other player, and the last thing they do is draw three cards from their draw deck.

So what were we thinking by doing this? Hooch is played with 3-6 players and we wanted to make sure during your off turn that you could have enough cards to defend your territory. We also wanted to have the players make some critical decisions on what cards to hold and throw away when they are not the active player. The active player is trying to use as many cards as they can to reduce the number of cards they might have to discard their next turn. What we ended up creating is a way to keep all the players active in the game even when it is not your turn. 

This is not something that many games do and we thought it would be very unique and engaging for all players. This also works to your advantage as other players flip the action cards and Co-Op things occur.  

You have to manage your cards in your hand just like your payroll. We also limited the number of cards that could be held by a player so they can’t just drop a bunch of strong cards all at once. On more then one occasion while playing  I made some bad calls and discarded the wrong cards when I needed them the most. To me it makes the game feel more realist. The theme really comes through in the play style and the choices, you might whack out the wring character or not have the power to defend your turf. The hand management aspect really plays into the theme and makes the game that much better.


The Push to Go Live

Well for the last week it has been a steady push to get the Kickstarter up and rolling. This is not my first attempt with a Kickstarter event but it is my first time in charge of the Kickstarter page. So have to do all the art and write the page has proven to be very tough. In the mean time I have done my best to keep up with my school work and my family, who I might add is totally awesome for all their support. it is certainly tough to try and balance your life around a Kickstarter campaign.

I am sure for folks who have the first one under their belt and are working on the second or third campaign it is not near as difficult to manage and also to get everything just right. I have to say though i have contacted so many folks in an attempt to get everything just right for the campaign from the quotes from manufactures to advertisement people and even asking folks for help.

I would like to say that with out several folks that offered help and support and encouragement I would not be where i am with this project. And this is not just to those that are in my day to day life. This is extended to those import folks in the board game world who have extended me the courtesy and have gone out of their way to help me. So thank you so these folks, for without your assistance I would still be at square one. 

Looking back on the path that has brought me here it is interesting. the design of the game you would think is the hardest part but I think that it is not even close to what it takes to build a fan base of folks who are truly interested in what it is that you are doing.

Now it is the waiting game for sure. I am confident that the project will fund, but I know I am going to feel that stress until it does. I hope that I have done enough to make this dream come true for hooch and for Talon Strikes Studios.

Doing Something Different

Well the games are out and I am excited and nervous to hear from folks. I am sure there will be positives and negatives throughout the process, though at this point I am all in with the amount of money I have put into getting ready to launch my campaign and the work that goes into designing and bringing a game to market. I have had some good feedback and folks have been very open with me about their experience so far. This is great for me. If there are ways to improve then I want to do that. I want to give folks a great experience all the way around.

So now that I am in the holding pattern waiting for all the feedback to hit me, I am working on the campaign at full speed ahead. For many months now I have been working and planning for the next few weeks. This is where all my hard work and dedication will pay off and the game that has consumed more than 2 years of my life and thousands of dollars will come to exist in the world of games. So as the final touches are added to the site and the campaign this brings me to my topic today.

There are many Tabletop Kickstarter events that occur each year and many of them have unique things with the Kickstarter or the game. Well of course there are some wonderful things about Hooch that make it different as a game. But I have a few things planned for my campaign that are different and one sting of events planned that I have never seen done before. That is not to say that no one has done it before, I have just never seen anyone do it.

I have lots of updates planned that are themed and are part of the bigger picture; however, I am going to run Hooch Live Missions. This is something new and different. These are missions I have put together that the backer can be a part of. As a backer you will get to participate in the story that is unfolding during the campaign. The Missions are a story that takes place in real time. You will complete the mission and report back to your contacts and relay information about what you observed and how you did it. The information will be recorded and then the backer will be rewarded for this on an individual basis. So you can complete the Missions and turn in the information and get a digital reward that you will be able to print out and use when you play the game. In some cases the reward may be personalized so it has your name on it.

This is something that is normally saved so super high backer levels. So anyone that is backing the game can do this and earn the rewards for it. I am not sure if it will be accepted or not, but I still think it will be fun to participate in it and the other updates revolve around these Missions as well and everything is tied together. I want to create an experience during my campaign. I want to have things for the backer to do and be a part of all throughout the campaign. To me this is important. I have been a part of many campaigns and some of them just toss out a few updates but never really tell you anymore about the product or the world it belongs in. I did not want to fall victim to that, nor do I want any backer of my game to feel bored. I also want to increase the knowledge about the Hooch world and what is going on in temperance town. To me it is very important to engage with the folks that fund the project.

It will be a ton of work but so what I am not afraid of hard work or a lot of work. I think it is a fun and cool idea that will prove to be a good choice in the end. It has taken a fair amount of money and time to get these missions up and running. I hope that everyone has a great time running them. I think it will add to the coolness of the campaign and will help to separate my KSer from other campaigns. Here is a peak at Mission 1. Enjoy! Until next time this is what matters most to me today!

Mission 1 Preview

Gearing Up, Review Copies Are Out!

So, After a ton of work and many hours of ensuring I got all the bases covered the 15 Review copies will be all out and on the way by tomorrow. It took a bit longer then expected to get these out but it was worth it. I have only had one person play it so far and while it took a bit for them to get through it, I was advised that they had a good time. So that is a small amount of feedback and I am hoping for more in the next few weeks. I am looking to run the Kickstarter event in September and everything is coming together for that now. This is a huge under taking as most of the work is on my to complete or get done. I have ad plenty of help from Mike and a few folks which you should be able to read about here in the next few days as I want to post up a bio page for each of them. 

So moving forward I am currently building out the Kickstarter page and working on all the art for that. I am really attempting to have it streamlined and well laid out. This should help the process of absorbing what the page has to offer and the look of the game should be well established as well. I have plenty of things planned during the run and really want the campaign to be an event everyone really enjoys. I want to engage the backers the whole way and continue to give them information on the game and help to grow the information that is out about the game and available to read for the backers. 

The rule book really came together well and it does have a few mistakes to be corrected, this is mostly minor.I am very happy with where the game is and how that progressed over the last few months. I also am very set on just about 90% of the art for the game and i am striving to ensure different art all the time on my media feeds so that no one has to see the same thing twice.

My video is complete and already added to the site. it is very different from other videos out there and I think a great change of pace. I do hope that others find the theme and game play to be good and enjoyable. I have been working with this game for 2 years or so and really want it to fund and move on to my next game.

As a super small company and design house it is ruff. Putting all of your own money in up front to ensure that the I am doing everything I can to get the game out there to the masses. While it is a tough road I am extremely thankful for all the help that has been given me and all the hours my family has endured with HOOCH! Back to work! 

Getting ready for reviews

I have to say it has been a fun filled summer and i have been super busy. We are getting ever closer to September and the start of our kickstarter campaign. Currently we are shooting for September 12th. So in the last few days I have been working hard to get all the art fixed and ready for the prototype print run. I have the play mats updated and they are looking sharp.

Next I will make the changes to the rulebook from our last edit of spelling and wording issues. This has been an ongoing process for sure. But one that is very important to get right. I had a great time on vacation and I got to met with some really great folks that i have been talking to for months and it was really neat to met with them in person and get to play hooch with them. Morgan Hillsman better know to many as @giveageekagame. We had a great time at her home game store and I was excited to meet her better half and Michael Oliver. It was great to deliver the prototype custom Hooch box to her. She was very happy to get the box and then she got to play with the custom deck that she designed The Monarchs.

Look at the custom box

Look at the custom box

This is a look at the custom Syndicate

This is a look at the custom Syndicate

We will have a few of these up fro grabs during our campaign. Each comes with your own custom Syndicate that you get to design with me. The box will get custom art as well.over all the construction of the box is very simple with a sliding top and plenty of room for your game and play mats.

I also got a chance to meet and hang out with the folks from WIBI Games. It was really interesting to get a chance to speak with them about there Kickstarter campaign that was run extremely well. I got to ask all sorts of great questions. I have taken on a few extra jobs over the last few weeks. I am currently working with TGIK Games on a card game Charge! You can read about it here. Chris has been a great guy to work with and I am super excited to get to work and their game. Being asked to do tha art for the game was great and i was thrilled to accept the project. I always take it to heart when someone asks me to do art for them. I consider it an hornor to be considered for an art project. So thank you to Chris and Adian of TGIK Games. 

I also completed some work for Meltdown Games and their successful Kickstarter campaign. I was in Kansas and I was able to pick up an antique case that seemed perfect for a special job. So I contacted Doug from Meltdown Games and I completed a custom box for their game. This thing is awesome complete with medicine cabinet and boxes to hold all the cards. it I was extremely happy with the results and they were gracious enough to post up some pictures for it. I mailed it to them a few days ago and I am sure it will end up at Gen Con so if you go seek them out and maybe your can get a look at it. 

Gothic Doctor Box

Gothic Doctor Box

Well that about wraps it up for now. Until next time! 


Interview with 3D Games

Original Post

[Gregory Carslaw] Having established that I do interviews in this post I’ve been swamped by designers desperate for me to ask them slightly rambly questions and get distracted from my intended course of action. After applying a gruelling selection process and my patented ‘designer selection’ algorithm I’ve sorted the list and from a pool that contained ones of ones selected Jason Washburn to tell us about his new game.

Hi Jason, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you ended up designing games?

[Jason Washburn] Hello, and thank you for speaking with me. I, like many, have been a gamer from childhood through my adulthood. While in the early 80's, video games were very limited and expensive, so we played mostly boardgames. This love for games is still very much a part of who I am. I designed my first game about 20 years ago and my mother helped me make 5 copies of the game which we gave out as gifts. After that experience, I was hooked. I have created many games but a few of the games I have designed over the years have made it to working prototypes and even to group play testing. Over the years as I grew through the process, I have self published games for friends and family. A few years ago, I met a a guy who also had the same passion for games. My talents are artistic based and his talents are writing based. We formed a company together and called it Talon Strikes Studios. We talked extensively about making a game and settled on an idea that Kyle, the co-owner of Talon Strikes, had been thinking about for many years. We got serious about making a game that we could release on a professional level and developed the card game Clique. The game was play tested, and well received, and we attempted to get it published. While that did not completely work out, the game was picked up by a small gaming company in Hanoi and we signed a contract to have the game made into an app. We fleshed the game out for a digital release and they are currently working on the coding and what not. So, while we never got to make a paper version of the game, it has been a blast developing that game with them. After that, we began work on our second title, Hooch.

[GC] That’s really cool, I hope that those five people still have their games! I’ll ask you about the ins and outs of Hooch in just a minute, but you brought up something that I’m curious about: What do you think about the relationship between board games and video games is? Do you think that if you were born into the current world of cheap, plentiful computer games you’d never have discovered the board gaming hobby?

[JW] I do think I would and I will tell you why. My major in college the first time around was Opera. I studied vocal performance. I was a theater kid and this continued when I became a young adult. I worked in the professional world for a brief shining moment. Board games and card games give you a social outlet that most video games do not. I think that if you are an extrovert you will find your way to this medium even in today's world of apps and video games. As a kid I loved the interaction that board games provide. I also know that table top games have a place in the world and have for many centuries. Cards and chess have been around through the ages and theses games along with other board games teach life lessons and experiences you can not get from the video medium. Still in today's world with all the technology we have, military leaders use sand tables and tactical board games to advance their military thinking and hone their battle computers. Table top games provide that outlet and source for many. This is why they will always be around and an important hobby. Call up your friends have them come over. Get some food together and a couple of great games. At the end of the night you will have had a great time and say to yourself, "This will be a day long remembered".

[GC] I think I know some computer game designers who might take exception to the notion that their medium can’t teach these things (maybe I should host a debate here someday), but I see what you mean about the longstanding tradition of board games, there are a lot of things that have been refined over centuries. I’m surprised to hear you talk about it as the extrovert's hobby, since the stereotype is the opposite, but the more I think about it the more sense that makes. So is Hooch an extrovert’s game? What’re the basics of how it works and what it’s about?

[JW] I would not say video games don’t teach that, just board games have been doing it longer. I would say that Hooch is anybody’s game. If you enjoy sitting with friends, having a good time and passing time playing a fun an interesting game then Hooch is the medium that will help you do that.

HOOCH is a resource management card game for 3-6 players set during Prohibition. Each player controls a Syndicate, groups of likeminded ne’er-do-wells. The object of the game is to be the player with the most Respect Points at the end of the game. But that’s easier said than done. First you’ve got to take control of a location, put up a still, and hire some muscle to defend it. The other syndicates are doing the same, but they’re also trying to stop you from becoming the most powerful crime lord in the city. They might go to war, sending their soldiers to take out your operation. Or maybe they’ll send a Button Man in to take out all your guys and then they can stroll in and take over the place themselves. Sure you’ll have your own Syndicate members to help you, but that won’t get you all the way. You’re going to need a public face as well. Maybe you should bribe a Judge. He can help you with all those pesky City Politics they might throw at you. Maybe a Mouthpiece to help the law bend your way. But something to keep in mind: you paid them off, maybe someone else might be able to pay more. Hooch is a game of alcohol, greed, backstabbing and violence. It’s the American way.

The base of your operation is set around your payroll. You will place Public Characters (Mouthpiece, Judge, Bookkeeper, Detective, Politician) on your payroll along with the characters from the syndicate (Capo, Madam, Smuggler, Grifter, Snitch). These 10 characters make up your payroll and this is the base of your operation. From there your Syndicate Characters can go on missions at Stores Fronts to further your criminal operation. Each round you collect hooch from Store Fronts or by means of cards from your deck. The hooch is used as a currency to buy what you need to help you. You have to make some tough choices from time to time with in the game. The hooch is very precious and it will be taken from you and you will have to pay others off with it. You do have to think about what cards you are going to play how you will run your syndicate and how you will grow your criminal syndicate.”

[GC] Sounds good! It’s a nice theme to work with, I’ve had a lot of fun with games (mostly RPGs) that used prohibition era America as a setting. Did the development of this game start from that theme? Or did it start with a good set of mechanics that the theme happened to fit? Or something else entirely?

[JW] It is funny to talk about. My partner Kyle and I were actually talking about another game entirely and someone brought up the word Hooch. Then a series of puns occurred using the term Hooch. For the next week it seemed funny to just call Kyle up on the phone and he would answer I would say “HOOCH” and hang up. So after about a week Kyle says that would make a great name for a game. We briefly discussed it and we tossed around a few things and let it simmer for a week or so.

About that time Kyle calls me I answer and he goes into a spiel. It is 1920 America and they just voted in the prohibition, your town is ripe for the picking because “The Don” just died…..GO! With that phone call I was off to the races. Over the last 2 years we have gone through many changes and adaptations as any game does. But we continued to keep it interesting and engaging for each player at the table and fun. The mechanics continued to evolve as did other parts of the game. There is something about this card game that sets it apart from other games. We were able to concept fresh ideas and card mechanics into a game where the feeling was landing in just the right spot.

The art is just as much a part of the development and feeling as is the play style and card mechanics. It took a few different looks but somewhere around December of last year I re worked the concept to the look you see now. I posted that on Board Game Geek and there was many who liked the work but felt it stopped just short of where I could take it. Then a game artist pointed out a flaw in my work, he said the art is awesome with color, design, and balance, but it needs to have the old feeling to it. Bam, a ton of bricks lands on me and I am able to take my art and elevate it. It was at the moment that the game snapped into place. The art popped and it matched the theme and concept of the game in a way that was very special. Each idea from there had a different feeling and it felt right and true to the base game and concept of what we were attempting to accomplish. It was at that time the game as you see it was born and things really settled in on every front.”

[GC] I love the idea of a game getting started that way, a plan coming together is always excellent to watch. What’s the name of the artist who had the old feeling insight? That’s probably a two word answer, so I’ll ask another: How deep is Hooch? Is it aiming at being a quick light game or is it something meatier with a bit of a learning curve?

[JW] Ian O'Toole Was the game artist that pointed out a thing or two. His push helped me to understand the Art Deco movement and what it represents. While I had a grasp on it his insight helped me to move to the next level which is the art you see now.

The game has a lot of action and has plenty of depth. While it is not to be a serious game, the play is very fun and fulfilling. There is so much to do in the game. One of the things I get back from gamers that play it is that there is always something to do even if it is not your turn. They also love the game play and how the mechanics work. As you dive into the game you really become connected to your syndicate and to the things that happen to your syndicate. There are times in the game you really have to consider what cards you will play and what cards you will discard for good. So you really have to consider your options and think ahead a bit in the game of what your enemies or friends might do.

Learning the game will take a bit yes. There are rules to the game and while most things are there on the cards in front of you, you do have to familiarize yourself with the ebb and flow of the game. I would say the rules are easy to grasp and understand. In the rule book there are plenty of visual elements to help you understand and I have written examples of mechanics and concepts so the player can grasp what is going on in the manual. With all of that said the turn phases are easy to understand and they are straight forward. So while it would take a bit to memorize everything about the game the basic rules as easy enough to recall if you take a look at the rule book.

The great thing about it is the fun and ease of the actual game play itself. I would tell you that the more you get into the strategy and the revenge you really want to play more and more cards on your opponents. The game presents itself with plenty of balance overall and this helps players to get right in there. For every action there is an opposite reaction in the game. This is felt by all players’ across the board. So as one thing happens to you as a player this affects how other players may choose to play their next turn and that is a great thing. Being able to engage all players each turn, keeps the game interesting and fun. So while you are digging through the meat of the game you have a wonderful time doing it.

[GC] That sounds outstanding, downtime can be a big fun killer in otherwise great games! I’m always a bit worried to hear about ‘screw you’ type mechanics for taking revenge or playing cards directly onto other players though. What’ve you done to avoid falling into the Munchkin trap of making a game where the first 90% of the game winds up being irrelevant as once someone approaches victory the other players are motivated to cooperate and trivially undo all of their hard work?

[JW] There are ways to harm another Syndicate but that is very well balanced. First of all the victory condition is to collect respect points. Once you play those cards they go to your respect point pile and continue to accumulate. Second, you have some of the same cards as everyone else and some cards that will be different. One Syndicate might be really go with one part of the game and not so good with another. There is no unfair advantage of who brought the best deck, or who as more cards that do X,Y or Z. You have to figure out with the 40 cards you have how you will make that happen.

By revenge I mean that if you buy a store front open it and run Hooch, there is a card in the game called “Button Man”, and this represents a demolition expert. He can come in a blow up your store front. However this does not remove the store front from the game. It simply resets the store front and you could pick it up on your very next turn again if you wish. It is a slowing tactic. The raids are all controlled by the action cards which no one owns, but everyone must play one each turn. So the “Government” is the entity raiding you if that card should come up.

I think there will be some motivation to hit a player who is controlling a bit more that other players, but then the is what the game is patterned after, real life prohibition. Put it this way, Al Capone was one of the biggest players in the prohibition world. He operated a huge criminal syndicate, but even the greater runner of Hooch had a whole in his plan and he was caught. So while you may be rolling and taking over store fronts and building an empire, so are the other players. You may not want to throw everything out there all at once.

While someone may wish to attack your crew or syndicate you can protect your characters and your syndicate, but it will cost you to employ bodyguards and protect your investments in and around the town. I have yet to run into a player that felt that they were totally screwed and had no way to win. On the other side of the coin in many of the games I have demoed with gamers in the stores, they were never able to pin point just who might win as there are some quick shifts in power that can occur within the game. So going for a balanced game was the goal as the game began to take shape. If you buy up store front and do not protect them, then yet you might feel that sting a bit as others move in and take over your territory. But if you protect your stores and your syndicate along collecting respect points to work towards that end goal then you will have a great shot and becoming the king of gangsterland!

[GC] Good stuff, virtual player elimination is so much worse than just plain old player elimination! Just one more question from me before we start wrapping up: I’m very interested in gamer culture, the way we treat each other and the messages we send to the wider world. Does this game have any particular message? Is there anything you’d change about the way board gamers are as a whole?

[JW] Our game does not have any special message or statement. It is a game for fun and entertainment. Although be it an era that we were very passionate about which is why we chose this topic for our game. There are so many things you can make games about. Using this time in our history we were able to make a very in depth game that skirts on the edge of our history as a country. That says something to me. Embrace our past no matter how crazy or tough it may be to do so.

The one thing I would change about gamers is to ensure that each of them has a copy of my game! I would say that gamers are a great bunch of folks. They come from all different backgrounds and they are accepting of all different backgrounds and there is a reason why. They have common ground in games. The love and passion the community feels for games and the playing of those games. it is funny to me because I was a gamer when it was not a cool or popular thing. I think that table top gaming is more accepted now as a form of entertainment. I also think there is a cross over for many folks from the video world to the table top world. Game companies are helping to make this happen. You continue to see things in a multilevel universe. it you can hit the tri-fecta of Movie, Video Game, and Board Game with a single idea, then I think you have arrived as a unstoppable force that the American public will gobble up.

Gamers fit into that world now. It is a wonderful thing to see. No sir I would not change who we are as gamers. We bear the the trials and tribulations of many gamers before us and we have an obligation to those that will follow. Gamers work hard to make the gaming world better then they found it. And you can't ask for much more than that. Board and card games are here to stay for a good long while. So pull up a chair crack open the lid on a game like Hooch and sit back and enjoy what those with the minds to do so have created. GAMES

[GC] That’s nice to hear, the world you describe is the one that I would like us to build, I don’t observe that we’ve got there yet, but perspective changes depending on where you’re standing. I should come and visit yours sometime It’s been great talking to you and I wish you the very best of luck with Hooch, your passion is evident, but more than that there’s a thoughtfulness of execution here that I suspect might make it a cut above the rest.

[JW] Follow your dreams and put passion into everything you do. I would like to thank Kyle Olson for the ideas he has presented and for his input.. I would also like to acknowledge Mike Whislter for his support of our project and continuing to work each day to make the game play to the best of our abilities. Both of these guys have been vital to making it work. Greg thank you for taking the time out of your day to spend a few minutes with me and for giving me the opportunity to discuss my greatest passion with you.

Drawing From Your own Pool of Abilities

Well, I had a busy weekend over the last few days here. I got the first draft of my rule book done in InDesign for print. Now for some my rule book has been something of an endeavor. I would always get the same thing. Love the game hate your rule book! So with limited resources and not wanting to write the rule over yet again only to be told the exact same thing. I when in search of a editor or writer to help me get the rule book fixed and squared away.

No this is no easy task I will tell you. I placed adds on websites and really connected with writers on ODesk. No one really has much experience writing rules for a game let alone edit them. So how do all these companies do it? If you are a big company they turn to the folks they have on staff. They use the editors that they are already paying to do the job. So on any given day they could be working on body copy for the website or looking at a print publication or editing rules. Well that is all well and good for a big company but that does not help me get it done, and while looking for someone to assist me really started out not to turn up much I finally made a post on BGG to see if there was someone there who could help me get my rule book straightened out.

Well turns out I was in luck and I found a wonderful editor, as a side job they agreed to go over my rules and fix what was explained to me as "Holy cow you expect someone to play this game based off of this?". Well I am a law enforcement officer not a rule writer, this is what I tell myself when someone bangs on my rule writing ability. After a few weeks and an agreed upon payment for the services I got back a top notch version of my rule book. I tell you it was laid out wonderfully for me. So the next step is to get those rules into some graphic form and fast so I can finish up my final art and get my review copies printed.

So I am a digital artist and while I do not do magazine layouts I am quite adept with design and have been for many years in the design and theater world. So I dusted off InDesign and began to get to work. Really digging into what I wanted to do and how I wanted to portray the layout and design of the rule book. In my last version I had a unique table of contents and I wanted to do something like this again only I really wanted to make a statement with it. not only did I want it functional I wanted it to be visually stunning and helpful at the same time.

Table of Contents

So this is the look I designed for my manual. I am extremely happy with it. I think that folks will open the manual and see not only a functional working table of contents they will see it presented in a very beautiful and graphic way. This is something that will catch there eye and set it apart from what others do. So by deciding that I would just do it myself like most everything turned out to be a very good thing for this part of the project. Working with a professional editor is a godsend for someone like me. I am super creative, visually driven and can see things in my mind very easily. however in written format when it comes to explaining something I am not so good.

So in the end looking no further than my own living room for the layout and the art was the right choice and I am glad that I set out to get this done this weekend. I now have the rulebook for hooch that I have always wanted not to mention I think it is very well written. And that is What Matters Most today! Thank you Tank Hughes!

Rules of the Game

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me to see progression for this game. Many things have been in the works for a few months and it is now starting to find its way to the final stages. I cannot express in words the amount of work that others have placed into this. Some of them have been paid yes, this is a business but several folks have just given their thoughts and sometimes that is enough.

It has been a busy week. My rules got the overhaul that they needed. While I am a creative person and can conjuror up wonderful and creative ideas, I am not a writer. I am pretty much all visual and have been for most of my life. That being said I made a few attempts to write out the rules to my game. This was mostly a train wreck but as I continued to painfully move forward I made progress and managed to get a rule set that while redundant in many places did have all the information needed to play the game. I finally found an editor that was willing to tackle this huge job. The price quoted was very reasonable and I was able to pay above the quoted price which made me feel good about the amount of work they performed. So the rule book is now professional. I need to take the text and use InDesign and redo the entire layout which will be my second time doing so, but it is well worth the effort.

Along the same lines as the rule book, I also hired a writer to write short stories based in the Hooch world. It was a fun process to find a writer that was willing to do the work and he is doing a great job with it. I am so excited for where the IP of this game is headed currently and it opens so many possibilities for the future if things can just hold out and keep going in the right direction.

It is a tough place to be as a creator and artist. I think the game is in a great and wonderfully playable place. I now have other things to compliment the game in ways that I would not have thought possible a year ago. And after two years of my life invested in the design and play of the game it is nice to be getting all the art assets completed as well. So as I wrap up the final cards and the tuck boxes and the odds and ends I am excited to get my next prototype printed as this will be the version I will send out to reviewers to play and bloggers to try out. I have also completed the work on how the Kickstarter campaign will run and the best way to sell the game to our backers so that they get the best choices and they have a choice in what they walk away with when the back the printing of the game.

So What Matters Most? Today that would be the ability to continue to move forward and push for the best possible game and product. Thank you to those that have had a hand in helping Talon Strikes Studios create a great card game based on gangster and the prohibition!

Hooch_Logo for hooch crate-01.jpg

Ever Evolving Art

Well after careful consideration I found that less is more when it comes to our game cards for Hooch and therefore Mike and i decided to revamp the art a bit to make it a bit more elegant and increase the feel of the 1920s. I think we have got it now.

So this we are beginning to pick up the pace a bit with the game and while we continue to play it as often as possible, we have locked down the layout for the Kickstarter which I have begun to build and will continue to work on over the next few months. i hope that we can get this thing up and running in a short time.

So to show you the new art...

Final Art "Working Girl"

So this is the reboot of the character card both Public and Syndicate. These are the cards that make up your Payroll and they provide a wide variety of Missions for you to complete and they provide abilities to you as you add them to your Payroll.

We also trimmed down the look of the Syndicate deck cards as well as the Crew Cards. The same information is still there but we changed the basic layout of the card to better aline it to the other changes. This gives an overall better feel to the game and makes it more cohesive as a total package.

Final Art "Crew Card"

more art to come in the following days just to get it up on the site for others to look at. I think the final art is quite nice and I am very pleased with the way the art has progress over the two years I have been working on this game.

Forming of the Criminal Syndicates

Early Art Work

Early Art Work

Well about 2 years ago I began the quest that is Hooch, the Card Game. While many many hours have gone into the mechanics and play testing of the game, I am also the artist for the game. So while coming up with the game play I considered how the art might look while going through this. I will tell you that over the two years The art has changed with the game play.

In the first six months of working on the game we went through many prototypes for the game but at that point we had reached a place where the game was very functional and the core of the game was intact. For this point forward it was really just find out about things that the game did or how it played when certain cards were played in conjunction with each other. So as we got deeper into the theme of the game I found that when a mechanic was tied to the theme that i wanted to have art that would really capture the theme and help the players to be pressed into the world. I also knew that I did not want to settle on any one look for a figure or character in the game and it mattered to me that anyone can run illegal Hooch. You never know who that might be. So no putting a face to the different rolls and characters really struck a chord with me.

Using this as the basis for how the art would progress I began to concept different ideas about what the art would look like and how I would represent that fact that anyone could be a producer or seller of Hooch. Some of the first concept art work was fun to produce and served as a starting point for the focus of trying to give the player a feeling of 1920 culture and the hint of Art Deco along with that gangster feel. I did not want it to hit the realm of Mafia and really wanted to focus on the idea of a Criminal Syndicate.

Defined as "a loose affiliation of gangsters in charge of organized criminal activities"

With that I am not confined to the typical family style criminal element. I will tell you also that Boardwalk Empire had an influence on the game and the thought process behind it. This look into the world of the prohibition was one that showed it was not all about crime families, though they did exists it was not run entirely by them and there were several outfits or criminal syndicates that wanted to get rich selling booze!

So thinking to myself what is the basic make up and how would that look.

We would have Gangsters and Molls in and around every part of the game. As I began to flesh out the different factions I wanted some authentic feeling stuff as well as some things that would pay homage to others. So I began to create syndicates and there identity.

Originally we discussed 4 to 5 but in the end we ended up with 8 in the original game and this would allow us to expand on that in the future.

The Blind Tigers

A Criminal Syndicate that is focused on attacking the enemy and continuing to take the fight to its enemies to overwhelm them and remove their will to go to war thus giving up.

The Big Sixers

A Criminal Syndicate based in a defensive posture. Fortifying there hideout and Store Fronts making it tough for others to attack them and the loss of crew would be so high for the enemy that they would lose their stomach for the fight and give up.

The Embalmers

A Criminal Syndicate obsessed with creating the best Hooch money can buy. This would allow them a higher profit and they would be able to afford better equipment and more crew and payroll characters. While they are not the best fighters they can produce more hooch at a faster rate giving them greater resources to draw from.

The Palookas

A Criminal Syndicate that prides itself on making the most out of the VIPs and Syndicate character they employ. Using these high ranking officials they provide the best protection to there payroll characters, There losses will be less and they will not have to work as hard as other syndicates to retain their high profile members and public figures.

The Snake Charmers

A Criminal Syndicate that is made up of all female members except for the high profile character on there payroll. These ruthless ladies are out to show the big boys that they can play their game. They use the tactic of deceit and hand manipulation to cause other Syndicates problems slowing them down.

The High Rollers

A Criminal Syndicate inspired by the Boardwalk Empire it is made up of high ranking city and public officials. Using the place of power they will overcome and obstacle or they will use legal means of power to shut down the rival Syndicates.

The Vice Squad

A Criminal Syndicate made up of police and law enforcement officials. Using the inside connections on things like judges and information from the FBI the Vice Squad can set step a problem or two.

The Kickstarts

A Criminal Syndicate based on commercial enterprise and yes it is made in homage to the site Kickstarter. This will be an exclusive Syndicate based on the manipulation of commercial business and everything that goes into setting up Store Fronts and the easy of which they have connections to do so.

These were the base for which we were able to draw from and create and functional and captivating world that is Hooch.

Player Aids

Today will be a bit busy for me on the Hooch side of things. I am currently working to get the play mats done and send out for a prototype and I want to clean up the text on some of the cards from our last printing and get those words added or removed which is a time consuming endeavor.

On the game mat front though thing are going well and I think I have finally come to a design that I like and that is functional but also represents the game well.

It is an interesting process when creating Player Aids for your game. I went through so many attempts to get to this one that is it hard to remember what the first attempt even looked like but with the time invested and the work invested I think it paid off and the final result is one that will compliment the game nicely.


Which brings me to the point that one should not give up and continue to draw on your skill set to get the result that you want. I am glad I did not settle for something that I was not 100% sure looked great or even matched the game well. The style of the art is taken from the game but changed to better fit the size of the mat 24x14. This is not a standard size mat by any means but it fits my needs. I tried like hell to design a mat for 17x11 and I just could not make it work and this is where the big hang up came for me. I continued to do different layouts on the 17x11 but just could not get something that worked. So after many tries and frustration I took a day off from it and then while driving around in my patrol car it hit me. Why am I confining myself to a 17x11 size? I am the game creator, can't I make it the size I need to fit the game?

So when I got home I started to expand the size of the mat and this began to change the design and it began to take shape with the vision I had when I first sketched it out. It is a difficult thing as a designer when some thing you had been working on for a while is not coming out the way you had envisioned it. It sort of eats at you and continues to be there in the back of your mind. The change you feel towards your vision when something you create takes on the look and feel of what you really wanted is awesome.

So starting with a bigger mat size really changed the dynamic for me and I began to lock most of the art and design principals into place. I really wanted the turn order and some other information added to the mat. This is information that I think is valuable to a player of the game and it would be right in front of them and easy to read and see. These are also some of the items that players of the game and testers of the game stated they would like to see on the mat. So referring to my notes from questions asked I felt these were some of the more important items to add.  I also have room to place a few more things on them if needed.

Player aids are important to many games that we play because they help us understand the game better and also allow us to see things in a simplified way. When adding player aids to your game you really have to sit back and think about it front the players perspective. Which can be tough from the design chair. As the designer you have so much of the game in your head that you will over look things that players do not. To add another layer to this I am also an artist for the game and the graphic designer as well. While this cuts down on the cost it also means I have to question myself many more times during the design process and from all the different perspectives that come with each job.

Is the player aid functional? Does it look nice? Is the information provided done so in a clear and simple manner? Does it fit into the theme of the game and does it provide the functionality that it is meant to? All good questions mind you, just hard to have all the right answers up front.

There are many things to do in your turn when you play Hooch. So to help the player plan their turn and ensure that they do not make a mistake for lack of understanding the rules of play I felt player aids should be added.

So I began with cards that had information taken from the rules. Three cards double sided with information ranging from missions to the order of play during your turn. While playing the game players stated that they were helpful and it was nice to not have to refer to the rule book as the information was on a card, however many of the players wanted the information on one larger card. So we made a few different ones but I was not happy with them and I felt they were to bulky or big. So the idea of using a game mat was introduced and this seemed to alleviate many of these issues. We also discussed separating the rules from game tips and common terms so we would have two different manuals with the game. Rules of Play, and Tips, Common Terms and a card glossary.  Thus began the quest to design a good player mat.

In the end the final result was worth the frustration and the time invested and while I wish I could have just designed it like this the first time around I am glad that as a person I am not one to give up easily and this had made a difference for this project. Now, to get back to those cards...