Where am I at?
Continuing on from my previous post, I've continued work on my new card game Total Blast.
The rules have been tweaked to the point where they're pretty solid now. I've finished all the Cannon cards and have begun creating Upgrade card illustrations. I feel as though I am trying to put a little bit more into each card illustration I produce. It's taking longer than expected, but I'm very happy with how it's coming along. It's been a while since I was excited to work on a new product.
The project has gone from simply a desire to just create a fun, little game for personal use to wanting it published, distributed and sold in shops. I'm usually very self critical, but I genuinely think I'm developing something of value here. When it comes to most art projects, I'd typically already have a publisher or client lined up with a budget agreed upon and money in the bank before even starting. This time all the work is completely speculative. It means devoting a lot of time to a project which may never see the light of day, despite my efforts. I'll discuss my concerns a little more below, but overall I'm trying to just stay focused on the work at hand.
What is Total Blast?
Here's an Intro from the rule book:
"In the kingdom of Blastonia warring armies settle disputes in head-to-head battles of firepower, strategy and cunning.
Unique, magical cannons are loaded with powerful, mana-infused ammunition. A range of upgrades, special abilities and some luck of the draw is thrown in for good measure.
As army commander, you’re in charge of selecting and loading cannon balls into their corresponding cannons. You aim to carry this out at the right time, reacting to each of your opponent’s opposing cannons. By sourcing supplies for the war effort you can increase your cannon damage score with more balls and upgrades in order to over-power your opponent’s cannons and become victorious."
What do you think? Something you'd be interested in trying out and seeing how it plays?
Art Development Overview
Here's an example showing the very first thumbnail ideas through to the finished cannon card artwork. It's come a long way and is fitting in well with the previous ball card art:
I've now not only completed all the cannon ball artwork, the full set of 7 cannons, but have started completing upgrade and ability card art also. It's looking great.
As with all the artwork I produce, it's never a quick process. Each card takes 4-10 hours to produce. The fact that the artwork takes so long to create is certainly one of the main reasons why I want to see this game published and not just become a hobby project that doesn't ever find an audience.
Although while time-consuming, the illustration process I use has it's benefits. I separately layer each colour so that amendments are relatively painless as opposed to a quicker single layer/canvas digital painting style. [See my book Digital Manga if you're keen to learn how I do it] No only are potential amendments a little easier, but my process allows for potentially creating line art only 'colouring book' designs of each card which might come in handy. And I could allow for simplified 'Print and Play' test versions of the game to be produced which don't have all the glossy bells and whistles of a finished, rendered card art.
I've managed to find time to continue with art production by cutting down the amount of freelance work I'd usually be doing right now. I have enough content to see it come together and it's beginning to look like a real game. 8 play tests so far have proved I'm on the right track. The closer I get to the finish line, the more I want it to succeed.
Thankfully I've already got the ideal skill set for this type of product. I'm capable of tackling pretty much every aspect of board game development (concept, design, art, graphics, web design, logistics and admin. I could even produce an animated video trailer with, animation. sound and, effects without any assistance if I need to). And the satisfaction of tackling everything myself is fantastic.
However I'm discovering that I might be biting off more than I can chew. I don't feel like any aspect of the work is beyond my capabilities, but logistically speaking tackling a multi-facetted project like this takes a lot of time. It seems more often than not, a team of 4-8 contributors are typically involved with small to medium sized table top game projects. Yet there's only one of me. And so my first concern is:
Do I have the time and resources to convert a game idea into a product and then turn a product into a success?
As I spend my days sitting in front of the computer screen, pushing pixels around and finalizing artwork, I'm often distracted by the realities of what it takes to bring products, especially a board game to market. It's not easy.
The market is seriously competitive, with tens of thousands of table top games already in existence and new games being published on a daily basis. I'm coming to this venture completely blind and without experience of the niche. While I don't feel my product isn't and won't be good enough to compete, some doubts are beginning to creep in. My second concern is:
Will I be able to get enough relevant eyeballs taking an interest in what I'm producing?
Like with most product niches, it's true that some games aren't particularly fantastic, yet become fairly successful, while other insanely underrated and unknown gems never get their chance to shine. And so it's evident that marketing and actually raising awareness of the fact that I have a thing, it exists and is good will be the biggest challenge ahead.
I've still got months ahead of me to produce artwork for the core game's 'Upgrade' and 'Ability' cards, as well as seven character cards, which I've decided to add into the core game rather than have them as a separate mini-expansion.
The Rule Book is mostly there so far as text goes. I'll then start work on the book's graphic design, adding in diagrams to clearly illustrate how to play.
I'll need to finalize the game's logo and also work on the cover art/box art. For this I'll need to decide on the box dimensions first.
The creation of another planned 40 or so expansion card illustrations will have to come much later.
And along side of that, I'm gradually opening up myself to the business side of things. For example, considering publishers vs self-published via crown funding. In regards to self-publishing, researching manufacturing costs, marketing, distribution and order fulfilment.