<![CDATA[Mystic Tiger Games - Blog]]>Wed, 13 Dec 2017 01:21:24 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Developer Diary: Landfall]]>Mon, 04 Dec 2017 06:51:13 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-landfallBah, a month since I posted last. At least it's been eventful.

Freight Shipping

Landfall! I've been informed that the shipment of games has reached port in the U.K. and has cleared customs. Yay! Now I'm just waiting for the local shipping company to pick the games up from the port and move them to the warehouse.

As with everything else in this process, the freight shipping has taken longer than I expected. So far it's not too bad of a delay, but it's still frustrating. The games went onto the boat and shipped out at the beginning of October, and it's the beginning of December now. I was given a total shipping estimate of two months, so I expected that the games would have been at the warehouse and going through inventory by now. However it seems like I'm still a few days short of that. Meh.

I'm still hoping for December delivery, but as it stands now I'm questioning if that's going to happen. I haven't given up on it yet, but the holiday shipping rush has started and I have a lot of competition for shipping bandwidth. I'm keeping my fingers crossed; I could still get lucky.

Oh, yeah, and VAT import taxes hurt! That was a couple thousand dollars that I wasn't expecting to spend. While using GamesQuest for my fulfillment was definitely cheaper on paper, I wasn't told about how bad the taxes would be. I'm going to have to rethink how I do this the next time around.  Maybe doing a split shipment, sending half of the games there and half to the U.S., would work better.

Current Projects

So, I'm having trouble with Suicidal Cabbages. I've been working on this game for almost two years now, and while the rules have come along fairly well, the game is still missing something. I've had that vague feeling pretty much every step of the way, that the game as it stands now is mediocre, like playing it invokes a 'meh' feeling. It's just an instinct, really, hard to put a finger on. I've gotten plenty of good feedback about the game, but some negative too. I think it's time to put it on the shelf for a while, come back to it later after I've had a flash of inspiration or something.

In it's place, I'm currently working on a new game. It's doesn't have a real name yet, but at the moment I'm calling it 'Islands'. It's basically an area control game, but it doesn't have a game board. Instead, the game's map is a group of randomly-chosen cards laid out in a row in the center of the play area, where each card has a location shown on it. Each player plays several 'troop' cards with both locations and strength values printed on them. The troop cards are played into splayed stacks such that only the top card is completely visible, while the location is obscured but the strength is visible for cards underneath. This signifies that the locations for the cards underneath don't matter; the 'army' is at the location indicated on the top card.

But here's the catch: the cards are played face-down! All players know how large a stack is, but not it's location or exact strength. To counter this, each player gets one 'scout' action each turn, which lets them flip up one card owned by an opponent. Typically players will flip up the top card of stacks, to know where an army is located, but not all of the cards will be turned up by the end of the game. This makes it a hidden information area control game. I personally don't know of any other games out there that use this particular combination of mechanics, although I doubt I'm the first person with this idea.

So far I've been through three playtest cycles of this new game. The feedback has been strongly positive. Frighteningly so, in fact; I didn't expect it to come together this quickly. With a huge amount of luck, I might actually be able to launch my Islands game next year. (Of course, it won't be called that. It does need some cleaning up, not to mention a theme and artwork, but so far I seem to have a good foundation.)

So far, so good, I guess. The games are moving along, and I have a second project chugging along with haste. Plus, I still have the Manaforge expansion waiting on the back-burner, bubbling with ideas.
<![CDATA[Developer Diary: Cabbage Time]]>Mon, 30 Oct 2017 19:38:05 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-cabbage-time It's been a relatively quiet couple of weeks here. Here's what's new:

Freight Shipping

Manaforge has started its freight shipping phase. The batch of games has been loaded onto a boat and has set sail for the U.K.! I've received a rough estimate of mid-November for when the games will be arriving at port. Once at port, it will be a few days to clear customs, a few days to travel over ground from the port to the warehouse, and a few days to unpack and take inventory.

I wish I could say the games will ship out to backers after that, but there is a glitch. It takes time and manpower to package the games up for individual shipping, and I will be competing with both other game companies and the rest of the holiday season packages for attention from the packing crew. So as much as I want to guarantee that backers will have their games for Christmas, I cannot. I will however be unhappy if the games do not start shipping sometime in December. My initial shipping goal was November and, while I'm pretty sure they won't go out by then, at least missing by just one month isn't bad for my first Kickstarter project. I just don't want to miss by more than that, especially because it's the holidays; perfect time to sit around the table and play board games! :)

I'll let everyone know once I get more info, but that's where I stand right now.

My Next Game

So, with the downtime of waiting for Manaforge to reach the European shores, I've been putting some of my energy into developing Suicidal Cabbages. I've been a little lax on this front; seems like life has other things in mind for me right now. But I'm putting in a few hours here and there as I can.

For those of you who have playtested Suicidal Cabbages before, especially if you haven't played in within the past month or so, know that the game has gotten a pretty significant overhaul. For starters, here is a rough list of what I began my design with:

- As opposed to Manaforge, which I designed mechanics-first and added the theme onto later, with Suicidal Cabbages I started with the theme and tried to come up with mechanics that matched it. I particularly want a quick, light card game that fits with the tongue-in-cheek silly vibe of the theme, cabbages shredding themselves into coleslaw.
- I came up with two mechanics that seem to fit what I'm going for:
 (1) There need to be 'tool' cards that deal damage to you, representing how much you've shredded yourself. Damage is recorded by moving a marker along a score track.
 (2) There need to be 'ingredient' cards that make up your coleslaw recipe. These work set-collection style, with each ingredient fitting into two of the six possible recipes, and you get bonus points for collecting ingredients of the same recipe.

- These two mechanics, tools and ingredients, represent the core of the game. Everything else might change, but I'm going to try as hard as possible to keep those two pieces in some way.
- Most cards require you to discard other cards from your hand when you play them. The stronger the card, the more you have to discard.
- You draw cards each turn based on how much health you have left. The closer you get to the end, the fewer cards you draw.
- Tool cards have 'timers'. When you play a tool, you play it facing a certain direction, representing the number of 'ticks' (rounds) until it's effects trigger. Each round you rotate the card 90 degrees, representing it ticking down. When it hits zero, the tool damages you and is then discarded.
- As a player, one of the decisions in playing the game is deciding which aspect to focus on. Go heavy tools and shred yourself quickly, go heavy ingredients and rack up the recipe bonus, or try for a balance between the two?
- I have a third type of card, called 'actions'. These are the take-that cards that disrupt your opponents' plans. Slow down your opponents' tools, make their ingredients spoil, steal cards from their hands.

With some of the recent playtests and designer feedback, I've made these changes:
- Previously, each player would take their turn separately. With up to six players, this was way too slow. The game is now draft-style, a la Sushi Go or 7 Wonders. Each player gets a hand of cards, plays one face down, hands the remaining cards to the player to their left, and then flips up the card they played, resolving the effects simultaneously. Good for keeping the game moving quickly.
- With this new draft format, the game is now divided up into two rounds, tentatively called 'lunch' and 'dinner'. When one player hits the halfway point on the damage track, the game switches rounds; players discard their hands, sweep played cards off into a lunch pile, and start the dinner round with a fresh tableau. Players may choose a different recipe for each meal (round), giving an out if the ingredients just weren't going your way the first time.
- Any tools left un-triggered on the board when the round ends get a 'fizzle' effect instead, sort of a consolation prize. I want to try to improve on this, make the fizzle effects more unique, make them something the players might specifically try for.
- Since playing a card carries more weight now (no more card discard costs), 'action' cards needed to be more appealing. So now, they give straight victory points in addition to their effect. Also, in the interest of game speed, a lot of the effects have been redone to either affect only you, or to affect the entire board. Quick calculations.
- I've had a lot of games go 'out of sync', where one player will become distracted and will skip their turn or play twice or something like that. Someone suggested keeping triggered tools on the board, so that you know exactly how many cards each player has played (they should all be the same) and who is missing something. I'm incorporating that idea in.
- The original ingredient scoring was supposed to be triangular (1 3 6 10 15) on the number of unique ingredients in your set. I'm changing that to a flat bonus (+2 each) and seeing how that plays.
- I'm tinkering with the idea of having players keep leftover cards after the lunch round, making a huge hand to pick from for dinner. Dunno yet if this is a good idea.

Whew. Lots of ideas, not all of them good. I haven't found the 'fun' in this game yet, but I'm getting the feeling that each change gets me a little bit closer. Here's hoping I unlock something soon.

Who wants coleslaw? :)]]>
<![CDATA[Developer Diary: The Waiting Game]]>Mon, 16 Oct 2017 03:35:04 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-the-waiting-game2504651Happy news! The batch of 1000 copies of Manaforge is officially complete! Yay! I recently received an email from the factory saying that the entire set of games is manufactured, assembled, boxed, wrapped, and ready to ship. I'm definitely happy about this, because it's taken significantly longer than I expected to get to this point. Now I can only hope that I make up a little bit of that lost time with the next phase.

The next phase of the journey is shipping seven pallets of board games from the factory in China to the fulfillment center in the U.K.  I've been talking with the company that is handling the shipping, and it seems like all everything is all set. I just have yet to hear any solid confirmation that the games have gone out. I will be pinging the shipping company again over the coming week, just to be sure.

One other interesting note is that two other games are getting shipped along with mine. Same source factory, same destination. Hopefully having three companies leaning on them will be an incentive to keep the process moving, and with a little bit of luck it will end up being cheaper for everyone involved.

Next stop, the U.K.!
<![CDATA[Developer Diary: Almost Done?]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 19:33:54 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-almost-doneIt's been too long since I last posted. Again. Oh well; I'll get the hang of this consistency thing eventually. :)  There have been a lot of developments since my last post, tho:

Production Proof

Around the end of August, I received the production proof copy of Manaforge! Yay! Finally got to see what the production version of my game is going to look like. Overall, I'm very happy with how it came out. Here are some photos:
Overall, this looks great! My thoughts:
- The box is nice and beefy; about half an inch thicker than my prototype, and a fair bit more sturdy.
- The rulebook is easy to read, but a few of the pages look a little washed out. It's not consistent, tho, so I'm thinking it's just a by-product of it being a pre-production copy.
- The chipboard containing the gem tokens is nice and thick; these look good and will hold up well to heavy use.
- The player mats are a pleasant surprise. While my prototype had good but floppy heavy paper, these mats are as thick as the gem tokens, meaning they will hold up well to punishment. Plus, the corners are rounded! It wasn't my intention to have the mats that way, but in retrospect it's a great idea. It makes them even more resistant to damage.
- The gameboard looks good. Oddly enough, it's actually slightly lighter than my prototype version. But I'm still happy with it.
- Love the anvil token! I was especially concerned about this, because while I saw the shape of it earlier, this is the first time I've seen it painted its proper color. I was hoping for a little darker of a color, but overall I'm happy with the silver color and don't think it's worth trying to change it.
- The dice look great! The symbols are sharp and easy to understand. I was wondering about how some of the symbols aren't centered, but that is a byproduct of the manufacturing process and not something that can be improved. I'm also thinking that the gray 'wind' color and the blue 'water' color are kind of similar, but just like the anvil color its a detail that's not worth changing. Besides, the dice are always discernible by the symbols on the anyway; the game is meant to be color-blind friendly.
- The cards are great! Bright, vibrant colors on sturdy cardstock. The cards in Manaforge aren't shuffled much, so these will hold up a very long time.
- The cardboard insert for the box is simple but does the job. Especially since I will very likely be doing an expansion for this game (hint hint), I wanted to have the extra room to grow.

Manufacturing Complete?

Over the past few days, I've been busy coordinating between the factory in China making my games, and the shipping company in the U.K. The chatter I've been hearing from the factory indicates that my batch of games is either done, or is very close to it. It sounds like they're setting up the final details for the shipping, which indicates to me that they have something that is just about ready to ship. :)  I'm still waiting for confirmation, but the batch of games should be heading to the fulfillment center soon. Yay!

Good thing too, because this is taking longer than I expected. I built some extra time into my Kickstarter shipping estimate, and I've already burned through all of that. While I wanted to start sending games out to backers in November, at the moment it's looking like it will be early December instead.

BackerKit Lockdown

In BackerKit, the company I'm using as my pledge manager, locking down means finalizing all of the game orders. Once I've done that, people can no longer change their pledge level or order additional copies of Manaforge. I wanted to start this process a week ago, but at the moment I'm wrestling with trying to get more people to complete their surveys. Right now I'm at 95% of the surveys completed, which is very good. But I would really like that number to be at 100%.

I can just manually close out many of the incomplete surveys. A large number of them are from people that just pledged $1, giving them access to the pledge manager. If they haven't upgraded to a full copy of the game by now, then I figure they are not going to.

I also have a few pledges that failed, meaning that Kickstarter was not able to charge their credit cards for the pledge amount. I have emailed those people to remind them that I need payment information if they are going to receive their games, but since I haven't received any funds from those people, if I don't hear back from them, I can go into the BackerKit system and just cancel those pledges. Nobody loses anything.

Then there are the problem pledges. I have three people that pledged for a full copy of Manaforge, and they were successfully charged for those games on Kickstarter. So, I have their money already. I want to send these three people their games, but they haven't completed their surveys, meaning that I don't have their addresses. I've tried sending Kickstarter messages and emails, but haven't received any replies yet. I guess I will hold onto copies of Manaforge for these three, in case they do eventually show up, but I don't know what else I can do for now.

Suicidal Cabbages

I've also put some work into my other game prototype recently. If you're in the Orlando area, there will be a playtesting session at the Coliseum of Comics in the Orlando Fashion Square Mall, Saturday October 14th from 11am to 7pm. I don't know yet exactly which time slot I will be getting, but I'm sure I will be there. Come on over and try making some coleslaw! :D

And that's it for now! So close to finishing the manufacturing phase of this journey, and starting on the shipping phase. I will post again when I have more solid information.
<![CDATA[Developer Diary: The Waiting Game]]>Mon, 21 Aug 2017 04:45:30 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-the-waiting-gameBah. It's been over a month since I've last posted. The time is really flying by. However, there hasn't been a whole lot of developments since the last time.

I'm still waiting for the news that my games are being manufactured. I know progress is being made, because I recently received a photo of some prototype dice from Manaforge:
Yay! It's great to see my game coming to life like this. Overall, I'm very happy with how these look. There are a couple of flaws though.

- The colors of the 'wind' and the 'water' dice are more similar than I'd like; you can certainly tell them apart but it's not an instantaneous thing like the other dice colors. I don't think this is really something I need to fix, but it does bug me a little.
- The 'gem' icons don't appear to be perfectly centered on the die faces. I'm not 100% sure where the problem lies here. It could be the way they're using the dice asset files I sent them, or it could just be a glitch of their manufacturing process. I've spoken with them about it and I'm hoping they can improve it.

All things considered, these still look very good. I just want everything to be perfect. :)

The latest time estimate for Manaforge is that the entire batch of games should still be completed before the end of August. This means that I'm still on target for shipping the games to backers around the beginning of November. 

<![CDATA[Developer Diary: Back From Hiatus]]>Mon, 17 Jul 2017 06:07:45 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/developer-diary-back-from-hiatusSo…  it’s been a *very* long time since I last posted. About four months, it seems. I guess it’s time to get back onto that particular wagon. Things have been very busy since my last post. Here’s is a rundown of what’s been going on:

In case you haven’t been watching, Manaforge funded on Kickstarter! It was looking very uncertain there for a while; the slump in the middle of the campaign was brutal, with a couple of days where the campaign’s dollar pledge amount went down due to a rush of cancellations. (I think that was about the time that a couple of other high-profile campaigns launched.) But due to some advice by Kickstarter expert Daniel Zayas and lots of hard work from my graphic designer Justin Lynch, we managed to give my campaign a makeover and get it back on track. In the end, it was a huge push in the last 48 hours of the campaign that got it over the finish line. It was close; we only overfunded by a few hundred dollars. But that was enough.

On to manufacturing! Since the end of the campaign, I’ve been working with MeiJia, the Chinese company that will be printing 1000 copies of Manaforge. It’s been a lot of back-and-forth with them, trying to get the game asset files formatted correctly for their production process. That work was also hindered by some last-minute changes to a couple of the game’s cards, with accompanying changes to the rulebook. However, as of about a week ago, everything has been submitted and accepted, and we’re just waiting for our turn on the production line. At a maximum, the manufacturing will be completed by the end of August, though I expect it should be done well before that.

In other news, Dice Tower Convention 2017 was last weekend. Five days of non-stop board games! This was my second year attending this particular convention, and it was even better than last year. Last year was a flurry of meeting new people and trying to hold demos of Manaforge. This year I decided to take it easy; just reconnecting with old friends, meeting new ones, and playing lots of new games. I did a few Manaforge demos as well, but only to people that specifically asked for it; I didn’t have a dedicated demo space or anything. Still, I got to show the game off to a lot of people, and I think I scored a couple of extra pre-orders in the process.

Finally, with Manaforge on auto-pilot at the moment, I’ve had time some free time to myself, catching up on several other projects that I’ve had to put on hold due to the Kickstarter and accompanying flurry of activity. One of those projects just happens to be the next game in my queue, Suicidal Cabbages. After a break from thinking about it, I’ve come up with a couple of ideas as to how the game could be improved. In its current incarnation, the game is okay but not great; it will need quite a bit of work before it’s ready to be released upon the world. But at least I have a path forward now.

That’s it for the moment. I know I need to get back into the habit of posting; my goal is to post here once a week. Here’s hoping. :)
<![CDATA[Announcement: Manaforge Is Live On Kickstarter!]]>Mon, 27 Mar 2017 19:27:57 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/announcement-manaforge-is-live-on-kickstarter1
Mystic Tiger Games is happy to announce that our first game, Manaforge, is now live on Kickstarter!

Click here to view the campaign page:

With fair market pricing, cheap shipping, completed artwork, streamlined rules, several glowing reviews, and a large base of eager fans, we're confident that Manaforge will be successful!

Head on over to our Kickstarter campaign page and help support our project today!

Thanks everyone!
<![CDATA[Announcement: Artwork Complete]]>Wed, 15 Mar 2017 04:01:41 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/announcement-artwork-complete
All 92 cards, together for the first time
Mystic Tiger Games is proud to announce that the artwork for Manaforge is done! All 72 item cards and all 20 item cards are now illustrated! Each illustration is completely unique as well, with the exception of three cards. (The three Mana Prism cards share their background art but have different numbers of prisms pictured.)

With this out of the way, Manaforge is one step closer to being a reality. Not only does this reduce the amount of time needed before the game's files can be sent to the manufacturer, but it also reduces the Kickstarter goal amount, as funds for the artwork are no longer needed.

Manaforge launches on Kickstarter on March 27th! Are you ready to start crafting?
<![CDATA[Announcement: Kickstater Preview Is Available]]>Sat, 11 Mar 2017 15:53:14 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/announcement-kickstater-preview-is-availableThe preview page for our upcoming Kickstarter campaign is now available for viewing! Take a look! Feedback is always welcome.

<![CDATA[Announcement: Manaforge Launches March 27th]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 05:16:03 GMThttp://mystictigergames.com/blog/announcement-manaforge-launches-march-27th
It's time! Mystic Tiger Games is happy to announce that we will be relaunching our Kickstarter campaign for Manaforge on Monday, March 27th, 2017!

With a lower funding goal, lower priced pledge tiers, and artwork 100% finished before launch day, we're certain that Manaforge will be a much more attractive product to prospective backers. We hope that everyone will be ready to join in as soon as we launch.

In addition to launch day, we will be having Learn and Play events at a couple of game store locations in the Orlando area in the week prior to the launch. We're working on possibly having food for the participants and prizes for the winners! Come on over and show your support for Manaforge!

Stay tuned for more updates! We will be posting more announcements as the final pieces of artwork and the Kickstarter page are completed and the launch events are finalized.