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After the (Empire) Weekend!

Thanks to the wonderful Jonathan Liu from GeekDad for including us in his recent post here!

And thanks to all you folks who found us at the Rose City Comicon this weekend! We had a great time meeting you and showing you our game! Also, this event was HUGE and awesome! You should totally go next year if you haven’t been yet! I got to meet local designers like Manny Trembley of Dice Throne, and Tyler Tinsley of Dicey Goblins fame!

The Kickstarter is still going and we still need your help! Keep it going!

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After the Empire at Rose City Comicon!

Hi Everyone!

So, sorry this was a little last minute! But, we were at the Rose City Comicon today, and will be there again tomorrow starting about 10am, and perhaps even Sunday. Come find us in the board games room and play a game or two (lots of other cool games in there, too!! Special thanks to our friend Ben Eisner for helping get us setup there!

Also, in recent news:

Ryan did an interview with Nick from Board Game Expose here!

Then Ryan did an interview with Lizzy at Board Game Spotlight here!

Help us get the word out and put a little spice into the mid-campaign lull! Tell everyone you can think of to check out the kickstarter! And, if you’ve played it, tell everyone about your experience!

Thanks!

Kickstarter so far!

Hi Everyone!

We’re very grateful to all of you who have already supported us! Thanks to those who are new, and a special thanks to those of you who’ve been waiting for 2+ years! This really is a dream come true for Ryan and I. It’s becoming a reality and some months down the road, I’ll actually be holding my very own copy of the game we made together.

If you haven’t shared the campaign yet, help us keep it going! I want my copy (and yours) to have as many cool upgrades as possible! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/152730994/after-the-empire-0/

Check out our awesome friend Hannah, who mentioned us on her makeup vlog at 28:16 here!

Read an awesome review in French here!

Check out this Kickstarter list we’re on here!

Check out the awesome video discussing our game in French at 17:34 here!

The Kickstarter is tomorrow!

We had a blast playing and teaching After the Empire to everyone at PAX West in the First Look section. Thank you so much to everyone who was able to join us! We even got to see Mike, who is one of our earliest and biggest fans out there. He first played here at PAX West 2 or 3 years ago! And, it was always good to see James and Andy, who’ve been fans almost as long! Special thanks to Ryan for letting us crash at your apartment and Andy for helping us get setup!

The Kickstarter goes live tomorrow, and we’d love your support again! Watch here or Grey Fox for exact start time and links to the campaign. You’ll see all the components, watch some play through videos, and see a review or 2 to help you see what you’re getting in case you’ve never had the chance to play it before. In the meantime, here’s a bunch of photos from when I remembered to take them this weekend:

Thanks for all the fun this weekend!

The strange story of After the Empire...

Well, if you’ve been following along, we were doing alright on the Kickstarter and even funded about 200%. But, the campaign just wasn’t quite as ready and approachable as it could’ve been and I think we lost a lot of steam because of that. So, Grey Fox is going to relaunch September 3rd! Please back us again the second time around and tell all your friends! Hopefully, it’ll be more enticing this time, with more content, reviews, and maybe even a play-through video! For those of you who’ve been waiting for After the Empire for over 2 years now, this should almost seem fitting. This thing will happen, I promise! Thanks again, and sorry for what I hope is the final delay in this game finally becoming a reality.

Here’s how Ryan put it:

Dear Friends,

I want to thank you for all your support of our game, After The Empire. However, the publisher, Grey Fox Games, has decided to cancel the current kickstarter campaign, and relaunch in a few weeks with a stronger advertising presence and better content. I'll be posting about it all again, but for now, here's Grey Fox's reasons in their own words:

"Hey After the Empire backers,

As you may have noticed, we've been silent for today. That is because we have been looking hard at this campaign and after much deliberation, we've decided to temporarily cancel this campaign. We did not come to this decision lightly and we would like to share our thoughts behind this decision, but first we’d like to thank each and every one of you who jumped in and supported us in this campaign. You honor us with the faith you showed in us as a company and in this fantastic game. We're incredibly grateful for all of you and we hope you will rejoin us when this campaign relaunches on September 3rd.

Why We're Canceling
It has become clear from both the helpful comments of backers and the relatively low traffic that this campaign is getting that there are things we can do better and we’d like to take the relaunch as an opportunity to do just that.

We understand that we have missed the mark in several key ways:

1. Showing off how amazing and unique the gameplay is

(This is a game we think has the potential to be ranked in the top 100 games of all-time on BGG. It's both epic and satisfying)

2. Making it clear how much value backers are getting from a production standpoint.

(We know from showing this game off at conventions that After the Empire has an unbelievable table presence. We need to do a better job of communicating just how sprawling all the goodies you get with this game are)

3. Raising awareness about the campaign.

(Our efforts on getting the word should have been much stronger before this initial launch and we intend to spend the next couple weeks building awareness about the campaign)

4. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, giving you more exclusive goodies right from the start!

The Relaunch
When this campaign relaunches on September 3rd, it will have more exclusive goodies right out of the gate.

We intend on giving you more exclusive and upgraded components with the base pledge from the start. We think you'll be quite pleased with it.

We will have full gameplay videos, more previews, and a cleaner rulebook so that everyone can get a clearer sense of how After the Empire plays.

We'll have additional add-ons tied to the campaign as well.

We'll also be making daily updates on social media and stepping up our marketing efforts to ensure awareness is increased.

What You Can Do
First and foremost, if you saw enough here to love that you backed this campaign, please come back on September 3rd and pledge your support again.

In the meantime, help us spread the word.

We have provided some cool After the Empire social media avatars that we encourage you to use to help us raise awareness about this campaign over the next few weeks.

Once again, thank you, thank you, thank you for your support! We're doing this to make the best possible game we can and bring it to the widest possible audience on release. We greatly appreciate your understanding and continued support.

There will be an update here as well as an announcement in our Grey Fox Games newsletter when the relaunch goes live. Until then, thanks again!

- Grey Fox Games"

After the Empire Funded!

After only a few hours, we have funded! Thank you so much for everyone who’s already backed After the Empire. We’re so grateful for your support.

But, don’t stop now! Call your friends, share the campaign on facebook and twitter! The stronger we can end our first 24 hours, the more likely we’ll reach even farther by the end of it and be able to unlock all kinds of awesome stretch goals for your copy! Keep going!

After the Empire Kickstarter is nigh! August 13th!

Have you been waiting for this Kickstarter to launch for a long time? So have we, and it’s finally here! Thank you so much for all your patience. Please urge anyone who you think would be interested to go and back the game the very first day of the campaign. The more buzz we have early in the campaign, the more lists we get on, and the more the Kickstarter algorithm pumps us up. Please help us get this game out there!

Some wonderful people have been talking about After the Empire! Check out this nice spotlight! And, Grey Fox Games has some reviews in the works that should be published soon!

We’ll post an update with a link to the Kickstarter page once it’s live! You can also follow along on the facebook page here!

After the Empire at Origins!

We were busy this past weekend in Columbus, OH demoing After the Empire! It’s always a fun convention, as it falls on the same weekend as the Pride Parade, which runs right past the convention center. We got a another chance to hang out with the awesome Grey Fox Games folks and do some more development work with them. Check out Alex from Grey Fox discussing ATE here at about minute 7:00. The timeline for the kickstarter is still not set in stone at this point, but sometime in the next few months is the plan. Here’s what our demo setup looked like:

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While we were there, we also had the opportunity to sit down with a few other publishers to take a look at our zombie game, a fishing game, our hex map adventure combat game, and moved things forward with the likely publisher of Mountain God’s Revenge, which is getting close to being our second officially signed game!

A Surprise Quasi-Interview

We were recently contacted by a group working on a game creation centered story-telling project for a large sporting goods company. They had lots of questions regarding the creation of games. I’m modifying the format to fit this blog, but here’s generally what was asked and answered if you find such discussions interesting:

1) Take us through what you think makes a great game and perhaps some key considerations that you make.

Maybe I'm pigeon holing your company here, but I'm assuming they're looking more for a physical game, like basketball or hopscotch, whereas we create tabletop board games. I've never created a more physical type of game and don't see myself as a great story-teller. That being said, there are inevitably some overlaps between the two disciplines. Off the top of my head, these might include:
- must balance excitement of possibility with frustration of randomness
- must reward skill and practice while not turning away new players (unless high level competitive)
- minimize 1 off rules and exceptions for smoother and more consistent common sense gameplay
- minimize player elimination or waiting times in longer contests (games lasting >15-20 minutes)
- setting limitations and parameters up front is important

I'm sure there are many more, but I'm not sure I quite understand the specifics of what you're looking for. Also, some games are quite popular despite breaking 1 or many of these rules, so they're more general recommendations rather than game design commandments. So, hopefully that helps.

2) What brings people together and allows them to bond around a set of arbitrary rules?

This very much differs depending on the game. You'll notice the sort of folks that come together to play a heavy Euro board game do not have high cross over rates with folks who come together to play basketball. So, the answer is game and genre specific. The only common denominator is perhaps exactly what you said...something brings people together around a set of arbitrary rules. Depending on the game and genre, these might include: drive for excellence, competition, community, finding tribe, interest in game subject or theme, enjoy physical exertion, enjoy mental exertion, tradition and history, drive for notoriety, drive for money, healthier alternatives to other activity choices, feeling able to express self in the game's context.

2) Why do people continue to invent games when, surely, there must be enough out there already?

I would ask in return, why do people keep writing books? Surely, there are enough books. Your real question is, why do people create when we have everything required for living? For us it started with a basic knowledge of what was out there and the desire to play something a little different, the whim and will to try to make it ourselves. Our first game was initially just for us to play and a fun exercise to accomplish, but eventually we realized others might really like it, too. Many other reasons could include: money, notoriety, sense of accomplishment/acceptance, a need to express oneself in a medium of preference, a feeling of duty or pleasure as it may improve the lives of self or others, sense of purpose/meaning, desire to shape self-identity.

3) What drives game development - culture, environment, beliefs?

Yes, plus self.

4) How do you take action and test an idea?

Again, this will vary greatly depending on the game. General rules are: set intention, ideate, shape to restrictions, make sure it answers or fulfills intention, update, start with the minimum work/money necessary to create a working prototype, test it with self to find flaws, update, test it with trusted groups to find flaws, update, repeat until it's the best you think it can be, test with outside groups, update, repeat until it's the best you think it can be. There are more specifics depending on genre/game and whether you intend to just play it yourself at home, want to sell it to the public, want to sell it to another company, etc.

PAX Unplugged 2018 First Look Preview!

After the Empire will be making a special appearance at this year’s “hot games” first look! The wonderful crew at PAX Unplugged will be showing our upcoming medium-heavy euro game, currently looking at a 1st quarter 2019 kickstarter launch through Grey Fox Games.

If you’re excited to try it out, check out all the details here and be sure to find After the Empire on the list and give us a thumbs up! Last I checked, we were #5 below the post. So, come on down to Hall A this Friday starting at 10am. We’re not sure when they’ll need to make room for other games throughout the weekend, so if you missed it and really wanted to check it out, send us an email and we can probably setup another play for you or at least tell you when we’ll have it back in first look.

We’re very excited, please come by and take a look! Just keep in mind it’s still a prototype!

After the Empire is coming!

Just in case we thought perhaps we’d been dreaming all this time, Grey Fox Game recently teased about the upcoming release in their newsletter! Here’s what they said:

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“We're excited to announce that our first major project for that year will be After the Empire, a game we've been developing for quite some time now.

After the Empire is a worker placement game set in the Middle Ages where you fortify your castle against invaders, all while competing for limited resources and recruiting those left without a home as a result of the ongoing wars.”

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“As you can see from the prototype, this game will have a big-time table presence and really delivers on creating the kind of engaging, immersive experience we specialize in.

More details to come!”

We’re super excited to be working with Grey Fox, and look forward to getting this game to you all!

We’re also bringing our new designs with us to PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia at the end of November! Shoot us an email if you want to meet up with us check out what we’ve been working on!

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Playtesting!

Since Origins, we've been working hard on our games. We gave our good copy of Mountain God's Revenge at Origins to a prospective publisher, and are cobbling together another working play-test copy to further develop some exciting new ideas.

We've also been working hard on getting 3 Ways to Die ready for an upcoming publisher review and possible signing. This coop zombie map and event deck based adventure game with luck and gambling was originally developed by Evan Halbert and Cris Kelly, now with Ryan Mauk lending his assistance after it was resurrected again from my bookshelf. We're having a lot of fun with this one! Here's Cris and his family during one of our play-testing sessions:

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I was also lucky enough to help play-test an upcoming solo version of the board game Santorini. Made by the friendly folks at Roxley Game Laboratory, this is one of my very favorite abstract games. Here's a progress shot of one of my many games ending in defeat:

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Things are also hectic here since Origins because Evan is moving (from one part of Portland to a different part of Portland), which includes selling one thing and buying another. These processes are not user-friendly and could really stand some revision and rules updates.

As always, if you're in or around the Portland area, please don't hesitate to join us for our regular play-testing sessions. Hopefully, we'll see you all soon!

Origins!

We had a great time at Origins! Hanging out with friends, pitching games, and playing new ones! We got to hang out with our amazing fellow local game designer friends Tim and Ben Eisner, which is always a blast. We got to hang out and catch up with our friends at Grey Fox, who will be publishing our game After the Empire in the first half of 2019. Josh Lobkovicz, the amazing developer at Grey Fox, graciously took the time to give us some great tips on another project we're working on, but not quite ready to pitch at Origins.

But, we did bring a couple games that were ready to pitch, both of which saw significant publisher interest. You've seen Mountain God's Revenge before, but here's Ryan posing for the camera as we play 3 Ways to Die:

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3 Ways to Die (current working title) is a coop zombie map and event deck based adventure game with elements of luck and gambling to keep it interesting! I don't think I've played a game yet where we weren't sure we were going to lose only to narrowly escape with our lives at least once! Each player is generally fighting their own battles and making their own choices of how to best use their resources to stay alive, so the loudest player telling everyone else what to do is not as prevalent here as in most coop games. Evan designed this one with his friend Cris Kelly about 6-7 years ago. We've been having a blast playing it ever since, and Ryan is helping put the finishing touches on it.

Evan got the chance to play the up and coming Fireball Island reboot. The original version helped form some of his lasting childhood friendships (they wanted to come over to play), and is at least partially responsible for his general nerdiness.

If you haven't already seen this, watch us show Mountain God's Revenge to Tom Vasel at 1:22:00. Ryan does the talking, while Evan's injured wrist does the setup!

Game Design Weekend!

We had a great time with many other great local designers this weekend, like Tim Eisner (The Grimm Forest & March of the Ants), Ben Eisner (Dungeon Hustle), Ryan Swisher (March of the Ants), Ryan Spangler (Sol: Last Days of a Star), Taran Kratz (Helionox), and others you'll hopefully hear about sooner than later! We play-tested and critiqued tons of our current board game projects, and of course squeezed in a game of Magic. Everyone was great and generous with their time, helping play-test and work on development issues with other design projects. We had some great feedback for After the Empire, and got to pull out an ancient design from 6 years ago. Ryan Swisher and Ben & Tim Eisner were kind enough to cook-up delicious food for the pack to keep us gaming all day and night. We also had a really fun break-out session game design challenge of sorts, where randomly selected groups of 3-4 designers were put together to work with some drafted components and randomly selected mechanics. While we were mostly working on our design chops, strengths, and weaknesses, we actually had a couple promising game designs come out of that experiment! Thanks again to Chase Van Epps and Print and Play for providing the components for us! Here's the one my group was working on that turned out surprisingly playable and interesting:

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We While we're not spending weekends hanging out with awesome designers, we're busy working on our games. Here's my photographophic wife helping me play-test a few little tweaks on After the Empire and critiquing my color saturation and lightning choices for some newly printed cards:

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Here are a couple good friends helping us continue to develop our more abstract design, Mountain God's Revenge:

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We hope you all had a great weekend filled with gaming, too!

Gamestorm and here's another piece from Tomas O. Muir!

Yet another in our amazing series of invader cards by Tomas, to round out new additions to the base game invaders! His lighting skills really shine in this one!

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Also, we had a great time at Gamestorm this weekend. We had lots of great feedback from play-testers on our new game, Mountain God's Revenge. We had the pleasure of playing After the Empire with one of our long time supporters, James Hampton, who's been playing throughout the evolution of the game and can give us great insights. After a long day of play-testing, Ryan went home and I was privileged to play a late night game or two with local design legends Tim Eisner (March of the Ants and Grimm Forest) and Ryan Spangler (Sol).

First, we three played Antiquity. This was my first Splotter game, so now I get what people were talking about. This game is everything I didn't know I wanted from Settlers of Catan: bigger, better, heavier, and more engaging. And, if you're not careful, you can totally mess it up! Can you accidentally spend all your wood, then have no way to get more necessary resources for the rest of the game? Yep. Don't spend all your wood, unless you already have a woodcutter who can get you more next turn!

Then, Ryan and I twice played Tak, a great abstract game in the vein of chess, checkers, and go. The first game and a half I was basically convinced that it was mostly blind luck and there was no way to know or plan what to do more than 1-2 moves in advance. But, eventually things gelled, and it's really quite a deep and engaging yet quick play experience.

After the Empire and general new stuff updates

Hi, everyone! We've been having a great time lately playtesting and developing our new lineup of games! We went to PAX Unplugged in Philly recently, which was awesome! We got to hang out with and bounce ideas off other awesome Portland-area designers Tim and Ben Eisner of Weird City Games, with hits like March of the Ants and The Grimm Forest, and Mohammad Ali, another up and coming designer! We pitched several of our new games and had significant interest from publishers. We are in early talks now with a publisher to work with us on what we're tentatively titling Mountain God's Revenge! It's a heavily themed abstract strategy game that will eventually have awesome art, rather than white hexes with black strips and red dots.

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What about After the Empire? Yes, that's still our #1 board game baby! It was tentatively slated for a quarter 2, 2018 kickstarter by Grey Fox Games, known for awesome games like Champions of Midgard. They recently sat down to plan out their production calendar for next year and after deliberation have decided that to do it right and make After the Empire the best game possible, that timeline will be pushed back to quarter 4 of 2018 or early 2019. Obviously, we were very anxious and excited for the upcoming kickstarter, and this wait will be difficult for us. But, we are also excited for making sure After the Empire gets done well and is as amazing as possible. We have full confidence our friends at Grey Fox will do an outstanding job. So, we are truly sorry for the wait, but we believe it will be worth it!