Ho ho ho, as some of you might already know, I’m going to Gencon this year. (That assumes that they don’t have to cancel because of their bankrupcty or something, of course.) One big reason is that I’ve wanted to participate in the Forge booth for a long time, and for some reason I have this feeling of closure, that if I don’t go this year it won’t be pertinent next year anymore. (Perhaps I’ve just let too many years pass without going or something.) Another reason is my most fine and excellent zombie game (still only in Finnish) I’m going to produce for the English-language market and publish at Gencon. A third reason to go is that I was thrust into the role of republishing The Shadow of Yesterday by surprise, which is more than enough reason to go shop it around like a mad elephant.
Travel arrangements & logistics
I’m quite happy to say that my partners in crime, my brothers Jari and Markku are going as well. Markku is an excellent logistics organizator, while Jari sells stuff well. Not going to fail, this team. Of course, the expenses of travelling to America are such that we’re not really planning to make a profit from the trip; I’ll be content if we cover half of the expenses with direct sales, and quite happy if we manage to cover it all.
In case anybody else in Europe is considering Gencon… well, it’s a bit late-ish this year, but in case you’re interested, flying costs around 800 euros per noggin’ (expensive time of the year, August), hotels cost around 500 dollars at least for a crew of 4, convention entrance is $65 per nose. In all, I’d budget 1000 € for the trip per person, roughly speaking.
An added wrinkle for us is that Ropecon, my favourite convention, happens on the weekend before Gencon. So that means we’ll fly to Chicago on the Monday or Tuesday immediately after Ropecon ends on a Sunday, then spend the rest of the week at Gencon and fly back afterwards, if we’re still alive. I’m not averse to spending more time in the US if opportunity presents itself, though, so it might be that I’ll return later instead.
My zombie game
Producing the zombie game for the US market deserves it’s own article, one which I’ll probably write at the Forge, as it should interest others who consider creating independent boardgames. It’s sufficient to say here that we’ve had to reinvent the material technology of boardgames several times and commit to a 1,000 copy print run to get the game’s per-unit costs into my projected budget. Just some examples of that material technology are using VHS cases for game boxes (bonus: high quality and cheap / malus: packaging by hand, not much room in the box) and postcards as the primary incredient for game boards (bonus: cheap, four-color, coated / malus: flimsy). I’ll probably be surprised myself if we manage to pull this off flawlessly.
Luckily the game itself has been extensively tested (yes, it’s possible to grow utterly bored of your own game) in all ways with the Finnish edition, so there’s no major game design component here. We just need to translate, produce new art better fitting for the market, produce the game and pack it into the boxes. The latter step is going to be painful, as we need to do it in America.
And, of course, selling the game will be a bitch, now that I’m looking at negatives: I’d be confident with a 500 copy print run, but doing 1000 makes it almost certain that we’ll still hold some of that stock three years down the line. That print run implies that some pretty major success for an indie title is going to be necessary; I’m hoping to off-set some of that by pushing the game into distribution as well, which eats copies (and profit) nicely.
The TSoY thing
The reason I’m so f***ing busy this month, next month and the one after that is that I’m going to republish The Shadow of Yesterday’s rules set, the Solar System, as an independent book. Did I mention I haven’t written it yet? So yes, that should take care of my problems with free time handily, especially as I should be helping out Sami Koponen with his magazine project as well.
Because I’m lazy and expect to have to explain this stuff several times during this summer yet, I collected all the pertinent links into one project portal. Check it out if you want to find out backgrounds on how I ended up with this kind of major project.