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Making a Board Game - Part 2: Graphics and Presentation of Board Game and Kickstarter

This post has been written while I have been experiencing my first Kickstarter, as a kind of record of the learning experience, especially as it now appears that the Kickstarter will likely be unsuccessful. So, I am also trying to be self-reflective as I’m still learning and this is by no means a perfect guide as to how to succeed, but I hope to learn my lessons for the next one and that is reflected here.

Having created the concept and developed the game rules (as documented in my last blog post) I was faced with probably one of the most important aspects of the project and that was how to present the game to the world. 

By this stage I had already made a number of mistakes, some of these I’ll document in the next post and some in this one, but I was solely focused on how this game would look. Obviously, I knew how the tiles would look but how about how the box would appear? What graphics would I use on the box cover and how about infill and flavour art for the Kickstarter page? What about graphics and layout?

I have a particular skill set which helps me fill this particular demand. I’m an artist so I took this upon myself but on reflection I do think this is a good point to include another person in your project. The cover I made I was and am very pleased with. It took four days to draw and colour and seems to give the right message in my mind. The jury is open though. At this point some of the benefits of bringing in another artist, to do the cover and help guide the style of the project, could have been numerous. Having more members on a team gives it more credibility, it also brings the game to the attention of the enlisted artist and their social media, will no doubt help spread the word about the game. Something I really struggled with was reaching out and this could have helped. A layout specialist for the Kickstarter and graphic designer would have also been a great addition and like the artist help spread the word. And of course other opinions would have help developed new ideas and marketing strategies.

So why didn’t I do this for Expansionist? I felt and still feel I have the experience and skills to set up a project like this but under estimated how another artist’s presence would raise the profile of the project. Of course, there is no guarantee that the people who joined the team would have had enough effect to make it a hit but it would have definitely helped. I also, and to be totally blunt, have no cash flow. I literally have enough money to pay for my own time and that’s it and my time is the evenings and weekends. If I had a budget to fund Expansionist I would have paid for big adverts like Scythe did and employed a recognised artist to design the fill in art. I would have had test copies out there before hand as well. 
The cover image I drew and digitally coloured for Expansionist

Another reason is I also made a conscious decision to work on a family business approach. This is something that actually evolved as I was creating the Kickstarter. My wife, Jo, has become more involved and we now call her the Logistics Manager and one of my daughters, Kai, has also been involved. This was a big step for her. She is doing her ‘A’ Level art and has never worked on a project like this before. She specialises in colouring and so is on the website as the Colour Artist, but I plan to expand her role out.

In a way this initial project was becoming a huge deal for us, I mean we didn’t really think about how it would sculpt us into more of a business unit. Jo was working on quotes and units, Kai was colouring in the characters which were featuring in the Kickstarter story page and I was busy creating the graphics and cover. DRM Games was becoming more of an entity and it feels right. This is where I want to be and we all agree that this is the way forward for the company. But I also want to be able to employ other artists in a free-lance capacity to inject much need vision and sit along my artistic style.

I could be that I have taken too much on with handling all the graphics. That may well be an area Kai helps out with in the future as there are already three more games in the pipeline. I stood back, dusted my hands off and launched the Kickstarter. Pretty soon after the launch I realised that I had perhaps focused down too much on the art, which I thought looked great and did the job well, but that potentially it had distracted me from other elements of setting up a new board game product that are vital. I’ll talk about this in the next blog.

(Just as a caveat to this part of the story I would also like to mention that during all this time I was watching videos and reading blogs about the process of releasing a board game. So from day to day I was becoming aware of my own journey which now informs my approach)



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