The pre-convention rush is in full swing, and its amazing to watch things come together.
The time before a major convention is always a stressful one. When I used to write about video games, it was the calm before the storm. A time to check gear and schedules, confirm airline tickets and plan strategies. There was plenty of work to do, but the enthusiast press is a back loaded venture: we simply couldn’t do much until we actually saw the games. Working on the production end of the equation, even without an official, expected presence, is a different beast completely.
I always had a fair understanding about how many working parts were involved for any company to prepare for an occasion like this. Regardless of whether it is a giant like Microsoft to the small hobby shop down the road, the number of needs is staggering. From the booth, to the product, to the swag… it is simply mind numbing to think about. But even in the micro scale that we are dealing with here at Randover Games, it is proving to be the demo products that are the real beasties.
Products are created in phases, with countless iterations between one full version and the next. As I mentioned in my post about inspiration, our first title, Proelium, is a distant cry from our first attempts. There were so many altered ideas needing so many altered demo assets that I have a cardboard box quickly filling with antiquated cards and failed attempts. Keeping this in mind, it is easy to see how difficult is is to create public demos for products that aren’t ready for an official release.
Thankfully, the scope of the products we are working with is much smaller than you would find in something like a video game. There, the volume of content is so robust that even a fairly simple game still has to compact everything that makes it special into one single vertical slice for easy consumption. Here, a working game needs to work from one end to the other for any testing to be done, so having a unified product is a far easier objective.That said, the manufacturing requirements of changes in a physical game can be very tiresome. As soon as I created the first draft cards for Tainted, I proceeded to print and cut a full set so we would have them in San Antonio. After getting the cards home and doing some initial tests, a suggestion was made to change some of the wording throughout the entire product to add clarity to the game play.
It was a simple, easily implemented change, that instantly improved the quality of the cards, but it also meant a whole new set of cards would need to be printed, cut, and prepared for the convention. So, that was my lunch hour today, scrambling out to the local printer to get the files prepared and as many of them cut as I could in the scant 45 minutes I had between needing to return to work (leaving out the 15 minutes for driving, of course). All of the stress and rushing aside, I can’t deny that the cards are better now, and I’m vastly happier to have them in hand.So here we are, with a storm of a different variety already formed, making our lives just a little more stressful. After reflecting on all this, I have to say, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I haven’t even made a real public showing yet and this already feels “right.” I’m proud of our products and I’m happy to stand behind them. I know we put the best effort into them that we could and hopefully people will find them as enjoyable as we do. I think we’re ready; hopefully everyone else will to.