A Look into 2015 for Grant and Josh

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Josh is crunching at work, so I'll be writing solo today. That means fewer mean comments, but, I'm sure you'll survive. Josh and I wanted to write briefly about the cool stuff you can expect from us in 2015. This is a mild press release of sorts, details and things to look forward to. In many ways, we did the hard work in 2014 to have more fun in 2015. By that, I mean we've done extensive design, development, and also just building the foundation of what I think is a great partnership.

Firstly, let's discuss Hocus Poker. In 2014, Josh and I completed over 100 tests, local and blind, of Hocus Poker, through about 5 major iterations. We've invested in sending a handful of dedicated testers a nice DriveThruCards copy of the prototype that we think and hope is our final version. I say that regarding mechanics - we have no doubt the Spell content and Moonbears need more tuning.

We're very excited to be at this point after what has been a long road. What this means, is that barring a publisher we both like approaching us, we intend to self-publish Hocus Poker in 2015. We aim to send it to manufacturing in early Spring.

We're putting together our art team now. Specifically, we're working to hire an illustrator whose work we think is striking, a little dark, and unique. We do not know of any games that have hired someone with her style. Josh and I were giddy when she noted she was interested. We're also going to hire a graphic designer to craft our icons and really make everything pop. We both think aesthetics are incredibly important and we don't want to miss this opportunity.

Because of our positions in life, Josh and I are excited to take some risks with Hocus Poker. Some folks self-publish to start a business, or even create a new profession. Josh and I both have good jobs and families and don't plan for that, though, if you guys want to buy 50,000 copies, we're down! This means we can take some visual risks as well as some mechanical risks. At BGG Con, one publisher looking for a far simpler game noted Hocus was "a bit thinky." We completely understood that it turned him off for that, but things like that are far more feasible within a modest scope. We seek to make a smidge of money so that our wife/fiance don't make fun of us more than they already do.

To reflect our art style, and these risks, we no longer think Hocus Poker is an appropriate name. It's a little silly, and for some invokes images of Bette Middler. We'll share more about this when we're ready. Josh had a really good inspiration for this the other night and we spent 2 hours tooling around with it. We think it'll be quite appropriate when it's all set.

In about a week we're going to submit Hocus Poker for the Ion Awards. We're hoping this gives us a little bit of prestige to bolster our reputation. Those who read this blog know that Josh and I have been working on Hocus Poker all year. In case you didn't know, this blog has a Hocus Poker Tag so you can quickly find all posts related to it. But, not everyone reads this blog (shocking) and doesn't know us (also shocking). We're hoping an award, if we're lucky, helps there.

Finally, we see Hocus Poker as a nice, small, relatively low-risk opportunity to present our competence as a business. We want to demonstrate to people that we'll be honest dealers, competent developers, transparent, fair, and that we'll match our promises within our capabilities. We're crazy excited about Hocus Poker, but we are also absurdly excited about Landfall. If Hocus Poker goes well and we build a mailing list to boot, we think Landfall will really have a greater chance to succeed.

Therefore, let's discuss Landfall. Landfall is a very ambitious collaborative project from me and Josh that we'd like to launch in early Fall. Notice I said project -- Landfall isn't a game, but a series of games. Our design development will focus on them next year and we'll be self-publishing this.

Finding a publishing partner isn't an option for this, both because we want full control, but it's also not really possible for a publisher to do what we're doing. That sounds obnoxiously arrogant, but it's actually not. We didn't invent the flying car, but we're trying something bizarre and not really feasible for traditional publishers.

Landfall is a narrative driven game series set in a unique science fiction universe. We actually conceived the idea not long after Hocus Poker. I've worked quite a bit on one of the games, with Josh taking the lead on a second. They have even gone through some early blind testing, which is good.

You'll see some incredible influences on our designs here. Influences from our favorites. Race for the Galaxy, Combat Commander, 7 Wonders, and some CCGs. Key word is influence. Some of our most unique work will be found in Landfall.

We've been quiet, and will continue to remain quiet, because it's essential to the fun of the experience. Why the secrecy? Well, there are a few reasons.

  1. The project has been built around the notion of surprise. We want to surprise our customers, not just through play, but the entire consumer experience. Surprise is a key element to your enjoyment.
  2. We don't have all the details yet. We still need to prove many things. We aren't 100% ready to discuss it, so we won't.
  3. We think we have 2 very unique things about this project. It's not so much that we're worried someone we'll steal it, but we don't want people to deflate the air out of it for the next year while we work on it. And, if a splash is made at all, we want to make it.

If you have any questions, comment below, or email me at grant at hyperbolegames dot com. We hope you guys have a great year and come with us on our little entrepreneurial journey.

Comments

As gamers, I think we have become lazy. To say that Hocus Poker is “a bit thinky” is admitting that you don't wanna think when you play. I love the extra strategy Hocus Poker offers. What it does is take away some of the luck of poker and adds more control over your hand.

Well...not entirely. There's a room and place for everything. There's really something to be said for a game that can just be taught and played. AND, without that publisher saying "a bit thinky," and us discussing alternatives, we wouldn't have basic mode. Immediately after he suggested that, I tried it. Turns out I really loved it! And, whereas I would have never been able to show Advanced Mode to my family, I was able to show them Basic. They loved it! I think that was a real breakthrough for us and it's a great way to ease people into the new mechanics, followed by the real meat.