With four published games and currently presenting a third addition to an awarded tabletop game series – this indie tabletop producer is worth following. What can we learn from Byron Johnson Collins? Let’s ask him.
Byron Johnson Collins runs a one-man show. His company Collins Epic Wargames (CEW) outsources some of the artwork, particularly cover art, and he works with some external designers. But the ‘Spearpoint’ line of games is a design by the founder. CEW published a first game in 2008 and has had releases about every two years since. Currently running on Kickstarter: ‘Spearpoint 1943 Eastern Front’, a new standalone card game in the popular ‘Spearpoint’ games set during 1943 WWII.
How many games did you develop precisely? This will be our fourth published game. So we’ve been around the block a few times on game production, and know what it takes. We’ve made mistakes with game 1 as everyone does- and by game 4- all of that learning curve has been ironed out.
Why did you decide to start a campaign on a crowd funding platform? Why Kickstarter? We were successful with Kickstarter in 2012 for the second game in this line, the Spearpoint 1943 Village and Defensive Line Map Expansion. That project funding allowed us to accelerate production on a title that likely would not have been made for at least another year. Our fans came through, and we made some new friends in the process. So, we were excited to return to KS for the next game.
What uniqueness you are bringing to the table? Our line of Spearpoint games is a proven system that fans already enjoy to a big degree. We’ve created some well-priced rewards and affordable international shipping to reach out by covering most of that shipping cost out of our pockets to draw more international fans. Everything we publish is made in the USA- so the wait time for the game from the time funding is successful is smaller compared to those working with Chinese manufacturers for example. This makes our fans and backers happy.
What kind of rewards did you come up with? Any advice? The main reward includes a copy of the game, signed by the designer. Each reward includes backer’s names in the Rules to acknowledge them. There are some really cool add-ons as well to enhance the game- including a commemorative tank in miniature that is professionally painted and based, add-on card decks, tracking counters, etc. There are also bundle rewards that include each game in the Spearpoint line for those new to the system.
What would be your advice regarding creating a project on Kickstarter in general? In general, do not rush it. Take your time and make sure you are ready to launch. When you think you’re ready- share the token link (draft) with a few friends who you trust to give you honest feedback. Take heed of what they say. If they tell you the video doesn’t grab their interest or is too long- change it. If they say the text will never be read or it’s confusing, fix it. Don’t take it personally if you have to re-record a project video or add something you never thought of before launch. If it delays your project launch date- so be it. Get it right up front or you’ll waste time later. The video is the most important thing. Even when you think it’s perfect- cut another two minutes off of it.
What did you do to promote your Kickstarter campaign? We created a share page with social media links, e-mailed our newsletter subscribers, wrote press releases for the major gaming news sites that cover our type of game, e-mailed bloggers, messaged past supporters, and just recently paid for media blasts to hit major news circuits and online and traditional media reporters. We’ll see how that pans out as it’s a new strategy.
Please tell us something about yourself. I love teaching my games to others. Travelling to various conventions, meeting with customers, and making new friends in the industry, as well as new customers who I can watch as they enjoy something I created- is what this is all about. It’s definitely not about money- but because production is very expensive we can’t do it alone.
CEW also makes sci-fi and a WWII Submarine game. The Spearpoint series seems particularly popular gaining a 2013 Origins Award nomination in the “Best Historical Boardgame” category for the map expansion. Have a look at their video to get a feel for the historical journey.
The Spearpoint 1943 Eastern Front Kickstarter Campaign has gathered $9,711 out of the $12,000 goal with 161 people pledging, at the time of writing. Deadline: January 2o, 2014.