We are in the final days of our Kickstarter and have been doing a big promotion and game giveaway on Growing Up Gamers. Today we are also cross promoting and trying to help out another fantastic game Kickstarter project for a wine making themed game by designer Jamey Stegmaier.
Hi, Jamey. Thanks for joining us on the Escapade Games blog. It looks like the kickstarter for Viticulture is going very strongly. We're excited to be hosting this interview to support the game and the kickstarter project. Us start up game studios have to stick together! Alright, let's get in to the questions.
Tell us about your game.
My game is called Viticulture, a title that means “the art and science of making wine.” In the game, each player takes the role of an upstart vineyard owner who is trying to create the most successful winery in Tuscany.
Viticulture is a worker-placement game for 2-6 players ages 13 and up that can be played in 45-90 minutes. The game focuses on forward momentum and a myriad of possibilities no matter what choices the other players make—that is, there is conflict, but no hostility. My intention was to create a game where players always feel like something good is happening or will soon happening, opposed to a game where you’re constantly stressed because of the way other players are blocking you or because of upkeep costs you have to pay. Viticulture uses a number of mechanics and a new system of scaling the game so it feels the same no matter the number of players.
I really believe that people of all ages will enjoy Viticulture, even if they aren’t interested in wine (or aren’t old enough to drink it!). In fact, I stand behind the game with a money-back guarantee—if you back the game on Kickstarter and don’t like it, you can return the game and I’ll refund your money.
What was the inspiration for the game? Why did you choose to make this game?
To a certain extent, Kickstarter inspired this game. I’ll talk about my game-design history in more detail in question #4, but in brief, the success of other independent board games on Kickstarter gave me the confidence to try to publish a board game for the first time. I had amassed a number of mechanics and principles I wanted to use in a game, and the romanticism of a “vineyard in a box” was really appealing to me. So I spent the last year designing and testing Viticulture, and I launched on Kickstarter just over a month ago.
What about the game will really appeal to people? What kind of audience are you trying to reach?
I think the variability of the game will really appeal to people. Not only is every game different thanks to the 40 unique visitor cards (visitors can help you in various ways on your vineyard above and beyond what your regular workers can do), but every “year” in the game is different too depending on what you and the other players need to do in each of the seasons in any particular year. Players take turns choosing the order in which their workers wake up in the spring, gaining bonuses for the decision they make.
In the summer, players expand their vineyards, and their choices depend on their cards in hand, their needs at that time, and the other players’ selections (actions are limited on the game board). In the fall, each player draws a visitor card, adding new possibilities to future seasons. The winter is similar to the summer, except that players use the winter to reap what they’ve sown. Basically, Viticulture isn’t a game where you can go into it saying, “Today my strategy is going to be _____.” You can have a base strategy, but you have to be nimble and respond well to all of the other factors. Thus the game should stay fresh after many plays.
Is this your first game? Tell us about your design studio and your experience as a game designer.
To piggyback off of question #2, Viticulture is the first game that I’ve attempted to publish, but it’s far from the first game I’ve designed. I’ve been designing board games (and trying to convince people to play them) since I was 8 years old. Fortunately my parents kept all of my games, so I recently posted photos of all of them here.
I think the number one thing I’ve learned from making all of those games and Viticulture is that playtesting is incredibly important. There have been so many times that the game played a certain way in my head (beautifully, smoothly, efficiently) and a completely different way in real life (ugly, clunky, and endless). Board games exist because there are people to play them, so it’s important to factor in those people when you’re designing games. I’ve taken that same philosophy when running my Kickstarter campaign.
It seems like your Kickstarter project is going really well. Now that you've made your funding goal, what are some of the stretch goals you are hoping to make? What would you like to do if you over fund by a lot?
Thank you! So is yours—congrats on hitting $50k (I love the art in your game, by the way—I, too, am fortunate to have some talented artists working with me). I currently have a few stretch goals in the works. If we reach 750 backers, we’ll add new wooden tokens to the game to help players keep track of residual payments. If we reach $50k in pledges (200% of our funding goal), I’m going to authorize the creation of custom art for each of the 40 visitor cards, and a new $55k stretch goal is pending this backer poll.
The really big stretch goal is 300% of funding. It’s a large expansion to the game, a cheese expansion that I did not go into the project planning to make it. I knew that there would be expansions to the game (other than the Kickstarter-exclusive Arboriculture expansion, which is available with the game starting at the $49 level) but I hadn’t created any other expansions and thus didn’t intend to include them in the campaign. But some discussions with backers during the campaign that started out as a joke (a kitten expansion) evolved into a real idea for a cheese expansion. It’s a bit of a longshot for this campaign, but if we don’t reach that goal, I’m sure I’ll design it and release it in the future.
Thanks so much for these questions! If any of your readers have questions about the game or Kickstarter, feel free to comment or contact me.
And thank you, Jamey, for that wonderful interview. We hope our support here can help Viticulture reach that 300% funding big stretch goal. Best of luck to you in the final 6 days of your project!
Interested in becoming a game designer? Well you have the chance to contribute directly to Story Realms, see your ideas in a published game, and receive design credit in the published rules. How do you get this awesome opportunity? Well…all you have to do is back the Kickstarter Project at one of the designer levels. There are three of them.
Venture is a steampunk inspired city of brass towers, whirring gears, and mad cap machinery. If you back the kickstarter at this level, you get to invent one location within the city. This can include naming the location, writing up a detailed description that will appear in the Pieces of a Broken World Campaign book and helping to describe what the art for the location will look like. The location will be added to the fully illustrated game board. To get a feel of how detailed this will be, take a look at the game’s main map board. the same artist will be doing the Venture Map.
At this level you get write a stand-alone challenge for the game. These extra challenges are designed to let people throw pieces together to create their own adventures. You could think of it as a full entry into a Monster Manual, but instead of just describing a monster the Challenge describes an entire scene that can include enemies, player goals, and environmental effects. In this, you will have a lot of flexibility and freedom. You can design any challenge that is thematically appropriate to Story Realms. Your challenge will receive a write up in the games Storyteller Guide (rulebook). There will also be a fully illustrated scene card created that will depict the challenge you’ve designed.
Here you get to design an entire adventure and have it published. It will first go out as an extra reward to all of our Kickstarter Backers at Sparkcaller level or higher. It will then be included in a future Story Realms product. An adventure in Story Realms lasts for three scenes and involves a set up scene, a Story Challenge (journey towards the main goal) and an Action Challenge (big climactic finish). Three fully illustrated scene cards will be created for the adventure you design. Additional Ally and Enemy cards may be created to support the Adventure as well.
We Want to Work With You!
With all of these levels, you we want to collaborate with you and adjust your level of involvement to whatever you feel comfortable with. If you want to be heavily involved in the design and writing, you can be. If you want to just pitch ideas and have us do the bulk of writing and design that is absolutely fine as well. The Kickstarter Project says you will received credit in the book as a Game Consultant, but we can work with you on the exact credit. Getting credited as “Additional Design” or something similar is absolutely possible. The Escapade Games Crew is also willing to be a reference for you to any future employers about your design work on the game.
We retain right of refusal on all ideas. We must ensure that whatever is created is thematically appropriate with Story Realms and fits well into the product as a whole. However, we want to work with you to make your ideas work as well as possible.
All backers at any of these levels get a copy of the published game and all Kickstarter stretch goals. There are limited slots on each of these backer levels so don’t wait until the last minute to sign up. We look forward to working with anyone excited to contribute to Story Realms and making your ideas come to life.
Ally Lore Card Set: Arthurian Allies
These allies are famous in our world for having aided King Arthur and his knights. The stories you have heard, however, were not entirely accurate. Arthur and his knights visited Storm Hollow many times, but they never really understood what they had found. In the time of Arthur, there barrier between Storm Hollow and Earth was very thin. Just outside of Camelot, across the waters hung a great mist. Wandering into this mist led to a grove of apple trees on the shores of the Lurking Lake in Thunderdrum Forest. The people of Camelot believed they had found a magical island which they called Apple Island or Avalon in their language.
Lady of the Lake:
It said that this mysterious water sprite can appear in any body of water, but Lurking Lake is clearly her home. Worthy heroes, like the Poppin Arthur, who are brave enough to journey out onto the lake may be granted a great treasure. The Lady has even wandered out of the waters to aid true heroes in need. Those foolish enough to seek her out for reasons of greed or power, however, find that something far more terrible resides beneath the waters.
The Questing Beast:
This strange creature is said to have the head and neck of a snake, the body of a leopard, the haunches or a lion, and the feet of a deer. It is believed that the beast can grant magical powers, but even the greatest hunters of Storm Hollow have been unable to capture it. In truth, the beast does not know why everyone is so obsessed with it. It avoids the people of Storm Hollow, but does sometimes come to the aid of Poppins as they seem far less amazed by it.
The Green Knight:
This towering knight stands as tall as a Big’Un and wanders Storm Hollow looking for people worthy of his aid. It is the knight’s quest to make sure that anyone who claims to be a hero is tested for valor and prepared for the dangers ahead. The Green Knight is covered head to toe in emerald armor. No one is sure exactly who or what is beneath the shiny gem armor. One rumor is that one of the Elder Trees, named Bredbeddle, decided that just helping travelers through the Weeping Marsh wasn’t enough. As the story goes, Bredbeddle uprooted, left the marsh, donned the strange armor and has been walking the long road ever since.
Thank you so much to all of our backers. Your support has been phenomenal and we’ve still got 22 Days left to go! Please keep spreading the word and encouraging people to check it out. The next stretch goal is only $5000 away and it’s a set of enemy Scallywags!
We did it! We hit $20,000 on Kickstarter! We here at Escapade Games are overwhelmed by the support Story Realms is receiving, but there is still further we can go. Yes, that’s right, it’s already time for stretch goals. As I said before, meeting our stretch goals is how we take the game from great, to spectacular. It lets us put all the cool stuff we want into the box and makes the entire game a better value for everyone.
|We did it! Now for some stretching...|
As the pledge levels increase, so does our budget for art and design. We’ll be able to make more cards, more adventures, more powers, more artifacts, more everything. We’re really looking forward to seeing how far we can go. It’s the middle of the night here in Eugene, Oregon so I can’t show you the excitement everyone at Escapade Games is feeling. You’ll just have to settle for one goofy picture I took of myself once I saw we’d reached our goal.
That's right. I posted a picture of me in my space pajamas. I'm that happy. Thank you all for supporting the Kickstarter. And stick around because we’re far from done yet. We’ve got more amazing previews coming up to show off the World Guide and some of the other fun stuff in the box. Stay tuned!
Story RealmsKickstarter is up and going strong! I mentioned on our last post that the Kickstarter had begun, but it occurs to me that some of you might not know what that means. I didn’t really know what Kickstarter was before we started making Story Realms. For those of you that are unfamiliar with Kickstarter, we’d like to take this opportunity to explain how it works and why it’s so important for Story Realms.
Kickstarter is a way of crowd-funding creative projects and putting some power in the hands of the consumer. Instead of shopping a game around to various publishers and asking them to gamble on a dream, we put up Story Realms on Kickstarter and are asking you if it’s something you think is worth having made.
It gives you an opportunity to play a big part in the creation of Story Realms. You get to decide if it gets made at all and how amazing it will be when it goes to production. To do this, all you have to do is check out Story Realms here at Escapade Games or on the Kickstarter page. We think it’s a pretty spectacular game. If you find yourself agreeing with us, then we encourage you to pledge on the Kickstarter. This isn’t some charity pledge where you send us a $100 and we send you a T-Shirt and promise. It’s more like a pre-order. You pay the cost of the game. We go make the game and then send it to you. By getting in early, you get to help determine just how spectacular Story Realms becomes. You get an official thank you in the rule book, and if you pledge high enough we give you lots of extra goodies as well.
One of the important parts of Kickstarter projects are the Stretch Goals. This is how you help us make Story Realms something truly spectacular. Every project has a basic goal that it sets. This is the goal we need to reach to be able to make the game. For Story Realms, that $20,000. As I’m writing this, we are already at over $16,000 with 28 days left to go. But we don’t want to just barely make Story Realms. We are dreaming big. We want to fill it with as much spectacular art, fantastic adventures, and wonderful components as possible. This is where Stretch Goals come in. The party doesn’t stop just because we hit our goal. With Kickstarter, we get to keep going to see just how much support we can drum up. As we get more and more people to join us, we hit what are called Stretch Goals. These are goals that let us upgrade the package for the people that have already donated on the game and increase the value of the game itself. Stretch goals let us add all the spectacular things that we want to include in the game.
We Love Kickstarter and Our Fans
What’s great about Kickstarter is that it gives creative projects a chance to succeed that would have never been possible before. Escapade Games is not giant game studio. We are two families trying to make something big. We want to make a game that everyone can enjoy from newer gamers to those that have played storytelling games for years. However, we can’t do it alone. We need your help. In addition to supporting the Kickstarter, we also hope you will tell others about Story Realms. We want to get as many people excited about the game as possible. It may sound high-minded, but with Story Realms we don’t just want to make a game. We want to create a community of people that enjoy telling stories together. Storytelling games are something have been dear to our hearts for many years. We want to bring together as many people as we can to give a new life and new energy to the type of games that we love.
We hope you'll come join the fun!