Alex, it’s been less than a year since we chatted for the Coaching for Geeks podcast (Have a listen!) what’s been going on?
It’s been an exceptionally busy 8 months for me! When we last spoke, I had just finished up at the UK Games Expo, the largest games fair in the UK. This was a bit of a trial by fire for us – we really had no idea at that point whether our makeshift games would be popular, or if we would just be left standing around looking lonely in our animal onesies, an awkward group of Thumb-Twiddling Tigers!
Thankfully that turned out not to be the case. We sold all of the handmade prototypes we brought along with us, and this was as much of a success as I could have hoped for. It gave me some extra drive and energy to keep pushing the game design and development.
Now I may well be being a Paranoid Panda, but as this game is based around a fundamentally very simple concept, I started to worry that if I don’t get this thing up on Kickstarter soon, then someone might “steal” this idea, or do something very similar.
So the past few months I’ve really had to knuckle down and get my ducks in a row to in my attempt to make a success on this internet beast called Kickstarter. This included endless hours of research,making new contacts, lots more playtesting, game design, and a specific focus on how to get plenty of video footage of people having fun to help make a strong visual impact.
I also had to work hard on building a social media presence. A core principle with crowd funding is that you have to have a crowd (the clue is in the name there!). But social media was something I was never naturally good at, so this has been one of the biggest challenges of the whole project.
When I last spoke to you, I’d never really used Twitter or Instagram! You actually gave me some really helpful tips which I have been using since then to give me some kind of foundation on which to launch this thing. I’m eternally grateful for that and also for the encouragement.
The game has made its way to Kickstarter (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/bazaarbroz/animal-ailments-the-wild-miming-game/updates) what will the funds enable you to do?
I’m trying to raise £3,500 through Kickstarter pledges. This will be used entirely to fund the first large scale print run of Animal Ailments, with high quality durable cards and a nice shiny game box!
I’m aiming to create something that game shops and retailers might be happy to stock in their shelves, and of course for all my lovely Kickstarter backers to receive something with which they can have some awesome fun and good laughs.
Also, I think it’s against Kickstarter rules to mention this on my project page, but I have donated £1 from every game we have sold so far to Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary in Bristol.
If our project is a success we will be able to continue making donations from game sales to help real animals with ailments!
What will you do if the kickstarter doesn’t hit its target?
I try to think more about how amazing it would be if we do reach the target, but I have to accept that I am a beginner at this and also that I only started building my kickstarter crowd a few months before launch, with very little experience in social media promotion.
I know that there are plenty of people out there who would happily back this game, so if we don’t make it this time, I will have to assume that I didn’t build enough of a crowd yet and that I should focus on getting more contacts, more email addresses and more engagement from my followers before considering a re-launch.
You were planning on heading to Essen in a van last year, did you make it?
Ah yes! In October we headed off on a road trip from the UK to Germany with five people, numerous games, our entire stall and selected cuddly toys into a packed van to hit up Essen SPIEL: the largest games fair in the world!
It was a really awesome experience, and a massive challenge at the same time, especially as one of the things about Germany is that everyone speaks German!
I had actually made up a small number of translations of the game. These all sold really quickly, but after that it was a pretty hard slog getting the German gamers to buy our English games, a common complaint being that despite the fact they speak English, most of their friends and family don’t!
Overall though, it was a fantastic experience, in the end we sold about as much stock as at the UK Expo and we met hundreds of people, made some solid new business contacts and connections and got to enjoy some ludicrously cheap beer!
Where can we find you demoing the game in 2018?
We have just finished at the City of Games, a new games fair in Bristol and we will be back at the UK Games Expo in June, this time located a bit closer to the family area (which probably makes sense for us!).
We are also looking at getting stalls at some small festivals and family fun days, dog days etc. around the country. With our colourful stalls and animal costumes we’ve found a few event organisers who are very receptive to having us around as a kind of side show.
We also ran a stall at the Christmas market in Bristol city centre at the end of last year. It was bloody freezing and hard work being outside all day, but it was really great fun and you meet loads of cheery Christmas shoppers, so we hope to do that all again at Christmas 2018!
There are lots of miming style games out here – why should I back Animal Ailments?
This is the only game that I’m aware of where you can be a “Centaur that can’t dance!”. We’re also offering an Adults only, “Messed up Expansion Pack“! (Not safe for work)! The combo’s that come up in that are uniquely twisted and perfect if you are into the more raunchy party games.
What’s next for Bazaar Bros?
It’s still very early days on the international front but I have been working closely with a Japanese music artist and game translator called Ryorca who I met at the Essen Fair. She is convinced this game will go down a storm in Japan, where there is a rise in popularity of compact, easy to play party games
If our Kickstarter is successful, we want to move as quickly as possible to doing a crowdfunder for a Japanese print run of the game and HOPEFULLY we can organise ourselves enough to be at a Japanese games fair. I’ve been to Japan once and absolutely loved it there. I also have some family over there, so this is something I’m really excited
to get on board with. Watch out Tokyo!
Where can people back the kickstarter, follow you, and generally find out more?
Simply search “Animal Ailments” on Kickstarter.com and you should find our project easily! You can also follow us on our wild game development adventures on Twitter @animalailments and Instagram @animalailmentsgame!
Also, if anyone reading this wants any advice about making silly card games, setting up a kickstarter project, or how to mime a Pegasus with an Inferiority Complex, please do get in touch! It’s a subject that’s really close to my heart and I will happily chat with anyone about it all!
Thanks Alex. It’s been a joy watching your journey with Animal Ailments. Best of luck with the Kickstarter campaign!
Robin Bates – Would not find it hard to mime a Robin with a beer belly
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