#20: Where the Bonus Began (Part 3)

I immediately grabbed for any paper I could find and furiously scribbled notes from the dream. I then told my wife and a few friends about it – I would NOT be forgetting this dream. Bringing the game from that dream into reality became a passion.

I had never made a game before – hadn’t even tried. I know many designers had at least made custom rules or custom characters for games they enjoyed. Not me. I’m a rule follower. That was all crazy stuff for crazy people! Admittedly, if it weren’t for Poker-Friend’s suggestions a month or two before, I would not even had considered making Top-Deck. Although, the original plan had just been to do the design myself, have some friends do a little art, and print a copy or two for fun.

My job, at the time, involved a lot of time in front of a computer, so I started searching for ways to print. I had a remarkably difficult time. Real printers require large orders. Some playing card companies would do small runs, but on quality card stock. My friends didn’t know much, either. It is surprising how difficult it is to get into printing when you know nothing about the industry. I had actually found The Game Crafter in my initial searches and dismissed them because I didn’t fully understand what good they would be.

Helpful blogs about game design, like Hyperbole and Stonemaier, were much easier to find. Reading advice and playing prototypes of Top-Deck became a regular part of my nights at work.  Eventually, someone recommended The Game Crafter.com for printing demo copies, and forever changed my testing. Those early days of typing up new cards in MS Paint and trying them out with a coworker kept me excited in my new endeavor. Being able to print professional looking games through The Game Crafter gave me confidence in showing off prototypes. Following Mr. Stegmaier’s journey through his Kickstarter Lessons blog helped me to see that even a little guy like me, with enough drive, a good game, and smart business practices could make a career out of this tabletop game thing I was loving so much.

I also have to give credit to Colby Dauch. I learned about his company, Plaid Hat Games, through an ad for Mice and Mystics (which is fantastic). I jumped on the pre-order band-wagon and emailed the company asking what size card sleeves I would need. I was blown away when Mr. Dauch personally responded with an email. You see, due to the professional looking website and several high quality, well received games, I had this impression of Plaid Hat as being a big, long time successful company. Therefore, his response simply improved my opinion of the company.

Recently, I hit a slow spot. I’ve been developing games for a year-and-a-half, now, but still haven’t released anything yet. I have several exciting ideas in development, and although Top-Deck is mechanically ready, it still needs a LOT of art (and art ain’t cheap). It felt like I was losing the battle. Then, I finally began listening to the Plaid Hat Podcast. Now, I don’t generally care too much about origin stories, but these guys really opened my eyes. While Mr. Stegmaier helped me see that I could actually make a business and become a publisher of crowdfunded independent games, it was Mr. Dauch’s story which gave me hope of succeeding in the way that I dreamed.

THAT is where Lagniappe Games comes from. A guy who likes challenges and wants to be self-employed had a dream and pursued it. He found some great advice, help, and examples along the way. Now, he runs a company which is not just focused on fun, quality games, but a company concerned about the customer. I chose the name Lagniappe because I want this to be a generous, even charitable, company. Yes, we have to make money to be self-sustaining, but this experience is about more than that – it’s about building relationships with customers, indie designers, and other small publishers.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this little origin story of mine. God willing, I’ll keep sharing the trials and lessons of this journey with you every week and, hopefully soon, even share some games with you :-)

*To read the rest of this story, click part one or part two.

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