Tag Archives: #Origin Story

#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.

#18: Where the Bonus Began (Part 2)

I walked into a game store which seemed vaguely familiar. The place was packed with people buying, showing off goody bags, talking, and playing with a palpable excitement. As I pressed through the crowd, I had to duck around vertical banners for a new game that I didn’t quite recognize. On the tables were little stands advertising the same game. They featured images of post-apocalyptic characters and proclaimed “Now available”. Looks like I walked in on a launch party! Gamers were laughing all around me, shuffling cards, nudging friends, and having a great time.

A large crowd at the back of the store caught my attention, so I moved that way. As I drew near, I could see an opening centered around 2 people facing off across a table. Listening to the copious side-talk, cheering, and jeering, it was clear this was an important game. “This is for the championship!” Oh.
On my left side was a wiry man confident that he, with superior skills, strategy, and sharp tongue, had the game in hand already. His serious demeanor was echoed by the cards in his deck – they looked like pages out of a “Mad Max” comic book. To my right was a heftier young gamer who seemed happy enough just to be there. A whimsical, lighthearted nature was made overt by his big smile and the colorful images of little anime-style monsters on his deck. This truly was a showdown – between a killer out to show that he’s the best and a goodly kid just having a fun day.
Pocket Monsters
I had seen this game played out across several Slots, progressively earning more points and jockeying for the top position. After a bit of back-and-forth, these two used all of their actions to discard their hands and remove all but the last Slot in a show of ultimate cockiness. Without a hand, these would-be-champions could only top-deck a card for the last slot. Wiry Guy was mocking and trash talking while Happy-gamer was quite and sure. They both played the top card from their decks. . .
And the store errupted! People were cheering for Happy-Gamer and clapping him on the back while others oooooh’ed at Wiry Guy’s epic loss. I couldn’t help but feel excited for Happy-Gamer. At the same time I was dumbfounded by the joy that filled this little building.
That was a great game. I should definitely make. . .
And I woke up.
*To read the rest of this story, click part one or part three.

#16: Where the Bonus Began (Part 1)

This week I think I’ll start running you through a bit of personal background and designer diary. That way I can head on to the “behind the scenes” look at changes I’ve made, why, and how it can help you that I’ve been promising for a couple months, now. So, first a look at my background. Then, we’ll move on to the 2 year journey that has been Top Deck. On a personal note: thanks to Grant Rodiek at Hyperbole Games for this blog post which encouraged me to move forward and bear it all 😉

Where I come from:
I didn’t grow up loving and playing lots of board games. Sure, we had Sorry and Monopoly, but UNO was really the only game which got played. That is, until middle school when I found Magic: The Gathering. I LOVED the strategy, competitiveness, and options. It was the only game I enjoyed through college. But, it’s pretty tough convincing other adults to play such a complex game. So, I went from a Magic snob to being desperate for any kind of similar mental challenge and social gathering.

Speaking of college: I have a background in graphic design, web site design (old, old stuff), and a little computer engineering. By “background” I mean that I’ve taken some classes and done some work on the side. BUT, I never finished the art degree OR the science degree. So, I can’t say that I’ve done either professionally – nor do I have the credentials required TO do it professionally. Ugh. I sure enjoy a challenge, though, and my Dad has been setting an example of entrepreneurship my entire life.

Where did Lagniappe Games come from:

It all started with a dream.  Sort of. . .

A long time ago, there were 3 guys, Game-Friend, Poker-Friend, and me. My wife and I met Game-Friend and his wife through In-line Hockey. They were kind enough to teach us about Euro-games. We all had a great time with the likes of Catan, Dominion, 7 Wonders, Bohnanza, and Agricola. My wife and I enjoyed ourselves enough that we shared the games with Poker-Friend and his wife. Thus, fun was had by all.

Eventually, Poker-Friend (always thinking) gets the idea that money could be had in this game industry thing. So, he began asking me about, and telling me we’d be great at, making a game. He and I could do all the brain work while his wife and I do all the artwork. I didn’t think I had the time or skill – I definitely didn’t have any ideas :-/

“Game-Friend! I bet he has ideas!” Therefore, I presented the thought to him. He seemed about as enthusiastic about the idea as I was (not very). Since Game-Friend was less than enthusiastic and none of us had ideas, it was easy enough to write it off and move on.

After a few more weeks of playing games and enjoying time with friends, I experienced a very interesting dream. . .

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