Renegade Games Studios Year End wrap-up Part 2
Travel Strikes Back!
Last week I covered the first four months of the year. If you missed it, you can check it out here. This week I start off by looking back at May 2016.
May started out with a trip to Portland to visit a game designer and company that we are working with on a new game that we will be announcing in March. I would really like to tell you all about it now but Sara says I can’t. She’s mean like that.
While in Portland I also got to stop by Rainy Day Games. Rainy Day is one of our biggest supporters. They were one of 10 stores that really went all out with Lanterns and helped us launch it. They provide that retail experience we all want. Well lit, clean, well stocked, and a knowledgeable staff. Steve and Amy Ellis do a great job and I highly encourage anyone visiting the area to check it out.
So after my trip I had to rush back and get ready to head up to Burbank for the Lanterns Tabletop Shoot!
During my career I’ve been fortunate to have visited many Hollywood sets and lots. It’s always fun. I once got to visit the original Thor Movie set and sit on Odin’s Throne, I attended an event in Tony Starke's Malibu house (it’s not a real house btw), and have walked the halls at Lucasfilm. But this was the first time I was on a live set during filming and actually had something to do. I covered my adventures those couple of days in an earlier blog post that you can check out. So I won’t go into too much detail again but I will say that the Geek & Sundry staff, Ivan Van Norman, and Wil Wheaton were gracious hosts and made me feel at home. I even had a chance to sit down with Wil during lunch and show him the final look of Lotus, a game that he had seen the prototype of at Gen Con 2015. Overall it was a fun trip. Check out the old blog post and come back, I’ll wait.
Two weeks after the Tabletop taping I was on the road again to ACD Games Day. This is another one of those industry events where we go and show off our games and meet with the best hobby retail stores in the country. We also had a small crew of folks doing BGG Spring that weekend. It was just not possible for Sara and I to do both.
I really enjoy the distributor open houses and even thought this is now Sara’s area I can’t give up attending them personally all together. I won't make all of them in 2017 but will definitely work a few into my schedule. Talking to stores is super valuable and the feedback I get from them helps us make better games.
Then the next week I was off to Denver for a few days for the Astra Toy Show. This is basically the toy industry version of the GAMA Trade Show. Hundreds of independent retailers attend to see new toys that they might stock in their store. Sara was invited to speak on a panel about event marketing and we were really there to make plans for this year’s (2017) event. Many of our games are good for families but the Indy toy store customer is very young. So we went to see what type of games might be a good fit for these stores. We got to meet with some of the top toy stores that carry games in the country and left with a good plan for the future.
While in Denver we also visited The Wizard’s Chest. This stores is incredible. First of all it’s huge. The top floor is filled with costumes, a Harry Potter department, a magic department (not the card game - actual magic and has a magician there on weekends), about a bazilion pop vinyl figures, and all sorts of plush. Downstairs is mostly games. It has to be one of the largest selections of board games in the country. Most titles are stocked pretty deep. The owners gave us a behind the scenes tour and I would guess that they have more inventory in their back room than most game stores have on their sales floor. We were pretty happy to see all of Renegade’s titles on the shelves and stocked deep.
After a few days in Denver it was back home for a week and then off to Origins! Columbus has a great downtown and I really like attending this con. Our booth is a good size so we can make it open and inviting the way we want.
Our demo tables were hopping with Kitty Paw, World’s Fair, Lanterns, Bullfrogs (get it, hopping!), Apotheca, and even a sneak peak of Lotus if you knew who to ask. About a week before Origins, Jordan and Mandy came up with an idea to make little seed packets to promote Lotus. The idea was that if you planted the flowers now, the flowers would spout by the time Lotus released in September. I thought it was a great idea and told them we should make one-thousand packets. They had planned on making about one-hundred. I didn’t realize they were going to have to stamp and fill each one by hand. Well, they showed up to Origins with about a thousand. That’s dedication! It was definitely one of the coolest promo items I’ve ever used to promote a game.
Origins is like most other cons for us. Lot’s of demos, sales, and meetings. Though the reason I like this one so much is that the meetings aren’t overwhelming. I actually had time to play some games. My favorite game session was when I got to play in a The One Ring Roleplaying session with Josh from Czech Games, Travis from Millenium Games, and Steve from Rainy Day Games. The game was run by Paul Butler! Steve and Josh were playing Hobbits. Now there are adventurers like Baggins (Frodo and Bilbo types) and there are trouble making Tooks like Pippin. I’ll let you imagine which type they decided to play. It was a blast and hopefully we can get the group together for another adventure.
Click the pics to see all the Origins stuff!
On the Monday after Origins a bunch of us had flights later that day so Sara, Zee Garcia, and I went to a museum near downtown Columbus. We were in luck because the temporary exhibit was all about games! Video games but still games! There was a pretty good selection of original arcade machines and a really nice walkthrough of the evolution of video games. It was cool to see lots of old classics right up to some of my recent favorites like World of Warcraft. Unfortunately you were not allowed to take pictures in the game exhibit but I did get some really nice shots of Zee playing around in front of a green screen. Here they are making their worldwide internet premier!
Click the pics to scroll through all the Zee goodness.
July was travel free, thank goodness! I was actually able to spend about 6 straight travel-free weeks working on upcoming games. Gen Con was also coming up in August so there was that to get ready for too!
Gen Con. I’ve been going to Gen Con since before it was in Indy and it has really changed over the years. It has become so BIG compared to even 5 years ago. It is by far the most important show we do in North America. It’s also the hardest on us. This year I spent very little time on our booth. I was mostly in meetings with designers looking at their new designs.
Overall I really enjoy this process. It’s exciting for me to see what designers have been working on and finding something that is a good fit for us. Aspiring designers often ask what we are looking for. That’s really hard to quantify past some very broad guidelines. If I had to give you one answer to that question it would be I want something I haven’t seen before! I know, that’s not the easiest of direction. So really, I would tell you to just bring me what you think is ready to show. With very few exceptions, I’m happy to look at most games.
I think it’s also worth noting that just because we don’t pick up your game doesn’t mean we didn’t like it or that it’s not good enough to get published. Often it comes down to a lot of factors that are constantly changing. We are also always looking ahead. What we have published to date may not be exactly what we are looking for.
Another nice thing about Gen Con is that it brings the whole Renegade team together. Throughout the year we are all working on many different projects but at a con we can get in some really quality play testing and development.
We premiered several games at Gen Con. Clank! sold out the first day. Lotus was sold out the morning of day 2, and Covert and Dicey Goblins got wiped out as well. By the end of the weekend the booth was pretty decimated.
The booth itself was packed and overflowing into the aisles all week. We are actively trying to get a lot more space at Gen Con. Being fairly new (at least the company is) we could only get a very small booth the first two years. In comparison our Origins booth was much bigger and more spacious than at Gen Con. Hopefully we will be getting a lot more space in 2017 so we can have a much nicer presentation for you there and we can fit more stock!
One of my favorite things at Gen Con is one night we have dinner with all of our designers. This was the 3rd Gen Con we did this and the group gets bigger every year. It’s a really nice night to show our appreciation and celebrate all the hard work everyone has put into our games.
I could go on and on about Gen Con. So much happens and we see so many people. Last year Sara posted an overview of Gen Con and you should definitely check it out. Now, I think I’ll let you take a look at a bunch of pics from my phone. This is Gen Con as I saw it over 5 days. Enjoy!
Click to pics to scroll through them.
Well, that wraps up Part 2 of my walk down 2016’s memory lane. Tune in next week as I wrap up the rest of last year and also go over some lesson’s learned, talk about some key people who helped make it all happen, and probably spill the beans on some 2017 stuff!
Sara can’t stop the signal! (or me)
Until next time!
Have questions about this? Ask me on Twitter @scottgaeta and be sure to follow Renegade @PlayRenegade