How King Steven’s Games Almost Died Part 2

Ever have one of those things you needed to do, but everytime you finally had a moment to do it, you were like “I’ll do it tomorrow”…apparently that is my philosophy about my blog posts…

I taunted last week about my story around how I almost quit my company! And when I say “quit my company”, I really mean, quit my dreams. Then a miracle happened…

This video came out (I encourage you to watch the whole video, but I fast forwarded to my point)

That’s right! Markiplier mentioned me inside one of his videos! 😀
So let me rewind a little bit: I’ve been a fan of Markiplier for years now – he’s funny, he’s caring, he genuinely tries to put himself behind other’s, and ironically we are the same age, in fact our birthdays are one day apart. I was drawn to him for perhaps the same reason many people were – each video was like hanging out with a friend. Well…a friend that likes to curse alot, not always been a fan of that, but hey, his actions have spoken louder than his words more times than I can count.

So around the time I felt like quitting, he came out with a video about buying a new van, and in the same video he talked about going to Cracker Barrel (one of – if not the – favorite restaurants since I was young (get the Rib-Eye with Sweet Baby Carrots, Country Green Beans, and Dumplings plus a Shake if yours still sells them <3 <3)) He asked people what he should call it, but instead kept getting flamed by his fans. I was going to make a tweet about it too, at first I thought of a crude joke which I thought the fans would like and when I tag him, they'll see it and like it too, but then I thought, "I wouldn't like it though, that's not the image I want of me or my company" So I posted what I wanted to say thinking, "He probably won't see it anyway..." A few days later I'm watching his video like I always do (laying on the couch with my TV off), when he says that line, "But there was one of you...King Steven Games" and I saw my tweet slide onto the screen! I kid you not, all sense of feeling left me. Once my mind caught up with my body I started freaking out! I couldn't believe it! He gave ME a shout out! And not because of some crude joke, but because I posted as how I wanted to post. It was my idea he was showing. This taught me a lesson - In the business world, we are taught to always appeal to the customer base to gain the most market advantage, but that is not how the best ideas are made. You have an idea, but think the mob wouldn't like it, that shouldn't stop you from trying. Not everyone can be successful, but if you don't try, then you guarantee that you won't be either. This gave me a needed confidence boost, Markiplier doesn't know who I am, nor will he probably ever read/see this blog post; however, that only makes him giving me a shout out more special. It was purely based on the quality of my idea. That meant a lot to me (even if it was just naming a van, lol). This is what gave my company a second life. I decided to start making my own "Lets Plays" (where I never curse). I became much more active on social media. Best of all, I have faith that my ideas might be truly great afterall. Hope this sharing of my story helps inspire at least one of you out there too. Thanks for reading everyone, and keep on playing!

Take a Pick-Axe to Business!

One valuable business lesson I learned can also be applied to anything in life – from game design problems to arguments on Facebook. “PPPICACC” (pronounced “Pick-Axe”), it is an acronym for reminding yourself how to enhance your critical thinking skills. In short, it teaches you how to process a problem from everyone’s point of view then solve the problem that benefits everyone. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can always come back for a refresher! Here is what it stands for:
Points of View: Did you seek out and identify all relevant perspectives for the situation being evaluated? If you don’t consider every perspective, you may miss out on important, relative, information.

 

Purposes: For each point of view, did you explore and understand what you and the others want to accomplish and care about? In other words, did you dig deeper than just the surface of what they want, and do you really understand what you and the other parties want? If not, then you should continue asking questions until you fully understand. A good way to make sure you are all on the same page.

 

Problems: Did you formulate the problem or challenge from more than one point of view? Remember: A problem for you may not be a problem for someone else.

 

Information: Did you gather sufficient, accurate, and relevant information to solve the issue? If you don’t have enough information or the wrong information you may never come to a good conclusion, or you may all end up agreeing but to a bad idea. It is also essential to research information that opposes your solution/approach as well. Two reasons, first is it will help you reach a good conclusion that will be more likely to succeed. Second, this way when others come to disagree with you, you can have the information you need to explain how it is a good idea and address their concerns.

 

Concepts: Did you identify and explain the main concepts used as part of the formulation or solution approach? If you give a solution without re-stating what the solution is supposed to solve, then you may end up accidentally coming up with a solution that in reality doesn’t make sense. Plus it clears any confusion others might have ~ the other parties may think the solution is supposed to solve one thing, but in reality you mean for it to solve something else. This prevents a lot of unnecessary arguments.

 

Assumptions: These kill the potential for good conversations. So when you make business cases, marketing strategies, perform analyst, etc. always state what your assumptions are within your idea. Then ask yourself, “Did I question the validity of these assumptions?”,  “Did I examine the assumptions that allowed me to eliminate particular solutions?”, “Did I justify or can I justify otherwise hidden assumptions in the development of my solution?”

 

Conclusions: Is your solution clear and supported by logical deductions so that people can understand your approach? Is it consistent with your earlier points/inferences?

 

Consequences: One of the most important and probably hardest is: what are the potential positive and negative long-run consequences of your solution? This can be easily skewed by biases. I can’t tell you all how many times I’ve seen people come up with inconsistent ideas or presentations just to end it with, “As a result we are certain to succeed with little to no chance of failure.” This is because when we think of solutions and come up with one – of course we don’t think it will end up badly, it’s our solution! That is when you have to look at people’s incentives. Ask yourself, “If I was the other person, and I saw this solution/strategy get implemented, how would I respond?” And if you want to plan for worst case scenarios, just assume the other parties are going to be as profiteering as possible.

I’ll write more about how to think of incentives of others and better come up with possible consequences, but that will be for another day.
As for right now, just keep on playing!

Growing Social Media

I have started to take classes in social media so to make sure we get the word out about our fun products and kickstarters. Right now we are primarily focusing on Facebook (click here) and Twitter (also click here). We have also been thinking about other ideas on how to interact better with fellow gamers. We don’t want to just keep posting things about buying products, we want to share jokes, hear feedback, and help fellow game designers. So if you ever have anything you would like to share with us, give us a like or follow and don’t be shy to reach out!

As time goes on we will continue to do more for our audience. Keep an eye out for contests, and special events. Hope to get to speak to you all in the social sphere!

Keep on gaming!

World of Anastroc is coming to Kickstarter

Today I decided to announce that King Steven’s Games will be attempting its first ever Kickstarter: World of Anastroc!

I asked many of my game testers which idea should be kickstarted first? Originally, World of Anastroc was off the table. It is a trading card game, and trading card games are a unique beast. They require more artwork than any other game, they are a lot harder to balance and make rules for, plus you have an expectation to make expansions on a regular bases.
However, everyone was wishy-washy with the other concepts. They admitted to loving the other games, and I believe them, but what they really wanted to see made was Anastroc.

With much thinking (and crunching financials) it seems like a tall order to fill, but I say give people what they want! If everyone is ready to buy a box, then better get those boxes to the shelves! Another nice thing is that right now the trading card game industry is made up of three titans (whom do not need mentioning). Each of them have very strong attributes about them, and it makes them fun in their own way. At the same time, they all share some common flaws which my game addresses. In addition, we will be going for a different marketing strategy with how our boxes will be sold which I think will make players very pleased~ more details to come.

It is going to be a large goal. But if successful I know we will have a beautiful game that is a fresh game style that will bring hours of fun! Featured as the icon for this blog post is the artwork for the back of the cards made by a talented artist who has worked very hard for me. I hope all of you are as excited to see more of her works as I am (and if you can’t wait for spoilers then go ahead and check out her profile site here)

This is all for now, check back often for updates!
Keep on playing!

Internet Trolls

I’ve had my share of bad experiences with people posting false things or just vicious comments online. It takes a lot of thick skin to take such hits, but nothing I’ve suffered from compares to a category of individuals online: successful people. And not just successful people who publish things, but successful people who publish things that are not crude, full of adult themes, and are actually ran by decent human beings.

I am floored whenever  I read a post anywhere by someone that does nothing but flame them. ~ This means you post something that is just mean with curse words, degrading talk, and other vial comments that are not productive, do not really have a good point, and you would never say to the person’s face. They are usually inspired to be so mean because they have made some sort of assumption in their head and instead of really thinking about it, they just go straight into assuming they are right and the world is wrong.

For some reason, nice people attract such attention it seems. Take for example Scott Cawthon, creator of Five Nights At Freddy’s. He donates thousands of dollars to charities, responds personally to fans, and continues to make high-end entertainment for the players. Yet today while downloading FNAF World 2.0 (super excited!) for free, some kid ranted about him. Some of these trolls post stuff that makes it sound like they have tourettes syndrom while high then got online.

When trolls are not that extreme they just come off as arrogant and rude. Like for example, they will say something like “Your animals look like scary animatronics” <- This actually is what inspired Scott to create FNAF. Which I think is a great lesson all inspiring game makers ~ or nice person trying to be successful ~ needs to take away from. Do NOT pay attention to trolls! Instead, take their words and turn them into inspiration, but keep in mind they are just that: words. Do not let them bog down your mind or hurt you too deeply.

Don’t misunderstand me, as humans we are emotional creatures who are destined to feel pain when others attack us, even when it is autonomous and over the internet. I think kind souls are more sensitive to this because when you are nice to others you understand the pain others feel when you are mean ~ hence you choose to be nice. Evil people just don’t care. They are never satisfied and only care about corrupting others with their taunts. That will always exist. And because that will always exist the strong willed person will always have a challenge ahead of them. When you brave that challenge and succeed over it, you separate yourself from the pack ~ even if your product itself doesn’t succeed.

Keep on playing everyone!

Clash of Standard Formats

Magic the Gathering has turned into my favorite games (even though I seem to complain about it all the time). It can be frustrating at times, but I love it because of the flavor, the economics, and because it is so customizable.  Games are always amazing out of the box, but it is more fun when you add your own spices to the recipe. Magic the Gathering is great for that, there are so many different formats people have invented over the years. Just to name a few: Commander, Popper, Legacy, Modern, Extended, Standard, Draft, Sealed, Tiny Leaders, etc.

I have an idea for one as well: Clash of Standard Formats.

The idea is that you can use any deck that at one point was standard legal and all the cards in your deck must also be Modern legal.
What this does is allow players who enjoyed their once expensive standard decks in a unique, but competitive tournament setting. It would be interesting to see if the meta of Theros can beat the meta from Kamigawa. The biggest problem is that it is hard to remember what all the Standard formats were in the past. So below I typed up a list: This is as of February 2016.
1. 8th Edition – Mirrodin Block – Kamigawa Block – 9th Edition
2. Kamigawa Block – 9th Eidition – Ravnica Block – Cold Snap
3. Ravnica Block – ColdSnap – Time Spiral Block – 10th Edition
4. Time Spiral Block – 10th Edition – Lorwyn-Shadowmoor block
5. Lorwyn-Shadowmoor Block – Shards of Alara – 2010 Core Set
6. Shards of Alara – 2010 Core Set – Zendikar Block – 2011 Core Set
7. Zendikar Block – 2011 Core Set – Scars of Mirrodin Block – 2012 Core Set
8. Scars of Mirrodin Block – 2012 Core Set – Innistrad Block – 2013 Core Set
9. Innistrad Block – 2013 Core Set – Return to Ravnica Bloc – 2014 Core Set
10. Return to Ravnica Block – 2014 Core Set – Theros Block – 2015 Core Set
11. Theros Block – 2015 Core Set – Khans of Tarkir Block – Magic Origins
12. Khans of Tarkir Block – Magic Origins – Battle For Zendikar Block

So there are 12 options, suddenly it doesn’t seem so complex. To explain it again, this means if you want to play with a card printed in Mirrodin Block, you cannot play any cards from Ravnica Block and forward.

 

Why Modern Only?

Three Reasons:

  1. There is something about 8th edition and up that Wizards of the Coast really started watching how they combined power levels inside their sets from one block to the next. It was no longer “How do we make this block work well?” it became, “How do we make this block and the one before it and the one after it work well?” In addition, when you look at the Onslaught block they have some extremely powerful stand-alone cards compared to the rest of the cards in modern. It wouldn’t be fun or fair to allow that block let alone Urza’s Saga in the mix!
  2. Not all Standard Formats are like the others. For example, Mirrodin Block is known to be the most powerful block out of all the Modern sets. Hence many popular cards from that time are on the ban list (see ban list below). If the card is too powerful for Modern then perhaps that block is abnormally too good even if we restrict it to its own corner of the world. This brings a fair balance to all the Standard Formats for more interesting comparisons. One idea I have been entertaining is allowing 1 copy of any 1 card that is on the ban list, but it still has to match the Standard Format you are playing in
  3. Simplicity. I could come up with my own ban list, but I might be bias and that gets complex (“Great, ANOTHER ban list to memorize”). And I could ban complete blocks (“Urza’s Saga: banned, Onlaught: Banned, Fallen Empires: Legal”) but again that gets complex, and I don’t know the sets back then that well. Knowing my pro-friends, they will do me an honor and remind me of how broken some old set is. That would ruin the fun for me and I’m sure many other newer players.

 

Some additional details:

The side board must still match the same format, play with 60 card decks, play by most recent Magic the Gathering rules.

Modern Ban List: Revised: January 18, 2016

This format lets you dive deeper into Magic‘s history, allowing cards from Eighth edition to today.

The following cards are banned:

Have fun!

Pixel Pop Success!!

Pixel Pop St. Louis was last weekend and I am still recovering from all the excitement. There are so many creative people in our area!  There were a lot of video games, but that only helped our booth stand out as we were one of the few non-video game companies there.

We demoed our flagship product World of Anastroc, and another brand new board game (which I cannot say what it is atm).

Needless to say World of Anastroc was well received by the public. I got to demo the game to someone who had never played a trading card game before and he understood all the rules within a few minutes and went on to beat me! That was exciting because it showed that my goal of making a simple yet challenge trading card game worked.

What really surprised me was our newest game. I wanted to demo it out and get feedback, this was the perfect place to do it. It attracted many people to play our games, while just making other people laugh that it exists (in a good way). Let me put it like this, I’m a numbers guy, and I kept track of how many played which game, this game got played more than DOUBLE of Anastroc!

We also gave away a bunch of stuff, we gave away food for beating the demoers (which I could have advertised better; live and learn). And a cool T-Shirt of Machine Emperor X! It made my day when several gamers came back to try to win the drawing; particularly one young gentleman who came back several times. Ironically he also won the shirt, which made his day.

I think my biggest success from the event was when I saw people laughing and enjoying the games I created. When I demoed about my umpteenth time, I was getting to the point of saying, “Look…I win…yay…can we be done now?” But then I realized that while the flavor of the game got stale with me, these people were tasting it for the first time, and they were loving it! That was motivational. It also helps when people say they would buy it in a heartbeat if possible.

While I love making profit through sales, it was really just seeing everyone having a good time that made the hard work and investment worth it. That is why I will continue to do what I can to make this company great.

Back Story – Back Story – Back Story

To quote a wise man:

“The Back Story is the why he does what he do.” –Dr. Doofenshmirtz (evil scientist from Phineas and Ferb)

Although a fictional character, the line is genuine. It is important in games to have back stories if you want your players to be drawn in for years to come. Many games base themselves on simple concepts such Clue (figure out who killed the host, where, and how), some games go into great detail such as Magic: The Gathering, where they actually produce novels to go with each set of cards they print. This gives the players a sense of what is happening, why they are doing what they are doing, and what to expect.

 

In my Summoners the Board Game, the story is very simple, you are a wizard, you don’t like competition, go eliminate that competition.  In my World of Anastroc TCG, it is founded on a story that feels like it is ages old now, with so many plot twists that even Alexander the Great would have issues. That what leads to this post today, the importance of back stories but also to smart on how to use them. For example, in World of Anastroc TCG, I need to be able to get across to the players what is happening in the world at that current moment, and be able to guide them gently through what is happening during the time of the set. So in the first set “Beginnings” I designed it to act like a prequel to what the real story is about to be about.

 

This means the Necromancer is introduced and the destruction of the Land of Chaos. Also that there is tension between Representative Malgear and the other 8 Representatives. It gives hints about an “Oskota Clan” but doesn’t go into detail because they really are not important at that time. Machine Emperor X is the boss of machines (and a self-obsessive jerk) which I think is made clear in his flavor texts. The Forest Council is having issues of losing a bunch of land, but it doesn’t say to whom. What we can be sure of though is that a young elf named Fysi is up to something (this is made bluntly when you see she is the only Minion that cost a star fragment).

Lucky for me, setting up the back story for the game was easy because I have thought about it so many dozens of times and began to write short stories about them. What is more challenging is the set “Fate Begins” which goes into:

Tthe Necromancer’s failure to invade the Republic because Archi warned the Representatives about him, and told them how to defeat the evil sorcerer. But the only reason why they took Archi’s advice is because Malgear betrayed the rules of the Republic which is, no action can be made by the Representatives without certain majority of approval; Malgear saw how long it would take for the other 8 to discuss the matter and knew the Necromancer would win if such time was wasted.

This lead the 8 to be angry at Malgear, not just for breaking the law but also for showing them up. So with the advice of their advisers and the Order of Agnatia, they arrested Malgear on accounts of treason. Archi and the gang busted Malgear out of jail, fled to the towns he saved where he would be safe by popularity. However, Herna and her son Tor were captured in the process then held for ransom ~ Malgear for the two of them. The 8 were hoping Archi would betray Malgear in order to save his friends. Instead, Archi went to the Necromancer, begged for help, in which the Necromancer agreed if afterwords, Archi would provide him with 10,000 corpses. Archi agreed.

The Necromancer invaded the capital so Archi could save his friends. Little did they know the Oskota Clan was in that same capital, so they fought against the Necromancer’s invasion. He killed 3 leaders one of which was Grimtasha. The Republic was about to fall until Cardinal Frederik cast one final spell and vanquished the undead army. Archi, Herna, and Tor were able to escape. As for Archi’s end of the deal, he provided the Necromancer with 10,000 corpses ~ all of which were dead rats. 

This doesn’t even touch what is going on in the Machine Empire or the Forest Council! Can you see the challenge? The way to work it out is by making the cards with the most flavor text commons, and have their effects reflex the comment. This way the player is more likely to get the key cards to your story line. If the player cares enough they will begin to piece the story puzzle together; if they don’t, well at least you made a funny card which they can enjoy.

More on this another time. Until then, keep on playing and stay productive!

Always have a Backup Plan – But Not Too Many!

You know the biggest mistake villains seem to always make? They never have a plan B in life.

The common bad-guy puts all of his eggs into one basket, then some goodie-to-shoe comes over and knocks over the whole thing! What does the villain do? Cry and cry until he dies or goes to jail. Although those are just fiction stories they do deliver a lesson: be smarter than the average villain, always have a plan B in life.

Throughout my life I have always had a big dream, an end goal for my legacy before I die, now how I get to that point is a mystery. That is why I always am coming up with ideas for how to achieve this dream. Along the way many of them failed, evolved, or (on the off chance) succeeded so then I could focus on the next step. But my point is that as the world reacts to your actions you must have a plan B (and if you can a C never hurts).

So for example, lets say you want to become a Digital Artist for a gaming company, then when you begin to look at how to achieve that goal, you should also be thinking, “What if this doesn’t end up being what I want? What if in 2 years I want to change my mind? Or what if the market chances and it becomes a struggle to get this job, what do I do then?” With this thinking process in the back of your mind, you should keep an open door for alternative paths, say that during college you meet someone who wants to give you an internship…as a secretary at his gaming company! Not exactly your dream job, but you say, “Thank you for the offer. I would be happy to. But just to be clear, when I am done with college I would like to try to start as a Digital Artist as that is what I am studying.” And he would probably say, “I completely understand! That is why I want to give you this job, so to get your foot in the door and meet our artist department.”

Now even if you don’t get to work for them as a digital artist in the future, you will at least be able to put down that company as someone you did work for, and it might evolve into working for a different company at a job more suited to what you are wanting. Or if the market is bad (like it is today), then it will mature into a really good full playing job. This makes it an excellent plan B.

A year ago I left my retail job of 8 or so years to work for a great paying job where the President of the company knew me very well. I could have dropped my retail job all together, but I really enjoyed it, respected the owner of the company, and wanted to keep doors open. So for the following year I worked for both companies, the retail job was a good Plan B should my new job not work out. After a year of trying to adjust and listening to many different advices from non-bias sources, I decided to leave that job and go back to my first job. My pay at the small business is 2/3rd of that great paying job (and soon to be 1/3rd after Christmas), but my job description was upgraded to Business Consultant; a dream position to me. I might be eating ramen noodles instead of steak every night, but at least I’m much happier. I was glad to have that Plan B.

And even now I have more plans in the works to keep my income up, but I cannot rest with just one, so I have several of them. Now the down side to having back-up plans is you end up with too many options! It is like trying to spin plates. The more plats you have, the more impressive you are to people but the harder it is to keep them all spinning. It makes for very little free time and everyday you end up exhausted even if you didn’t really do much. This is a tough lesson I’m learning right now myself.

Solution? Restrain yourself to only having so many projects, then zoom in and focus on those projects. When new opportunities come along, weigh it not based on itself but based on how it compares to your current projects. If you are like me you will see the potential in many many things which makes you want to pursue every idea out there. Do that and you will fail at all your projects (they will never get done).

Last thing I would say is stay realistic to what you can and cannot do, you are not superman, but you still have talents. Find them, focus on them, and stay organized.

Till next time!

-King Steven

Phone now with internet?!

Ever have those times where you come up with something really awesome to share, so awesome that you want to post it somewhere that will be remembered forever and seen by all? Well that is what the internet is for! The best part is that even if you want to take it back later on, you can’t! : D

The only down side is being where the internet is so you can post it before you forget about it; I’m the worst at that, so I did my homework, asked a few friends, did a little bit of soul searching and meditation, but finally decided to accept the internet on my phone. This means no matter where I am at, I can share those amazing, half-thought threw comments on facebook, twitter, google+, you tube, and of course my own site!

Lets just hope I don’t become one of those people that posts everything!

 

Twitter: This morning, I had bacon!…Why won’t people follow my tweets?! #BaconLover #Ranting