Paul Saxberg, you are the community manager of Roxley games. Tell us a bit about yourself, Roxley Games and your latest game called Brass.
Roxley is run by game designer, graphic designer, branding expert and entrepreneur Gavan Brown. We’re based in Calgary, which is rich in game designers, and Gavan pulled me from this pool to be Community Manager. Brass is our third and most successful Kickstarter, with over $1.7M in funding. It reimagines Martin Wallace’s legendary economic game with brand new art, graphics, and rules improvements, and then pairs it with a new game, Brass: Birmingham. This is a codesign by Martin Wallace, Gavan Brown and Matt Tolman, and has been developed by Roxley to be a dynamic, rich new experience for those that love the original.
What did you do to build up a following before you launched the Brass campaign?
The most important thing is to produce good games in the first place. We’re fortunate that Super Motherload, Steampunk Rally, and Santorini have been received well by the community. We strengthen this good will with customer service and community engagement. Arranging key reviewers was also crucial – Man Vs. Meeple and Heavy Cardboard were instrumental in getting the word out.
Did you do anything different when you were building an audience for your campaign for Santorini?
Both Brass and Santorini already had fans, but while Santorini’s existing fanbase was much smaller, they were very eager to be engaged with; they helped with the rulebook, new god development, details of Greek mythology, and more. Richard Ham and Undead Viking were our reviewers for Santorini and they were both wonderful.
Brass is a really different game than Santorini. Where you worried about doing a new game in another genre?
I wasn’t worried about it. Santorini is already very different from Super Motherload and Steampunk Rally so we’d already proven we’d had some versatility… I think it would be a trap for Roxley to become known for only one kind of game, so if there was a risk, it was a necessary one.
What is your best marketing tip during the campaign?
I think the most important thing is to try to produce something people will want in the first place. If you can achieve that, the rest is easy – reviewers will be impressed, you have something concrete you can show and say in your advertising. It doesn’t matter how well you market the game if nobody enjoys playing it.
If there was one thing you wish you knew before you launched Brass, what would it be?
The technical troubles we were going to have! We had power outages, poorly-timed forced Windows updates, lost data, a reviewer prototype lost by the shippers, and a host of annoying issues. Apparently you can never be too prepared for the worst!
Did you expect so many backers?
We hoped! It’s hard to know what to expect. With all of our campaigns, there have been reasons to expect them to explode, and reasons why they might not. In the end, all you can do is do all your homework and roll the dice.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
Brass launched in April of 2017. The previous year’s spring launch of Santorini had gone well, and we adjusted it to take into account a couple of conventions.
How do you structure your days during the campaign?
My goal was to be there for the afternoons and evenings, so we could have a presence most of the time for email, social media, and Kickstarter comments. Gavan was there in the mornings, so this freed him up in the rest of the day to attend to business.
What’s the best Kickstarter advice you ever received?
Listen to everyone, and make it clear that you are listening. However, there’s going to be someone, somewhere, you just cannot make happy. Do your best for the rest.
All the art and graphics on the Brass site looks amazing. How long did you work on that before launch?
While I know Gavan and Mr. Cuddington are capable of working *very* fast if the situation demands it, I also know Gavan is a perfectionist, and this is his art form. I’m certain he could have done the page in hours… and equally certain that he took days, perhaps even weeks to get it exactly right.
You use a lot of Gifs in your campaigns. What is important to think about when you use gifs?
I think animation is good if it is the right vehicle for the image you are trying to express. For example, the spinning .gif we used in Santorini seemed a good way to convey the 3D nature of the game on a 2D screen. I think if they are used for random purposes they are a potential distraction from your message.
What´s your main tactic to handle the mid-campaign drop in new backers?
I think this time allows you to respond to things that come up through community engagement. This is when we added in the community 2P rules variant to Brass: Lancashire, and when we tweaked the worker colors in Santorini. There will still be traffic, and it will still need attention, but this is your chance to regear anything that needs to be regeared.
What´s your tactic regarding stretch goals?
They’re expected, and they can let you do things with a game that you couldn’t otherwise. My preference is definitely for them to be component upgrades, especially if it is a goal you are in doubt about whether or not you will achieve.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
There are so many… the visual presentation, and clarity are definitely primary. What shocks me is the number I see that don’t actually describe how to play the game.
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
Santorini. I am an abstract fan, and its replayability is unparalleled. If you want a non-Roxley preference, Onitama is great and scratches the same itch. If you want a non-abstract, I love Rogues To Riches by Sam Fraser, as it appeals to the creative performer in me.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Richard Garfield. Vlaada Chvatil. Gavan Brown.
Anything else you want to add?
I need some more good Santorini opponents. If you think you can take me down, give me a shout.