We initially had some resistance to the idea (and the title!) from friends and advisers who said it would not fund because it’s an obscure bit of British history and 2 player card games don’t typically do well. But we forged ahead anyway and successfully funded, managing to rack up 1,906 backers, and it made more money (just!) than our original Kickstarter campaign for our first game Gloom of Kilforth. So to be honest I was delighted with the result, as it felt like a vote of confidence in my being able to design a completely different game from Gloom of Kilforth. We’re still taking lots of late pledge orders for 1066, Tears to Many Mothers even now, and it’s just gone to the printers finally, so the game will be landing in a few months’ time. It’s terribly exciting for me.
Then you launched a reprint and an expansion for Gloom of Kilforth. How did that go?
The reprint for Gloom of Kilforth and its expansions exceeded all of our expectations. When the first print landed Tabletop Gaming Magazine voted it as one of the Top Ten Games of 2017, the reviews and reception of the game were excellent, and we averaged an 8/10 rating on boardgamegeek. All this meant that the campaign caused quite a stir. With late pledges factored in we’ve since more than quadrupled the funding of the original campaign for Gloom of Kilforth, which I find staggering and for which I am incredibly grateful to our supporters. Off the back of the campaign we’ve also pre-funded the sequel to Gloom of Kilforth “Touch of Death”, which we’re already building behind the scenes and will be Kickstarting at the end of 2018.
Now you are live with your 4th campaign, Lifeform. Tell us about the game.
Lifeform is a game of survival horror for up to 4 players. One player is an unstoppable, utterly hostile alien. All other players are the crew of the doomed mining starship Valley Forge. Lifeform can also be played alone with the solo expansion Dragon’s Domain where the player fights to survive against the game itself. Racing against the self-destruct timer, the crew must search their labyrinthine ship for weapons and supplies to load onboard the escape shuttle, whilst the alien lifeform ruthlessly tears the crew apart one by one. It features so many cool new and unique mechanics – the designer Mark Chaplin has really thrown in the kitchen sink in terms of game design – after watching play-testers go nuts for it I really can’t wait to see how people respond to Lifeform once the game is in their hands. Basically:
No marines. No power armour. Just terror. Lifeform is the ultimate experience of gruelling terror in the darkest, most forbidden reaches of deep space!
This is not a game designed by you. How is it to kickstart and publish someone else’s game?
On a certain level it’s actually a little easier – because I’m a huge fan of Mark Chaplin’s existing games as well (as his work on Lifeform of course) I can shout about how awesome it is and cheerlead the game in a way that would seem strange or arrogant if I was talking about one of my own designs. Being English makes it difficult to be too self-promoting because all of our humour lies in self-deprecation, but now that I’m a fanboy/publisher of Mark’s game I can go on about how amazing Lifeform is all the livelong day!
What did you do to build up a following before you launched Lifeform?
Mark has a fervent and loyal fanbase from his existing games Revolver, Invaders, Aliens: This Time It’s War, and The Thing, and I made sure to circulate the launch of Lifeform to our existing backers for Gloom of Kilforth and 1066, Tears to Many Mothers.
When did you launch and why did you choose that exact moment?
I had to be sure on a personal level that all of the final files for 1066, Tears to Many Mothers had already successfully gone off to the printers. On a public level I also want all of our backers to know that every single game we produce has 100% of our attention at all the necessary stages of development and that we’re only spinning as many plates as we can manage.
Lifeform is quite different from your previous card games. Were you worried that would affect this campaign´s success in any way?
1066, Tears to Many Mothers is hugely different from Gloom of Kilforth too, and its success (as well as Lifeform’s) has given me the confidence that as long as we keep producing cool games with great themes we will almost certainly find an audience of like-minded gamers. With an epic ship layout like the Valley Forge too I can finally officially say that I’ve made a ‘board game’!
As far as I can see you don’t have any third party reviews or previews of the game?
There are a couple of reviews out there and/or on their way. But I think the fact that we’re already over 200% funded speaks to the confidence people have in the talents of Mark Chaplin as designer, and those who have copies of Gloom of Kilforth also know that our production values are world-class too.
If you could change one thing with Kickstarter. What would it be?
Kickstarter is the reason I have a game publishing business so I have a lot to be thankful to the platform for. That said, the interface leaves a lot to be desired and formatting the updates is a bloody nightmare. It also vexes me that they could cut their competition off at the pass by providing a post-campaign pledge manager.
What do you think is the most important element of a Kickstarter page?
The game has to look great, it appears that you can’t have too much information, and you really need fantastic art. It’s an unfortunate truth: people will click off Kickstarter pages immediately if the art sucks.
What is your favourite board game at the moment and why?
The 7th Continent – I’m finally getting back into it after a bit of a hiatus and being reminded of what an incredible and enjoyable achievement it is.
Do you have any role models in the board gaming industry?
Vlaada Chvatil is my number one designer with Through The Ages and Mage Knight currently occupying my two top spots for favourite games. I also am blown away by what Adam Poots has managed to deliver with Kingdom Death: Monster which is another amazing game experience.
Anything else you want to add?
Please feel free to come and check out the Kickstarter for Lifeform, you can throw in a pound and follow the updates and decide if it’s something you might like, but since it’s one of the most original and innovative games out there it would be a shame for you to miss out!
Where can people reach you?
www.hallornothingproductions.co.uk; @ninjadorg or @quahogmire on Twitter; or via any of the official Facebook groups for Gloom of Kilforth, 1066, Tears to Many Mothers or Lifeform.