Monday, April 19, 2021

Rolling Seas - Design Diary - Part 6

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I see a lot of other designers write up design diaries for their games and I've always found it interesting to learn about the process that a game went through from initial concept to publication.  So I decided to share the history of Rolling Seas so you can learn more about the game, how I made some of the design choices I made, and what my plans for the game in the future are.  It's a bit long, so I've broken it down into a few posts that I'll share over the course of a few days.

Rolling Seas Design Diary
  • Intro & Part 1
    • Coming Up With the Idea - Early November 2019
    • The Sailing Tests - November 12-14, 2019
  • Part 2
    • Finding a Sailing Solution - November 14, 2019
    • Bonuses - November 15-22, 2019
  • Part 3
    • A Prettier Game - November 23-29, 2019
    • The First Public Playtesting - December 3, 2019
  • Part 4
    • Maps & Crew - January-February 2020
    • The End of Playtesting, Sort Of... - March-May, 2020
  • Part 5
    • Nuts! Publishing & Rolling Seas Updates - April-July 2020
    • New Ideas - July-December 2020
  • Part 6 - YOU ARE HERE
    • Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021
    • Crowd Sale - April 2021
Second Edition & Getting Signed - January-April 2021

At the end of 2020 it had been a few months since I had heard back from Nuts! Publishing.  I knew they were busy with finishing up a game they had successfully funded on Kickstarter earlier in the year and the pandemic had slowed everything down to a crawl everywhere, but I was getting a little anxious to keep things with Rolling Seas moving forward again.  

Rolling Seas
 had made it to the Semi-Finalist round of The Game Crafter's Staff Roll & Write Challenge, but didn't make it into the finals (feedback pretty much highlighted the issues I had already been fixing).  I had passed on a few online pitching events because I had been working with Nuts! Publishing, but I knew plans change and I didn't want to sit around waiting.  

So I started working on a sell-sheet and updating the edition I had on The Game Crafter with the latest updates.  I also decided to add Crew Members, Islands, and some of the maps I had created as expansions.  By mid-January, I had updated the base game (including two new, basic maps), created all new artwork for the Crew Members cards, and created a bunch of map files.  I had been playing around with the idea of making some of the maps work a little differently, so I added special spaces to the land that gave small bonuses when exploring there (an extra Provision, Gold, or Story).  Five of the maps I had got combined with the Islands cards (and a blank map) and became Islands & Map Pack 1 and the other six maps got the special exploration spaces and became Map Pack 2.  Crew Members got a special tuck box and became their own expansion.

But, the three expansions all seemed a little sparse.  So I decided to add two more maps to the Crew Members expansion and add some new adventures to the map pack expansions.  I created an additional 26 adventures (6 each of Rocks, Currents, Sea Monsters, and Storms and 2 new Pirates), then split them between Map Pack 1 and Map Pack 2.  Since Map Pack 1 also came with 9 cards for the Islands it got 8 new adventures while Map Pack 2 got 18 new adventures.  Each adventure has a completely new arrangement of spaces (except for the Currents and some Rocks - with only two spaces per card the permutations aren't that great) and new locations they'll appear.  Once again I had to work out on a blank map where everything would come out to make sure that there was no overlap and distributions were even.  I also came up with all new names, so now you can experience a Bioluminescent Sea, encounter a Ghost Ship, run the Crimson Cascade, or maneuver through the Alkundic Gap.

Once all of these were complete I added them for sale on The Game Crafter and ordered my own printed copies.  I also decided to schedule a Crowd Sale.  I knew I'd probably be making small tweaks and I wanted to make sure I had some time to promote it (on my $0 budget), so I figured why not launch it in April, my birthday month, as a way to kind of celebrate!  So I got everything in order and scheduled the Crowd Sale!

I never even got a chance to print it out!
In early February I shared out the sell-sheet and made a few updates based on some feedback, and was pretty happy with it.  Then I had a few other publishers reach out asking for pnp files so they could evaluate the game.  That was pretty exciting, but then on Valentine's Day I woke up to a message from Nuts! Publishing asking if I was interested in continuing to work with them.  I was thrilled, and by March 2nd we had a signed contract we both agreed to!  Rolling Seas is going to be my first published game!  Unless someone signs another one and gets it to market first ;-)  

At this point, I was excited but concerned about the Crowd Sale I had just been beginning to announce.  Fortunately Nuts! Publishing felt keeping the game for sale on The Game Crafter (and for free on PnP Arcade) would be good to help promote the game and gave their OK to keep it available and run the Crowd Sale.  The only restriction was that I couldn't make any more updates to the game.  Unfortunately, that means unless you're local and available for playtesting, you won't get a chance to play the Current EventsSavvy Ships, or Pirate Captain expansions I'm working on.  But hopefully, those will see life in the retail edition coming from Nuts! Publishing sometime soon (soon being a relative term in the publishing world).

The Crowd Sale - April 2021

And that brings us to today!  The Crowd Sale for Rolling Seas is live and reaching discount tiers.  I spent a long time building out the page, adding all sorts of information, and scouring the internet for mentions of the game.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that someone had created a BGG page for the game and more people were playing and talking about Rolling Seas on Reddit, YouTube, and BGG.  

While I was building out the Crowd Sale page for Rolling Seas another designer, Chris Willimas, was running his Crowd Sale for his game 1-2 Punch.  One thing I noticed that he did was to have a "crowd Sale Exclusive" card for the game.  So I started thinking about what I could do to reward my Crowd Sale supporters.  I decided on two new adventures, but unique adventures that had a combination of adventure types on them.  First I played around with patterns that had all four main adventure types, but to make an interesting pattern I needed a 5x5 area and many of the maps don't have an area large enough, especially after a few turns have passed.  So I decided to make a smaller 3x3 area and only use two adventures on each card.  I also decided to throw in an extra bonus to reward adventurous sailors.  So The Gryphon's Cave has 5 Gold in the center space and Eye of the Storm has a free Resupply.

Now the Crowd Sale is live, people from all over the country are finding out about it, and it's exciting to see sales happening.  I know I'm not going to break any sales records.  I don't have the following that someone like Jason Glover from Grey Gnome Games has, but every sale I make is one I'm thrilled to have.  Rolling Seas is my most successful game to date, selling more copies so far than all my other titles combined.  That's gotten me excited though, so you may see me running more Crowd Sales in the future for some of my other titles.

As for the future of Rolling Seas?  I've only just begun working with Nuts! Publishing on the game.  I do my best with the artwork, but I'm not a professional artist (just really good at finding free images to use or modify), so I can't wait to see how a professional can elevate the game even more.  I think the base game and the expansions I have now are very solid and I don't expect much to change with them (but you never know what a publisher or developer may decide needs tweaking), but the expansions I'm working on that are in their early stages are going to be really exciting.  I have a few other small ideas for the game, too, and even a few sparks of other games that I might be able to create in the same world as the Alkundic Archipelago.   Keep following me on GJJ Games to learn more!

Thanks for joining me on this look back at the design process for Rolling Seas!  It has been a fantastic journey and I'm glad I could share it with you!  And be sure to check out the Crowd Sale before it ends!
Everything you get in the base game.

This is the Crew Members expansion.

Islands & Map Pack 1 includes 8 new adventures.
Map Pack 2 includes special exploration bonuses
and 18 new adventures!

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