Friday, May 31, 2013

Interview with George Call (musician/singer)

by the guys at AccordingToWhim.com

Today we are going to switch gears and move from our game designers/publishers to the other aspect of our Kickstarter: Rise of the Rock Star board game (please show us some support!). Yep, we are interviewing a real Rock and Roll star! Without further adieu we give you George Call,

George Call is the lead vocalist & guitarist in the band ASKA as well as for Banshee, and Violent storm.

Were you a founding member of ASKA?
I was one half of the founding members of ASKA. Darren Knapp, who appeared on the first four albums was the other. Darren and I had actually played together in pretty much everyone of our high school bands, so ASKA was almost the inevitable conclusion. We released our first album in 1991.

What can you tell us about the band?
We rock! (haha!) Actually, we're a four piece traditional or power metal band. We started the band as guys transplanted from the former U.S. Canal Zone to the mainland and, though that membership is long gone, the band continues rolling on with 38 countries toured and a 6th album, FIRE EATER, due this September 2013.

What can you tell us about the music?
Well, we take all that is cool about Judas Priest and all that is cool about Iron Maiden and all that is cool in metal music with melodic singing period and we mix it all up, give it our voice and soul and boom - you've got ASKA.

Can you talk to us about the overall themes of the lyrics?
The lyrics range the gamut. We have songs about broken relationships, insanity, war, infidelity, religion, murder, betrayal. I like to think that lyrically, we're a little deeper than the "We rule cuz we are metal, party, party, party, let's have sex!" type lyrics. Nothing wrong with that but I write for the adult, more complex listener. We've all grown up with this music. Many of us have married, divorced, taken on mortgages, have lost people close to us.... you know - we've grown up. So I want to interact with my audience as contemporaries. Know what I mean?

Wikipedia says that ASKA toured for the United States Department of Defense. Can you tell us about that?
We toured for the Dept. of Defense for about 8 years. We played all over the world for troops stationed abroad just about anywhere you can think of and places you can't. Had a blast doing it and the band played out live so much that we were lethal onstage! One of the greatest experiences of this band's career was touring for the troops. Ask any guy that was in the band, past or present, during that period and they will tell you it was one of the greatest times of their life.

What are the band's future plans?
Like Raven once sang: Rock until you drop! Immediately, and as said earlier, there is album number 6 due in September. On May 3rd our third album, "Nine Tongues" was rereleased by Pure Steel Records on CD and on vinyl for the first time. And we've been busy doing shows here and there throughout the US. We'll get back to Europe once the new record is released.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Yes. Thanks for your time, thank you ASKA and George Call fans and you can find and buy our music online or by contacting me directly at georgeaska@aol.com. Our facebook is www.facebook.com/askadfw and our regular website is www.askaband.net. Stop in and visit! Take care and see you at the shows!

Thanks so much to George for doing this interview and his expansive responses! We really appreciate it. While you are here, check out all our crazy blogs (740+). You can also check out our website and finally back our Kickstarter (or let someone who might be interested in it, know about it)!

Nathan and Chris

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Review: Army Men (Post 1 of 6)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

We are going to step back from our promotion of our Kickstarter: Rise of the Rock Star to take a look at something different.

Today's (first of a few that will run one-a-week) post is all about our favorite childhood toy: Army Men! I got stuck on this Army Men kick lately and it drove me to these mad lengths!

In these posts I will cover all the different Army Men I could find at retail. There have been tons of different molds used throughout the years and at this point I decided it would be too crazy to try to find them all so I decided to focus on what's available right at the moment at retail.

Today's: Army Men are those green and tan mutants from Ja-Ru brought to you Walmart. You know Walmart means SUPER QUALITY... I kid, I kid. What do you expect for a buck? For that hard-earned dollar you get a bag of tan or green (your choice) time-traveling freaks.



You get 48 (we got 49! OMG). That comes out to about 2 cents each.


There appears to be soldiers from WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and Korea, it's hard to tell. There is such a freak show going on here.


Coming from the world of CCGs I am always on the look out for rares, uncommons, and commons and in this batch I got 2 rares! This running goof and his grenade hurling guy. Wow, they must be worth... .0248755 cents each!


Here are our poor mangled troops... such a travesty. Hey, wait that guy on the right looks like a limbo trooper (either that or he has a really bad curvature of the spine).

This guy is some sort of alien! He is so thin and tall, possibly the poorest sculpt I have ever seen (so far). He is so thin you will think this photo is squished... but it's not!

Ok, there was the first batch. I will give Ja-Ru props for making the guys out of a harder material than the floppy goo most Army Men are made of.

My rating system will be 1 out of 5 (with 1 being worst).

Price: 3
Quality of Sculpt: 2
Material Quality: 3

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Unsigned Bands – Odd Socks / Solice

By Chris McGinty (According To Whim.com)

I’d like to step away from the mainstream for a bit today. When I decided to start devoting Tuesday on the blog to music, my intention was to make the content as unique as possible. There are plenty of people out there with plenty of opinions about music. The best way I could figure to have unique content was to seek out mostly unheard music and discuss it. I will soon start contacting my friends who local bands, but I have started by looking around on the internet.

I wish I had some information about Odd Socks. I’ll have to try to get an interview. What I know is that I found him on Sound Cloud, and really enjoy his work. At the time of this writing, there are eight tracks available for download. Also note that there seem to be other bands out there with the same name. This seems to happen a lot in an era where everyone has home recording capability.

Odd Socks Sound Cloud Page

You can also listen to his music on You Tube

Odd Socks – Fights

Odd Socks – The Opposites

Odd Socks – State of Mind

Odd Socks – Holce Street

This next group, Solice, I just found today while looking through the Kickstarter website. They’re running a project to get their album recorded. They’re only 19% funded with 11 days to go, but here’s a little secret if you promise not to tell anyone. Most Kickstarter projects are doing worse than that. You only hear about the lottery winners.

Anyway, I was interested to see if they were any good. I liked what I heard, so I decided to write about them. They are from Arlington, Texas, so it counts as me supporting the local scene too.


Solice Kickstarter Page

The only music I could find of theirs is live videos, so the sound isn’t the greatest. It’ll give you an idea of what they sound like though. What I’ll say is that I wish I had the money to pledge, because I think their music will sound great when recorded in studio.

Solice – Do You See It Now?

Solice – Sweet Escape

Solice – Break Free

Solice - Paralyzed

Solice – The Mask

That’s it for today. I’ll keep looking around for more good bands that are in the unsigned phase of their journey. Meanwhile, Nathan and I are still running our board game project on Kickstarter (funny how that didn’t change since yesterday), so if you haven’t looked at it yet, take a look at it. Rise of the Rockstar.

Monday, May 27, 2013

3 Player Game Testing

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)
Part of our Rise of the Rock Star Kickstarter Blog series

Several months ago, Chris and I finally got around to our second 3-player game. The first one months eariler with a co-worker of mine didn't fare too well. The main complaint was the cards. Not that the cards didn't work but that it seemed to overwhelm our third player. He would draw cards and read... and read... and read.

That game test brought about Chris' Tutorial Version of the game. A 3 'mini-game' version where you started with the smaller levels (using no cards, then just some cards) to get player familiar with the game, then moving on to more complex rules/cards. I'll leave Chris to tell you about his Tutorial Version.

My friend James came over for a game day. Before playing any other games we ran through Chris' Tutorial Version then we got on to a full game of Rise of the Rock Star. The game went well since James is a board gamer so more complex rules and game play are nothing new to him. He picked it up fairly quickly only having issues with a couple of the rules.

When we were done with a complete game we asked him his opinion of spaces, cards, rules, etc. We asked him to hold nothing back and boy how he DIDN'T. He tore us a new one on a few different aspects of the game (in a nice way, of course). The cards you place down in front of you (called Planning Board Cards) confused him and he told us we should just get rid of them all together. This aspect of the game is a rather a large one so it was a bit of a shock. He also had issue with the extra space movement ability we worked in to help you get certain spaces on the board. We did do a little explaining on why we had these aspects and felt they were necessary but we took his opinions into consideration all the same.

He also felt the cards were too complex. This is an issue I had from the very beginning of the design of the game. I wanted a more straight forward Monopoly type of game and Chris wanted something with much more strategy. We kept Chris' idea since the more complex cards make for a much more interesting game. Rise of the Rock Star is a board game with elements of a collectible card game (with out having to learn massive amounts of extra rules). Our new goal (after James' game) was to look back and see what could be done to make the overall experience less confusing.

The other interesting point we gleaned from this play test session is that the resources the players collect run out a lot faster in a 3 player game. We set the amount of resources (called Progress Tokens) to a finite amount so once the pool was out... it was out. In a 2-player game this hardly ever presented issues but not so in any game with more than 2 players! Once those run out you have to wait until someone spends them (at which time they go back in to the pool). This aspect of the game can be frustrating but VERY interesting. You can only imagine what happens with 4 players!

To anyone out there wanting to produce a game of your own, I have this piece of advice (which you have probably heard a million times) play test, play test, play test. Play test with other people who have never clapped eyes on your game too. You will quickly see issues you never even considered when you played the game before.

As a side note we also played Ticket to Ride: Europe. A great game! We also played a Kickstarter game called Ace of Spies. You could tell it was a more amateur effort since there were a few misspellings and some much needed rules missing. However it was a neat concept.

As a final note to all this I tend to inspect board games (physical components) ever since I started looking into getting our game made. I noticed that the Ace of Spies was made by PandaGM (one of the companies we have quoted). It gave me a good idea of what they can do (and it is good work).

Please back our Kickstarter for our board game: Rise of the Rock Star! You can back at even a $1!!!

Also, keep watching this blog we have many more post coming (daily).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Interview with Joe Pilkus (game designer)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

As apart of our 60 day board game Kickstarter Project: Rise of the Rock Star we have lined up a few interviews with some people who are near and dear to our hearts... those from the gaming community.

Today I am 'sitting down' with Joe Pilkus (aka The Professor), a game component designer who was kind enough to answer some questions for us. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few.

What got you into game design?
Having played Arkham Horror for several years and with all of the expansions, I found that my OCD was kicking-in and I needed to organize all of the cards (nearly 2,000!) and fiddly-bits. I asked a friend of 30 years to assist me in creating these things for my game table, and discovered by talking to other gamers that there may be a market, albeit limited, for these items.

What got you into Kickstarter?
When we started to get the "buzz" from other gamers, I first thought about a website and creating the pieces for an on-line store. But, as I started running the numbers, it became overwhelming from the start-up costs to the production to managing an inventory. Two different friends both brought to my attention this site called Kickstarter. Over the weekend, I developed the skeleton for our project and within a few months, we were ready to launch our first campaign. Kickstarter made it easy and it dramatically reduced my concerns regarding costs and inventory. Kickstarter allows creators to focus on their creation. It serves as a generator for funds and a place for pre-ordering your product.

Can you tell us about your projects/products?
We design thematic card holders and component trays for horror-themed games already on the market using standard-sized cards. Even Magic: The Gathering players eyed our products at a convention last year. For those who want to see our products, please check-out our Kickstarter site, titled Crafthulhu.

Did you experience any failed Kickstarters, if so how many?
Yes, our first Kickstarter Project started-off really well and consistent with the information I had read on-line, it performed beautifully. We had well over 30% of our goal within the first two weeks, but then we never had the big surge to carry us to the end. We reached slightly less than 50% of our Goal, which forced me, as the Marketing individual, to take a step back, see what worked, what didn't, poll the Backers and those who showed interest but didn't back the project and try again. We launched exactly one month after the first one ended and 45 days later, with a more realistic focus, we surged to nearly 300% of our Goal!

What do feel worked the best for your Kickstarter?
The single biggest thing is "preparing the battlefield" as we say in the military. Before you launch, make sure people out on BGG know about it, get the 'buzz' going, and respond to all inquiries in a positive manner. Unlike a faceless company, you are the individual handling the administrative, financial, creative, and marketing issues. Above all, remain passionate about your project even in the face of failure.

What do you feel didn't work at all?
Unlike other industries, Kickstarter projects need to be seen before people commit funding, and no amount of direct communication will necessarily bring them to the table. Before we launched, I sent over 100 discreet Geek-Mails to members of the BGG community, based on their interest and "thumbs-up" provided on myriad posts over a multi-month period. Less than 5% became Backers. It's not that they didn't find the idea "great" or "cool" it's just that I had confused their positive acknowledgment of the project as interest in or endorsement for the project. Never confuse the two ideas.

What are your favourite games?
I'm a Role-playing game fan for over 35 years and regularly have played Traveller, D&D (almost all editions, up through 3.5), and most recently have been running a Serenity campaign via ooVoo with a friend in Pennsylvania and one in Florida. Additionally, I love Chess, one of the few truly strategic games. Finally, for the past four years, I've played Arkham Horror, a truly unique game and one of the most fascinating things about it ~ it can be played as a solo-player co-op...brilliant.

Anything else you'd like to add?
For those that missed our first campaign, we're re-launching it via Indiegogo next month for a 45 day period. I know there are other gamers out there that want to get our pieces, and we're happy to oblige. Thanks for the opportnity to share our Kickstarter experience with you and your followers.

Thanks so much for your time and good luck with all your crowd funding endeavors!

Thank you for reading our blog interview. If you would like to be interviewed for this blog just drop me a note and I will be glad to give you some publicity!  Please back our Kickstarter too at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com

Thank you!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

ATW Update: May 23th, 2013

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Its been a busy week! As apart of our 60 day Kickstarter project: Rise of the Rock Star we have been getting the KS going and promoting it at Dallas Comicon.

As a quick wrap up of the comicon; some of you may or may not know that I run a buiness called RenegadeAnime.com where I sell Anime model kits (among various other things). We have a booth at each Comicon and we decided to launch our the Kickstarter for our boardgame on the same weekend for promotional reasons.

This was the biggest Comicon they have yet had. William Shatner was there so the draw was huge. We (as Anime kit sellers) did 1/3 better than in any previous year at the convention (sales wise).

We also had a section of the 2 booths we had set aside for the promotion of the Kickstarter.
Here is a lovely picture of me and Chris.
 
Here is Chris after a night of not sleeping (what's new)? I kid, I kid!

We also got to talk with our artist Jason Chalker. This was the first time I got to talk to him face to face and we had a nice talk about the project.

Other than that Chris has been coming over to my place for some game playing, audio shows, and filming of another KS video.

Stay tuned cause we have the rest of the 60 days coming up and plenty to talk about so keep checking back each day!

All in all we had a great weekend and hope we got a lot of people interested in the game. We ask that you help us out and let people know who might be interested in this game to back us! You can back us with as little as $1!

Thanks!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

What I hope to achieve with this Kickstarter

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Hey ho everyone! Nathan here. Today I'd like to talk a little about what I (personally) hope to achieve with our Kickstarter project: Rise Of The RockStar. Honesty is the best policy so I will tell you want I want out of this...

When we first started talking about making a game many moons ago my first thought was cool, another game for the According To Whim brand. We already had a game we homebrewed called Whim Wars. It was a fun project and simple (the game itself is pretty simple). I used a printer, a paper cutter, some drawings I made, Microsoft word, some dice, a golf pencil, and finally a 65 count CCG card box (oh, and don't forget the glue stick) and viola!

We quickly found out (and pretty much knew) Rise of the Rock Star (then called 'the fame game' or 'rise to fame: rock star') was going to be more complex. I knew it was going to take much more time, effort and most of all... money to get it made. I thought about kit bashing it like I did with Whim Wars but after a little research figured it would be way too expensive. If we were going to do it... might as well do it right.

After a month we decided to raise the money on Kickstarter. It seemed like the place to go to get great ideas made into reality. At this point my hope was to get the game paid for. The basic game, nothing else. In the back of my mind I always suspected that somehow we would get funded but in the end I would be paying money out of my pocket to cover unexpected expenses.

As the development of the game progressed Rise of the Rock Star grew. It went from a core game to a core game with 4 expansions. There were so many avenues of customizability in the game that I (and mainly Chris) knew we would need more 'game' to maximize the playability and fun. At this point (which had been a few weeks down the road with some KS research done) I was feeling a little better since we could push the expansions as stretch goals. If we can get the funding... great, we could get the expansions made.

In the back of my mind I fancied daydreams of making it really big and having more than enough to produce the game, pay all expenses in making it, and even having some left over. What to do with that money? Chris and I would have to agree what to do with it. I am pretty sure we would decided to dump it into the development of our next KS game.

My ultimate dream (what I'd like to achieve) would be to have enough money left over after getting all of Rise of the Rock Star produced and getting a real demo made of our next game. I'd love to have a few copies of it ready to roll out to game reviewers way before we started the KS project. It would also be nice to have a pool of money to draw on to pay for all the miscellaneous KS related expenses that happen before funding (paying for the ads, fliers, business cards, banners, demos, etc...)

End the end what I hope we achieve is to be able to get the core game produced. If we can just achieve that, then I will feel accomplished in my task. All the rest would be icing on the cake!

We ask that you help us make Rise of the Rock Star a reality and back us on Kickstarter. You can back us with as little as $1 (but it would help so much more if you backed us with alot!).
 
Thanks so much and keep and eye out for the rest of the Kickstarter's 60 day project because we will be posting many more blogs. Enjoy!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Game Board Design

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today I'd like to talk about the design for the Rise of the Rock Star board. As you may or may not know we are now running our Kickstarter project to fund the game and I have several blogs devoted to the design and production of the game coming over the next several weeks. If you are interested in this sort of thing (planning to put on your own Kickstarter project or just curious) I hope these articles will help you out.

When we first discussed different games to make we all (Chris, Loren, and myself) had notebooks and sketched out ideas. We would set a timer and do a 5 minute brainstorming sessions to see how many ideas we could come up with. One of the ideas I came up with was a circular board with different levels you traveled. I related it to our search for fame through all the things we were doing at the time. We had a public access TV show going, a blog, some scripts, etc... The ideas we came up with that day never took off (then).

Fast forward years later and Loren came up with the idea to make some games. In the time since we did our brain storming session (3+ years previously) we had been working on custom expansions for the CCG NetRunner. This kinda petered out since NetRunner was getting re-released so at the time we had nothing going on so Loren's idea sounded good.

We all came up with lists again and the fame idea came up again. Chris liked the idea and I agreed that it might be fun so we picked it began all new and exciting brainstorming sessions (where we sit in a quiet house, scribbling down ideas). We began with the base rules (cards and spaces) and I soon knocked out a nice prototype board.


I bought a poster board and took some 9 pocket trading card pages and cut them up. I taped the cut up card pockets in a circular-type shape onto the poster board. The made the card pockets shallow so we cold slide little pieces of paper with the board space text on them in and out. I knew we would be changing the spaces around a lot so this method allowed that with ease. We used that prototype board for several months. It worked well and we did have many changes to most of the spaces on the board.

In the meantime I had been working in Photoshop on an actual board design. We settled on the dimensions for a good sized board (based on the game Sword and Skull... 20x20 quad fold). I knocked up a 20x20 black and white demo board and went to a local print and copy place (that could do large printouts) and got our demo board printed up. Since it was black and white and on regular paper it was really cheap (I think it was about $2). It looked decent enough and we started using it. I
had made some errors on it (like making the game play direction wrong and some misspellings) but it worked well enough and gave me a good idea of what to expect and the direction I needed to go next.

I started with a  totally new board in Photoshop. My thought was to start on the actual board I wanted to use in the final product. I began learning quite a lot about Photoshop (layers and such) and quickly had 100+ layers. The PSD file had ballooned to 500 megabytes.

I had different layers so I could test the board colors, space colors, boarders, words, and graphics. I would print out the corner of the board on colored paper to show Chris and to get his opinion. I went to Google and downloaded some clip art to use in place of real art (to come much later) just so we could get an idea of how things would look. I kinda liked with I had come up with but I REALLY needed to see what it would look like printed up and on a real board.


I got online and ordered a pack of blank game boards and boxes (after doing a bit of searching for the best price). When they arrived I decided to take my latest board design back to the copy and print place and get a full color copy made. The price JUMPED way up from black and white to color (try $15 for one copy)! I reluctantly paid the price and within 5 minutes I had it. It looked fantastic! When you are going to have something printed up make sure you make it at a high DPI (dots per inch).

I got some spray glue called super 77 from Home Depot and sprayed the back of the paper and stuck it to the blank board, cut the fold lines on the board and we were in business. The board looked fantastic and really steps up your play testing. There were some minor issues with the board, for instance I
had forgotten to turn off a layer and the word Bummer and Promotion were both occupying the same space. The space seems to read Nuremberg so we joke about landing on Nuremberg (which is a bad thing since it is a 'Bummer' space.

The board was not final at this point. The colors still weren't right and no art (of course) but it was fine for showing and play testing on. We continued to refine the game play but the board design was eating away at the back of my mind. I just couldn't come up with a color theme that I felt was perfect. I had been looking at other 'music' related games and dark blues and reds were used a lot but I couldn't find the balance on my board. I moved on to a red background and a 'steel silver-look' to the spaces. I was OK, all tough and macho but it still bothered me.

Jump ahead another few weeks and I was in the middle of working with the artist we hired for the game art. I had the idea of showing him the board and getting his opinion and (hopefully) a suggestion or two on the direction to go. I sent it to him and got an email that wasn't too flattering. He wasn't mean at all, but he said what needed to be said. (nicely, of course)... the board needed work. He then made my Summer by asking if I'd like for him to work on the board (for an additional fee). I was more than happy to pony up the additional funds to get him to work on it!

With all said and done, if you are not a graphic designer or artist, you might leave the work to the professionals and hire someone you trust. I felt I moved the board along as far as I could and then handed my baby to someone who would polish it up.

Thanks for reading and we would GREATLY appreciate if you would back our game: Rise of the Rock Star on Kickstarter. The project is on right now and ends on July 15th. Thanks so much!

Nate

Friday, May 17, 2013

Announcement of our Kickstarter project. Starts NOW!

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Thanks for stopping by, this, our official announcement of the beginning of According To Whim's 60 day Kickstarter Project!

HUH?
According To Whim (our little band of merry-making fools) have developed a board game. We want it made and we ask that YOU help us by backing our Kickstarter Project.

WHEN?
Right now! Our Kickstarter has begun (on this Friday, May 17th, 2013). It will run until July 17th, 2013 (60 days).

WHY?
We have a great product that we feel is fun and we want to get it produced. Not having the means to do it ourselves, we come to you to ask for your backing so we can get it made.

WHAT IS IT?
Rise Of The Rock Star is the name of our board game. The object of which is to make your way from being an Unknown to being a Rock and Roll LEGEND!

We realize you have many demands on your time and money but was respectfully ask you to consider backing our project. In return you can pick up your copy of the game when we get it released.

The game is in its final days of development. We are down to tweaking a few cards and art work to get it running (and looking) the best we can. We just about have everything ready to roll out to the printers.


Our target date for shipping (if the project is successfully funded) is March of 2014.
 
There will be several ways you can follow the progress of this project. Some are lite and some are hard core, so pick your poison:
  • We will be posting to this blog each day.
  • We will be posting to Twitter daily as to the progress of the project and the game itself.
  • We will be posting to our Facebook page every 3 days (not so heavy duty content).
  • We will updating through Kickstarter only for important updates.
We will also have some Podcasts and Vlogs to entertain you with while the project continues. Once the 60 days is up (if successfully funded) we have two weeks to collect funds from you guys (through Amazon Payments... so easy). Once we have the money we are placing the order with our overseas manufacturer and paying our starving artist to finish what he has already begun (so excellently I might add).
 
The whole manufacturing process takes somewhere around 3 months and we are estimating another month for shipping, etc... so we set March as goal with PLENTY of room for delays just incase. Hopefully we will have it a lot sooner.
 
Again, please help us make this game by backing our Kickstarter. You can give as little as $1 and there are some great rewards for higher donations. You will be able to buy the game after the successful Kickstarter but it will be for a much higher amount, so PLEASE help us out! Yahoooo!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Online Retailer Review: Entertainment Earth

By Nathan Stout (of According To Whim.com)

My work’s CEO used to have this little speech on our internal website about giving good customer service. This is what he said:

“Research shows that a bad service experience will cause an individual to tell an average of 40 people over time about their experience. Conversely, they will only tell an average of 5 people about an excellent experience.”

With that said I am going to tell you about an unpleasant experience I had. I am not just aimlessly attacking some company, this is a legitimate gripe.

Entertainment Earth is an online store that has all sorts of Scifi/toys/movie memorabilia. Here is why you shouldn't do b2b with them. As many of you know I have a hobby business: Renegade Anime. I sell Japanese models (among other things). Well, AMT (the model company) released a series of cool Star Trek models in 2010. I thought they would fit in well with my business so I started looking for a wholesaler of their models. On their (AMT) website I found a link to Entertainment Earth (who is listed as a wholesaler of their models). I emailed them and setup a wholesale account and made a $530.00 order. The models were listed as in 'Pre-Order' and would be released in January.

I go on with life. Less than a week after the order I start seeing the models out in stores. Ok, that's cool. That means I should be getting my order filled soon (so I can have them to sell at the upcoming Comicon). I wait and wait and then I finally get word from Entertainment Earth... The price of the models have all gone up (in some cases $4.00 more each). Seesh! Ok, fine. I wait and wait and next time I log into my account I see that they are sill in 'Pre-Order' status but the date has been pushed back to February! Well this sucks!

I start looking online for other wholesalers and I find 2 who say they can get them to me quicker (and cheaper). I then send an email to my Entertainment Earth contact telling him I need to cancel my order.

I get an email back that says I can do that but according to my wholesale agreement they will charge me a 15% canceling fee.

REALLY ENTERTAINMENT EARTH???

So you basically get unsuspecting businesses to make an order... you then JACK up the price and say 'too bad for you... you will pay one way or the other'.
Does this mean that they can get someone to make an order of any size then increase the price to a million dollars and the person who placed the order is stuck paying the 15% fee if they back out?

THIS IS BAD BUSINESS ENTERTAINMENT EARTH.

I could understand if it was a straight up deal where I made an order then backed out without good reason but
  1. You increased the price after I agreed to buy the items.
  2. You pushed back the release date to a time in which the models will do me no good since my event will have passed.
#1 above should be an agreement breaker and I will ask to talk to a higher authority in the company and plead this case with them.

After much back and forth I get an email that I misread initially. My rep told me he got authorization (since the price increased) to cancel…

That’s all I read. I just assumed that he got the order canceled. I thanked him profusely and went about my business. I later got an email when part of my order shipped. I went back to that email and finished it:

My rep told me he got authorization to cancel one of the items on the order.

REALLY ENTERTAINMENT EARTH???

So to make up for trapping me in their scam me they showed their benevolence and canceled one of the items on the order (by one item I mean one of the models which I had ordered a case of).

To add salt to the wound they charged me $2.00 for something called a consolidation fee. WHAT?! The items I ordered (4 different models) were each ordered at case quantity. There is no need to ‘consolidate anything’. Just another nail in the coffin. I basically shut my mouth and took their punishment for my transgression. I never made another order with that company. Too bad because they carry quite a bit of cool stuff...

Monday, May 13, 2013

Board Game Review: Enchanted Forest

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today I am going to look at Ravensburger's Enchanted Forest. This is a memorizing game for the younger set but it still can be fun for anyone. Any game can be fun if you bring the fun to the game.

OBJECTIVE

Move about the forest with dice trying to match the symbols under the trees with the symbol on the top card of the stack which sits in the castle.

GAMEPLAY

Players move around the board and land on spaces that allow them to look at the symbol under the tree. The symbols relate to different Fairy Tales you may (or may not) know. Over on the castle spot of the board there is a stack of cards. You start the game by flipping the top card over. You move around the board, looking for the Fairy Tale symbol that is on that top card and one of the many trees. Once you have found the symbol you are one step closer to winning. You need 3 to win.

 
PRODUCTION

Ravensburger is a German game company and they make the nicest, highest quality game parts I have ever seen. The box alone is twice as thick as any other board game manufacturer out there! The pawns and tree pieces are also well made and the board is excellent and thick as well. You just can't get better than a Ravensburger game.

TIPS

Eat lots of memory food. That's all I can suggest. You just need to move around as much as possible to get a glance at as many trees as possible. Easy enough!

Thanks for looking at this blog! Please follow us and if you are interested, please help us produce our own game at: RiseoftheRockStar.com by donating to our Kickstarter Project!

Thank you.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Interview with Iraklis with LudiCreations (gaming publisher)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

As apart of our 60 day board game Kickstarter Project: Rise of the Rock Star we have lined up a few interviews with some people who are near and dear to our hearts... those from the gaming community. This interview is a 'bonus' marking one week until liftoff!

Today I am 'sitting down' with Iraklis, a game publisher (LudiCreations) who was kind enough to answer some questions for us. I really appreciate you taking the time to answer a few.

What got you into game publishing?
I was always interested in the business side of board games. So, when I found out how "the sausage is made", I decided to give it a shot.

What got you into Kickstarter?
Lack of capital. It is just impossible to launch a new game without it. The larger companies have their media relations and standing distribution agreements, and so they can afford to bankroll a game. We can't.

Can you tell us about the game you currently have running on KS?
Sure. Gear & Piston is a simple yet engaging set-collection, worker-management & tile-laying game that allows the players to invent and develop the first cars, at the birth of the automobile industry. It's already met its funding goal and is steadily achieving stretch goals. You can see the video and the rules on the Kickstarter page, and there you can also play it online on BGA, a first for a Kickstarter game.

Did you experience any failed Kickstarters, if so how many?
Not first-hand, no. I have researched a few failed ones, and talked to other creators.

What do feel worked the best for your Kickstarter?
Engagement with backers. It is important to keep them informed and excited, while at the same time not blabbering in the updates. Also, giving a reasonable number of inclusions with every pledge.

What do you feel didn't work at all?
I can more easily answer that question when the campaign ends, but it doesn't look like we got much love from BGG. We also expect fulfilment to take time, so we are going to start early and make sure that we do it right.

What are your favourite games?
Ticket to Ride, Power Grid, Small World, Peloponnes, Dominion.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Just to thank our backers for believing in us, and to thank the members of the team that made this happen. It takes a village to make a game.

Thanks so much for your time and good luck with your Kickstarter! Show LudiaCreations some love and don't forget us! Back our Kickstarter too at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com

Thank you!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

ATW Update: May 9th, 2013

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

We have been busy this week. With the Kickstarter just a little over a week away things are getting fast and furious (after a fashion). I will be out of pocket all next week so that puts the pressure on us a little more.

This last week saw the creation of the Kickstarter mockup photo:


Filled to the brim with Photoshop goodness, I wanted to get something out there that would give people an idea of what we were trying to make (visually, at least).

Also on the Kickstarter front we have played some more test games and discussed aspects of the project (backer levels, project description, etc). We even got the game listed on the BoardGameGeek and got myself and Chris listed as game designers (woohoo!).

Since out last update we got Chris' most recent VLOG up and online. Enjoy!
 

 
 
We also did our weekly audio show with Miguel phoning it in (literally) from the newly opened Fort Worth Coyote Drive in Movie theater. I can't believe he beat me to it!
 
Comicon is only 8 days away so there is lots going on there too. Tons of Anime model kits to sell, people to see, costumes to admire, and Kickstarter business cards to hand out. This looks to be an interesting month or two ahead.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do It Yourself Camera Dolly

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Chris calls me an Equipment Queen. Apparently that's a term that people in the music industry call someone who has all the equipment (weather they use it or not). I have a lot of video equipment so Chris thought the label worked nice for me.

Thanks buddy.

Anyway, I had planned to make a camera dolly on the cheap. A camera dolly is basically a platform where you set the tripod on top and it had wheels on the bottom so you can move it around smoothly. The kind that people usually make are ones that will roll on top of a track (like they use in movies and such). Since no one can afford to have one that runs on railroad type tracks like the Hollywood ones, the DIY ones usually run ontop of PVC pipe.

You take some casters (in my case, 8 of them) and you attach them to the bottom of a piece of plywood that your tripod can sit on. The trick is to angle 2 of the casters inward so they can slide along a piece of PVC pipe. Think of an upside down 'V' shape... You place 2 casters on each corner of the plywood and you put down your PVC and simply roll the plywood along the PVC in a smooth motion.

I know that the toughest part of this would be to cut some wood into that 'V' shape I was telling you about so for my first try I just did it on the cheap. I simply screwed the screws through the holes on the base of the casters so that I could 'tilt' the casters and hold them in place (without any sort of extra wood). That worked for like ten seconds because when I got down on my knees I put the slightest pressure on the plywood and the casters flattened out. This method was just a little 'too' cheap.

Take a look at this page... it make me all goose pimply! So much to choose from! As you can see however the prices are really high. I must say that the dolly track that sits on top of tripods interests me greatly. I have a couple of smaller tripod that I might be able to do that with. I'll save that project for later.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Music from This Year

By Chris McGinty (According ToWhim .com)

I’m accused of being, not just stuck, but firmly wedged in the 80s and the 90s, but it’s just not true. Though I think we can catch me on a technicality. I listen to new music a lot, but it’s usually either music that is fashioned after 80s and 90s music, or it’s a new release by an 80s or 90s band.

I listen to a lot of new music though, often trying out artists that I’m not all that interested in, or sometimes have never even heard of, just to see what I think. I almost always end up gravitating to my genres of choice though. For instance, my favourite album of 2005 was “Waiting for the Siren’s Call” by New Order. It was certainly current on some levels, but still a new release by an 80s band. But more than just my favourite album of that year, it is also my favourite album by New Order, and could possibly fall somewhere in my top 100 of all time.

Playlist with Tracks from “Waiting for the Sirens Call”

I was excited when I found out recently that there were other tracks recorded during the Siren’s Call sessions that have now been released as a new album called “Lost Sirens.” It also includes an alternate version of “I Told You So” from “Waiting for the Siren’s Call.” Apparently, it was supposed to be released in 2006, but like with another album I’d like to discuss today, it was delayed.


Lost Sirens (Skip forward to 3:10 as the video maker has a speaking introduction at the start of the video)

TV Mania is the side project of Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes and Warren Cuccurullo. It was meant to be released around the time of Duran Duran’s “Medazzaland” and “Pop Trash,” but ended up lost. For the longest time, all the public had was a few TV Mania tracks that ended up being Duran Duran tracks. Finally, the album was released this year. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of the tracks yet released to You Tube, and I haven’t had the money to pick up the album, but what I’ve heard so far I’m thoroughly enjoying.


TV Mania Tracks


Finally, released in March 2013, a new album by Depeche Mode “Delta Machine.” I only found this one because I was preparing this blog post, and was curious if I’d missed anything. It’s a mellow album compared to many of their past releases. It’s quite good. They never disappoint.



Delta Machine (A couple of the tracks don’t play. Not sure why. Just skip forward using the track locations in the comments.)


Monday, May 6, 2013

Review (of sorts): Robotech RPG Tactics (Kickstarter)

by Nathan Stout (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Today's review is more of a review of coming product: Palladium Books: Robotech RPG Tactics. This is currently in the Kickstarter phase and it is doing well... REALLY WELL.

Initial goal to get game made: $70,000

With 15 days to go (out of 30), current total money gained: $520,000

WOW.

 
 
Robotech is one of those name brands that has a cult following. The brand has been around since the early eighties and it was destined to do well... and it did!
 
Robotech RPG Tactics is based on the Robotech Role Playing books. In the RPG there are rules for mecha combat but this game takes that concept to a whole new level and focuses only on the mecha combat (via miniatures). If you look at the demo videos it looks a bit like Warhammer with Robotech mecha.
 
Here is the level I have backed at. As you can see the initial game was nice but with the increased funding SO MUCH MORE has been added. Way to please your backers Palladium!
 

 
The Kickstarter started 15 days ago and I got wind of it on day 2. They had already funded the project (gotten the needed $70,000) within the first few hours of the project! I can only hope our Kickstarter will fund so quickly!
 
As the amount of backers and pledges has increased so has the quality and quantity of the game. Several new miniatures have been added to the core box set as well as upgrades to the dice and play pieces.
 
I am very happy that Palladium is doing so well on this. I have enjoyed the Robotech RPG books for many years and it is nice to see so much being put into the game even after all these years.
 
Thanks for looking at this blog! Please follow us and if you are interested, please help us produce our own game at: RiseOfTheRockStar.com by donating to our Kickstarter Project when it starts on May 17th!

Thank you.


Friday, May 3, 2013

WhimWars - An interview with Chris McGinty

by Nathan Stout and Chris McGinty (of AccordingToWhim.com)

Hello all! Nathan here. Today I want to ask Chris McGinty some questions about his involvement in the development of WhimWars, the paper and pencil intergalatic space battle game.

NATHAN: Sir McGinty, could you please turn down the Duran Duran you have blaring and answer a few questions about your part in the creation of WhimWars?

CHRIS: *singing* “Having so much fun. Greetings from the big bang generation.” What are you saying? I can’t hear you over the music?

NATHAN: When Nathan first told you about his plan to make an 'old school' paper and pencil type game what did you think?

CHRIS: I was interested in working on it. I like to work. I prefer to do creative work. The more creative work we do, the less compelled I feel to work normal jobs. If our creative work ever starts paying us, I’ll have no need to work a normal job. My philosophy is that I’d rather be a little broke and doing creative work than to be rolling in the dough and not doing creative work, but you have to find a balance.

Having said all of that, I’ve been trying to move our creative work in a “product based” direction for a while. One thing I’ve suggested is designing a game. Nathan and I spend a lot of our fun time playing games, and he designed a couple of Role-Playing Games with his friend Wade years ago. It seemed to me that if we enjoy games, and we’re both interested in creating games, that we should do some work.

“WhimWars” isn’t the first game that we’ve worked on, but the other game was presenting problems that I wasn’t sure how to fix. Having a new idea to work with gave me a little hope, because it might not present the same problems as before. Luckily, I had a little time open soon after; otherwise, I would have certainly arranged some time off to work on the game.

NATHAN: Did you play games similar to this when you were a kid?

CHRIS: The only thing I remember playing of the paper and pencil type was a variation of “Mastermind” that used numbers instead of coloured pegs. I think that I generally prefer game pieces to writing down information, but I do have a spirit of DIY about me, so I certainly don’t mind pencil and paper.

There were two things that I think drove Nathan’s desire to make this a paper and pencil game. The first was a sense of nostalgia from playing games of this nature. The second was to keep our own overhead down to present a quality product cheaply. Surely, I would love to make a good looking game with pieces and gadgets, but my business sense says to work up to that. Nathan’s approach to keeping the overhead down works with that philosophy.

NATHAN: What was the MOST important aspect of creating a game like this? That is to say; what did you want to make sure was a part of the game (mechanics or theme wise)?

CHRIS: Probably the same things that are important to any game, the balancing of resources, strategy, and chance within the game. For this particular game, we had to couple that with what we wished the product to be. After our initial play-test session, I wrote the rules to reflect the last way that we play-tested the game. This was as a means of getting the rules down, but I also turned my attention to revising the rules to reduce the number of pieces in the game, as that was Nathan’s primary goal with the game.

NATHAN: Which mechanic or aspect to the game did you and Nathan butt heads about, something he wanted or didn't want and something you did (or didn't)?

CHRIS: I don’t think we butted heads at all. There were two things that had to be done for the game. The first was that we had to keep it as simple as possible. The second was that it needed to present situations for the player play out. In each case, whatever rules we tested had to achieve both of those things. I think Nathan was the advocate for simplicity, while I was the advocate for adding elements to the game play. In playing opposite roles, we created a push and pull that settled the game into both simplicity and game play. As I said before, when I finally sat down to write out the rule set that we were basically happy with, I no longer needed to wear the hat of game play as much, so I put on the hat of simplifying the game.

For instance, I added a rule that said that you could never have more than 6 Tactics Points. This did two things. As far as game play, it limited the length a game could play out to a small effect. As far as simplicity, we had been using multiple six-sided dice to keep track of Tactics Points. Since one of the goals of the game was that the players have everything they need within the box the potential for endless Tactics Points meant we had no way to know how many six-sided dice to include in the box. Limiting the number of Tactics Points to 6 meant that we only needed 3 six-sided dice in the box (two to track Tactics Points and one for the Tactics Rolls).

A lot of the ideas that we had for game play were easy enough to file away in our heads for development of the advanced game, so I was never upset with cutting any ideas. If they didn’t make the game fun, they got cut. If they made the game fun, but would work better in the advanced version, they got cut. I do feel that the basic game is still a little chance heavy, but keeping it simple was the goal.

NATHAN: How did the testing of the game go? Who did you play test with? How long did you play test?

CHRIS: The game testing went pretty easy. It was me and Nathan and our good friend Dr. Pepper. Yes, the soda. We started out pretty simple: place the ships, roll dice to try to hit them. We built on the game from there. We soon found a game that served our purposes.

The second step of the process was writing the rules out, which worked as an impartial editor. Either I could explain it easily, or I couldn’t. The third step of the process was Nathan writing a simplified version of the rules that could fit on a strip of paper to be put in the box.

The fourth step was testing the comprehension of the rules. I took the game to my dad, and asked him to read the rules and explain to me how to play the game. I caught a couple of problems during this phase, and we made adjustments accordingly.

NATHAN: Did you have major changes due to the play testing?

CHRIS: Like I said, we started out with a grid, placed ships, and dice to roll to hit the ships. Everything was a change from that point on, and I think all the minor changes created a major change from the beginning of the process to the end of the process.

We started with a six by six grid, and we found that ships were destroyed too easily. We moved to a ten by ten grid and found that it created a little confusion as to which die roll was which. We settled on a twelve by ten grid.

The original intent of the game was total annihilation of your opponent’s ships. The problem is that the game needed resources of some sort. Nathan didn’t want to use “money” in the classic sense, because it would require pieces to track the money. We turned to number of turns as our resource. Limiting the potential number of turns each player might have created a need to have games that ended without total annihilation.

This doesn’t even mention many of the rules mechanics that we tried out that didn’t work. The game state in the middle of the process was just as different from the beginning of the process as it was from the end of the process.

NATHAN: What would you like to see happen at this point (to the game)?

CHRIS: We need to get to work on the advanced version or versions of the game. Beyond that we need to start on the next project. My feeling on creative projects is to start one, get it finished, and start the next one. I’m not always good at following that process, but I feel it is the right way. Having one game that plays well is great. Surely, with an enjoyable advanced version, we could do well if word of the game got out. What happens next though?

People won’t buy the same game over and over, so we need to present them with the next thing they want to buy. I mentioned the other game we worked on before. We ran into problems with how it played. We might run into similar problems with our game designs in the future. Getting started is the best way to find what is worth pursuing.

Nathan had a deadline in mind for Whim Wars, which was the May 2012 Dallas Comicon where we were on the seller’s floor. Luckily, Whim Wars was an easy design. If we had had the same problems with it as the last game, we might not have made the deadline. So looking to the future sooner than later is the next step.

NATHAN: Thank you for your insight. You can turn the music back up (unless it's their album Thank You).

CHRIS: *singing* “She’s watching the detectives, oh, he’s so cute.” You’re welcome! I’m having trouble hearing you over the music though!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

ATW Updates: May 2, 2013

By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

This has been an interesting week as far as According To Whim goes. Nathan and I got together on Sunday during the day and did some work on the board game. May 17, 2013 is fast approaching, and I think we’re starting to worry we’ll not be ready for the start of the Kickstarter.

But Nathan has done a lot of work getting things ready. You can get Kickstarter updates at the board game's webpage and Twitter for the game.



I also went to Nathan’s on Tuesday. We recorded an audio show, and thought we’d worked out the audio show production problem, but I guess not. Nathan gave me the files for the show. I’ll just work on the Show Notes pages until we can get the shows edited.

We shot a Vlog when I was over, and Nathan realized that there are a few that were never posted. Expect to see those in the near future. In the meantime, Nathan posted a new game review video.

This is a slightly shorter update than last week, because a lot of it is still the same. Go to the According To Whim Twitter for other updates.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Life Advice – Just Get Started on What You Want to Do

By Chris McGinty (AccordingToWhim.com)

I’d like to share some advice I gave recently that may seem narrow at first, but I believe applies to many parts of life.

As part of our push to promote our upcoming Kickstarter, Nathan suggested that I start an account on Board Game Geek and start posting to the threads. He said that not only would it help us connect with the community that is our target audience for the board game, but the conversations might be something I enjoy. After reading a few threads and writing in a few, I came across a new thread from a 19 year old wanting advice for becoming a game designer through going to college. After reading what everyone else wrote, I wrote the following:

“A lot of good advice precedes mine, but I do have my own take on your question. I would say that you should major in either mathematics or business and minor in the other. A business degree will help you fall into any job you might want or need. The mathematics will help you understand complex systems.

”As far as the game design part of your question, I'll paraphrase Adam Carolla, "If you want to do anything in life, just start doing it. You won't be good at it at first, but you'll learn. If you want to be a comedian, do every open mic you can do. If you want to be an actor, volunteer at your local theater."

”So my advice is this, if you want to design games, start designing games. But this is more important. Don't over design. Start play-testing as quickly as you can.

”My friend Nathan and I are about to start a Kickstarter for our board game in May 2013. We had one brainstorm session, I wrote a quick starter set of rules for us to test, and after the first play-test, we nixed about half of the rules. These were rules and mechanics that seemed like they would be fun, intuitive, or balanced. One play-test session proved that wrong for most of them.

”The extension of play a lot of games to see what works is to play your games a lot, and be honest with yourself about whether it's fun or not. Don't get attached to rules or mechanics because you created them. Be willing to test and revise to the point that the rules and mechanics that survive are a low percentage of the rules and mechanics that you create, because then you'll know you're playing with the best ideas.”

The truth is that this advice applies, in part, to various parts of life. Every step you take toward a project or self improvement goal tends to also help you lose a similar bad habit or unproductive activity. Lean in to something today, and see what just a little bit of work shows you.