Crazy Eights: Eight questions about Dungeon Roll and Kickstarter

Dungeon Roll Logo

Kickstarter  has become a phenomenon with video game developers, but it has become even bigger with board game developers.  I asked Michael Mendes, founder of Tasty Minstrel Games, about his Kickstarter experiences and his newest endeavor Dungeon Roll.

Some people might remember the old TSR game Dungeon Dice.  Was Dungeon Roll inspired from that game?

Nope.  The game came from the designer rolling 2 different dice pools (with standard 1-6 numbered dice) against each other and then imagining a theme that made sense for the game that he made.  From their we added treasures, heroes, and such.

[singlepic id=10939 w=320 h=240 float=left]What are some of the challenges that came with designing a dungeon crawl using mostly dice?
The biggest challenge would have been making the mechanic, but fortunately for TMG that was already done when we signed the game.  In fact, it is the reason we signed the game.  Other than that it has been choosing which “broken” aspects of the game to fix and which to leave.  Not that we are leaving anything that is broken, but there is a fine line between allowing randomness to happen and letting it get out of control.
Using the Treasure Chest as the box for the game adds to the theme.  Is it more costly to do a custom box instead of something more standard?
It might be a little bit more expensive, but we did not do a cost comparison.  I like to do what is right for the game, and then see how we can make the cost work with the target price.  For Dungeon Roll, it meant that we needed to utilize Kickstarter to be able to justify a larger print run to reduce the per unit cost.  Thankfully, this seems to be going quite well.
We know that this is subject to change, but what do you feel is the timeline for release of Dungeon Roll?
[singlepic id=10937 w=320 h=240 float=right]August 2013.  We want to sell Dungeon Roll at GenCon, and to be able to do that, then we need to have shipped out the copies for all of the backers.  We are on a super-tight schedule, especially with the artwork for accomplishing this.  But we have a great art team which is working on the game that is ready to put in long hours, and we also have some additional artists lined up if we need them.  I would like to keep all of the artwork coming from the same artist to have a consistent look, but it might not be possible…
How many Kickstarter campaigns have you done?
I lose track sometimes. 8.  2 of which were unsuccessful, one which was for a children’s book and one for a game that really requires people to play it in person.
What do you think is the key to a successful Kickstarter campaign?
There are many keys, I think the most important are in order:
  1. Having an existing audience that trusts your judgment and that you can contact in a reliable manner.  For me, this means having an email newsletter for TMG that we send monthly to fans.
  2. A generous offering. This is more important for TMG than many other tabletop game publishers because our games will be sold through distribution and people can and will be able to get them later.  With other publishers, you might not be able to get the game later.
  3. A concise and clear project.  Including the video and the reward tiers.
What’s the most common misconception people have about Kickstarter?
It really depends on when you and and in relation to what, but here are several:
  • The funding level all flows to the pocket of the project owner and they are swimming in a pool of money.  For example, if Dungeon Roll funds for $75,000 then I will be able to deliver all rewards and have an extra 5,000 copies to sell into distribution without taking money out of pocket.  The revenue from selling those 5,000 would likely be put right back into making more product and supporting Dungeon Roll.
  • International Shipping should be cheaper.  Actually, I charge a lot for it, and I should charge more.  I costs a fortune to ship boxes all over the world.
  • If you put it on Kickstarter, then you will find backers.  NOT TRUE.
  • All games on Kickstarter are not tested.  At TMG, we put a lot of effort into discovering and signing good games and then developing them to be the best that they can be.
  • Kickstarter is bad for the game industry.  Queue the debate, more choice for gamers is AWESOME.
  • The design of a game is up for debate. Maybe others want to crowd source their final product in the design area, but not us.  Influence can be made but if we have a game on Kickstarter, that is because it is ready to go.
What do you feel is the perfect amount of time for a game to gain funding on Kickstarter?

[singlepic id=10942 w=320 h=240 float=left]It depends on the project owner.  21 days is probably ideal for TMG now for many reasons…  We can fund that quickly, longer times are unlikely to provide more funding, less time concentrating on an active campaign, and the ability to get more campaigns in the early part of the year so we can deliver in time for major events like GenCon, Essen, or Christmas.

Dungeon Roll was fully funded in a single day, and considering that the game is $15, that’s not a bad deal at all.  I highly recommend going to the Dungeon Roll Kickstarter page to find out more about Dungeon Roll and possibly back it yourself.

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