As promised last week here is some of what we learned from Metatopia.  Two weeks have passed since Metatopia, we’ve moved from our apartment to a house, and now I can start sorting through my notes.  Where does the time go?  The good part of moving into a house is that we are converting one room into our official SMD office space.  GBB-1The bad news is that everything is in boxes still and we need to work on Space Monkey stuffs while unpacking.  However, it’s all beautiful because we have a dedicated space where we will be converting an entire wall into a whiteboard.  Now back to the main point, Metatopia the good, the bad, and the beautiful of it all.

The Good

There was no shortage of things to do.  We got to the hotel Thursday night so we could take advantage of the social hour.  Unfortunately, we didn’t know anyone.  I’m a huge introvert and have issues with going up to a group and inserting myself.  I got lucky as some of our friends were also attending, so we met up and went to dinner at a place around the corner from the hotel, the Grilled Cheese at the Melt Factory.  I felt better…  I had people I knew which gave me more courage to talk to people I didn’t know.  I used to wonder if this made me weird… now I don’t wonder anymore, I know it’s true and I’m perfectly fine with it.   🙂

My schedule was jammed full of things to do.GBB-2  I did leave some time for food and to gather my thoughts before ChefSuki and I ran demos of Topexx Dominions.  Other than that, it was go, go, go, breathe, go, go, and go.  Unless I want this blog to be a few thousand words long I won’t be able to talk about everything I learned, so I’m going to cover some of the highlights.  One of the first panels we attended was Kickstarter 101.  Let me tell you this was a spectacular way to start the weekend.  Here are four key points I learned about Kickstarter:

  1. Make a good name for yourself! Your first project should be straightforward and ready to deliver before you start the Kickstarter campaign.
  2. This is your brand! Your personal reputation and your company’s reputation depend on you being responsive and having integrity.  Under promise and over deliver!
  3. Before Kickstarter is your time, after Kickstarter ends it’s the customer’s time! Don’t waste your customer’s time, especially if you want to keep them as customers.
  4. Taxes!! Kickstarter money is considered company revenue and the IRS wants its cut, so be ready to give it to them.

I already knew items 1 & 2, however, I had not thought of items 3 & 4.  I’m less than 2 hours into Metatopia and already my brain is filling with so many fantabulous notes.GBB-3

Another item of goodness I discovered was Patreon.  Have you ever seen somebody create something and be like “that’s really kewl, I like it” and want to do something to help that person?  I know I have.  Patreon provides a way for people to be patrons of the arts.  Patronage as defined by Wikipedia is the support, encouragement, privilege, or financial aid that an organization or individual bestows to another.  In ages past, it was the way the wealthy supported the musicians, the artists, the playwrights, and any creative individual.  The Patreon panel was great in the fact that two entirely different views were presented as doable.  One view was “hey I’m an artist and I’m going to create stuff anyway, so if you want to support me than thank you.”  This supports the creation of art for art’s sake, and is powerful in its support to the creative as it enables them to know they are having an impact on other lives.  To me, appreciation is a powerful motivator for a creative.  The other view was “hey I’m creating really interesting things as a business, and if you support me you can have a voice in what I create.”  This is another powerful motivator being part of the creation.  This is a shared motivator, both the creator and the patron get to share in the act of creating new art.  Space Monkeys Down is already looking into creating a Patreon account (in fact we created a personal account to support others already), so be on the lookout for what we’re doing in a future blog.

This is by no means a complete listing of “the good” of Metatopia – hell I only touched on two topics, however there is just so much to cover!  🙂

The Bad

I don’t have anything bad to say about Metatopia.  It was a fantabulous time and I can’t wait to do it again.  Does this mean that “the bad” is Topexx Dominions?  Again, my answer is no.  I learned so much about how others see Topexx Dominions it was amazing.  It’s an invaluable experience to see your game through other people’s eyes and to watch them experience it.  Maybe you’re wondering what’s the “the bad?”  ChefSuki and I discussed this at length and the bad is that we are not ready to make Topexx Dominions now.  We have so much to learn and need to grow so much.  Now this doesn’t mean we are going to shelve the game and stop all work, far from it!  We are going to focus on small games, games that can succeed or fail without breaking the bank.  This allows us to grow as game designers, to craft a game experience, run a small Kickstarter, stumble around and fall a few times, hopefully not fall on our face and get a bloody nose, but if we do then so be it.  Our goal is to build our reputation to deliver games and grow better with time.  While we are doing all this, we will be taking everything we learn and applying it to Topexx Dominions and watch as the game grows over time.  I’m a firm believer that the universe returns to you what you give it.  I see great things for Topexx Dominions and the other games and in order to get there we have to grow and flourish as game designers and as a company.  And really, that’s not bad at all.   🙂

The Beautiful

You know what was beautiful about Metatopia?  The people!  ChefSuki and I had a wonderful time meeting new people, talking and playing games with them.  Everywhere we turned people were laughing and having a good time.  On Thursday night, we met the guys from Pure Fun Games, they brought Shadow Strike Ninja Combat.GBB-4  We signed up to playtest the game on Saturday night, so we took the opportunity to watch our friends play the game and talk with the creators.  They have a wonderful story, and I’m working on a blog dedicated to them and their game.

Vinnie and Avie, the ones who run Metatopia, did a fantabulous job of running the event.  Probably about half of the people who playtested Topexx Dominions told us they heard of us because of Vinnie.  I often saw Vinnie running around trying to herd cats to make sure everybody had playtesters.  What impressed me was that on Sunday morning, I hear my name called out from across the room, I turn and there is Vinnie saying, “Aj, what are you doing right now?”  “Watching this game…”  “Do you want to playtest this game over here?”  “Sure”  Now Vinnie and I had not really interacted at all during the con, and I’m terrible with remembering names, it usually takes several tries before I can implant it in my brain, and here he was on the 3rd day of the con still remembering my name.

Another beautiful thing was I discovered that I still have a passion for role-playing games (RPGs).  I played some variation of Dungeons and Dragons since I was 14 and in recent years I have move away from it (while I’m not blaming 4th edition, it certainly is my least favorite RPG).  Recently, I’ve started getting back into D&D 5th edition.  While at Metatopia I discovered that not all RPGs are created the same, in fact I saw that some of them were only 10s of pages long.  I have to tell you that blew my mind.  Growing up playing D&D meant that RPGs measured in the 100s and 1000s of pages, in fact the more the better!

Driving Home

We decided to spend Sunday night at the hotel and drive home on Monday and let me tell you that was a great decision.  While driving home, ChefSuki and I had detailed conversations about what we’re going to do.  We learned that Topexx Dominions is probably a medium-sized game and it would be better to cut our teeth on smaller games first.  Therefore, that’s our plan.  We have some ideas floating around, and in December, we’re going to make a decision on one and run with it.  I’m already looking forward to Metatopia next year.

ChefSuki and I are working on the next steps for SMD.  We will start making some decisions during this next week.  I want to start writing two posts a week so I’m working on a few ideas for more posts to write.  So join us next week to hear about our plans for the future.

Stay awesome – FiveHead

Metatopia, the Good, the Bad, and the Beautiful
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