Automaton-a-Thon #4

WAKING UP FROM THE COVID COMA


It has been a while hasn't it? The last Automaton-a-Thon I discussed the trials and tribulations of designing in the age of COVID. The hard truth is that I did not manage to stay as motivated as I needed to during these lost pandemic years. That being said, I'm rolling down my sleeves (because it's winter and cold) and getting back to work. Let's dive right into all things Atomic Automaton.


THINGS FALL APART


COVID initially triggered a massive increase in productivity as it allowed me time to pour more of myself into my projects. However, as time wore on, and my designing routine became broken, I found myself struggling to hold myself accountable. In a serendipitous turn of events, I found a board game design group all about holding us designers accountable to one another.


The first meeting was great, but then the group started to break down. In my own little desperate attempt to keep it going, I moved it over to my Discord server and continued it for several more months. Despite my efforts, people got busy with life, and I found myself alone during meeting times designing to the void, so I gave up the ghost on the group. It is something I would like to get back into, and I'm very grateful for the people I have met, but it is more work to try and wrangle people to talk about their projects.


Once the group fell apart, I went back to work on my board game trailer and motion graphics. It soon became very clear that my laptop was not up to the job of Blender. It took me days to render small clips, and the process was not moving quick enough to allow tweaks and edits and re-renderings. I got disheartened, but went to work on animated gifs.


Everything was working on Kickstarter until it wasn't. I think this is due to the large size of the files, so I need to go back, resize, and then re-upload to get them to work again. Whatever, figured I'd come back to that. Then I started more Kickstarter art before having to move. Art stopped during the moving process, and once I moved, my laptop died 😞.


I yanked out the hard drive, backed up everything, and sent it off to Dell. In my frustration, I caved and bought a new desktop that would handle Blender, so I can finish my Kickstarter. I'm super happy with my computer, but it decimated my finances, making any further progress on the financial parts of my games come to an abrupt halt. My motivation collapsed, and I moved on to some writing projects, completely deflated.


THINGS COME TOGETHER


Though I fell into a rough patch, I'm back! It all started with an invite to the Minnesota Protospiel from my designer friend Rick Hou. Nothing will get you motivated more than a deadline. I dusted myself off, stopped feeling bad, and got back to work. I'm re-energized and excited to release my first game this year. This is where I'm at with my projects.


FATE WEAVER ZADARRA AND HER UNFORTUNATE MISFORTUNE

Jonathan Flike Fate Weaver Zadarra and Her Unfortunate Misfortune

Zadarra's prototypes are fully completed and ready for playtesting. Only 3 pieces of stretch goal unlock art is needed. The final steps to get Zadarra ready for production is entirely resting on the Kickstarter page. The trailer and the how to play videos will be the biggest lifts. In addition to the motion graphics, I still have some animated headers to complete, the stretch goal map, and some minor writing to complete. Once this is done, I'll need to do a deep dive into sourcing a manufacturer and come up with a marketing plan. Before all that, Weavlings in the Wilds will be the first Kickstarter project I'll release.


WEAVLINGS IN THE WILDS


The secret project I was working on is finally revealed! It'll have a dedicated blog post to go over the details of the game. After some internal discussions, I've decided to release Weavlings in the Wilds separately instead of bundling Zadarra and Weavlings in the Wilds together. The decision came down to one of logistics and one of exposure. Logistically, bundling the two games made for a very complicated Kickstarter rewards tier list. In regards to exposure, I didn't want the two games cannibalizing one another. The way Kickstarter is set up, it makes it difficult to highlight both games in ways they deserve to be if they are bundled. Separating the two games will create better awareness for the brand and a more structured release date for the games that come after Weavlings in the Wilds.


The game art is done with the exception of perhaps a few pieces of stretch goal card art. The heavy lifts for this game will be the box art, Kickstarter art, game trailer, and how to play trailer. With my Kickstarter experience from Zadarra so far, I will tone down the level of animations and art I will create exclusively for the Kickstarter page. The extra art is nice, but with what type of game Weavlings in the Wilds is, it is a little over the top. From now on, the level of bells and whistles for Kickstarters will scale based on the financial goals and size of the game.


TROLLTEM POLES



Trolltem Poles is nearly complete with all the stretch goal unlock art finalized. Two heroes remain, which is the bulk of the game art. Trolltem Poles will have the hero abilities tested at the Minnesota Protospiel, and the goal is to have those abilities crystalize, so I can move the game along. Once I meet those milestones, it'll be time to work on the Kickstarter and all the fun stuff that comes along with it.


KINGDOMS OF IMMACUS

Kingdoms of Immacus is a beast of a game that has been chugging along. The biggest obstacle for Kingdoms is the cost of art. Art was put on hold as I made payments on my computer, but now that it is paid off and it's a new year, I'll be reaching out to artists to continue work on this massive project.


Aside from art, Kingdoms of Immacus will be at the Minnesota Protospiel for some mechanics testing. I think the game is where it needs to be mechanically, but I'd love for some playtester's feedback on what they would like to see or what could be improved upon.


ATOMIC AUTOMATON

It's hustle time for Atomic Automaton. I need to release a game this year. COVID has crippled the company long enough. Weavlings in the Wilds will be released this year (ETA TBD). I'll begin the blogging process as I move along with the Kickstarter soon. In the next few months, all engines will be firing on the singular goal of getting Weavlings in the Wilds ready for Kickstarter.


Aside from the Kickstarter goals, I'm going to finish getting the shop up and running on the website. I've gotten the company bank established, and now it's allowing customers to send payments through. There are micro goals along the way such as website optimization, but I will really be focusing on getting the company market ready.


FINAL THOUGHTS


That's it for this Automaton-a-Thon! Expect more fun stuff in the coming months. The Minnesota Protospiel is in a week, so I'll have plenty of updates as we inch towards the trip. All the game projects are humming along, and now it's the time to put in all the necessary grunt work. Let's get to it.

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