Doom Update

I received a splendid update today from the fantastic Cryptozoic regarding The Doom That Came to Atlantic City. It even has pictures! If you would like to see the grotesque beauties in person, Cryptozoic will be demoing the game at Board Game Geek Con in Dallas, November 20-24.Please go visit (and play!) if you’re in town!

Shaping Your Doom

doom_atlantic_city_pr_box_web_2_Dear Kickstarter Backer,
We’ve been making some great progress towards creating a beautiful game to send straight to your door. We wanted to keep you in the loop and show you some fun insider photos of what it takes to make a board game!

Miniatures from Another World

DoomPanda2_1_0034f1Check out these incredible resin models that the factory has created. These are based on the sculptures by Paul Komoda that we sent to them. The factory used these to create the actual molds for the plastic figures.

We have the proof copies of these figures in the office now and will be bringing them with us to Board Game Geek Con in Dallas Texas this week!

The detail on these guys is simply amazing. We wanted to retain as much of it as possible while keeping these figures tough to avoid damages in shipping. We also needed to  keep the costs within the realm of sanity.  After some discussion with the factory, we were able to narrow it down to the correct weight and blend that we feel will provide the durability and cost effective solution we required. We can’t wait to show you the final product!

DoomPanda5_1_It really helps to work with great factories that have a ton of experience so they can offer helpful advice. The factory we’re using for Doom has created several other great games with miniatures and was recommended to us by some industry friends.  We know they’re going to make these figures as scary as possible!

What’s next?

We’re getting some more bits and pieces back from the factory soon and will be able to send lots of pictures with our next update. Once all the parts have been approved, we’ll also have a pretty good idea of when the release date will be for the game. We know you’re very excited to find out more so we’ll keep you up to date as much as possible.

Thanks again for funding this game and we look forward to offering you more updates in the near future!

-Adam Sblendorio
Board Game Brand Manager
Cryptozoic Entertainment

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Really Big Doings

Friends, Romans, Countrymen – Lend me your electrons!
Life is full of goodness and I have a lot of news to share:

• THE NEW WEB SITE!
It is remarkable how much work has snowballed during these last 35 years. Curating this curious compendium of work for a cohesive web site presented constant surprises and challenges, but was really great fun. I hope you’ll enjoy perusing them, and that you’ll let me know which pieces you like most, what is missing (and if you have pieces from the distant past that I lack a proper scan of):

www.leemoyer.com

For those who have kindly been following me on WordPress, please know I will gradually be switching my writings over to my new journal on the Zenfolio site: http://www.leemoyer.com/blog

I will keep cross-posting for a while longer and will let you know when I post my last entry here!

• 2014 LITERARY PIN-UP CALENDAR FOR CLARION WRITER’S WORKSHOP
2013’s calendar featured collaborations with modern masters Ray Bradbury, Charlaine Harris, George RR Martin, Jim Butcher, Peter Beagle, and Sir Terry Pratchett, and benefitted author Patrick Rothfuss’ charity Worldbuilders. This next year’s features the Calendar Project’s first authorial return engagement as Neil Gaiman once again graces its pages. Hooray!

I thrilled to be working with Clarion and the award-winning authors they invited to be in this coming year’s calendar.

Their IndieGoGo campaign should be lighting up the internets this very week. We’ll be sending the details to everyone on our mailing list of course, but more important than anything I can do is you spreading the good word.

IndieArt2• 120 SMALL GODS! SO FAR!
I have been drawing Small Gods for one third of a year so far. The story of the project’s origins is here:

https://leemoyer.wordpress.com/2013/06/17/1035/

It has been wonderful to have people approach me in person, on Facebook, or on Twitter with stories and ideas for Small Gods.
I look forward to the next hundred, and hope you’ll join me here:

www.leemoyer.com/smallgods

Also, people can now purchase prints of Small Gods directly from the website. Progress!

• STARSTRUCK
Earlier this year Elaine Lee and Michael Kaluta ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund Harry Palmer: Starstruck.
I am pleased to announce that in addition to the cover (below), I will again be painting the entirety of this astonishing work.
Even as I write, new pages are being created and Harry’s story promises to be even more beautiful than the previous.

HPalmer3• ARISIA 2015 HONORS
I was even more pleased to accept the Artist Guest of Honor invitation from Boston’s Arisia when I learned that the Author Guest of Honor is none other than the dynamic and delightful Nora Jemisin. It was an honor to draw a pin-up of one of her fascinating characters for my 2013 Literary Pin-up Calendar. I only hope the piece is as elegant and challenging as its source material.

JemisinPinup• ICELAND & UK
In a weeks time I will be heading out for the UK via Iceland for the World Fantasy Convention. I am very much looking forward to the new friends and old I will see, including authors Kim Newman (whose Diogenes Club books I have been lucky enough to illustrate) and Andri Snær Magnason whose remarkable book LoveStar was runner-up for the Philip K. Dick Award last year. We are especially excited to meet up with The Indelicates, one of our favorite bands – as delightfully subversive and compelling as one could wish!

• 13th AGE
My game with Rob Heinsoo, Jonathan Tweet and Aaron McConnell 13th Age is out (to rave reviews) and available from Pelgrane Press.
I am working on the artwork for its follow-on book 13 True Ways (the wilier among you might notice a couple sneak previews of that art in the vasty Games section my new website):

www.leemoyer.com/13thAge

• DOOM in REVIEW
The rescue of my game ‘The Doom That Came to Atlantic City’ by Cryptozoic was a wonderful thing to be able to announce last month.
I just found this charming review of it from GenCon (where rules designer Keith Baker was present for play tests):

Edit: Upon posting this entry I was informed I have reached my 50th post on my journal! A milestone I didn’t even realize I was making.

Big News!

Good morning lovely people,
Today, after more than a year, Keith Baker and I have some good news for you.

• Please check this page out:

http://www.cryptozoic.com/games/doom-came-atlantic-city

• Please check this board out:

DoomBoard• Please check this press release out:

_____________________________________________________

CRYPTOZOIC ENTERTAINMENT PARTNERS WITH CREATORS LEE MOYER
AND KEITH BAKER TO SAVE THE DOOM THAT CAME TO ATLANTIC CITY
BOARD GAME
Cryptozoic & Creators Pledge that Kickstarter Backers will not be Abandoned!
Irvine, CA (July 31, 2013)—Cryptozoic Entertainment™, a premier developer of original and licensed games, announced today that it will be publishing the board game The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, created by Lee Moyer and Keith Baker.This news comes just a week after the previous publisher announced that the Kickstarter project had been cancelled.
“For Lee and I, the worst part of this is that people who put their faith in our game have been hurt by it,” said Baker. “After the Kickstarter was cancelled, many people came forward with ideas to keep the game alive. But we didn’t want to pursue an option that would save Doom unless it would also get the game into the hands of the people who first supported it.”
Moyer and Baker have fought to bring this whimsical game of cosmic horror to life for over a decade. In 2010, sculptor Paul Komoda joined the team with his unique vision of the terrifying Old Ones. In 2013 it seemed that the stars were finally aligned… until the surprising announcement that the project was abandoned.
“We were really shocked to hear the news about this last week” said Scott Gaeta Cryptozoic’s chief operating officer. “The game looked fantastic and I thought that we might be able to help, so I contacted Keith right away. Keith and Lee told me that taking care of the Kickstarter backers was the most important thing to them and I couldn’t agree more. That’s why we are going to be fulfilling all of the Kickstarter game orders ourselves.”
“Our first priority is getting the game produced and in the hands of the Kickstarter backers,” said Gaeta. “We are already working with the factory and should have a date we can share in a few weeks. We are also going to be demoing the game at Gen Con and the upcoming Alliance Open House. This game is just too much fun not to make it available to gamers everywhere.”
Soon to be available in hobby stores world wide, The Doom that Came to Atlantic City board game invites players to assume the role of one of the Great Old Ones – beings of ancient eldritch power. Cosmic forces have held you at bay for untold eons, but at last the stars are right and your maniacal cult has called you forth. Once you regain your full powers, you will unleash your doom upon the world! There’s only one problem: you’re not alone. The other Great Old Ones are here as well, and your rivals are determined to steal your cultists and snatch victory from your flabby claws! It’s a race to the ultimate
finish as you crush houses, smash holes in reality, and fight to call down The Doom That Came To Atlantic City!
For more information about The Doom that Came to Atlantic City Board Game, please visit
http://www.cryptozoic.com, Keith Baker’s blog at http://www.keith-baker.com and Lee Moyer’s blog at
http://www.leemoyer.com/
Keep up to date with exclusive contests, promotions and game information on Cryptozoic
Entertainment’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

About Cryptozoic Entertainment
Founded in 2010, Cryptozoic Entertainment, Inc. is a premier developer and publisher of original and licensed board games, card games, comics and trading cards, including the World of Warcraft® Trading Card Game, The Hobbit board and deck building games, The Big Bang Theory: The Party Game and The Walking Dead™ Board Game. Following a philosophy and core principle of “Fans First,” the dedicated gamers and fans of the Cryptozoic Entertainment team are focused on producing fun and amazing products along with epic events that bring all gaming fans together as part of the Cryptozoic community. Visit http://www.cryptozoic.com for additional product and event information.
_____________________________________________________

• Everyone who supported this Kickstarter deserves the game, my sincere thanks, and their money back from the Forking Path.

• Many thanks to those of you who have supported this project. My thanks to you for your patience and support – and to Keith, Paul Komoda and Cryptozoic for their brilliance! Thank you all!

Addendum. In regards to various notes I have received on the subject I would like to clarify one very important thing and I will use Keith Baker’s excellent words to do so:

“To be absolutely clear: This has nothing to do with The Forking Path or Kickstarter. The project was cancelled, and this is not a reward or refund from the Forking Path. Cryptozoic isn’t assuming responsibility for the Kickstarter project or the actions of The Forking Path: They are simply doing what they can to make things right for the gamers who have suffered because of it. As I said, they can’t cover all rewards The Forking Path promised, because they are doing this entirely at their own expense to lend a hand. But Cryptozoic will see to it that the backers get the game they thought they were backing, and that is a tremendous relief to me.”

Starstruck and Its Role in My Salvation

I just finished reading Michael Kaluta’s wonderful introduction to The Lost Art of Heinrich Kley. It’s called “Heinrich Kley and His Role in My Salvation”.

This piece is, at the risk of plagiarism (please to call it “homage”) is: “Starstruck and Its Role in My Salvation“.

StarstruckWraparoundCover7I was lucky to meet Michael Kaluta before I was introduced to Starstruck.  Twice in fact.
The first time was at the apartment of artist David Mattingly in the long shadows of the World Trade Center. I had been working for a painter in New Jersey, and the occasion was one of the City’s monthly gatherings of those artists of the fantastic. I’d never been to the City before, much less to a party of real artists! I liked Michael and Charles Vess (his then-apartment-mate) on sight, but I would not get to know them for a couple years.

The second meeting was much more surprising as it was nowhere near New York – it was in a run-down building in a slightly seedy neighborhood north of the FBI building in downtown DC. Broadcast Arts was the name of the company, and it had been making quiet inroads into pop culture and media for some years (it would shortly thereafter move to New York later to become famous for its brilliant work on Pee-Wee’s Playhouse). It was close to my own modest digs in Arlington and, as I would shortly learn, a simple subway ride from Kaluta’s homestead in that same suburb. He had come to town to be the lead artist on DJ Webster’s video for the Alan Parsons Project’s million-selling smash hit “Don’t Answer Me“.

Here’s one of our first collaborations – Michael’s pencils and my inks for the heavy’s car in the video:

Muscles' Car

And here’s our hero and heroine – Nick and Sugar:

Nick & SugarI was out of my depth, but that didn’t seem to bother Michael. He was filled with colorful tales, mad talent, and issues of The Shadow #1 he’d drawn (I have mine near to hand even now). Our small but daring cohort finished the video in a couple weeks, and I didn’t see Michael again until I next visited the City.

By that time I had seen Starstruck. Specifically, Marvel Graphic Novel #13. I mention this to suggest the naivete of numbering Graphic Novels, and because Starstruck has assumed more forms than most shapeshifters in comic history – from play, to flashback mini-comics, to radio play, to…. Well, it’s complicated. (For more details, I recommend this Chronology.)

Starstruck was like nothing I’d seen (and I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe…).
Weirdly, it may still be ahead of its time.

BA month later, the generous Jim Edwards-Hewitt, gifted me with the first issue of the Epic miniseries that followed the events of the Graphic Novel. Upon reading it, I sent Michael a note offering my assistance should it be desired. Happily for me, that note (and its poorly drawn portrait of Brucilla “the Muscle”) is lost to history. Sadly, Starstruck lasted a mere 6 issues at Epic, and by the time my note reached him, Michael and Elaine were bidding it a sad farewell. But not before they’d given Harry Palmer his own major storyline – with pieces that presaged some of the reality we now live in (Google goggles anyone?):

StarstruckMarvelCovI met writer Elaine Lee about that time. She’d been a successful actress and off-Broadway playwright. Smart, pretty, and still possessed of a Southern accent that in no way diminished her obvious braininess.

She was also pregnant – VERY pregnant. She was a wee slip of a thing, and her unborn child? A behemoth waiting to be born. Suffice it to say, she made an impression.  I, in my turn, also made an impression. Because even 4 years into my professional “career”, I looked all of 14 years old. No, really.

Here’s the tape case I made for the audio recording of her play The Contamination of the Kokomo Lounge:

Kokomo LoungeAnd here’s the card I made for Elaine shortly thereafter. It’s as filled with joyous Starstruckery as I could manage:

It'sABoyHer son Brennan is now an adult with mad skills and a resume to match. Like his mother, he is an actor and a writer. His web comic is Strong Female Protagonist and he is a member of the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. And I, in the meantime, have managed to add the appearance (if not the maturity) of at least a couple decades.

It was my honor to work with Michael on assorted gigs through the 80s and 90s (The Abyss adaptation for Dark Horse, a couple SF covers for Byron Priess, et al.) even as I was visiting the City to engage in my long-running habit of dating NYU girls. (I sometimes suspect that Michael put up with my boisterous self because my coterie improved the scenery.) Happily, I got to spend time with Charlie, Elaine, Augusta and others during these pleasurable jaunts. Such a blessing for a young and untrained artist!

By the time Elaine and Michael were given a chance to revisit Starstruck in 1990, they had sufficient faith in my knowledge and passion for their project to entrust the “About Last Issue” blurbs to me. But rather than continuing the tale forward in time and space, they did something far more interesting: they expanded the story – literally adding frames, words and sometimes whole sequences, between the originals. This was reading between the lines in a very real sense! And I relished the opportunity to see the story unfold, to try and ferret out the details and relationships that each unreliable narrator were showing, telling, hiding or lying about. It was a joy! But short lived.

This time it was Michael’s workload that shut things down, not publisher Dark Horse. And so, many pages of Elaine’s expanded and continued story went unread. Oh sure, I had some of Michael’s xeroxed pencils from the unpublished Issue 5, but that was hardly sufficient….

StarstruckEUCovLittle did I suspect that Starstruck would be my entree to anything so strange as a career in games…. but by 1990 my interest in roleplaying games had come a long way. What had started with D&D and Boot Hill, had grown through Call of Cthulhu and culminated in a decade of running Lawyers, Guns and Money. And table-top divertissement (no matter how involving or therapeutic) didn’t tell the whole story –  I had stumbled into the early live role-playing games that have come to be called LARPs.

I ran (and helped run) a few of these myself. One of these was notable because it involved Starstruck characters, and was staged down the block from Michael’s boyhood home. Elaine was invited to reprise her stage role of Galatia 9, but sadly money did not allow. The players were remarkable, and many things that could never occur in the real series happened with aplomb – The Bajar Shilling was revalued when Ronnie Lee Ellis married Dwannyun (or was it “Dumb-Onion”?) Grivaar, and the Girl Guides made out like… well, Girl Guides. Norris Rex created a new art form of “running real fast”, and Krystals were used to render the veil of the time/space continuum by none other than the displaced Hong Kong Cavaliers.

Here’s the cover I made for the game book – using what was (in 1986) the very latest in computer graphics: MacPaint. “If only computers would advance to a point where they were more useful than an Etch-a-Sketch! Oh, what I would do then!”

Macpaint1Here’s one of the labels I made for the hooch on the Vale of Tiers:

DDC LabelThen, early one morning, I got a call from Lawrence Schick (a dab hand in gaming and someone I knew from LARPs). It was 9 am and I had, as was my habit, hit the silk not 3 hours earlier. But he wasn’t calling to ask me about games, he was calling to ask if I was the same Lee Moyer who had been writing introductions to Starstruck. Even in my sleep deprived condition, that was a question I could answer.

I went to work on a project for Lawrence’s employers Magnet Interactive called Bluestar. And while that grotesquery was no Starstruck, I produced sufficient examples of Erotica Ann’s costume to put the kibosh on those outfits that Bluestar’s designers had in mind for the macho captain’s female underlings. Most every trace of this Gods-awful abomination has been eliminated from the internet, but for all that it was, in the words of our colleague Paul Murphy “The Worst thing EVER” it made a huge difference in my life – introducing me to people who are still friends, allowing me to work with my dear friends Keith Baker and Heather Lam.

Keith and I would work on all manner of game projects over the next decades, and I have hopes for the new year. But who can know?

When Lawrence went to AOL (It was a big deal then people. No, really), Keith, Heather and I were all involved in a Massively Multiplayer Starstruck pitch to AOL:

Cover

This proved a labor-intensive dead end, but it brought Elaine to my abode Arlington where I got to spend time with her and get to know her much better.

Many years passed and after I’d helped start a game company and been in-house as an Art Director for Electronic Arts, I found myself in Portland, Oregon.

During a particularly disagreeable freelance gig with one major corporation or another, it occurred to me that I’d really rather work with people of Integrity. So I asked Michael to send me out some of the black and white pages he’d created for the Dark Horse run and that had never been painted. His choices were… ambitious. This page’s Beastie WPA mural being only one example. Later, of course, we’d add a panel and dialog, but one piece at a time…:

7The results were strong enough that Michael sent them out to his nearest and dearest. And that’s how I got the nod from Dave Stevens to paint his drawing of Spiderman (I had no idea that Dave was dying at the time, but it was an honor to work with him). One thing leads to another, but what that other will be is seldom obvious:

©Moyer_Hedge-SpidermanIIHSeveral years on, I got THE CALL.

Starstruck was on – this time, from IDW. Michael would be making the pages 17% taller (sometimes by adding new panels, sometimes by adding extra height to existing panels) and I would be painting the lot.

Here is the cover for Issue 1 as it developed:

2-RecoveredHaving tried to buy Starstruck art from him for years, you could have knocked me over with a feather when Michael gave me the ink piece you see top center!

Here’s the cover to Issue 8. Michael’s grasp of war machinery, detail, and spacial relations is non-pariel (and somewhat tricky to paint!):

8fdfCompareHere are a few panels from among the thousand or so Befores and Afters:

hghg10One of the unexpected aspects of this remastered expansion of the expanded tale was the need to relocate word balloons and caption boxes (like those in the Baron’s “throne” room above), as well as create new word balloons and sound effects. There was no budget for Todd Klein or John Workman to reprise their work, so it was my bailiwick (see: out of my depth, above). If there is any better lesson in type placement and flow, in TYPE generally, I’ve certainly never encountered it. In a few cases (like the one below) I had to turn to local expert (and legendary X-Men letterer) Tom Orzechowski for the most elegant and subtle solution:

18But other times, the answers spoke for themselves (much like the garrulous Brucilla) and the resultant cascade of verbiage flowed between panels. Hey kids! See how many changes you can spot – even after Michael made the panel taller!

Progress1Sometimes I spent days working on important, if intentionally incomplete, UI. (See: Mary Medea and Ambrosia Vitrona Khrome, below):

StarStruck Glossary 1And when that first HUGE 1/3 of the total Starstruck experience was collected by IDW, there were… gaps. {Gasp!}

Places where the story’s double-page art spreads needed to be properly set up and where the narrative (never seen in a single volume before) wanted reminders and costume changes.

In one case, it was all about conversing with Elaine and stealing from Michael (left), and in another, I had the honor of painting and lettering an all-new spread from Michael with all-new words from Elaine (right):

Screen Shot 2013-04-08 at 1.30.41 AMIt took a very long day to paint this next page, and half that time was in making the background and the type work. By making the adjustments I did, it became possible to open up the Shakespeare quote (upper right), and more importantly, to include the object of greatest interest to the scheming parties involved: that anomaly of the Neutral Zone, the Mirror (in the lower right of the background panel). The change to Ronnie Lee’s monitor (upper left) is based on a set that Michael used later. Broadening her shoulder also seemed a good idea:

Compare1All of which brings me to Starstruck Today.
Because there is a Starstruck today!

Thanks to the miracle of Kickstarter, Starstruck is coming back.

And while I made the hard decision to leave the painting of my favorite story (to date) in the hands of some other lucky painter, I am lending my experience with Kickstarter and doing what any fan of the series will be doing: backing it. And in my case, backing it at a high level – there’s simply no way I’ll be missing the chance to get Michael to draw me a Starstruck scene he’s never (to my knowledge anyway) even attempted. Who knows what it will look like in the end? Is it wrong for me to hope for another WPA Mural? Turnabout is fair play after all.  ;)

One of my prized possessions for the past 2 decades has been the poster for the original run of the play. It’s hung on the walls of many different homes, and now graces my den. But cooler still is the gun that Michael, Charlie, and company made for Kalif Bajar in the original stage play. It lives in my wunderkabinett – with the aluminum Cootie, Danger Mouse, Tsunami Bear, the Maltese Falcon, Felix the Cat and other dear friends.

How excited am I for this Kickstarter? Excited enough that I have donated Kalif’s pistol as a backer reward!:

GiftsIt is more important to me to have Harry Palmer’s story, with all it’s grit, hilarity, and heartbreak finally told properly. I painted the cover of the book (below), some pieces for the Kickstarter, as well as some Kickstarter exclusives (go check them out here!).

d25cb098315e8864cf117ac56adc07b7_largeHarry’s story is my favorite. And I hope it will be yours as well!

And it’s not just me that’s hoping for the best. Check out the words of Geof Darrow and Rick Berry in the Kickstarter film. Or check out the first big IDW compendium and read Mike Carey‘s thoughts therein.

Kickstarter – What does it all mean?

Ever since the conclusion (actually long before the conclusion), of our recent Kickstarter campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City, I’ve been receiving congratulations of one type and another. When I seemed momentarily startled by their kindness, people asked me why. And when I came out of my fugue state, I told them the simple truth: “Mistakes were made”.

With a little prompting, I went on to explain some of these mistakes. And I told all my friends to please let me know before they began their own Kickstarter campaigns, to help them better prevent the mistakes we made. But I soon realized that rather than repeat myself over and over, I should simply write a white paper on the subject, so that I could more easily disseminate the facts without forgetting crucial information with each repetition.

Before I get to practical matters however, there is no shortage of more diffuse and impractical thoughts to get out of the way from my month-long addiction to Kickstarter.

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1. Kickstarter is the best thing ever.

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2. It’s Kickstarter’s world. We just live in it.

Kickstarter is an amazing font of crowd-sourced capital, yes. But where does that crowd come from? Our first supporters had already supported between 2 and 178 other Kickstarter projects. In short, they were already “of the body”. They knew and loved Kickstarter for allowing them to help create products they wanted, for helping to change the playing field, for telling them about projects they would never otherwise have even heard of, and perhaps most important of all, for changing, deepening, and strengthening the relationship between Creator and consumer. They understood the paradigm and paid attention to the site’s many categories and recommendations.

As our month went on and we got stellar press, Kickstarter habitués gave way to people who’d never used, or in some cases even heard of, Kickstarter. I don’t know what the workers at Kickstarter Central call these wonderful people – Newcomers? Virgins? Noobs? Lambs to the slaughter? But this was the most surprising point to me. Not only were we using Kickstarter to fund this game project that no game publisher would touch, Kickstarter was using us to bring them more users. And the larger the user base grows, the better for everyone involved. Especially, Kickstarter shareholders.

Because Kickstarter makes its money on the success of projects, it is deeply incentivized to assist clever campaigns. As a result, we were featured on Kickstarter in a couple places: as Portland, Oregon’s top campaign for most of the month, and as a top pick in the Games category. In fact, during our tenure in Kickstarter’s Staff Picks, they restructured the “Games” category to include both “Board & Card Games” and “Video Games”, ensuring Doom’s status as a top pick for an even longer period of time.

I had initially guessed that our project was getting love from Kickstarter because it was graphic, we presented it well enough, and that the resumes of the 3 creators were pretty impressive. That may be true. But were we also a likelier candidate for success by virtue of the creators’ pre-existing social networks? Was our old-school board game meets HP Lovecraft vibe more likely to ensnare Kickstarter Virgins? I don’t know, but what I do know is by the end, few if any of our new backers had supported even 1 other Kickstarter project, and that may have been the really important part for Kickstarter.

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3. Kickstarter is the best PR other people’s money can buy.

I had never heard of the Pebble watch until masses of our backers proved to be supporting their Kickstarter. The word of mouth and feeling of involvement a strong Kickstarter campaign can generate is phenomenal, and all without traditional Venture Capital or Angel Investors to pay off! It’s a funding platform that sells you rather than one that buys you. Sure, you’re giving them some of your supporters in perpetuity, but isn’t that transaction more agreeable than selling them a whopping percent of your company? And besides, each backer can use the wonders of the Internet to get you more backers! To get Kickstarter more! To get your next project more! To… well, looking forward, things get mighty interesting.

Does the current boom go bust as all the cool kids exceed their Kickstarter budgets and the whole thing shuts down? Or do projects get better and better the way evolution should work? This is an interesting point to me as I’ve watched actual capitalism wither and die in some parts of the economy. Yes, there’s been no shortage of shoddy product on Kickstarter – projects born of pity or in reaction to the dominant paradigms, et al. – but will such campaigns continue?

Will they be allowed to?

Will the marketplace of ideas become more discerning, and the bar for projects that Kickstarter will even approve be set much much higher?

Will Kickstarter self-censor strongly and effectively?

What will make them leverage their power more specifically, and control access more tightly?

Will some projects be so successful that Kickstarter finds itself paying for their virgins?

We can’t know at this juncture, but it’ll be fascinating to find out.

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4. All the cool kids are doing it.

As 2012 dawned, I had never done a Kickstarter project. By the end of the year, I’ll have done half a dozen. A few with young, largely untested talent, but the vast majority with award-winning authors like M. K. Hobson, sculptors like Paul Komoda, and top-tier game designers like Keith Baker, Rob Heinsoo and Jonathan Tweet. And that’s just a hint of what I’m doing. Most of the Creators I know are currently working on some level of campaign (thus the white paper to follow)!

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5. Creatives and Corporations – why can’t they all just get along?

I worried a little before Doom that ours would be the project with which Kickstarter would officially jump the shark. But that was apparently just nerves. It had, however, happened once before. The wonderful Z-Man Games (publishers of Pandemic, see above) purchased Doom, but then Z-Man was sold to a European game company right before our publication date, and the new owners didn’t want our game. And neither did anyone else. How is that working out for those publishers now I wonder?

When we took in 122k in a month, an old colleague suggested that, “The market was clearly ready for your game.” Maybe so, but the game companies were not. At all. The Creators’ willingness to market their game, the public’s desire to see Lovecraftian Gods trash Atlantic City, the pedigree of the creative team (games, novels, films, posters): none of that mattered one whit. They didn’t see a return that showed any kind of clear profit for them, and they passed.

In the decline of the working and creative class that we’ve all weathered these last 30 years, major monopolist corporations have intentionally made Creators the lowest people on their totem poles.

The odious work-for-hire contracts, the hierarchical apple-polishing, the constant cancellations of green-lit projects to protect their jobs at the expense of others and to “bolster” their bottom line: it’s all been designed to maximize their profits and strip Creators of their chance for licensure, and the passive streams of income Creators might otherwise have enjoyed. There are still plenty of artists who need corporate paychecks, but many artists are viewing this as a long-overdue sea change. In Portland, many people suggest that the only way to move up the ranks at Nike is to go to Adidas. And vice versa. In New York, people leave DC for Marvel. And vice versa. Does Kickstarter mean that Creatives will be getting more respect from the big players now that they can set their own terms elsewhere? Or will the big companies simply ignore them when they ask for more respect? As exciting as Kickstarter is now, what will it be in the future? Will it morph over time like the massive powerhouse whose informal corporate motto was “Don’t be evil”? We shall see.

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6. Make no mistake. This is an addiction.

The shots of dopamine that accompany every new dollar the Refresh button reveals are the most obvious example. But the fact is, we Creators are on the line here. Every mistake or miscue is now on us. And that’s not the sort of responsibility that leads one to sleep like a baby. Kickstarter is not for the faint of heart. Can you imagine working a month or more (more really, even for a “30 day” campaign) only to have that campaign stall and fail? Many of the best and brightest Creators have already experienced that very thing. Sobering. Kickstarter will take every ounce of energy you can give it and want more. Believe it.

Every mistake we made weighs on me, and I suspect it’s the same for many others. So, with this prologue, I hope you’ll enjoy (and be informed by) the paper to come.

Part 1 of Kickstarter White Paper

Part 2 of Kickstarter White Paper

THANK YOU!

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I haven’t written a word here since the Kickstarter campaign for The Doom That Came to Atlantic City went live. There are plenty of reasons for that, and I strongly advise anyone I know who is planning a Kickstarter of their own to contact me before they set out on beautiful but mysterious the waters of crowdsourcing! It’s obviously an amazing venue that can yield spectacular results, but it might just eat your life in the process.

We were successful, and I want to thank everyone who helped spread the word! It was always a delight to see the names of my friends and colleagues join the list of backers. And watching that list grow was like watching the beans your Mom said were worthless (Don’t have a cow, Mom!) sprout and grow and reach their green tendrils up to the heavens.

The wonderful Nadya at Coilhouse led the way, and io9, Wired’s GeekDadQuarter to ThreeThe Gaming Gang, Geek.com and Nerd Approved followed thereafter. BoardGameGeek.com was also helpful, even when their members couldn’t wrap their heads around the idea that we’d come not to praise Monopoly, but to bury it.

With their help, we not only have the bare-bones game, we got to add several features we never thought we could afford (Tomes, Hotels, Gate markers, custom dice, et al.) that the wild success of the Kickstarter campaign made possible. There’s a lot more work for me to do, but it’s going to be amazing!

Thanks again,

Lee