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Company Announcements

Principles to Live (and Design) By

Writing a set of company principles right from the outset of Prometheus Game Labs might have seemed pretty sensible, defining what sort of company I wanted to build from the outset. The truth is I didn’t really know what my principles should be. As I became more experienced in running my first campaign, I realised that my principles were already there, guiding all of the ways I operate, and it took all of these interactions for my principles to reveal themselves to me in a consistent way. Instead of thinking what my principles should be, I’m now able to reflect exactly what they are.

These principles should serve as a compass – as long as I am following the direction I set here, I believe it to be the right course.

Delight People Throughout the Journey

At all stages of the journey, I want my customers to be delighted with their experience. Ultimately, I want to build a company I would want to support, a game I would want to play, and a Kickstarter project I would want to be a part of. This means providing an overall experience that I would be delighted to have.

This objective then is the one that all others stem from in support of it.

Provide Value

Providing Value in my products doesn’t just mean creating something at the cheapest price possible. It means packing as much game as possible into whatever the product is.

This means providing replayability and variability in games. It means providing additional content and play modes. It means making efficient use of components and materials. It means designing with the end package and shipping in mind. All of these things together inform choices in the others to make the product the best it can be. I won’t be content with producing something that is just ‘fine’.

Give People Choice

I love having choices, and I love products that let me get exactly what I want. Giving people more options for their shipping, options for the type of product and options for upgrades leads to more happy people. It adds additional challenges in manufacturing and shipping, but it’s something I think is worth it to allow people to choose exactly what they want.

It is fatal (or at least foolish) to believe that your product is suitable for everyone, but I want to reach and include as many people as possible. So from the people that want the smallest purchase possible, to the people that want everything, I want to cater for you.

Communicate Often

Whether it’s good news or bad news, nothing is worse than silence. I aim to keep people informed at all stages of the process.

This means responding to messages promptly. Keeping people updated as to the status of their pledge or order. Communicating updates on progress in game design and sharing in that journey.

Responding personally and genuinely is something I also believe is very important. I made an effort to respond to every single comment during the Micro Dojo campaign, and to reach out to every backer personally to thank them for supporting me, and it’s something I intend to do in future.

Deliver Promises

Customers should get copies of their game in a perfect condition every single time. If there is even the slightest problem, I will do everything I can to fix it.

When backers support a project, or someone buys a copy of my game, I believe they deserve to get exactly what they paid for and even minor damage should be replaced. Of course this policy comes at a cost, but I believe that cost to be entirely worth it to make sure someone somewhere is made happy.

I have personally had many experiences where my view of a company in light of an issue or error by that company is made significantly worse or better not by the original issue, but how it was handled, and I value good customer service very highly.

Include Fans

Sharing information and ideas early with fans offers two things. One, it allows me to offer something special that the closest followers will get to see. Two, it allows me to get feedback and inputs from the people most invested in receiving a quality game.

This of course leaves me vulnerable – exposing my mistakes or flawed designs, or even disappointing some fans with abandoned or unchosen ideas. But it doesn’t take one person to make a game, it takes the contribution of many. Comments, criticism, thoughts and feedback are a crucial part of that process and quite simply the more there is the better the game is – every single one has added an extra layer of polish.

This also includes remembering to thank, publicly, those people that contribute their time, effort and enthusiasm to helping me make games even better and bringing joy to thousands of people.

Respect Partners

Partners are crucial to the process of making games. Playtesters, manufacturers, artists, graphic designers, marketing consultants, fulfilment companies and shipping providers are all experts that I simply cannot do without. Forging good relationships built on mutual respect is not just the right thing to do from a personal perspective, but a pretty sensible business decision as well. I really value the time and support from these experts, and in return I aim to pay them promptly for the services they give me.

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Company Announcements

What’s next for Prometheus Game Labs?

With the Micro Dojo campaign mostly wrapped up, many people (including myself) have asked what’s next for Prometheus Game Labs?

Before the start of the campaign I had plans that Micro Dojo would be the beginning of a future in game design rather than the ending. Whilst there are a lot of potential avenues to explore, I thought I’d share some of the key areas I’m considering (and you might just see a few hints for future projects in the article).

  • Publishing more games
  • Publishing games from other designers
  • Licensing games to other publishers
  • Designing games in partnership
  • Consulting

If you want to get future updates on all the details here, you can subscribe to the mailing list below:

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Publishing more games

Number one on my list is to design and publish more of my own games, as well as add-ons for existing games (first spoiler alert). The micro game format proved to be hugely popular, especially at a time when material and shipping prices are at an all time high. It is a challenge to make sustainable in the long term however, and I plan to produce both small and larger games in future. You can also expect future games to appeal to a similar audience, as my personal preference is for Euro and Worker-Placement style games.

I really like the project dashboards that both Stonemaier Games and Mindclash Games include in their monthly emails, showing how far along their current projects are and what their plans for the future are. Not only is it a nice way to keep backers up to date but it’s also a good way to keep me on track. Announcing plans (and progress) publicly means I can focus on completing the things that need doing, and I have thousands of you to keep me accountable by being able to see where projects are developing or stalling.

This kind of project dashboard is something I plan to incorporate in the monthly newsletter, so keep an eye out for some additional game reveals in next months newsletter:

Stonemaier Games Project Dashboard
Mindclash Games Project Dashboard

Publishing games from other designers

Publishing games from other designers is another option for Prometheus Game Labs that allows me to leverage my experience in developing a game and fulfilling a campaign. It also frees up designers to focus their time on creating new designs. Bringing a game to life is hard work, and in the time spent planning and fulfilling the Micro Dojo campaign I likely could have created and tested several new games. Whilst I was certainly thinking of new game concepts and ideas during that period, nearly all of my attention was focused on the campaign which can make for a slow production cycle.

When considering games from other designers, they must fit a similar theme and style or at the very least appeal to fans of existing games. It also has to be a game that I am very excited about, to work as hard (if not harder) as I would to bring a game of my own to life. I see taking on another persons design as a lot of responsibility – their success as a designer rests on the publisher making their design a success after all.

Publishing games from other designers is certainly something that I am open to in future. I’m not actively pursuing it in the short term whilst I focus on launching the next steps of my own games.

Licensing games to other publishers

Licensing games to other publishers is a well-trodden path taken by designers that focus more exclusively on design, but also has a couple of other advantages I can see.

I mentioned above that games published by Prometheus Game Labs would follow a similar style and appeal to a similar audience. Part of the design process involves experimenting with other ideas, genres and mechanics, and I may find some exciting projects that don’t really fit the existing brand. This is where licensing games to publishers that fit their brand can allow us both to be more successful.

Another option, with the quality of Micro Dojo already proven, is producing a larger sized premium edition and utilising an existing publishers reach (both in audience and distribution chains) for a successful partnership. Plus the name Micro Dojo: Macro Edition has a nice ring to it don’t you think?

Designing games in partnership

Arguably a mixture of the previous three options, designing a game in partnership with another person or team is probably the most common approach in board game design.

Though it seemed Micro Dojo was almost an entirely solo endeavour, the Thank You section of the campaign page shows just how many people ended up contributing to it’s success. When you also count the feedback from playtesters, fans, and other designers, even a micro campaign takes inputs from literally hundreds of people.

I’m used to working on my own a lot, but I prefer to have other people to work with (especially when we have differing skillsets). I’m at my best when I’m engaging with people and, if for no other reason than keeping myself healthy and happy, I very much look forward to working with other designers on some future games.

Consulting

My full time job, for nearly all of my working life, has been as a consultant. Being a consultant, particularly in security, has developed a lot of skills that transfer to board game design – from problem solving to project management. Consulting also lets me do some of the things I really love to do.

I love to share knowledge and to teach. I love to solve problems and create elegant solutions. I also love being able to communicate those ideas and inspire people. Finally, I love to help people create something.

One thing I would have found hugely valuable during the whole campaign for Micro Dojo was an expert in certain areas to check-in with on a regular basis. Whether to answer specific questions, or just as a way to keep things on track and generate new ideas, even a 1 hour session every couple of weeks would have let me focus my efforts in the right places and keep momentum going.

When the time comes to transition to board game design full-time, supporting other projects with consultations (either one-to-sessions, or through a structured toolkit and methodology) is something I plan to add on top of designing and publishing games.

Summary

Where Prometheus Game Labs will actually end up going in future could well differ from all of these, as new opportunities come and go, but I hope this post has given you an insight into my intentions. In the short term I’ll be working on more games that fit the existing mould set with Micro Dojo, so keep an eye on the blog and email updates for more announcements (you signed up to the mailing list, right?).

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Company Announcements

Micro Dojo Funded in 13 minutes!

Wow, what a start to the project! Already funded in just 13 minutes has blown away my expectations. 

Thank you so so much for being on board so soon, and I’m really looking forward to the rest of this journey with you.

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Company Announcements Game Updates

Press Release – Micro Dojo Launches May 10th

Ben Downton and Prometheus Game Labs is launching Micro Dojo on Kickstarter on May 10th this year. The campaign is running for 21 days, during which backers can pledge funds to support production and in return receive a copy (or multiple copies) of the game. Designed to be small and simple to produce, and perfect for travelling, backers can pledge for a single copy for just £5 plus shipping.

Micro Dojo is complete at launch, meaning there is no long post-campaign development and production cycle. The first 500 copies will be shipped to backers immediately following the campaign, with further copies sent out in a second wave following a second print run.

The game has been playtested hundreds of times, and received high praise from reviewers. This launch is intended to be the first of many, delivering confidence to backers and building an audience for future successful game launches.

About the Game

In Micro Dojo, you are one of two Daimyo—feudal lords of Edo Japan—tasked by the Shogun to bring prosperity to a small town. Carefully manoeuvre the town’s retainers to gather resources, build buildings, complete the Shogun’s tasks, and win favour. The most prosperous Daimyo will be granted the title to the town.

Micro Dojo is a tactical two-player game that fits in your pocket. It is a worker placement game where the shared Ninja, Geisha, Sumo and Samurai are moved around a 3×3 grid to take actions. The chess-like elements of tactical movement and opponent prediction is inspired by games like Onitama and Cerebria, whilst fans of euro games that follow the typical acquire-build-score framework will feel comfortable with Micro Dojo. Overall it is a medium weight game that has simple turns, but a depth of play that allows player to exercise their intelligence.

Number of Players: 2
Game Duration: 15-30min
Age: 14+
Website: prometheusgamelabs.com
Kickstarter: kickstarter.com/projects/prometheus-gamelabs/micro-dojo/