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Company Announcements

Backer Centred Crowdfunding

Board game crowdfunding is vital for a lot of creators to be able to publish their games, but it requires an awful lot of trust and patience by backers to pay money for something well in advance of it being finished, produced, and shipped to them. For new creators (or creators attracting first time backers) that trust hasn’t yet been established, and instead we have to fallback on the trust of crowdfunding in general. For a lot of people, that trust is deteriorating.

Recently, Doomsday Robots (creators of Zoo-ography and Bridges to Nowhere) posted here about what it calls Backer-Centred Crowdfunding. Highlighting some of the problems that have caused this trust to erode, Doomsday Robots sets out policies that it intends to abide by that it hopes to improve not just their own backers experience but also trust in the system.

A while back I posted an article on the principles I operate Prometheus Game Labs by, chief of which was to Delight People Throughout the Journey. That includes the crowdfunding part which for many is their first step on that journey. I love what Doomsday Robots has done, and I’m setting out my own intentions for crowdfunding, which will be posted on campaign pages in future:

  1. I will not create unrealistic funding goals. If the project funds, I will not cancel it later.
  2. I will accurately represent shipping costs – even if I choose to subsidize them.
  3. I commit to include backers as partners in the process of creation, and not just pre-order customers.
  4. I will give at least one progress update monthly to backers until general fulfillment is complete.
  5. Backer funds will only be used for the project for which they are crowdfunded until general fulfillment is complete.
  6. I will not sell product via conventions or distribution to non-backers until general fulfillment is complete.
  7. The MSRP of games will not be lower than the equivalent pledge amount.
  8. I will not censor criticism or frustration by backers (with the exception of abuse), and will respond to comments with honesty and integrity.

I’ll be including this pledge in all future campaigns (you can find me on Kickstarter or Gamefound) so that backers can trust that this is a Backer Centred campaign and hold me accountable.

Note: This page has been updated since the original post to clarify the intentions around sale to non-backers

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Company Announcements

New Signing: 99 Ninja

It’s been a busy few months, and I’m excited to announce the next, next game from Prometheus Game Labs will be 99 Ninja designed by Matt Ding and Ivan Alexiev, aiming to launch in mid-late 2023.

99 Ninja is a two player competitive tile laying game, where players use transparent cards depicting ninja from 3 different clans to surround (and assassinate) daimyo. Like other games from Prometheus Game Labs there is a lot of tactical play – you will have to time your placement and outmaneuver, but also out think, your opponent! And yes, there are 99 ninja on the cards. We counted.

Matt and Ivan started work on 99 Ninja as a pilot project, to see if they could co-design a game. Ivan first introduced me to 99 Ninja not long after Micro Dojo had launched in 2021, and suggested it would be a great spinoff game (and I could immediately see where we could use some of the cool existing artwork). I loved the clan switching element of the game where, as Ivan put it, both players felt like they were playing 2 against 1. However, at that time I wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of publishing another designers game.

Later in the year Ivan and I met at Essen Spiel, and in between lots of other games we had a playtest session of 99 Ninja to brainstorm some new ideas for it. It was still on my mind, but the next step to take it forward was a meeting with Matt at UK Games Expo. It was great to meet in person and chat about where we wanted to take the game, as well as see if it would be a good fit for us all.

After that, we spent just over a month having weekly playtest sessions on Tabletop Simulator to see how well we could all work together (and whether my vision of 99 Ninja aligned with theirs). Each time we got together we had a positive development for the game, and I felt really confident that as we continue working on and shaping the game it’s going to be a really great fit for Prometheus Game Labs.

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Company Announcements

Visit UK Games Expo: Stand 1-1160

Prometheus Game Labs is happy to be exhibiting at UK Games Expo from 3rd to 5th June 2022. Come and visit stand 1-1160 for a chance to play (and win) a copy of Micro Dojo, see the new Loyalty & Deceit expansion in person, and try the next game from Prometheus Game Labs – Micro Bots.

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Company Announcements Game Updates

Late Pledges Open at Gamefound

Following the success of the Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit Kickstarter campaign, the pledge manager (Gamefound) is now accepting Late Pledges:

There are 3 different versions of the pledge you can pick up. The Complete Edition contains everything (so far) for new players, whilst the Deluxe Edition and Envelope Edition offer the Loyalty & Deceit expansion to those that already have the original Micro Dojo.

Complete Edition

The Complete Edition for Micro Dojo is the perfect edition for new players, as it includes everything from the Deluxe edition plus the original game. That means

  • 2 game boxes (for both Micro Dojo and Loyalty & Deceit)
  • 8 Wooden Custom-Cut Meeples
  • Punchboard tokens
  • Rulebooks
  • Solo mode cards
  • Setup cards
  • Reference Cards
Complete Edition Contents

When pledging through Gamefound, the Complete Edition also includes the Kickstarter Edition sleeve for storing both game boxes together:

Kickstarter Exclusive Sleeve

Deluxe Edition

One of the requests during the original campaign was for a box as an upgrade, and though it wasn’t possible to include in last years campaign I’m delighted to be able to include one now. 

In addition to the box, the Deluxe Edition has some exciting upgrades to the components:

  • 2 boxes (for both Micro Dojo and Loyalty & Deceit)
  • Wooden Custom-Cut Meeples
  • Triple-layered player board   
Deluxe Edition Upgraded Components

Envelope Edition

Just like with the original, Loyalty & Deceit is ultra compact, fitting on a single sheet of token punchboard sized to fit perfectly into a protected envelope. In the envelope you’ll receive:

  • Punchboard sheet with pieces
  • 1-page folding printed rulebook in English
  • Resealable plastic bag for holding all components
  • Setup and Reference cards 
Envelope Edition contents

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Company Announcements Game Updates

Micro Dojo published in Hungary by Reflexshop

I’m excited to announce that, along with the support of Meeple On Board – Vanguard, Micro Dojo will be published in Hungary by Reflexshop!

Keep an eye out later this year for translated copies appearing in Hungary.

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Company Announcements

Announcing Micro Dojo: Macro Edition

(Originally posted as a Kickstarter campaign update)

One of the nice things about running a campaign is I get to hear lots of feedback from the people that are going to be playing my game – you the backer. Wherever possible I want to add your suggestions and make the game better, and one of the common pieces of feedback about Micro Dojo is that it is just too small.

“But Ben,” people say, “when will you be doing a larger edition of the game?”. Well, now’s your chance to get involved with Micro Dojo: Macro Edition (or just Macro Dojo for short). I’ve added a unique stretch goal, where the funding goal is directly correlated to the size of the game. The more backers there are, the bigger Macro Dojo gets, so tell your friends!

Stretch Goal 1 – 100 extra backers

The Internet has gone crazy for pictures of chonky cats and hefty puppers, but I say bring on the big meeples! At 100 backers, Macro Dojo will get some meeples truly worthy of the title. Check out this UNIT: 

Big boi Samurai meeple

Stretch Goal 2 – 400 extra backers

Micro Dojo was intended to be a great travel game or a way to pass some time whilst out of the house, and I’ve taken that a step further with Macro Dojo Outdoor Edition. The plastic mat in Twister is the best bit, and following that I’ve made a playmat so big that you can see it from space!

Satellite view of the fulfillment centre (my Mum’s house)

Macro Dojo Outdoor Edition doesn’t come with meeples included, but will come with a discount voucher for costume rental in your area for 4 willing friends. Friends not included.

Stretch Goal 3 – 828 Backers

I live in Dubai, and when you live under the shadow of Burj Khalifa (the tallest building in the world) it’s hard not to be inspired to think BIG. Incidentally, 828 is the number of metres that this monster of a building stands tall and is also the height of one of the in-game meeples.

Unfortunately The Game Crafter weren’t able to sort out a prototype of this size at such short notice, so instead I have created a digital mockup to illustrate the size:

Prototype Macro Dojo meeples (not available in stores)

I really hope we can hit this stretch goal together. With your help we can create Micro Dojo: Interfering with Aircraft edition and finally put an end to the complaints about the game being just too damn small!

Happy April Fools Day everyone, and thanks for being part of the campaign 🙂

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Company Announcements

Press Release: Micro Dojo expansion – Loyalty & Deceit

Prometheus Game Labs launches Micro Dojo expansion, Loyalty & Deceit, on Kickstarter March 16th 2022.

An expansion for the hit pocket-game Micro Dojo. Pledge your loyalty, earn favour, and help your chosen clan come to power.

As a follow up to 2021’s hit Kickstarter game, Micro Dojo, Prometheus Game Labs is launching an expansion for the game called Loyalty & Deceit. Building on the unique format to fit inside an envelope for cheap international shipping, the launch will also feature a boxed deluxe edition and a second chance for new players to get a copy of the original game. Coming March 16th on Kickstarter.

The game introduces two rival clans that fight for control of the town, and players can pledge their allegiance to each through the new Loyalty mechanic. This introduces alternate advancement tracks, clan affiliated building abilities, and a new ‘Favour’ resource. Other additions include a modular customisable board, split objectives, and an extended 9 point version of the game.

The game has been playtested and iterated upon extensively, building on the original framework, and developed with support from Player Lair. Micro Dojo: Loyalty & Deceit is complete at launch, meaning there’s no long wait to complete the artwork or content development and backers will get their game as soon as possible.

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.

Details
Number of Players : 2

Game Duration: 15-30min

Price: £5

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/prometheus-gamelabs/micro-dojo-expansion

Website: https://prometheusgamelabs.com

Facebook: https://facebook.com/prometheus.gamelabs

Instagram: https://instagram.com/prometheus.gamelabs

Artwork by: David Grigoryan

Assets:
https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1fEpl_8mKxhQXSAPuCCD7ku3n-Hn5snW9?usp=sharing

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Company Announcements Game Updates

Micro Dojo published in France by Don’t Panic Games

I’m excited to announce that, along with the support of Meeple On Board – Vanguard, Micro Dojo will be published in France by the amazing Don’t Panic Games!

Keep an eye out later this year for translated copies appearing all across France.

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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?).