Clearly, I need to work on my subject lines. That one doesn't hide everything behind clever wordplay or have interesting double meanings. Just a boring statement of what this update is. But that's why I added the exclamation point—there's actually a lot of really cool things going on!
Of Dice and Men
One of the things the factory asked us about was dice. Seems simple, right? Pick six colors of dice, and move on. Well, if you didn't care about theming, or making sure people who are colorblind can differentiate the dice. But we do, so I turned to an expert—my twin sister. With a background in graphic design and art, my sister is my go-to person for all things color-related. So I called her up and said, "Hey, can you help me pick out some colors for our dice?"
So let me explain about color theory a bit: It's complex, and I barely understand it. As we were going through colors, my sister would say, "That's close, but it has a green tone to it." Or, "The color we need will be more earthy than that." And I kind of understood. I've watched almost every episode ofBaumgartner Restorationon YouTube multiple times, and he shows how so many colors we take for granted actually have multiple colors mixed into them. (If you haven't watched this absolutely amazing channel, he's an art restorer. It is both educational and incredibly satisfying to watch!) You think that's just a bit of a greyish-white? Actually, it has green, pink, and blue mixed into it! That brown has eight other colors mixed into it. And each time I'm blown away that he saw that. So this is why I turned to my sister because I knew I wasn't qualified on my own. We began to work, talking through the colors, the themes, pulling up all of the character and boss deck artwork, and then carefully culling through the thousands of Pantone colors to find a range that worked.
You'll note the ones above the pictures are more "metallic" than the ones below. And that was so we had a choice in the process. Eventually, my sister and I had narrowed down the colors to about a quarter of those, eliminating the metallic ones—they were cool looking, but didn't quite match the art and theme. And then she pulled out the color swatches. We ended up mixing and matching colors (by which I mean, she did the mixing and matching as I watched over Zoom since she's in a different state than me), and we saw what colors went best together while still offering a variety and being true to the colors in the artwork. We talked about the relationships of colors, which ones liked each other and which ones fought, which ones had echoes of another color in them and what that echo was, why the colors I was seeing on my computer looked different than the color swatches. (There are a bunch of reasons, so be warned, you may be seeing slightly different colors than the final dice.)
In all, we took over 2 hours to do this. But I've never before been so happy to play around with colors. It was a fascinating process, and getting to work with my sister was so thrilling! Man, I'm excited about seeing the dice! And that's something I never would have thought I'd say. I thought the cards were cool enough.
And speaking of...
Cards (and Other Components) of Fate
We have been talking with the factory in Shanghai almost every day. They would catch a small error here or need us to send over a few decks in a slightly different form. We've finally gotten everything settled, and I keep shaking with excitement. Seeing the cards laid out, the box art, even the tokens all laid out and ready to go is so so so so so cool! Seriously, it's been driving me forward this whole time. Whenever we hear from the factory, we send everything back that day (or sooner!).
One of the other pieces is the tokens. Art came up with the idea of having three different kinds—1, 3, and 5—which means you'll be able to track all sorts of things, no matter how crazy your hunt may get! And he also made each one a different size, so now you can tell not only by the image, but also by feel. That's pretty darn neat, if I do say so myself!
But let's talk about cards—oh so many cards! And specifically, where we are with them.
As you can see, the factory has laid everything out. We've been going back and forth with them almost every day getting everything perfected. It ends up, when you've been staring at something for months on months, you start to just accept things that you shouldn't. For example, some of the cards had text too close to the edges, which we had to correct lest it get cut off. The machines they use have a margin of error, so there's something called a "bleed edge" that we had to make sure we didn't overlap. Or get too close to—having text right at the edge would look weird.
In the process of getting feedback, we caught a few instances of small details that I'd overlooked along the way. For example, see if you can spot the problem across these three images:
If you noted that there's a roaming space around the dash, you have great eyes! That was a very odd mistake to have made, but now it's corrected. There are plenty of other small things, details that are usually very small, but they just make the game feel a bit more polished.
Keeping Our Morale Up
I couldn't think of a great lead in to talking about the Morale Tracking sheet. One of the really cool things about working with the people at the factory is that they have given us a few ideas along the way about things to make the game just a bit better. So one of the things is that our Morale Tracker will now have metal in it, and the bead we originally asked for will be a magnet! This will help prevent all those times when a stray die or a hand bump would cause the bead to move. Plus, it's a magnet! Who doesn't like magnets? We're merging science and board games!
Let's Talk Dollars
Art and I talked about this, and we wanted you to know where things sit cost-wise. This is partly for transparency and partly as an educational effort since some people have indicated that they want to create their own board game, so here I am pulling back the curtain.
When we made the Kickstarter campaign, our original estimates from the factories we had asked for quotes from for 1,000 games were around $10-11K (about $10-12 per game). But, that was with the base game only—8 player decks, 8 boss decks, and some extra cards for Morale (we hadn't switched to the Morale tracker yet), 4 sets of dice, and a rulebook. We have expanded well beyond that. We've nearly doubled the number of cards (4 more player decks, 4 more boss decks, and duo power cards) and increased the quality of the cardstock. We have 2 more sets of dice. We have a Morale tracker now. We have a thicker rulebook than expected. We have a wonderfully designed plastic insert. Our box needed to be bigger to accommodate all of the components. And we decided to order 1,500 copies instead of 1,000. (That part is on us.) With all of these extra components, the quote per game actually rose to a bit over $20 per game. By use agreeing to order 1,500 instead of 1,000, the factory gave us a price break on each game, bringing us to about $18.50 per game. We had a few extra expenses on top of this. We said yes when the factory asked us about adding metal to the Morale tracker (an extra 40 cents per game). To do six custom colors costs an additional $300. (About $50 per custom color.) And this doesn't count the cost of the extra art we've added.
And here's the key thing for us: We agreed up front that any additional costs for all this expanded content is on us. So, even though it's now well outside the original projection, we don't care. We're super excited to be sending you about 9 pounds of game (that's one heavy box!) with a ton of extra content for you to enjoy in the near future. You will definitely not be disappointed. For all those who want to get the game in the future, they'll be paying $80 per game, and that's not including the Duo Powers you guys are getting for free. So the game you paid $50 is actually definitely a steal. And that makes me very happy! You guys supported us from the start, and we want to reward you for that.
The only thing we MAY ask for your help with is the shipping. As I mentioned before, we're looking for how to get the games to you. We're still doing research. You may have noticed that things like fuel costs have been rising, so I want to brace you. While anything related to the cost of the game we'll absorb, the shipping we might not be able to—at least, not fully. So there's a chance that we may need to ask for you to pay $10 extra for shipping. Again, this isn't confirmed, and we're doing everything possible to avoid this. In fact, Art and I have been setting aside money to try to cover the total cost, which, all in, is looking like it will be around $43,000 or so. (Yes, shipping is looking to be over $20K. Oof.) We'll keep you informed as we get closer. Again, asking you guys for money is our backup option. We believe strongly in Catharsis—we know that when people play the game that they will be excited to buy the game. So we're willing to take a loss in the present to make it up in the future. And to that end...
You may be wondering why I'm pointing you to a sight where we're selling a game you've already bought. Well, my friends, for two reasons.
First, we'd greatly appreciate you directing your friends, family, and random strangers to there so they can purchase their own copy of the game. And T-shirt. And a poster. And maybe a few mats. And some custom artwork made into a poster or playmat. (And for those of you who backed at a level to get these, you'll see over the next several days as we upload all of the options. And man, do they look cool!)
"But Dave," I see you saying, "how can we suggest a game we haven't played to our friends?" Great question! For you see, this is the bonus we've included. Something to whet your appetite. We've uploaded a Print and Play version of Catharsis. It's only for two players—one will play Aiden the bard and one will play Unmei the samurai. You will be fighting against the Corrupted Horse. So grab 12 dice and have at it! There's a copy of the full rulebook there, too, so you'll know how to play. (And get excited about all the other player and boss decks. There's a description of all of them in the rulebook!)Here's the direct link to the Print and Play.
Back to the Grindstone
So today was a bit of a hodge podge in topics. An update on the state of the game production, some insight into the costs, and an announcement about the website. You'd think that would be enough, right? Well, during the downtime, I've been working on our second game. It's a semi-cooperative semi-competitive campaign game—a 13 game arc (fully replayable!) where your decisions in one game continue on to the next. The premise is that you are mercenaries who visit a town, but you get stuck there, trapped by a magic dome. And then you find out that there are monsters coming. A whole army of them, and you have no way to escape... The game is still being refined, but never fear—work on this as-yet-unnamed game is secondary to getting Catharsis out!
Until next time, may the tokens you draw be the ones you need.