Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Graywulffe on Wed 13 Jul 2016 12:26

LOL!

You know... If you were printing the game, with counters and something akin to the original map, maybe $10.95. Do not forget the zip-lock bag, too. It would be interesting to see if this could be done with a small profit. Or would the price have to be higher?

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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Cralis on Wed 13 Jul 2016 13:15

I'm not sure. We are pretty much out of the old 4-part maps and nearly out of GSF box sets (which is part of the reason they are locked on the orders page), so we've discussed doing a remake of the pocketbook as well as new maps. Need to shop for manufacturing prices.

I've also been looking at WarGame Vault for distributing electronic copies. Only problem there is that we'd have to raise some of our prices... mostly the legacy products ...to cover the percentage they take. But it would give players more flexibility and an easier, web-based downloading system. Do ya'll think that would be worth it?
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby nukesnipe on Wed 13 Jul 2016 15:13

Graywulffe wrote:LOL!

You know... If you were printing the game, with counters and something akin to the original map, maybe $10.95. Do not forget the zip-lock bag, too. It would be interesting to see if this could be done with a small profit. Or would the price have to be higher?

-best


I stumbled across Pocket Option Games https://pocketoptiongames.com on Kickstarter last year. His goal is to do just what you ask: produce a zip-lock bag game for the current day equivalent of 1977 $2.95. They're pretty interesting Kickstarters to participate in as he is very open about every step of the game development/production/shipping process. The games are pretty fun as well, and the quality better than one would assume.

I'm pretty sure he only sells the games via Kickstarter, but he usually has an option of purchase his other games as add-ons if he has any in stock.

Check it out.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Graywulffe on Thu 14 Jul 2016 14:34

nukesnipe wrote:
I stumbled across Pocket Option Games https://pocketoptiongames.com on Kickstarter last year. His goal is to do just what you ask: produce a zip-lock bag game for the current day equivalent of 1977 $2.95...


Very interesting. So it does seem possible to produce pocket games at the approximate price equivalent to Golden Era games. This is encouraging. I might have to take a closer look at a few of the POG games.

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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Cralis on Thu 14 Jul 2016 16:26

Interesting... he's in the extreme end of super simple, super cheap games. But what was enlightening was reading his blog entries about various issues and decisions they've faced.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby nukesnipe on Fri 15 Jul 2016 18:27

He sold his Carrier Commander game for $3 including shipping. The Kickstarter updates were interesting as he divulged all of the considerations he had to make. Who knew the difference between 16pt paper and 14pt paper could be so impactful? Is ordeal with mailing envelopes was pretty interesting also.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Cralis on Sat 16 Jul 2016 11:24

nukesnipe wrote:He sold his Carrier Commander game for $3 including shipping. The Kickstarter updates were interesting as he divulged all of the considerations he had to make. Who knew the difference between 16pt paper and 14pt paper could be so impactful? Is ordeal with mailing envelopes was pretty interesting also.


Yeah that was a pretty amazing achievement. CheapAss Games used to do pretty cheap games in manilla envelopes too.

But for me, the most enlightening stuff was his blog about the decisions he had to make and their impact.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby jbanes on Thu 25 Aug 2016 14:37

Hi all! Long time, no see. :D

I was a backer for Devils and Black Sheep. The guy is a good designer, but be warned: It really is old school. The mechanics interact a LOT and mess with your plans. These interactions prevent players from rapidly winning, but also serve to extend the game time. The side effect of a longer game is not necessarily a positive. (Not entirely a negative either.)

In terms of the print quality of the game, WinGo did an AMAZING job. The quality of the punch-out counters is simply amazing. It's such high quality stuff that it almost feels like plastic punch-outs. In fact, the chips make a "clink" sound like plastic when they hit the table. You can see me handling pieces from the game at 15:50 in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fer8vvA5_gU

The hexboard itself is a piece of glossy card. It's effectively a full-color advertising print. Like the postcards your local businesses send you with coupons to cut out. There-in lies the fundamental problems with the game:

- The hexmap is too small due to the need to fit in a letter-size envelope
- The thin pieces of chipboard on the glossy card paper are nearly impossible to pick up and manipulate

I want to play the game again, but I'm planning on stealing some cardboard hexes from my copy of Centauri Saga. The provided hex board is just too fiddly.

In terms of economics, I'm not entirely getting this guy's struggles. The package I received was 2 chipboards, one glossy card, and a full-color piece of poster paper. That should be cheap enough to print that they could be given away for advertising! My only guess is that his volume isn't high enough. But when I followed his Kickstarter campaign it kind of felt like he was only driving to meet the minimum requirement and then didn't care much after that. Had he driven the volume up with some simple stretch goals he might have made a better profit. (In hindsight a folding piece of glossy cardboard to double the size of the hex board would have been appreciated!) Also, I think his economic figures are off. Including shipping in the price is unnecessary. Had he charged $2 for shipping separately he could have upgraded to a $2.45 package, ate the $0.45 and printed the materials at a larger size. That may have allowed him to reuse existing dies which would have lowered cost.

I'll be launching my own Kickstarter soon for a game called "Stellar Armada". It was an offhanded idea I had after seeing The Obligatory $1 Pledge Level Game. It's loosely based on the ideas I had when trying to upgrade Starfire with modern components. I hand-manufactured everything I needed at home to test the ideas. Once that was done I obtained professionally printed protoypes from Print & Play Games (part of AdMagic). You can see the results here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oO9RlR2BZb8

I'm happy enough with AdMagic's P&P that I'm planning to run a $500 minimum on the Kickstarter. At that level I can have P&P print it and still make a (very) small profit. To scale it up I've been getting quotes from manufacturers. AdMagic themselves initially quoted me a minimum of 2,500 units. (Which I thought was perfectly fine, BTW.) I had an issue with a component they had substituted in the quote, so they went back and sourced the component. Apparently sourcing the component dropped the cost and allowed me to get down to a 1,000 unit minimum!

So yeah. There are a lot of ways of doing things these days. Not quite sure what the constraints are that Pocket Option ran into. Maybe I'll find out? :?:

Taking it back to the original point, I see zero reason why you couldn't do a print run of the original Starfire and sell it for $10.95. Especially if you charged separate for the S&H. And if you're worried about having enough orders, just run a Kickstarter for it. If you fund, you've got the money to fulfill the KS orders + print some extras to sell online. If you don't fund, you know demand isn't high enough. Only thing lost is some time and maybe a small investment in prototyping.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby Cralis on Fri 26 Aug 2016 08:43

jbanes wrote:So yeah. There are a lot of ways of doing things these days. Not quite sure what the constraints are that Pocket Option ran into. Maybe I'll find out? :?:


By a huge margin, this year, for us doing this after family and work; the constraint has been time. If these things had been known and/or available 6 or 12 years ago it we would have been able to take advantage of it much easier. There are certain standards and minimum requirements we'd have to work through and that takes time.

Taking it back to the original point, I see zero reason why you couldn't do a print run of the original Starfire and sell it for $10.95. Especially if you charged separate for the S&H. And if you're worried about having enough orders, just run a Kickstarter for it. If you fund, you've got the money to fulfill the KS orders + print some extras to sell online. If you don't fund, you know demand isn't high enough. Only thing lost is some time and maybe a small investment in prototyping.


Yep, time. One must have it to give before one can lose it.

Other than that, my work with the counters and research into the manufacturing companies shows just about the same as what you are suggesting.
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Re: Some Thoughts on Starfire and Gaming in the 1980s

Postby jbanes on Fri 26 Aug 2016 14:01

Cralis wrote:
jbanes wrote:So yeah. There are a lot of ways of doing things these days. Not quite sure what the constraints are that Pocket Option ran into. Maybe I'll find out? :?:


By a huge margin, this year, for us doing this after family and work; the constraint has been time. If these things had been known and/or available 6 or 12 years ago it we would have been able to take advantage of it much easier. There are certain standards and minimum requirements we'd have to work through and that takes time.


Sorry, just to clarify this particular statement: I was talking about the challenges that Pocket Option Games ran into, not the challenges of the Starfire Design Group. I'm well aware of your time constraints and at no point want to minimize or belittle the challenges this constraint imposes. :)

When I started working on the modernization of Starfire, I thought it would be cool to work with you guys on a Kickstarter that brings the game to a modern audience. I'm hoping that's still an option at some point. Stellar Armada is my "gateway" into publishing games. We'll see how it goes from there!
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