Learning from the mistakes of Construction Fever – part 3

In the previous two posts, I mainly focused on the theme and the in-game experience. In this post, I want to talk about the sort of “first experience” of the game, the game title. I want to look back at how I came up with the name and why it didn’t work out in the end. I also want to briefly talk about the importance of a good logo and a catchy game title.

The name of the game

City building game is one of my favorite game genres. I grew up playing SimCity on SNES, SimCity 2000 on a Mac, SimCity 3000 and SimCity 4 on a PC. Now I enjoy playing Cities Skylines. I like board games with the city building theme as well. While they have a completely different gameplay, weight, and play style, I enjoy playing games with city building theme like Small City, Quadropolis, Suburbia, and Ginkgopolis.

When I thought about the theme for this game, I immediately thought about making it a city building theme and coming up with a game title that matches it. Since the mechanic had a tycoon-ish aspect, I thought about -Tycoon (a la Roller Coaster Tycoon) and -Fever (a la Transport Fever). Each player was bidding on a project, so I thought about Construction, and therefore it was named Construction Fever.

To go straight to the bottom, the name wasn’t very popular from the beginning. Some people said the name isn’t catchy, some said its too long and wordy, and some said it is uninteresting. The logo didn’t help either, making the title hard to read at distance. I got some praise that the box art looked pretty, but I also got feedback saying that the overall appeal looked like a poster found in a city hall. Lastly, I later learned that good rule-of-thumb for a branding item is to keep it within two words and 4 syllables max.

So I decided that I need to come up with a new title, but this is easier said than done. Since I wasn’t confident that I can come up with a good title by myself, I took a poll of an interesting game title at Strategicon, a local gaming con in Los Angeles back in February. The question I asked was, “Without knowing what the game is about, which of these sounds most interesting to you?” The answers I got back were as follows.

It was a close tie between the three. I sort of expected Hostile Takeover to be popular since it is the title that you can easily imagine the contention. Cyberpunk CEO was also popular since, again, it is easy to imagine the game theme. I was a bit surprised that Bad Branding did so well. This was my personal favorite because it matches the “reputation” aspect of the game mechanics a lot, and, I thought it was pretty different. I haven’t made the final decision yet, but I am leaning towards Bad Branding.

Which one would you choose? Tell me in the comments below!

Thoughts on Kickstarter #1: Shipping

In this blog series, I want to reflect on our previous Kickstarter campaigns and share thoughts on why/how we did certain things in our campaigns. In my first post, I want to cover shipping since it is one of the question that I get asked the most.

Before I begin, I want to point out that there are many wonderful blogs that talks about Kickstarter advice such as Stonemaier’s blog and James Mathe’s site. I want to pay a lot of respect to them as many things I talk about here are based on their advice. You should definitely check their pages out if you haven’t already.

Shipping is a tricky topic. No one ever likes paying for shipping, and now-a-days with services like Amazon, it is normal for consumer to assume free or very cheap shipping. However, for product like ours the package will be bulky and heavy, and we won’t be shipping in masses to get discounts from carries. Thus the only way to look cheap is to include some or all of the shipping cost into the pledge amount.

For smaller games with small and rigid boxes, you can save significantly by utilizing padded envelopes. For example, in Arkham Ritual campaign, we offered free/$1/$2 shipping by doing both of the above. For US, we self-fulfilled and shipped via USPS first class package. For ROTW, we used Send From China, so the costs are directly from a factory in China. Lets break the shipping cost down into details. (*Note that the cost estimate is from 2017)

We included $3.45 for shipping into the pledge cost. Although we were estimating to lose $0.21 per shipment to the US, we calculated that we can recoup most of it by saving some on per shipment to ROTW. Here is what ended up happening.

Also, 6-pack pledge helped out a lot. Since $3.45 was calculated into the original cost, 6-pack meant that I had over $20 to spend for the shipping. Although some international destination did cost a lot in shipping the 6-pack, $20 was close to double what I needed to ship within the US. The end cost was slightly higher than estimate, partly due to reshipment. Although there was roughly 1% reshipment due to shipping damage or shipping errors, it was still a lot cheaper than working with a fulfillment partners.

They key takeaway from this was that I was only able to self fulfill close to 1000 US orders because the game was small and can be shipping in a bubble wrap envelope. If it was bigger game that needs to be shipped in a box, there was no way I could have self fulfilled. Similarly, shipping by Send From China would have been a lot more expensive and difficult to manage had the game been bigger.

The most important point I want to emphasize in this post is that shipping board games is expensive. $10-20 in shipping is sometime unavoidable. However, we creators do our best to make it as reasonable as possible for the backers.

What’s your thoughts on shipping, and how do you feel about creators offering reasonable shipping?