Monthly Archives: December 2012

The First Two Months (Part 2)

December 05, 2012

First thing I did after leaving FFG was research into starting a company. I won’t bore you with the details, and frankly I don’t want to give any hopefuls the idea that they need to do so to sell their games (they don’t), but it makes sense in my situation, so I’m working on starting a sole proprietor LLC, both for tax reasons and legal protection.¬†Hopefully, I’ll have the process finished by the end of the month.

But, aside from all that boring junk, I spent time getting the word out that I was now a freelancer. After all, I knew that I was now in charge of selling my own “brand”. Thankfully, that’s a zillion times easier these days than it was before the internet. I posted up an announcement on BGG, started a twitter feed (@KevinWilson42), and popped over to LinkedIn to make sure my connections were all up to date.
Still in the queue, I plan to start up a website that will carry a copy of this blog, blurbs on my published games as well as news on upcoming games, and the “Island of Misfit Bits” so that I have something just for fun on there (I can’t wait to show off the Grinch die). Fortunately I’ve got a good friend who’s up on all the modern tech stuff to help me out. I may have a degree in AI, but I haven’t done any computer stuff professionally for 10 years aside from using InDesign.
If it seems like all this has eaten into my game design time, well, you’d be right, of course. This is important stuff, though. As a freelancer, you have to do a lot of self-promotion in the same way that a book author does. Designer diaries, convention appearances, all that stuff is part of the freelance job if you want to succeed. It’s a competitive market, and visibility is life.
Anyhow, you’ve been patient, so let’s get on to the actual game designs I’ve been working on.
I’ve already finished two games and moved them into testing. One is a very simple card game I’d like to see in the mainstream/educational market, while the other is a Euro game that I want to place in the German market initially, if I can. It has a short play time and supports a lot of players while still allowing a reasonable amount of strategy, so I’m hopeful it’ll do well. These games were a departure for me, but I feel it’s important to develop some breadth to my library of designs.
I’m also working on a game that’s more like what folks expect from me, which I’ll refer to as project Rattler for now. The basic game framework is designed, now all I have to do is write the content and test it. Rattler is in the process of being sold to a company, so that’s looking good.
Finally, I’ve just started work with Eric Lang on two projects I’m referring to as Tweedledee and Tweedledum for now. Although I’ve been good friends with Eric for years, I’ve never gotten to work on anything with him before, so these two projects promise to be a treat for me.
And that, my dear readers, is the state of freelancing, 7 weeks in. No money coming in just yet, but several deals approaching closure, and a lot of progress made, both on game designs and getting organized.

The First Two Months (Part 1)

December 03, 2012

It’s been almost two months since I left Fantasy Flight Games now, and I thought I’d start sharing my thoughts on the experience.

As some of you know, I spent 10 years at FFG, first as an RPG editor, then later as a board and card game designer. I not only designed a number of successful games (such as Descent: Journeys in the Dark and Sid Meier’s Civilization), I also co-designed one extremely successful game (Arkham Horror) and redeveloped a number of classic games (including Cosmic Encounter).

When I first gave notice, it was a gigantic leap of faith for me, but I felt it was time to move my career in a new direction. Christian, fortunately, was very understanding about the move and has since been supportive with both advice and offers of projects for me. Similarly, dozens of folks came out of the woodwork on boardgamegeek.com with well wishes, and a number of other game companies started contacting me, either with offers of work or simply to establish lines of communication. All in all, it was a very gratifying affirmation of my career in games.

Still, moving to become a full-time freelancer has been challenging, even with all the advantages I have as an already established game designer. You lack the stability of a steady paycheck and (in the US at least) the safety net of health insurance is simply too expensive to consider until I’m more set up. The unknown is a way of life now, and that’s probably the biggest adjustment I’ve had to make.

Fortunately, I’ve worked from home for several years, so I have a lot of experience at being a self-starter and maintaining discipline. I’ve found it to be important for me to have a reasonably steady schedule, including activities that get me out of the apartment to interact with other people at least 3 or 4 times a week. Speaking of which, it’s just about time for my weekly walk with friends, so I’d better cut this short for now. In the next day or two, I’ll finish up this first blog post by talking a little about what I’ve been up to so far. I won’t be discussing any game specifics or naming any company names yet, of course, but you may find it interesting anyway.