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NextChess.com: the spiced up version of chess; with new characters, strategies and sexy miniatures...

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nextchess
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Joined: 02/18/2015
NextChess

Hey Guys,

It's a pleasure to be here...

This our first try to make a board game; so we need your help and advice to make something fun and exciting...

I'm an old chess player, won many tournaments...

and I really believe that it's about time to spice up the game a little bet...

We're spicing up Chess by adding new characters with new simple strategies and some sexy miniatures...

plz. Check the video on our website & our Kickstarter page:
http://www.nextchess.com

But, this can happen only with your help & expertise...

Join us, tell us what we're doing wrong etc... we're offering all the proper rewards for your help and time...

Plz. Help us by sharing it in your network, and we would love to send you a kit and have your opinion on it…

Thanx, and looking forward to hear from you guys...

Dr.Omar
The last standing pawn :-)
TheNextChess@gmail.com
http://www.nextchess.com

Soulfinger
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Joined: 01/06/2015
I had to look the campaign

I had to look the campaign over twice to realize that it wasn't live yet, which is great -- even if it meant me having to rewrite a big chunk of this post. The last person who asked for advice about his KS had already launched it, which was fine but also awkward since he'd already committed himself. There is a young lady in the writer's group I head who brings in stories to share that she has already self-published. They are absolute trainwrecks, but she never gets the feedback that she needs because everyone seems to figure, why bother? She felt confident enough to commit to print, so it is unlikely that she will take any critique seriously enough to revise. I'm not comparing quality with this analogy, but I do think it is wonderful that you are asking for input at a time when it is still possible to implement any suggestions.

That said, this is a really tough sell. Variant, or "fairy", chess pieces have been around forever, and I'm really not sure who the market is for them. Most chess players I know are purists. Most tabletop gamers I know aren't interested enough in chess to fiddle with variations when they have twenty-some games on the shelf waiting for a turn at the table. I'd see it as a good concept for helping introduce younger players to the game while leveling the playing field with moves unfamiliar to the experienced opponent, but the cold, austere look of your pieces wouldn't appeal to children -- and again, there are just so many kid-friendly chess-style variants already on the market. "Beguile" looked like a good approach for kids and casual gamers, but it barely made its funding goal. That's one of several KS that used cards for variant chess play.

Considering all of the free variant rules out there and the superabundance of suitable miniatures, I expect that anything new would have to have a very low price point unless you have a specific demographic locked in as customers. Frankly, the miniatures don't look very good and are insanely overpriced. I can't stress enough that you are essentially selling over-sized, plastic Monopoly pieces at a price point usually reserved for high-detail pewter or resin figurines. You had better emphasize that these are plastic, because going by those photos, people are going to expect them to be metal, and you'll want to demonstrate scale as much as possible, because setting your largest figure next to a small coffee cup can be construed as misleading. Your pricing, combined with your goal of $1k, leads me to think that you are planning on 3D printing everything, which kind of defeats the purpose of crowd funding.

On top of that, there's no unifying theme. Like Monopoly, it is a grab bag of pieces that don't mesh together. The common aesthetic they do share will not mesh with the other pieces on the board, so there is no incentive to use these particular pieces. They will look alien in play, like someone using battlemechs in place of meeples. Consider showing more of the book content, as this may be your strongest point.

I hate the term "sexy miniatures" that you used in your post. Taken at face value, it means tits and ass, which plenty of miniature companies already cater to. That subset alienates female, family-oriented, and religiously-minded gamers. Figuratively, I recall the woman running the Torn Armor KS bandying the term about quite a lot during that project's darkest hours and people commenting on how obnoxious the phrase was. I guess here is where I should mention that the witch figure looks like she is scratching her genitals.

The "Why?" section needs a rewrite. It's not compelling, and the English needs to be tidied up. The "What" says you surveyed chess masters? Which ones? What do they have to say about your variants? Chess 2.0 has a quote from Bobby Fischer, saying, "I’m finished with the old chess because it’s all just a lot of book and memorization," and Emanuel Lasker saying, "In its modern form [chess] will soon die a drawing death" Sure, it's quite probable they were lifted out of context, but I'd love to see what your masters have to say about these innovations. Also, where are the bios on the game designers. The project page has no personal or company information whatsoever, which is vital.

All-in-all, best of luck to you, but you are facing an uphill battle with this project that I've seen lost several times already.

danieledeming
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Unfortunately, I have to

Unfortunately, I have to agree with about 99% of what Soulfinger has to say on this project. I'd add that the English throughout the entire project needs to be cleaned up, including not using shortcuts like 'plz'.

I want to reiterate some of his points that I think are the most critical and emphasize why.

1) The price point is way too high. While you have clearly put a significant amount of time and effort into this endeavor, you are essentially offering plastic (likely) miniatures, and a well illustrated booklet. There needs to be value provided, along with an excellent product, especially because these people are helping you complete something you could not complete through your own means (otherwise, why would you crowdfund?)

2) Thematically, you are all over the place. There's nothing tying these characters together, they make no sense to be on the same board with each other, let alone the original pieces, which do have their own, mostly separate, unifying theme.

3) Variant chess is a horribly difficult niche to succeed in, and I think mostly because it is already a complete game and doesn't need variation to be successful. It'd be like creating a variant to backgammon or Candy Land ; it's trying to reinvent the wheel...and the wheel works perfectly already.

All of this said, I think that if you want to find success - and of course, I want to try and help - here's the things I would do to make that happen:

1) DON'T try and reinvent the wheel. You obviously understand the strategy and concepts of an abstract game like Chess - use those talents to create a NEW game. A BETTER game. Re-brand it, make sure it is thematically solid, thoroughly play-tested, and beautifully polished when you bring it to the public. And most importantly, and I want to stress this because it will be difficult to resist the urge, DO NOT MENTION CHESS. Don't compare it to chess, don't reference chess pieces, just don't do it. You want to avoid being lumped into the 'Just another chess variant' category - market your game not as 'different from chess' but as 'new abstract strategy game' and let other people make the comparisons.

Along these same lines, this post made me think of a game I found in my parent's basement that I used to love as a child that took me no small amount of searching to find just now called "All the King's Men." Not at all like chess and if you search chess, you won't find it, but Parker Brothers published it. If you can find a copy, check it out. (Sidenote - there are SO many chess variants out there. I had no idea!)

2) Find a price point equilibrium. You don't want your project to be a financial loss, but by the same token, there's no incentive for backing an unknown project at retail value. Find that middle ground where people think they're getting a deal, but you're not paying money out of your pocket to get the game in their hands.

3) Don't underestimate presentation. You obviously have some excellent skills (or paid someone for theirs) as far as graphic design, art, and 3D rendering. While you don't have to have every piece done before you launch, make sure you have something complete to show off and enough to display that people get a sense of the game and what you're offering.

4) Research. Research, research, research, research, research. I can't say it enough. Become the expert on: your game, other games in the genre, the history of the genre, crowdfunding your genre, the successes, the failures - everything. There's a reason Soulfinger can point to a specific project ("Beguile") and know its strengths and weaknesses. Be that knowledgeable with what you're trying to do. Know why/how what you're doing is different and be confident.

Along those same lines, if you haven't discovered Jamey Stegmaier (stonemaier games) or James Mathe...they have offered publicly more on crowdfunding and board game design and publication than I will ever learn in my lifetime. Check them out.

That's it for now. I hope some of this helps - hell I hope all of it helps. And if you have any questions, just ask.

Soulfinger
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danieledeming

danieledeming wrote:
Unfortunately, I have to agree with about 99% of what Soulfinger has to say on this project . . .

1) DON'T try and reinvent the wheel. You obviously understand the strategy and concepts of an abstract game like Chess - use those talents to create a NEW game. A BETTER game. Re-brand it, make sure it is thematically solid, thoroughly play-tested, and beautifully polished when you bring it to the public.

Unfortunately, because it is one terrible, cold day in hell when someone has to agree with me. :)

Seriously though, if there is one piece of advice to walk away with it is danieledeming's suggestion to turn this into a not-chess game of its own. That, right there, could be a major step toward turning this project into a success. If you want an example of not-chess with a solid theme and excellent play value, look no further than Zoon. If you are in Europe then it may even still be in print or at least available (AMIGO Spiel, maybe, or LéZéditions du Yéti). A really fun implementation of what is at heart a chess variant.

danieledeming wrote:
There's a reason Soulfinger can point to a specific project ("Beguile") and know its strengths and weaknesses. Be that knowledgeable with what you're trying to do.

That reason is a five minute Google search, so you'll probably want to be more knowledgeable than that. I'm actually amazed how few people spend a few minutes on a web browser before committing effort to a project. A brief Google session helps me to determine if my product is viable, consumer demand, if the name is relatively unique, if there are unforeseen negative connotations, if I can score the web domain, how many comparable games are out there, and so on. I already knew that there were a boatload of chess variants out there, but it only takes a few minutes of searching to appreciate what a saturated market it is. Again, danieledeming is right to say that you should sidestep it altogether.

truekid games
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Joined: 10/29/2008
I'm inclined to agree with

I'm inclined to agree with what the others have said- though it seems unlikely that you'll listen, as most people who've already gone as far in the process as you have (without adequate research) usually just plow ahead anyway.

I'm going to quote some pre-existing text from my website, to help show that I'm not just nay-saying you specifically:

Are you re-inventing the wheel? People often design what they’re used to, or what they feel they have a good grasp on. The most common thing I see from new designers are “fixed” Risk/Monopoly/Chess, arena or tabletop combat games, trading card games, standard-deck card game variants, and roll-and-move games. These are fine- as part of your 10 games before you work on something publishable. Because broadly speaking, these aren’t publishable. This is for several reasons, but the most important is that they’ve already been done. To death. By every designer before you. It’s also further evidence of misunderstanding the markets. People buy Monopoly because of nostalgia, or because they need a gift, and everyone knows Monopoly. Your new game will have neither of these things going for it, so even if you understand that Monopoly is a bad design by modern standards, you also need to know why it sells, and why your “fixed” version won’t. A pure abstract that “chess players will love” fails to understand the amount of abstracts out there already, that chess players don’t love. Chess again has nostalgia, and universal familiarity, and importantly- a huge organized play structure around it. That’s not to say your game won’t be fun for them, but will it capture a significant portion of the chess-player-pie? No. Tabletop miniature combat games are a method to sell miniatures, and frequently have a strong organized play structure to go with them. Are you selling miniatures? Do you have the market penetration to set up an organized play structure that stores will participate in? Etc. Etc

(link: http://www.truekidgames.com/Advice.html )

There are tons of chess variants, in published form, already in existence. Every year I see a new couple of booths at GenCon promoting their "spice up chess" product. And then usually don't see them again next year.

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