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Matt Worden Games Inducted into Hall of Fame

We're very pleased to announce that Matt Worden Games has been inducted into The Game Crafter Hall of Fame.

NOTE: The full version including images can be viewed at TGC News.

Tell us a little about Matt Worden Games.
Matt Worden Games is the company I started to put a real form around my game design and development work. At the website, you'll find information on my board games, as well as some computer games for download, and news around what I'm currently up to. The games development started simply as a hobby, and I still consider myself a hobbyist designer. But since I had products for sale, it was time to form an actual LLC to handle the expenses and income more formally.

I expect that I will keep my wide focus on games, continuing to develop board games (self-publishing some, submitting others to traditional publishers), computer games, and probably some internet-based games and tools as well. I often ride the lines between genres and try out unconventional themes or mechanics. In the end, I just want to put out games that people will find fun and interesting.

Please describe Jump Gate.
Jump Gate is a space themed set collection game. Players are spaceship captains using a jump gate to reach previously unsettled planets, looking for valuable resources. The core mechanics are hand management, tactical/opportunistic card usage, and variable scoring based on the types of sets collected. It's an easy-to-teach gateway game with enough meat in it for experienced gamers and a theme that will interest casual or non-gamers.

Tell us what inspired you to create the game.
The original design spark came from a design challenge hosted at the Board Game Designers Forum. That challenge was looking for space games that made use of 35mm film cannisters. My submission -- called "Deep Scan" -- finished third, I believe. But the theme and some of the mechanics I had introduced in that entry seemed like the start of a fun game. So, I converted 35mm film cannisters into cards and went from there. The 2 pieces that were there from the start (although the details have evolved) were the NavComp cards and the resources that each scored differently from each other and encouraged set collecting.

Did you create a design journal for it? If so, did you publish it anywhere?
I didn't do a structured design journal, but I did write a collection of blog posts at BGDF during the early design work, and some more for my website as the design was nearing completion. You can pretty much see it from start to finish on those posts.

Could you tell us about the award you received and how it came about?
Jump Gate was named "Traditional Game of the Year" for 2011 by GAMES Magazine.
It came about due to some follow-through and serious serendipidy. GAMES was a magazine I would get from a book store or magazine rack every now and then to do the puzzles, and I noticed that they would have electronic and tabletop game reviews near the back of each issue. When I was interviewing Greg Lam of Pair-of-Dice Games via e-mail, I asked how he went about getting some of his games listed in the GAMES 100, and he pointed me to the magazine publisher's website. From there I used the generic contact form to ask how to submit games for review, and they gave me the contact info for their main editor for board game reviews, John J. McCallion.

I had just launched the 1st edition of the game via (essentially the same thing that you can buy today via TGC), and I sent him a copy direct from TGC. At that time, you were still using the white shipping boxes as game boxes, so I wasn't sure how he would take the lack of a traditional shelf box. His response was that the components inside (especially the cards and mats) were of a very good quality, and he was more concerned about how a game plays.
Mr. McCallion then playtested the game with with several gaming groups and we traded a number of e-mails during that time with commentary and follow-up questions. He published a review of the game in the magazine during that summer. I was hoping that would mean that the game would get listed in their "100" ... but was pleasantly surprised to see it get the top billing.

What publisher picked up Jump Gate?
Schmidt Spiele, in Germany, licensed the game for publication in Europe. They re-did the artwork and tweaked the rules to make it fit better into their family gaming market, and launched it under the name "Space Mission" at the big Essen game fair in October 2011. I think that BGDF game challenge where the idea started was during October 2009 ... so, the whole process took 2 years.

How did you go about getting it published?
There were a string of angels that made it happen (although I'm sure they would tell you it was no big deal). Not sure if I should name names or not, so I'll keep it generic: A player in one of Mr. McCallion's gaming groups really liked the game a lot and asked if she could show it to a friend of hers that works at an American publisher (and I said "Yes please!!"). That friend felt it didn't fit that particular publisher's line of games, but she would take it with her to Essen 2010 and show it to some of her German publisher friends. One of those was Thorsten Gimmler at Schmidt Spiele, who contacted me about licensing the game.

What were the steps in being officially signed and actually getting the game released?
Thorsten Gimmler was the game developer and project manager on turning the game into "Space Mission". Outside of answering a few questions, and providing some of my own feedback, I didn't have to do much of anything. Schmidt Spiele arranged for the amazing artwork from Anne Patzke, did the rules tweaking and playtesting, wrote the rulebook and got it translated, and coordinated the marketing and big Essen launch. It was a fun thing to watch ... and they did such a fine job of it, I was happy to have played a minor role in it all.

Where can people buy the game now? And in how many countries is it available?
Jump Gate, in its original form, is still available here at, of course. ;-) The self-produced 2nd Edition, with a nice rulebook and box (shrinkwrapped and everything), and in some cases with additional spaceship artwork, is available through a number of online and brick-and-mortar board game stores, including Amazon. Space Mission is available throughout Europe wherever the Schmidt Spiele games are found. I'm also hoping to see it available in the US in the not-too-distant future (we'll see how that works out).

How many sales have you had so far?
I've sold over a 100 via TGC, and hundreds more of the 2nd Edition. I won't have any idea about how many copies of Space Mission have sold for a few more months.

Could you describe any influence The Game Crafter had on the success of Jump Gate and Matt Worden Games?
Simply put: without TGC, Jump Gate (as we know it) would never have been made. Or, if it had been, it would have taken a lot longer before I completed it and got it into a form that someone would have noticed it.
Being able to take a game idea, form it around a real set of components, and have it quickly and inexpensively produced so that I could have a high-quality playtest set early on in the process played a big role in being able to test and develop the game. And then being able to send fully-produced copies, as needed, to reviewers and friends was the trigger that lead to the rest of what's happened. Having a storefront for others to buy the game through is also nice ... but the easy design features and POD capabilities for me as the designer was key.

What's next on the horizon for Matt Worden Games?
I recently released a new casual dice-based car racing game on TGC called Dicey Curves that has been getting very good reviews. I am planning on 2 expansions for this game over this next year.

I also should have another game called Subtilla out soon. It is a light 2-player naval battle game. Also, I have a number of prototypes I am working on for games that I will try submitting to contests and traditional publishers over the next couple of years.

In the next year, I plan to attend Con of the North, in St. Paul in February, and Protospiel in Ann Arbor in July. I'd also like to attend a number of other cons in 2012: GenCon Indy, Essen, BGG.con, and ChiTag ... not sure I can fit that all in next year, but it'll be fun to try.
Editors Note: ChiTag is really designed for products for children under 12, at least based on the attendees and exhibitors that show up. It is not recommended for products from The Game Crafter.

Any last words of encouragement or advice to all the designers reading this who would love to experience your success?
It takes a lot of creative effort to simply get a game ready to publish through TGC: playtesting, writing rules, designing the cards and boards, picking the right bits to fit the game, and so forth. And while that initial bit -- just getting the game "out there" on TGC, your website, BGG -- is very important, it won't really do anything to sell the game. You need to go out and make contacts with reviewers and other influencers via social media, and by just getting out and playing the game with lots of people. Do not underestimate the value of attending cons or show-and-tell sessions at game stores or gaming groups. I know I don't do this enough either -- but when I have, it has always been a great experience.

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