Monday, April 30, 2012

Ain't that a kick in the head

Back in high-school I was a big fan of Steve Jackson Games.   SJ games has been around a long time and has produced several gaming classics including Car Wars, GURPS, Illuminati, and Ogre.  Back in the late-Nineties they entered into a bit of a second golden age releasing some very successful light card games and board games including Frag, Chez Geek, and Muchkin.

I loved their games and managed to become a official demo rep for a while.  I wasn't too good at it, being only a awkward 17 year old, but I had a lot of enthusiasm.  My favorite of the games was Ogre, a sci-fi hex and counters tactical war game.  In Ogre, one player takes control of a nearly indestructible cyber-tank while the other tried to defend his command post using very fragile conventional tanks and infantry.  It's a well designed game, and it was expanded by GEV that allowed for more symmetrical scenarios.  There was even a miniature game version produced, that I bought into.

I only ever got one person to develop the same level of interest in the game, and I lost touch with him when he moved off to hippie college somewhere in Maine.  SJ games also had some accounting problems at the time and had to pair down their release schedule significantly.

Ever since then they've been mostly putting out light stuff and endless Munchkin expansions.  Apparently Munchkin has been enough of a cash cow to fund what Steve has been wanting to do for a long while now.  Bring back some of the old crunchy games in a big way.

The designer edition of Ogre has been teased for a few years, and SJ games decided that in order to make sure they don't take a bath on it, they would fund the initial printing with kickstarter.   Well, they underestimated all the love out there for Ogre and the project blew away the initial $20,000 goal on the first day.  It's now sitting at $350,000 with 11 days to go.


The backers of this project have been able to vote on additional goodies added into the box because of the generous over-funding.  There will even be more scenarios and expansions because SJ doesn't have to spend all year writing Munchkin expansions to pay the bills.  And we'll probably see a new designer edition of Car Wars eventually.

There's a lesson to be learned here by other game companies.

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