Five years ago my wife and I created a board game as a side hobby. It did way better than we expected so we took a risk and left our jobs to make games full time. We have now created 5 games, sold over $2 million in revenue, and we sell on Amazon, Kickstarter, and in stores.

Ask me anything about making board games, quitting my job, working from home, or anything else!

Proof I am me

Link to our newest game

Link to our website

Edit: Thank you everyone for some great questions and discussion! I really enjoyed doing this. If I did not respond to your question it means that I probably answered a similar question somewhere else in the AmA, so feel free to look at some of the other questions and comments that were made. Some of the most common links we shared during the AmA are listed here:

The steps we take to publish a board game

Our advice to Kickstarter creators

TEDx talk we gave about our creation process

Comments: 2090 • Responses: 97  • Date: 

radarjammer12846 karma

is the transition from being employed to self-employed hard?

Travisto8884151 karma

It's definitely a shift, but it felt less strange than we expected. When we launched our first game we still had our day jobs. Because it did so well (it raised $100k on Kickstarter), we had a bit of a cushion of time to quit our jobs and try to make a 2nd successful game and build up the sales of the 1st. So we were in a good place to leave. My suggestion would be to make something great on the side, release it on a website or somewhere like Kickstarter, and then transition over as it begins to do better. The transition time will be busy (doing both at the same time), but I think that’s the safest way to do it.

PolymathEquation1065 karma

Are you accepting game designs?

I'm interested in moving into the field as you did, and already have a handful.

If you have any suggestions on how to move forward with designing and development, I'd love to hear more.

If you're hiring, I also bake really well. Lol

Travisto8881099 karma

Yes! We're always willing to hear what game ideas people have, and if it feels like a good fit then we would move forward with it and share royalties. Haha, we may take you up on the baking thing. Here is some more info about the types of designs we look for specifically: https://facadegames.com/pages/job-postings-1

TheCourtPeach41 karma

Would a competetive card game be of interest to you? A friend and I have worked on this game for about a year and are about to start looking for publishers. I can PM you an example of the cards we currently have if there's any interest.

Travisto88858 karma

We're always willing to take a look! Best to send this to us in a week or two so it doesn't get lost in the inbox.

JustBrosDocking738 karma

I have read that the board game industry is dominated by a select number of competitors and had razor tight margins.

How has your experience been with this and how have you targeted your marketing?

Travisto888859 karma

There are definitely some "big guys" out there, but there are a LOT of smaller guys who make up a big chunk of the industry. Many of the smaller guys don't end up making a lot of money or making more than a couple games, but there are quite a few that "make it out" and are able to grow a small team and release 1-2 games per year and make a career out of it. The key is to be different. We have tried to have unique packaging (book boxes), unique components, unique attributes to the game (higher player counts and social deduction mixed with strategy) that helps us be seen and sell a lot of games. Margins are tight if you sell primarily through distribution and retailers, but they aren't so bad if you do direct sales, sales through Kickstarter, or sales through Amazon. We've focused on those aspects.

jaywalk98174 karma

How do you feel about games that use social deduction as a main mechanic today (as opposed to when you started out). I feel like there's a lot out there and the market is getting saturated. On that note, what do you feel is the next trend in board game mechanics?

Travisto888229 karma

I think there's a lot to work with in the social deduction arena. We try to tie our games in with a lot of strategy as well- things like movement and boards and action choices- so that it's not just a "he said she said" type of game.

In terms of trends, people are really getting creative these days with cool new component types and tying things in digitally. It's a fun place to be!

muaddeej3 karma

So, from looking at your games, a lot of them remind me of

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/382/heimlich-co

Have you played that? Would that be an accurate comparison?

Travisto8884 karma

I actually had not heard of this game, but you are right that it seems right up our alley (high player count, social deduction, not a ton of pieces). I will definitely look into this one more. Thanks!

ImOnTheLoo12 karma

I agree. Social deduction games all feel the same with a different skin. There’s a place for them for casual game night with people who don’t normally play board games, but you only need or two. The Dune game incorporates some social deduction but it’s only one mechanic in a larger board game.

Travisto88837 karma

We try to make games where social deduction is one "tool" that you can use. In all of them (except maybe Salem) you can be 100% honest the whole time and just rely on strategy to win. But people who use social deduction to their benefit will usually do better. They end up feeling pretty different than the Secret Hitlers and Coups and Resistances of the world.

gman24337 karma

if you do direct sales, sales through Kickstarter, or sales through Amazon.

Can you explain why selling through Amazon is beneficial? I've been trying to avoid shopping on Amazon to support businesses directly and am finding it more difficult than I thought -- some businesses only sell their products on Amazon. So Amazon must make it easy and inexpensive so I'm curious how that works. Thanks!

Travisto88866 karma

Amazon just has such a huge audience that you can't really avoid it if you want to sell online. It's a bit of a headache on the backend (their user interface for sellers is surprisingly awful), but it's necessary. People have confidence to shop on Amazon, and that's where people shop these days.

Math_and_Kitties485 karma

What are your favorite games that are made by other companies?

Travisto888906 karma

One of my favorites is Ticket to Ride. It is very simple to learn and play, it provides interesting decisions, and it ties in the theme (trains and travel) really well with the game. Lots of fun!

Math_and_Kitties168 karma

Love that game! My wife and I play it probably most out of our collection. I find it really interesting that they released the 1910 expansion which seemed mostly for the larger cards - super necessary. Follow up question: original or different country/expansion?

Travisto888176 karma

We have traveled to Europe a few times, and because of that Ticket to Ride Europe as our favorite :)

nekolas56422 karma

We have traveled to Europe a few times

I eyed a couple of danish coins on the metal coin picture of your current kickstarter - I assume your travels took you there too? :p

Travisto88838 karma

Good eye! Not quite to Denmark. Closest we got to there was Sweden.

chorizoeggandcheese32 karma

If you ever make it to Danmark there is a really cool board game restaurant/bar called bastard that you should check out! They have a lot of free games or you can pay a fee to have an even larger game selection to play while you are there. I have whittled away many an evening with friends playing games over beers there

Travisto88814 karma

Sounds awesome, will do!

pendingperil280 karma

How did you come up with Cones of Dunshire?

Travisto888336 karma

If I had a dollar for every time someone compared me to Ben Wyatt, then I would have significantly more dollars. But honestly the comparison is fair. I think about how to invent games on a daily basis, I married a girl from Indiana, and I even made one of our early Kickstarter videos using stop motion and compared it to Avatar.

finkalicious16 karma

Yes but... how do you feel about calzone?

Travisto88823 karma

Calzones are the most superior food.

foxsable257 karma

I backed your last kickstarter and backed this one a week or so ago! I had no idea from reading the original post what it is, and I was pretty surprised when I clicked on it and it was Bristol. I have to confess I haven't played the first one yet, even though I own it, mostly because of a lack of time, but, It's an awesome format.

What made you decide to make them look like books (It is a cool idea)?

Travisto888238 karma

Good question! There are so many games out there (1000+ released every year), and it keeps growing. So we knew we needed our games to stand out in any way we could. We were walking through a craft store and saw a faux book on the shelf and fell in love with the idea. Books are magical to a lot of people, and we wanted to bring that feel to people as they opened it up and saw a game. We also like that you can display it on a bookshelf instead of a game closet, because most peoples' game closets are the messiest places in their house :)

Tjshoema231 karma

how much of that money have you seen personally?

Travisto888476 karma

Around half of our revenue goes towards manufacturing the game, shipping the game (across the ocean in boats, and to individuals through the mail), and other overhead (like working with an accountant, managing our website, paying cuts to distributors and retailers). The other half goes towards our living expenses (since this is our full time job) and towards development of new games (paying for art, prototypes, etc).

throwthisawaynerdboy99 karma

Do you need another child? Or spouse? I'll be either, really.

Travisto888136 karma

How about a distant second cousin twice removed?

Bellidkay110951 karma

One that gets board games as Christmas presents? If so, sign me up.

Travisto88881 karma

Haha you laugh now but ALL of our friends and family get board games for all their Christmas presents ALL the time. Haha.

TeeHee_TummyTums90 karma

What was the most difficult part of the production process for your first game? How easy was finding vendors to produce the parts/pieces for your game?

Travisto888219 karma

For the first game, most difficult was figuring out the best way to do shipping and the best way to work with manufacturers. To help answer some of these questions I went to a local game convention and talked to a lot of game makers who were a few years ahead of me. The community is super helpful in pointing new creators in the right directions in terms of manufacturing, logistics, etc. I always tell people that the game community is so helpful because if someone buys my "competitors" game, they are actually then more likely to buy my game. Games turn people into "gamers" and then they buy more and more games :)

Wildicki86 karma

Are you like a.. rich person?

Travisto888229 karma

A lot of the money we make goes back into the company or we save it away. We live in a normal house, only have one car, etc. I think part of the nature of self-employment is uncertainty, so we save/invest as much as we can while things are good. Hopefully they stay good for a long time, but we're not going to throw away money to "be rich" in the meantime.

brownleatherchair835 karma

Thanks for acknowledging the uncertaintity part. How do you process that in your mind? Like in terms of runway in the worse case scenario - do you think that you could look to be employed then?

Travisto888112 karma

So far we haven't had to think too far into the "worst case scenario", but the way I see it is like this. After all this if our company were to tank and fail, would I be more or less marketable as an employee? I will have started a company, learned about supply chain, logistics, manufacturing, product design, running Kickstarters, selling on Amazon, working with artists, etc. I am biased, but I think a company would want to hire someone like me. We have built a company, but we have also turned ourselves into unique assets that could get hired later on if we needed to. But I'd love for things to keep working out so I can stay my own boss :)

holygrail31380 karma

What’s your process for creating a game?

Travisto888269 karma

Our basic process of making a game: come up with an initial idea for a game (based on history, travel, other games, books, everyday habits, etc), make an ugly prototype, test test test test test and keep updating and printing out new ugly prototypes, give the game a theme, find an illustrator to work with, find a graphic designer to work with (in my case it is my wife), make a pretty prototype, contact a factory (we make our games in China), build a Kickstarter page that shows the pretty prototype, manufacture the game, freight the games from the factory to the fulfillment center, send out the game to Kickstarter backers, start selling the game in places like Amazon, talk with distributors and get the game sold in stores. That’s the nutshell version! It’s a lot of work and a lot of steps, but we really enjoy it.

You can see some more details of these steps here: https://facadegames.com/blogs/news/how-to-publish-a-board-game

My wife and I also gave a TEDx talk about our process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEWhRq3GVyY

canstaff49 karma

I always wonder how long the testing period is for board and card games and how many people are involved, especially for a company of your size. You can't exactly release a patch, so how concerned are you that there is a an exploit you didn't catch?

Travisto88876 karma

Our process is usually about a year. During that time we'll have literally 100+ versions of the game, test it 500+ times with different groups, and make big and little tweaks as we go. During that time we also start adding a theme and design and it starts to take shape. But yeah, the testing is such a key. We try to catch all the big issues before the first release, but we're always able to make fixes and tweaks for second editions later on, and we'll post any updates on our website and social channels for people to see.

ZoeMunroe8 karma

Do you hoodwink your friends and family into coming over for endless test session? Do you hire out test groups? Combination? Super curious. Thanks and congratulations! Super cool thing youre doing.

Travisto88816 karma

We have a standing playtest night at our house that forms our core group. And luckily my family is big into board games so they test our stuff a lot as well. And then we have lots of volunteers who we send print and plays to. Lots of willing people out there! Thanks!

ImAnIdeaMan28 karma

I ask this question to be genuinely curious, not critical. Did you contact any US (or maybe at least NA) manufacturing options for manufacturing or explore non-China options and if so, what was the relative cost difference?

Travisto88843 karma

We did. We always reach out to US companies. Sadly the price is never close. We would have to double the price of our games to make them in the US. We have really enjoyed working with Chinese factories though. They are always very polite and helpful. I'm always impressed by what they can make. If you can imagine it they can make it.

PApauper14 karma

So have you been doing about 1 a year, or is it more work a bunch on a couple ideas then have a lul then work a bunch again?

Travisto88830 karma

That's a good point. We will be working on 3-4 games at a time, each in different stages. For example, we just launched one this month, we have another that we are launching in a year that we are starting making the art for, and we have another that is in the early stages of prototyping and testing (and is still a very not fun game to play). We are certainly figuring out our process as we grow, but we like our release pace of 1 per year.

myshkiny6 karma

how many game ideas have you ditched? Not just the initial idea but ones that were going through development and didn't work out?

Travisto88810 karma

Oh man so many! I should count some day. Each game goes through at least 100 versions, so 99 of them are in trash. I've also started and completely trashed about 20 other games. Sometimes they just hit dead ends and you've got to give them up.

olioli8647 karma

What would you say is the best approach for somebody who would like to have a go at designing and publishing a game with minimal personal risk financially?

Travisto88889 karma

The best way to do that would be to design/invent the game and then pitch it to a publisher to actually manufacture it. If it flops, you're out nothing. If it succeeds, you'll get royalties. You won't make a ton through royalties, and it's hard to get a publisher onboard, but it's possible!

olioli8619 karma

Thank you for the response.

If I could ask a follow up question... When you have your own ideas or others send you them. What is your "testing" process to see if they are fun games to play.

Travisto88832 karma

Not much more to it then printing out the cards, getting a group together, and giving it a spin! We can usually tell pretty quick what things are working and what things are awful. The key is just to test as much as possible.

DreesusChrist36 karma

This is so cool!

My question would be:

How challenging is it to make a game balanced and fair from scratch?

Travisto88866 karma

It's impossible to make it fair/balanced right away. It requires so much testing. Our games literally go through 100+ versions and 500+ tests before everything is balanced and just right. We scrap so many ideas and throw so many pretty good games out the window if they can't make it past the final hurdle of being balanced and fun.

ajh15821 karma

Do you track your tests and revisions? If so how do you use that data (other than being prepared to answer the original question, lol)?

Travisto88833 karma

We do. I personally always have a Google doc and Google slides for the current version to house the rules and cards. Each time we move to the next version (about every other day) I duplicate those docs and make the changes (and save the old one if I need to re-access it or go back to an idea that I like better than the new one).

roblisy31 karma

I'm assuming that the $2m number is gross sales. Of that how much are you keeping? Put another way, what's the profit margin on games?

Travisto88828 karma

Around half of our revenue goes towards manufacturing the game, shipping the game (across the ocean in boats, and to individuals through the mail), and other overhead (like working with an accountant, managing our website, paying cuts to distributors and retailers). The other half goes towards our living expenses (since this is our full time job) and towards development of new games (paying for art, prototypes, etc).

Jon23949930 karma

What board game are you most proud of?

Travisto88879 karma

I know it's cliche, but it's like asking which of our kids is our favorite! We love each in different ways, and we spent so much time and love developing them, so it's hard to pick. I'll always love my first because it was my first (Salem), I love the look of my second (Tortuga), I like playing my third (Deadwood), I love my fourth for big groups (Trophies), and I love my fifth for the way it brings people into the story of the game (Bristol).

SeanMcquillan26 karma

Did having a child help make the decision to switch from traditional work to a family business?

Travisto88834 karma

When we made the switch we did not yet have kids, but it definitely would have played a factor. I think a lot of people worry about the health insurance aspect of it, but these days there are lots of good options for self-employed people to get it. Eventually self-employment can start to feel more traditional in senses like that (setting up insurance, setting up retirement plans, etc).

vgowthamvk24 karma

Are you planning to release your games on any digital platform?

Travisto88847 karma

Yes, little by little we're working towards that. One of our games is being turned into an app. And all of them can be played online on a site called "Tabletop Simulator" that essentially makes a 3D table and board that you can play on. Our main focus will always be the physical games though. Something about touching the pieces and seeing people face to face.

ftppftw23 karma

What is your favorite board game mechanic?

Travisto88842 karma

I love co-op games (like Pandemic) and I love card drafting. We would love to figure out a good game design that does either of those well.

Auspants18 karma

So if you sold that many copies why are you kickstarting the next one? Don't you now have the money to not gamble with other peoples money?

Travisto88836 karma

Kickstarter is great for raising capital to pay for large print runs (we usually don't have 200k sitting around to make a big order like that). It is also invaluable for marketing (getting the word out about the game), generating feedback (so we can make changes before we actually publish), and for just having a great launch platform. There are companies WAY bigger than us that use Kickstarter for all their launches. It's a great platform with a great community.

slaptac17 karma

How did you settle on specific instances in history for your games? Will there be a modern take?

P.S. - Tortuga will forever be a favorite memory of my Geekway crew. We played it late at night, brain-dead from learning too many games over the last few days and we just had a roaring good time. Between the betrayal and Pirate talk we had an absolute blast. Thank you for the game and the memories!

Travisto88813 karma

We have about 50 different potential theme ideas floating around. Some future ones we're highly considering are ancient rome, Egypt/mummies, Samurai, Ancient Americas, Roanoke, mobsters of Chicago. I'd also love to do a futuristic one. Present day might be too controversial no matter what we picked! Haha. So many to pick from!

P.S. Glad you guys enjoyed Tortuga! That one can get crazy.

Meikle9014 karma

I haven’t played a ‘game’ other then the traditional games everyone has played when they were kids; do you make a game you could recommend for me and my partner to play? Definitely interested in seeing if we enjoy the game thing; always been something I’ve wanted to try but just had no idea where to start because there’s so many types!

Travisto8889 karma

The other commenters here have some good suggesetions! Catan and Ticket to Ride and Dixit are some good gateways to test out!

Travisto8883 karma

Sure! A super easy one we made is called Trophies- that would be a good way to start. Another pretty simple one we made is Deadwood 1876. Hope you get hooked on games! Lots of cool ones out there and it's a fun hobby to be a part of.

zapata13113 karma

Hi there! Big board games fan here. My wife and I have a blog and YouTube Channel and we recently featured your game as a Kickstarter of the Week.

As you can see, we publish our content in Spanish. And a lot of Spanish-speaking people love your games. But there's also a lot of people who feel discouraged because they can't find your games in Spanish.

What are your thoughts on emerging board game markets around the world? Do you plan on eventually tackling that? Where do you sell the most? What is the biggest emerging market? What are your thoughts on board game related content creators in languages other than English?

Edit: Typo

Travisto8887 karma

Oh wow, thank you for featuring us!

We have noticed the increase in interest in Spanish. We are working to find the best partner to make Spanish versions of our games. Sometimes it can be a lot of work licensing a game, so we want to make sure we do it well.

Our games are selling a lot in Thailand, Brazil, China, and Europe to name a few. Definitely an area we want to expand!

chappy10079 karma

What inspired you to make board games?

Travisto88824 karma

I played "Mafia" growing up at family reunions. We would sit in the basement for hours and the whole game would become a big story for of intense moments and bluffs and victories. I loved it! That was definitely the initial spark.

HorseIsKing8 karma

I have a number of board games that are in varying degrees of progression. I would love to turn this into a full time career but I am constantly disheartened by reports that it isnt a profitable industry. Can you speak to that at all?

Travisto88810 karma

It's true that for many small companies it is hard to make money with the margins that are out there (distributors and retailers take big cuts). But it is possible to take off and make a career out of it. It's just a lot of work, and you will need to make sure that your game is DIFFERENT and unique in someway to stand out among the thousands that get published every year.

canstaff7 karma

What did your marketing strategy look like when you were first starting? Did you get lucky on Kickstarter? Were friends and family overly supportive up front? Or did you have an actual strategy that you implemented to get your name and product out there?

Also, would you say you were heavily into board and card games before this? I'm always fascinated by people that successfully break out into a niche like this and always assume that it's people that already has deep, intricate knowledge and experience with whatever it is they're doing. But that's not always the case. I guess I feel like I can't get into something unless I'm an expert in it already.

Travisto8886 karma

This post talks about our Kicskstarter takeaways: https://facadegames.com/blogs/news/our-advice-to-fellow-kickstarter-creators

We honestly didn't do much advertising to start with. We tried to make something really cool, and then it snowballed and shared itself.

I was never heavily into board games. I was always a casual player, and I felt like there was a market for people like me. People who don't want to spend 3 hours on a game! We are still in no way in "expert" at board gaming. I haven't played many of the "top" games, because we don't enjoy the super in-depth game, and because we're too busy testing our own games.

chrisl1826 karma

Was it hard coming up with new ideas that hadn't already been done? There is a massive catalogue of games out already so I imagine that was very tricky.

Travisto8887 karma

That is always a challenge, but we've found that when we start designing a game it kind of takes a path of its own and leads into a new place. I think it's all about the parameters you set. For ours they have to fit in a small package, play up to 9 players, and involve some kind of lying element. Those parameters have always led it into something unique. We're also not too worried about what you mentioned. Game mechanics will always have some overlap - the key is combining them in new ways and tying it all together with the theme in a cool new way.

KhaosElement5 karma

This if going to sound like a smart ass question, but it's genuine. I see it a lot on indie games and board game. Does the whole "I quit my job, sold my house, lived in my shoe for three years and am finally releasing my game!" reddit title really help a ton? Like, is it a measurable impact?

Travisto8886 karma

I think a lot of people can relate to that. Everyone's got a "dream" that they're sitting on and thinking about in the back of their head, so I do think that seeing a post about it does get people interested. It's a catchy title for sure, but there's also a real life experience behind it that people connect with. Good question!

Ihavenogagreflex_AMA5 karma

My 9 year old son has created 4 board games on his own. What would you suggest I do with them to preserve them or made into actual games with a box and pieces? They're currently on paper with the game pieces stolen from other games 😂

Travisto8887 karma

That is great! You could look at the Game Crafter website. They have pieces you can buy to make single copies of things.

goblin_welder4 karma

Hello.

How exactly did you start? I am currently at home barely working and would like to pursue this card game idea that I have. My biggest fear is I am not very artistic.

Thanks for doing this AMA.

Travisto8887 karma

I think this may help: Our basic process of making a game: come up with an initial idea for a game (based on history, travel, other games, books, everyday habits, etc), make an ugly prototype, test test test test test and keep updating and printing out new ugly prototypes, give the game a theme, find an illustrator to work with, find a graphic designer to work with (in my case it is my wife), make a pretty prototype, contact a factory (we make our games in China), build a Kickstarter page that shows the pretty prototype, manufacture the game, freight the games from the factory to the fulfillment center, send out the game to Kickstarter backers, start selling the game in places like Amazon, talk with distributors and get the game sold in stores. That’s the nutshell version! It’s a lot of work and a lot of steps, but we really enjoy it.

You can see some more details of these steps here: https://facadegames.com/blogs/news/how-to-publish-a-board-game

My wife and I also gave a TEDx talk about our process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEWhRq3GVyY

drqxx4 karma

How board are you?

Travisto8885 karma

I see what you did there...

tophlo3 karma

How do you feel about games like Tabletop Simulator which allow gamers potential access to your IP for free?

Edit: %s/games/gamers/g

Travisto8885 karma

We are a fan! If people like the game on TS then they will often go get a real copy for themselves. We see it as a cool way to get the game in front of more eyes.

tophlo3 karma

Thank you! I deal with SO much guilt about that game. And you're right, I'm gonna throw money at you now.

Travisto8883 karma

Haha. Thank you!

jaymae773 karma

Wonderful story! At what point in the process was it evident that it was time to make the leap into your venture full time?

Travisto8883 karma

When we launched our first game we still had our day jobs. Because it did so well (it raised $100k on Kickstarter), we had a bit of a cushion of time to quit our jobs and try to make a 2nd successful game and build up the sales of the 1st. So we were in a good place to leave. My suggestion would be to make something great on the side, release it on a website or somewhere like Kickstarter, and then transition over as it begins to do better. The transition time will be busy (doing both at the same time), but I think that’s the safest way to do it.

Schutzenegger3 karma

When are you coming back to Utah so we can do more murder mysteries?

Travisto8883 karma

Oh man those are the best times of my life. Loved those murder mysteries!

Schutzenegger3 karma

Schmattykat misses you.

Travisto8883 karma

#classic

GrowthGuided3 karma

Do you think you could beat me at settlers of catan ?

Travisto8886 karma

I do.

saeched3 karma

Why did you choose Bristol as the setting for your newest game?

Travisto88810 karma

Since it is about the black death we had many options to pick from (basically any city in Europe). We chose Bristol because there are not other significant games with that name, the name sounds pretty, and the plague entered England through a port near Bristol. Good question!

saeched5 karma

Does the historical setting bear any relation to the actual game? I live in Bristol and wonder which map you might have based the game board on.

Travisto8883 karma

Yes, we did base the map on part of the city below the river. I'm sure it's unrecognizable now, and we had to move some streets and houses around of course. But you may recognize some landmarks here or there.

norsurfit2 karma

What is your opinion on The Cones of Dunshire?

Travisto8884 karma

You just can't forget about the essence of the game. It's about the cones.

McJumbos2 karma

If you could redesign one of your favorite boardgames, which one and how?

Travisto8883 karma

That's sort of what we did with our first game, Salem 1692. I LOVED mafia/werewolves growing up but felt like it had some issues. So Salem was a response to that and it basically patched up all the whole that I thought there were in those other games.

whitestainedwood2 karma

I loaned Salem to a friend and he lost the gavel. How do I get a new one? :0(

Travisto8883 karma

Sad :( Email [email protected] and we can probably help you out!

saumik_h2 karma

Why have you not been on shark tank yet?

Travisto8883 karma

Kevin O'Leary hates board games! I saw an episode where he set one on fire.

the_ashen_one2 karma

What jobs were you and your wife doing when you both decided to quit and make games full time?

Travisto8883 karma

My wife was a 4th grade teacher and I worked at a small ad agency doing digital marketing

greeneyeded1 karma

Did you like the movie “Game Night”?

Travisto8884 karma

I'm more of a Jumanji kind of guy. Original version.

Doom_Design1 karma

Which board game is the best board game?

Travisto8882 karma

Cones of Dunshire

mrtanack1 karma

When I went on your website I wasn't expecting to see anything I've played but I've played Tortuga 1667 before and really enjoyed it! Your success has certainly been earned.

I noticed your games are designed to be compact. Was that always a goal or did it just end up happening to save costs or something? I think it's a pretty cool characteristic.

Travisto8882 karma

Wow cool! Compactness is just something we've always liked. It makes it easy for people to take it to a party, which is nice since our games are for big groups and somewhat simple mechanics. Ties in well with the book idea too. AND it creates some fun creativity constraints since we can only fit so much into the space.

5onsy1 karma

What gave you the confidence to leave your jobs and pursue your desire and did you ever have a doubt about doing so, were you nervous or were you overcome with excitement?

Travisto8881 karma

Excited! I'm overly optimistic, and my wife is the opposite. So that helped us make the jump, but also make sure we had a good plan in place.

kbig224321 karma

Hell ya! I bought Deadwood off Kickstarter a while ago. Super fun game.

Do you think you would ever make a Dark Cities RPG?

Travisto8882 karma

Actually yes! One of my "career goals" is to make an RPG that is really simple and that would tie in with our audiences. I'm leaning towards one that takes place in a prep school. Perhaps in 5 or so years we will have that ready to go.

Deadweight051 karma

What made you come up with the idea for the Dark City Series? How many games will be in this series? and do you plan on continuing these series types of games?

Travisto8883 karma

When we made our second game I realized that we wanted it to be in a book again, and also focus on a historical event, so I figured we would start a series out of it! I would like to make 12 total Dark Cities games. Has a nice ring to it.

Okashi_dorobou1 karma

Man.. I'm not into board games, but I'm amazed that you could do what you wanted to do. Ok here goes the question. What really inspired you to make the move?

Travisto8882 karma

For us things just all fell into place. We launched that first game and it took off so we had some cushion to work with. We loved making games, and we saw a path forward.

TannedCroissant1 karma

Wow that’s really impressive! I looked into it a few years back and a lot of what I read was that board games were dying off and card/party games were becoming more popular alternatives. Would you say there’s any truth to that?

Travisto8882 karma

Not that I've seen. To me it seems like both categories are growing. More hard core board gamers, and more casual party gamers.

lean08251 karma

Ever thought about going on Shark Tank? And if so what game would you bring to pitch?

Travisto8882 karma

I've heard that Kevin O'Leary HATES board games, haha. So probably not. The board game business model actually doesn't need a lot of upfront investment like that since we can make the games in relatively small batches and build up as the demand increases. Kickstarter also is a great way for us little guys to get early funding and gauge demand.

dragoniteftw331 karma

What's your next step you're planning on going?

Travisto8886 karma

We love what we are doing and we are actually resisting the temptation to grow too fast. We like not having employees and just releasing 1 game a year. It gives us time to travel and enjoy life and play with our kids. We could ramp things up and pop out 4 games a year, but that would mean lack of flexibility/time and just a lot of stress. We have consciously chosen a specific work/life balance and want to keep the pace we are on.

manicdepressivelaugh1 karma

Would you say the switch to self-employment was worth it?

Travisto8882 karma

Definitely! For us it was. We have more flexibility, higher income, and it's super fulfilling being able to call all our own shots and release things we've created into the world. There are things you miss (co-workers, built in retirement plans, etc), but it has been worth it.

Trip4Life1 karma

If it didn’t work out, where do you think you would be now 5 years later?

Travisto8883 karma

That is such an interesting question. My life could have gone so many different ways. I think I was always going to be an entrepreneur of some kind. When our game took off I had my hand in 5 or so other side projects. I like to think that if the games didn't work out that we would have kept trying with something else and eventually made the leap into owning our own company.

Snicklefritz251 karma

How is it working with Amazon? Do they take a big percentage of your sales?

Travisto8884 karma

It is a bit of a headache to be honest :) They take a chunk, but it is worth it for the audience that they bring to you. Most of our sales go through Amazon. We hired a company to manage all of our Amazon sales and inventory, which has helped a lot.

Dashu1 karma

How is working with your wife? People are already surprised when they learn that I'm working on the same team as my sister. Starting a business with your spouse must have a whole different layer of tension.

Travisto8882 karma

Like anything it has its pros and cons. It is so rewarding to be able to build something cool together that we are proud of sending out into the world. And it is nice that we can have a steady conversation about how to improve the game (since we’re always around each other). The cons is that sometimes it can be hard to separate work and personal life. We try to set boundaries and have an “office door” and “office hours” where the work remains. It’s something we’re always trying to work on! During all this Covid stuff I’m sure a lot more people know what we’re talking about in terms of working in close proximity to a spouse :)