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Albino Dragon

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An Apology for Genegrafter

Posted by Erik Dahlman on

The Matrix

It’s hard to believe that I was introduced to Kickstarter almost three and a half years ago in 2011. It’s had a profound affect on my life since then.

That was one of those Matrix years for me. You know, like I didn’t know about the Matrix until I took the blue pill. In this case, it was the blue pill for tabletop gaming.

Up until that time, boardgames for me had been the one’s that everyone grows up with: Risk, Monopoly, etc. I had also played some CCGs like Magic: The Gathering and all of Decipher’s Star Wars and Star Trek games.

So when someone at work sent out an email to a Kickstarter campaign and I found an entire section of board games I had never seen, it was pretty amazing.

I bought a little of everything during that time. And somewhere along the way, I decided that I could make one myself too.

Just Because You Can, Doesn’t Mean You Should

There was a video game that I had been working on at the time that was made for iPhones and iPads. While iterating through some designs I had been using cards. You can read the whole thing here, but the basic premise is that I got the bright idea to make my own game. And crowdfund it.

That project was Genegrafter. A name I immediately regretted since everyone ever since has always called it Genecrafter. So at least nobody can find it.

The game concept started out as a CCG since that was what I was most familiar with and really enjoyed playing. I was immediately told by the gaming community that CCGs were frowned upon and, if anything, it should be an LCG.

Instead, I paired the game down to something that was based on little more than luck. 

Originally it had more rules, more tactics, and more card types. I stripped out a lot of the decision making aspects: the synergies between powers and environments and other characters. My thought process was to get the base game out there and then build it up with expansions. This seemed like a great idea at the time.

You can't do that. You have to make a solid game that lives long enough to warrant expansions.

Kickstarter

I ran that project for 60 days while working my full time job during the day. It was grueling, it was tiring, but by the end, my enthusiasm to make a board game had convinced 274 people to help me turn it into a reality. And I love them for it. That was the catalyst that allowed me to quit my job and completely shift career paths to start Albino Dragon.

The project took about a year to finish and deliver, but it taught me how to make a game. It showed me that I could complete a physical product from inception to delivery.

During the project I changed artists, added upgraded components, and generally tried to make the best game that I knew how to at the time.

And that was my biggest downfall. I simply hadn’t played enough games.

The quality of the game was top notch, until you got to the gameplay. No matter how good a game looks, nothing can save it if the gameplay isn’t any fun, and that’s what Genegrafter was lacking. The theme wasn’t an integral part of the design and I found out quickly that nobody liked luck based games. At all.

Since Then

It’s 2015 and it’s weird looking back now and thinking what it was like to not have known about games like even Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Dominion. All we do now is play games. We play board games (some of my favorites can take up to six hours), we play console games, we play mobile games, and we play tabletop RPGs.

In fact, there just isn’t enough time or money to play everything that we want.

But I’ve learned a lot about gaming since that first effort. You may not see me there, but I’m always lurking on BGG.com, scoping out what’s next and trying to make sure I don’t ever make another game like Genegrafter again.

It was doomed from the beginning because I simply didn’t have enough experience yet.

So Where Is The Apology?

Right here. I’m sorry gaming community. I’m sorry for anyone that ever bought Genegrafter and hoped that it would be anything more than a quick and dirty game of randomness and chunking of fistfuls of dice.

I’m sorry if you backed the project and the end result fell short of what we believed would be a great game.

It certainly wasn’t something that was done intentionally, but it is something we want to make sure that we never replicate again.

The reason you haven’t seen a game from us in a year is because we don’t want to repeat any past mistakes. We want to make the best game that we possibly can, the game that we ourselves want to play every day.

So What Next?

Next is going to be a game that WE want to play. Something that we can get excited about and want to play demos for hundreds of hours a year at conventions.

A game that is built on all of the knowledge we’ve accumulated playing really amazing games over the past few years and using the manufacturing processes we’ve learned to bring products to market quickly and with the highest quality.

Thanks for reading this far. If you have, you may be happy to know that we have put Genegrafter up on our website for free as part of our Daily Deal. You can strip it down and use it for prototype parts, use it for firewood, or keep it around to pull out one day when I’m acting too smug and remind me that I thought that was a good game once.

  • Kickstarter
  • tabletop
  • games
  • gaming

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