Meeting of Minds – Mark McKinnon, Dream Big Games
One of my core aims with The Giant Brain is to promote designers and publishers in the UK gaming scene. To this end I’m establishing a new series of articles where I interview various folks from across the UK tabletop gaming scene to get an insight into their games, their thoughts on current events in the industry and anything else that pops into my head. I hope you enjoy it.
Mark McKinnon is a lovely chap and one man games machine from Scotland who is bringing his project Wreck and Ruin to Kickstarter in March for the second time hoping to storm the world with some post apocalyptic mayhem. He operates under the name Dream Big Games.
I’ve known Mark for a good while during this process and he was good enough to answer some questions as he approached his launch date.
Wreck and Ruin is coming back to Kickstarter in March. What have you learnt from the first time round?
Interaction is key! I was a victim of my own kickstarter habit, I had backed projects which massively overfunded so I was used to updates smashing stretch goals and the like. I didn’t update because I thought I had nothing to say, but in hindsight this was a bit naïve. Regular updates and getting the backers involved made such a change once I started doing it, so that’s what id change most. And keeping up the promoting, continuing to put the message out there. And not getting banned from sharing on facebook mid-campaign – that stung!
Not knowing what to expect is hard, and watching backers drop pledges can be disheartening, but now that I’ve experienced that I can go in stronger than ever!
Did you ever resolve what happened with getting banned on Facebook?
I was ignored completely! I had the option to appeal which I did, but even that process states it won’t overturn the decision. They believe I was spamming, although i was doing nothing different from every other week. I can’t say whether it had an effect on my campaign, but it definitely affected my morale. It was a very frustrating time, I felt helpless and the fact i was paying for facebook ads just wound me up more. Probably not the most effective solution but i pulled my ad after that.
What are your hopes for Wreck and Ruin post Kickstarter?
The game is just the beginning! The game that I have now is such a distilled version of the original vision – I have different scenarios, different factions and powers, new tiles, an XP and campaign system that I stripped back to make a simpler to pick up game, all this I want to get back in there.
I also want there to be a community with the game – I’d like to continue supporting the game with free scenario content, but I also want other people to share their own variations. I like to think of the game as the starting block for a game that people can do what they want with.
The best part about making a game is hearing the player stories and sharing that experience – the time their big rig didn’t take a single hit, or the scout that blew up everything in its path – the experience is what makes a game, and I hope that people will be playing it for years to come.
You had a stall at Expo last year, do you think that going to a con without product helped with your exposure amongst the community?
100%, although it was a sunk cost I would recommend this to anyone starting out. How many times have you heard someone complain about a game on ks, usually mini heavy, using flashy components to hide a poor game? I wanted to show people that even though this was my first game I had thought it out and put in the work to make it the best it could be.
I had no expectations for the expo but I was mobbed the whole weekend, and the amount of people I have spoken to since who said they wanted to try it and just couldn’t get close made it such an amazing and humbling experience. Even at Dragonmeet there were people walking past saying that they had seen the game and would come back later when I wasn’t busy to try it – it makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Will you be attending Expo next year? Do you have any plans to attend any other cons?
I’m already booked in, I’m taking a major risk because I still have nothing to sell but i regret nothing! I have a team of loyal wasteland warriors helping me this time so i might get a lunch break this time round!
I’ll be demoing at Airecon mere days after launching so I hope to live stream from there to kickstarter and also direct people straight to it once they play it and see how awesome it is. I love supporting the Scottish scene so I’ll be at Conpulsion, Glasgow Games festival, the Play expo again if they’ll have me, and anywhere else i can fit in! I’ll go anywhere to game so Dragonmeet will be on the cards again.
What is your one piece of advice you would give to small companies like yourself using Kickstarter to produce their game?
Get out into the community, get involved, and don’t be afraid to fail: failing doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got a product that nobody likes or that you’ve done something wrong, there are so many new games coming out that sometimes it’s hard to be seen. There are so many factors to take into account – when you launch, your goal, your video, your campaign page – do the best job you can, and if that doesn’t work, try to find out where you went wrong. But above all, never give up!
The games community is pretty large and there are lots of places you can chat about games. What sites and forums have you found the most helpful in terms of advice and promotion?
Facebook is definitely the most helpful for discussions and advice, there are so many groups that are about helping people design and the big names are in there too. For anyone starting off there is Jamey Stegmaier’s blog as well as James Mathe’s – between them they cover pretty much everything. I’ve dabbled with Boardgamegeek and reddit but i find them quite difficult to use due to the interface. I always update twitter when i create a post and I enjoy using it, you do however get buried very quickly amongst all the other content being constantly added. I want to crack Beasts of War after demoing next to Az at Play last year, I’m a bit late to engage the community so I’m going to try the direct approach.
What game from a UK company has you most excited in 2018?
I’ve been waiting patiently for my copy of Legends Untold from Inspiring Games, the recent updates show improvements they’ve made that have the community very excited! As a fan of fallout I would have liked to try the Fallout miniatures game from Modiphius at Dragonmeet but was too busy. I also saw there was an X-Com miniatures game in the works too – I’m not going to lie when I say i’d thought about doing this myself, so that will be interesting to see.
2018 is going to be a good year, I can feel it.