Friday, February 5, 2010

Another Podcast Appearance! Box Talk!

I was a guest again over at RPG Circus and we recorded a show last night. I was invited on to talk about box sets. It's already online, so go listen to it, and then come back here.

As always with these things, as soon as we disconnect, I immediately thought of a million things I should have said, but didn't for reasons of both time constraints (they like to keep their show a bit trimmed, and both times I've been on now it's been a looooooooong episode) and the fact that I don't want to sound like a politician getting in my prepared soundbytes no matter where the conversation goes.

One factor about box sets I didn't talk about was the freedom of presentation. It's all good and well to say "Games come in boxes!" but that doesn't explain what is meant. A book has a fairly static way of being presented. I've seen foldout maps stuck on the inside of covers, but otherwise, it's a book. There's only so much you can do with it.

A box on the other hand has almost unlimited potential. Whatever you want to put in there, you can. Whatever you want the box to look like, whatever material you want the box to be made out of, you can. You want multiple foldout maps? Dice (especially applicable to games that require non-standard dice)? Spinners? Hourglass timer? Loose sheets (like, I don't know, character sheets!)? You want to arrange your content in book form, but not all be in the same book and not sold as separate products? A box can do that. So it's not just that Box Equals Game, it's also that a box is far more flexible for presenting a game than a book is.

There talk about the issue of cost, both on the producer and consumer sides. I talked a bit about my costs, and talked about what Brave Halfling grossed in effectively a few days. What I forgot to mention is that while I was throwing out numbers approaching five figures, to put it in perspective you have to realize we are absolutely tiny small potatoes operations. Green Ronin, Fantasy Flight, Wizards of the Coast, and fancy presentation non-box companies like Paizo are playing with numbers and risks and expections 100 times what's talked about in the podcast. On the consumer side, when talking about how much things cost, add non-box biggies Ptolus and World's Largest Dungeon to the Warhammer 3e and Wilderlands of High Fantasy examples.

It's not about cost-effectiveness or necessity, it's about capturing the imagination. Do that, and you're gold. Don't do that, and it doesn't matter how economical you are.


  1. A box on the other hand has almost limited potential. Not trying to make assumptions, but I think you probably meant to say "unlimited." But I think we all know what you mean.

  2. >>I think you probably meant to say "unlimited."

    Whoops, yeah.

  3. >>professional layout software

    I just got PagePlus X4 in the mail today. After just a couple hours fiddling with it, it is SO MUCH BETTER than the 9 year old layout software I've been using.

    I'm not very much for bringing production in-house though. I did that for the first run of Death Frost Doom and life has become much easier since I stopped that. When you start to print a few hundred of something at a time, I don't know that it's really even saving any money.

    Can't wait for the fun of hand-assembling over a dozen components into 600 box sets. My wife is already dreading it, and it's 4 months away.