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The story of Terrible Games and their upcoming Kickstarter launch of Token Terrors

Pre-Kickstarter Story

token_terrors

Pre-Kickstarter Story

The story of Terrible Games and their upcoming Kickstarter launch of Token Terrors

token_terrors
John de Campos

John de Campos

Founder

Terrible Games

Terrible Games is a toy design and board game publishing company. 

🇺🇸 Based in Baltimore, Maryland

📅 Founded 2017

🏆 3 Founders

💵 Monthly Revenue = NA/Pre-launch

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Who are you and what business did you start?

Hello! I’m John de Campos, the CEO, lead designer, illustrator and co-founder of Terrible Games. Terrible Games is a new company entering the market of tabletop gaming and gaming accessories with our flagship product, Token Terrors and their companion semi-abstract battle game Token Terrors: Battlegrounds.

Token Terrors, a patent-pending innovation in tabletop gaming accessories are affordable, durable, travel-ready and dice-sized mini-monsters designed specifically for use as token creature representations in Magic the Gathering. Instead of using boring non-descript dice, beads, chits, cards or other brick-a-brack Token Terrors enhance and personalize your favorite Token generation deck. Because there is no forced scarcity and due to Token Terrors affordable price (6 for $8) Token Terrors can flood the game table in both Magic the Gathering and as mighty minions in your next tabletop RPG adventure without breaking the bank. 

In our new game, Token Terrors: Battlegrounds, our versatile, character packed tiny-troops are yours to command in a 1 VS 1 semi-abstract battle game. Token Terrors Battlegrounds is a medium to lightweight game for ages 12+ that has a modest table presence, is portable, loaded with 30 miniatures, sets up in 3 minutes and has a duration of 15 to 30 minutes.

What does your typical day look like as an entrepreneur?

I’m a stay at home dad/freelance illustrator so I have a lot of freedom but that comes paired with the sometimes challenging task of managing my time efficiently my days usually look like this. 

  • 6:45 am – Awaken! get my 4-year old dressed and ready for school. 
  • 7:00 am  – say goodbye to my partner, make breakfast for my daughter and pack her lunch then clean up the kitchen from dinner the night before, make coffee and watch the news. 
  • 8:05 am – Take my daughter to school. Listen to crowdsourcing and game design podcasts on the return trip home.
  • 9:00 am – return home from dropping off the child, hop on to the spin bike get in a 30-minute workout while watching TV. While cooling down I typically try to post at least 1 or 2 things to either a social media outlet for Token Terrors OR post a discussion starter on a game design group on facebook or Reddit. 
  • 9:40 am – grab a shower, listen to more game design and crowdfunding podcasts while showering and getting ready/dressed. 
  • 10:10 am – Pop onto facebook, Instagram and react/engage with whatever is happening. Answer emails and begin forming a roadmap of what my goals for the day are. Begin work. 
  • 11:00 am to 2:00 pm – WORK. This includes everything from completing freelance illustration commissions, following up on various scheduling needs, answering emails as they are received, doing band related bookings and promotion, creating content for online promotion and completing various tasks for Token Terrors. 
  • 2: 00 to 2:30 pm – LUNCH, typically a giant salad. 
  • 2:40 pm – leave to pick up my daughter at school by 3 pm. 
  • 3:00 to 4:00 pm – run errands with my child in tow, grocery shopping, post office, clean up the house, etc. 
  • 4:00 pm – take my daughter out to the park to run around and play until 5:00 pm
  • 5:00 to 6:00 pm  – Chill for about 30 to 50 minutes, typically play some Magic the Gathering Arena online. 
  • 6:00 pm – start dinner, watch youtube or Hulu while cooking
  • 6:30/7:00 pm – eat dinner with family
  • 7:30/8:00 pm – If I don’t have a playtest, meeting or band practice (I’m in 2 bands and an artistic council member of a local 501C3 not for profit arts organization) I typically do bedtime with my daughter. 
  • 8:30/9:00 pm – spend time with my partner on the couch watching a movie or TV. 
  • 10:00 pm – Partner goes to bed. I head up to my office
  • 10:00 pm to 12:30/1:00 am  – do some more work then go to bed. 

You may be asking, are you doing this all alone? Thankfully NO! I have 4 business partners. Each with varying amounts of equity. Each of these partners brings unique skills to the table and many have invested funds into the venture. None are employees but my hope is that this company is a success so we can pay ourselves on a per-project or salary basis based on workload and time spent on company business.  

Tell us about what Terrible Games is building.

What are we building you ask? Terrible Games will specialize in tabletop games and toys. Because our flagship/signature product, Token Terrors is not only a brand new semi-abstract battle game with TONS of replayability and a possible competitive scene but also versatile miniature monsters, our hope is to create a fervent buyer base and release a 6 faction offering of Token Terrors roughly every 6 months. 

This will not only deepen the gameplay in Token Terrors: Battlegrounds but will also offer additional value to customers who use them in other tabletop gameplay settings like Magic the Gathering and Tabletop RPGs. 

Once we have established our brand in the space it’s our aim to release 2 expansions to Token Terrors: Battlegrounds in Token Terrors: Adventure, a 3 to 6 player dungeon crawl with a group of 2 to 5 players facing off against a single player who plays as the “Nemesis” in a fight for survival as well as Token Terrors: Team Up! A 4 player 2 VS 2 version of Token Terrors: Battlegrounds.

Once the workflow and logistics are somewhat solidified for Token Terrors we also plan to release NEW tabletop board games that are totally divorced from the world of Token Terrors.  

For now, we have a fairly modest offering in Token Terrors: Battlegrounds, Token Terrors Battle Blocks (6 count box of Token Terrors) and 2 larger Token Terrors meant for slightly augmented playstyles in Battlegrounds called Token Titans and Token Tyrants. But even in this somewhat limited product rollout, Token Terrors have a lot to offer that differentiates us from the competition.

Affordability – Whereas most tabletop miniatures cost around $3 a piece, Token Terrors will be sold in “Battle Blocks” containing 6 mini-monsters in a package for $8.00. That’s around $1.30 per miniature. OR you can take advantage of the huge savings we offer in buying a copy of Token Terrors: Battlegrounds which contains 30 Token Terrors, 5 of each faction, which translates to about the same cost per token but also features our new game as well. 

Durability – As opposed to all other tabletop miniatures which have protruding limbs and weapons as well as attached bases which cause the minis when stored to bend, break, chip and tangle. Token Terrors feature a patent-pending dice-sized shape and are injection molded PVC. This means they mingle effortlessly with dice, beads and other gaming ephemera. You can literally grab them by the handful and toss them onto the table straight out of your dice bag. 

Abundant – The makers of Magic of the Gathering have created 2 offerings in an attempt to serve the market of players who want cool 3D representations of their token creatures on the battlefield. Relic Tokens, a plastic disc with token card art and a counter dial that come in blind packs of 3 and Overwhelming Swarm, Blind bag single count fully painted traditional miniatures. Both offerings, while serviceable are chase/blind bag products meaning that a player who is using a mono-red tribal goblin deck that makes dozens of goblins would have to buy lots and lots of either of this product in order to represent the giant horde they are generating in-game. Token Terrors Battleblocks will feature a clear window on the front of the box. This means that players know how many creatures they are getting and which creature it is. No forced scarcity.

Walk us through the design and development process.

Luckily I went into this venture with some basic skills that made this transition to this project somewhat attainable. I had been doing freelance illustration for about 4 years before starting this business which gave me a considerable leg up in creating art for the game/brand as well as designing the look of the token terrors.

We here at Terrible Games do all our design in house. I and my partner Tim Brosius do all the Token Terrors as a 2 person team. I produce a 360-degree design sketch which gives Tim the basics of what I would like to see included in the design of the Token. Tim then sculpts the miniature using a mixture of 3DS Max and ZBrush. Once he has a completed render of the first draft I take a look and send a design review image back with pointed notes about things I would like tweaked or changed.

But once we have a render then what?  We had been talking with some Chinese manufacturers and had set our sights on manufacturing with a more well-known company but after meeting a US-based sales rep and customer liaison for Gameland Games at a convention in our area and hearing they were willing to do an MOQ of 500 we began discussions with them and have since formed a good working relationship and plan to move forward with them. They had a copy of the recently released Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle game they produced and the look and quality of that product were enough to convince me they would be a great partner for us with a 500 MOQ to make our funding goal much more attainable, though we hope to blow that out of the water.

Tell us about your marketing plans.

We plan to launch in Winter 2020 and have been doing a TON of audience building by Playtesting, posting to Instagram, Reddit, facebook, doing convention visits and spreading word of mouth. I also spent quite a bit of time building our site using Wix. Through these various outlets, I’m proud to say that over the last 1.5 years we have built a following of around 3K in online reach. 

These efforts paired with email marketing, email capture (funnel page), a FREE print and Play file when you subscribe to our mailing list, analytics, product reviews, site optimization, and general buzz are all tools we expect to get us funded.

What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

The way I knew to do these things? I listened to Jamie Stegmier’s books on audible, regularly listen to the board game design lab podcast. I’m an active member of around half a dozen Facebook groups centered around either crowdfunding best practices, board game design or both, all of which are highly beneficial because you have an active sounding board of creators who can give you great feedback about your project in addition to possibly becoming a fan of your product. All of these groups surprisingly are full of very creative and supportive people who are very kind and offer their time and expertise freely. 

Being in these groups has afforded me the privilege of meeting some truly caring and creative people. One that comes to mind is Eric Geller of Short Hop games, who’s working on a game of his own called Quests and Cannons. Eric has been a huge supporter of Token Terrors, going so far as to build out our Tabletop simulator version and doing extensive playtesting with a print and play.

What’s been the biggest business challenge you’ve overcome?

Building this product from the ground up has been exceedingly challenging. The first challenge I came up against was figuring out the look and feel of our Token Terrors. Tim and I spent the first year messing around with the various design directions, trying to prototype using a 3D printer, scrapping our first wave of renders, going back to the drawing board and eventually trying to produce minis in the USA. 

Sourcing someone to tool the steel plate molds for us in the US and show backers that we could complete this proof of concept was the first step towards writing a 9-page business plan and seeking out additional partners and investors since it required a $3,000.00 upfront cost for tooling. Sadly these efforts, after nearly a year of going back forth with the US-based toymaker, ended up being a fruitless endeavor that wasted $3K leaving us with nothing to show for it. 

The lesson that was gained is to do your research before you drop a huge amount of money on a part of your project. Even a surface-level amount of research into producing plastic miniatures via a Chinese manufacturer would have yielded results that would have pointed us towards going that route from the beginning. 

Gaining funding also led to working with an investor who initially touted some expertise in the market and had funds to contribute but ultimately was not in a place in their life to actually contribute in a meaningful way to the company. This investor and the US-based toymaker I had worked with initially were brought on as equity holders in the company and as each proved to be unreliable I was faced with effectively firing the toymaker and relinquishing their equity and structuring the unavailable investor into a loan based deal where they got a 15% return on investment.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

For other first time entrepreneurs, my advice would be to do your market research and bide your time. 

There are a lot of FREE resources out there for people trying to launch a product to take advantage of before you take your product to the public, especially in the methods and best practices of running a Kickstarter. 

If I could go back and do some things differently I would certainly NOT try to source our miniatures through a US-based toymaker or prematurely add business partners for working capital and instead would have preferred to get quotes from Chinese manufacturers first and borrow from family. 

How are things today and what are your plans for the future?

That said we are currently on track for a great product rollout. Our goals going into 2020 are for this company to fund on Kickstarter and scale to a company with annual earnings of at least $150K to $200K and beyond per year. We hope to create a dedicated buyer base that will help spread our brand and grow the business from each offering following our initial campaign, returning to Kickstarter each time, gradually increasing our earnings.

This will lead to new products like the above-mentioned expansions on Token Terrors: Battlegrounds in Token Terrors: Adventure and Token Terrors: Team Up! Additionally, it’s a dream of mine to offer two 6 count blind bags of Token Terrors in addition to our clear window battle blocks, to be sold in the toy aisle in big box stores alongside Token Terrors line of companion products. These will contain an assortment of Token Terrors and will sometimes contain Token Titans, Token Tyrants, and “typical” Token Terrors in rare finishes like multicolor swirl, glitter, translucent, alternate colors and glow in the dark.

Once we have some liquidity we plan to plunge headlong into creating totally new board game experiences with a few cool projects already simmering on the backburner. 

Where can we learn more?

For anyone who would like to follow us on our journey to unleash mini-monsters across the globe and enjoy products please follow us on any of these social media outlets – 

Follow Token Terrors on Kickstarter!

Our website – tokenterrors.com

Board Game Geek page

Instagram

@tokenterrors

Facebook page

Facebook group

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