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I’m Jasn Painter, I started Loot Corps in 2012 so that I could release my first game DrunkQuest! I went to school for Game Design and have been passionate about games my entire life. I got into game design pretty early in life. I used to spend summers at my grandmas working on boardgames for the two of us to play. She still keeps a scrapbook of all my old designs (none of them were good but I was learning.) I started Loot Corps fresh out of college with my then girlfriend Athena Cagle. She remains the lead artist for Loot Corps and helps define what aesthetic we create for each game.
We both still work regular 9-5s. Athena works for a slot game company and I work for the Casinos doing UI/UX design. The dream is to have enough good games in our library that it can support both of us full time so we can focus completely on the next release.
For me what makes Loot Corps games unique is the philosophy behind them. For DrunkQuest, at the time, there wasn’t anything like it on the market. Drinking games were more like excuses to drink then actual games. “Oh you flipped a 6 of clubs, drink 6 drinks!”. 2 years after we released I remember going to Gen Con and seeing 4-5 new drinking games. I walked around and spoke to the designers it was really neat hearing them mention DrunkQuest by name as inspiration. It made me feel like a legitimate game designer.
My house was the hangout house. We used to get together every couple weeks for a boardgame night that usually revolved around drinking beer, smoking cigars and playing whatever new game I’d bought.
That started me down the path of creating DrunkQuest. About a year later I had 3 prototypes that were being “checked out” by my friends for weekend parties and events. That’s when I knew it was ready! We launched the campaign hoping to make enough to produce a thousand copies. We hoped a couple hundred would sell during the campaign and the rest we’d take to conventions for the next couple years. I was under the impression that nerds who drink would be a niche group. But I was thankfully very wrong.
We launched the company and the game through our first Kickstarter. A friend helped me build our website and create an email sign up so I could send out the Kickstarter link when it was live. We went into the campaign hoping to make the game and a shotglass. By the time it was all said and done we had DrunkQuest, T-Shirts, Coasters, Stickers, Shot Glasses, Coozies a Bottle Opener and even a custom Stein! It was an amazing experience and something I can still hardly believe happened.
I do have a Social Media presence for DrunkQuest but honestly most of our customers are gained through word of mouth. Luckily for us DrunkQuest is a social game that a lot of people take to parties. It kind of acts as advertising when someone introduces it to their friends and then those friends want to bring it to share with another group.
When we get close to a new release (like Wastedlands) I tend to ramp up how social I am as well. I go out more and interact more to help get the word out. I also start posting art and card designs to our Social Media feeds. Marketing is something that has been hard to figure out. I’ve spent thousands on adds from Board Game Geek for very little return and they’re the premiere boardgaming site! On the flip side of that coin, I was featured in a Blog during my first campaign called The Drunken Moogle that it drove hundreds of new backers to the campaign. And the blog was free. I’ve tried a little bit of everything but from what I’ve found, there is no quick fix strategy that just works. It’s a combination of your products appeal and finding the market that connects with it.
Photoshop/Illustrator are probably tied for number 1. Unless you have a dedicated designer who can quickly get out the creative you need for all the weird banner sizes out there you’ll need to pick up some basic layout skills. For me, its almost always where I start when I’m looking to market. What is my Call To Action message?
Facebook has become the Social Media platform of a *ahem* slightly older crowd. But it’s what I know so it’s probably my main tool I use to communicate with customers. Along with Instagram and Twitter of course.
Lastly I’d say the main DrunkQuest page is how I get new orders from retailers or people from other countries.
Everything. Other games being number 1 of course but I get ideas from everywhere. Cartoons, TV, Movies, Books, I follow other art blogs, I watch YouTube videos to see what other people are making. I also look at different social groups and think “What kind of game best fits those interests?”
The idea for my second game Tavernin (coming 2020) came after being invited to a poker night at a friends and being frustrated by the high barrier of entry for beginners and the game itself not really being fun on its own. It’s fun to gamble, it’s fun to toss chips into a pile and its fun to outplay your friends. So I took that inspiration and turned it into my second game.
Its gotta be a tie between Shipping and Manufacturing. The first time I ordered products from China I remember getting a call from the Port Authority in CA. They asked “Do you have your agent number and import ID?” And I was like “My what and what now?” I had no idea what they were asking and it wasn’t very googleable either. The company offered to take care of all of it for only 1800 dollars. Which at the time seemed reasonable next to the 1500 a day it was going to cost me to dry store it at the dock while I figured out how to get the credentials they needed. Going into 90 Proof Seas (DrunkQuest’s first expansion) I’d figured out how to fill out the paperwork and get the IDs they needed, to the tune of $120. A considerable amount less than I had paid the dock company just a year prior.
Manufacturing was another big hurdle. When you order from overseas they generally assign you a customer service rep that speaks your language. The challenge is that those reps don’t speak the english we use. There are so many slang words or just words we use with pop-culture context tied to them that you don’t consider until you tell someone “cool” and they ask about temperature. During the first printing of DrunkQuest I tried to tell the manufacturer that I wanted to include 2 custom dice with the game. They said no problem and I sent over the design for them. An unwrapped dice design looks sort of like a cross, with the six sections all linked together. Well the first 1500 copies of DrunkQuest had 2 cards cut into a cross shape because they thought I was asking for Die-Cut cards. Which is a manufacturing term I am now very familiar with.
For me I’d say think about what you’re trying to produce and ask, does this fill an empty space or does it compete in an existing one? Knowing that can help you set the tone of your engagements with potential customers and I think really prepare you for the type of feedback you’ll be getting.
Things are at an interesting intersection right now. We’d partnered with Ninja Division for a few years hoping they would take DrunkQuest and run with it while we worked on Tavernin. But that company grew too big too fast and lost focus resulting in DrunkQuest all but dying on the vine. Now that it’s back in my hands I really want to get it back into production and polish it until it shines. Wastedlands will hopefully allow me to do that.
As for the future, I hope to release Tavernin next year. The game is finished and I got some really great feedback from Comic Con last year when I premiered it but DrunkQuest is my first child, I want to make sure it’s doing ok before I introduce a new sibling to the Loot Corps family.