Thursday, November 15, 2012

Famous Missions Redux

So, a few years ago I made a game called Famous Missions. It's a party style game, where a judge player throws out a mission card ("Dismantle A Bomb") and each player has to form a 3 person team using the cards in their hard. The cards are made up of famous people throughout history who range from useful to useless depending on the task, but it's up to the player to use them in a creative way. How would Donald Trump help dismantle a bomb? How would Edgar Allan Poe colonize a new planet? How would George W. Bush cross the Atlantic in a raft?

And that is where the game shines. Players will craft the scenarios, using the tools at hand (and some of them can be serious "tools") to prove themselves to the judging player. With a creative group, this game is hilarious. With a historical group, the game is cut-throat. And with every group I've ever play tested with, the game is a lot of fun.

But... at the end of 2011, I ran a Kickstarter campaign for the game and it went as poorly as you could imagine. I have seen worse, but this one was personal. I learned a TON from the experience, which I applied to future projects. And now, a year later, I'm trying to figure out how to apply that back to Famous Missions.

The big issues were:
1) The art - people hated it. I stood by it, because I wanted to create a simple visual of the character and let the imagination do the rest of the work. Each character was in the same pose, with very simple mind-sparking features. The card layout was simple too for a few reasons. But people hated this, and in the game of Kickstarter, they were the judges and they did not rule in my favor.
2) The launch - I snuck the game out without promotion. I thought I'd promote heavily during the campaign, and learned my lesson the hard way. Sneaking out a release is a terrible idea, unless you have a rabid fanbase.
3) The rewards - The budget paid for the cards and nothing else, so the rewards were 2 copies of the game, 3 copies of the game, etc. Not that exciting. Looking back, I could have improved this without spending a lot of extra money, and should have.
4) Copyright issues - People were very bent out of shape about the likenesses. At one point they said that they hated the art because it looked nothing like the people, but then they thought I'd get sued for using their image. But their image was a distorted avatar style image, intentionally semi-vague. I don't believe that I'd have issues, especially with a small release that I was going for, but it didn't sit well with some people.

After a year, I think I could fix most of those issues, but the copyright thing still stands. I know that I could use the names with no issues, but the image? Better art would just make it more of an issue.

So my question is... how about silhouettes?

This would be a big struggle because not all silhouettes are as dynamic as these, but the art style still captures what I wanted originally. It reminds the player of the famous person, without forming a story in itself.

And to contrast, here is the old artwork. (which I still love BTW)

Curious to hear anyone's thoughts on this. If I'm still dancing around copyright issues, I may just go the underground route and distribute the game via alternative methods to those who want to play. A lot of people have been asking me about this lately and I would love to tackle it. Somehow.


Joe said...

Old artwork looks great to me!

Bradley Rose said...

Wow. It may just be that the silhouettes you chose are among the best you can do, but they're awesome. Though, I'm aware the improvement in other graphical elements may also be at work, too.

The silhouettes are fantastic because they give character to what would otherwise be Apples to Apples or Cards Against Humanity cards. And your game is a bit more colorful than those games.

Hope this helps!

Jason Tagmire said...

Thanks guys for the feedback, it does really help!

Bradley, I chose a few that would be easy for a mock up, which probably does translate to some of the best. I know others will be tough, so that will be the struggle if I go forward in this way. The best thing for me to do is try some of the famous people with less-defined features and see if it works.

Guillermo Martinez said...


I was a supporter of your original Kickstarter campaign for "Famous Missions," and let me tell you, I thought (and still think) the game is brilliant! I've donated to many campaigns, and yours was such a "no-brainer" in my eyes. I couldn't believe it fell short.

I revisited the old KS page to see if you had any updates, and after clicking around I found this site. I'm glad you're still thinking about "Famous Missions," because I will happily donate again if you try again. (This time, for a whole mess of decks.) Please keep trying!

(And for the record, I thought the original artwork was funny and very charming. Your sample silhouettes, though, look badass! It would be a challenge to represent, say, an H.G. Wells or a Danny DeVito dynamically in this form, but I think you can do it!)

Jason Tagmire said...

Thanks Guillermo! Very encouraging words. I haven't updated the Kickstarter because I partially wanted to forget about how terribly we did, but also because I had nothing new to say as of yet. So glad you found the site, and so glad to hear you are still interested. Going to push forward with this version, no matter how hard it is to make a dynamic Danny DeVito silhouette!

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