- [Guide] [Games] [E-Books]
- The Dollphin
piste (peest) n. a trail,
especially a downhill ski trail. [from French, from Old Italian
pista, from pistare "to trample down, pound."]
Brokeback Mountain %}
Possibly the bestmodern romantic western since, well, anything.
"Your games are certainly games of the underground gaming
movement. Fluxx is one of those games you can start a conversation
with. Most people I spend any real time with, own themselves
a Fluxx deck, and I carry mine with me whenever I go out to meet
people. I don't always get a chance to break it out, but when
I do it impresses!" -- email from Ax Death,
||Redesigning Icehouse and our
decided this week's article should be from a Kristin
perspective, so here she is to tell y'all about the status of
the switchover from SuperFRED to Sweetie, our preparations for
Toy Fair, and in particular, our vision for the new way we're
going to start selling and promoting Icehouse
pieces, and how we came up with it.)
This has been a crazy busy month in my world... Meg,
are making great progress moving into our
new software. The accounting department goes live first,
and Meg has become an expert at finding wi-fi hookups in and
around the state parks of Florida while her family plays with
the manatees and Mickey Mice. Craig and his family have settled
in at their new home in Madison, and he and I have been working
out the mappings to translate 'company' and 'person' records
from SuperFRED into 'customer' and 'contact' records in Sweetie.
Vendors, Media and Industry Peers have all been moved over, and
items should be moved in soon!
While all this had been keeping us busy, early January is
always the month where we finalize production plans and prepare
literature describing our new products to be given out at Toy
Fair and the GTS show. With Family
Fluxx and EcoFluxx
now available, and Fluxx Español in
the works, we had been planning to basically ignore the Icehouse
system this year, keeping only the tubes of pyramids in print,
planning to focus all our energy on building new markets for
the new versions of Fluxx, so we would have more money next year
to work on the pyramids again.
Then on Sunday January 8th, just one month ago, I had a brilliant
idea. I figured out a way that we could simply remove the pyramids
from our colorful POP display. We
made this display more than three years ago, but so far,
we've only gotten them into just over 200 stores. [Wait. Hang
on. It's REALLY cool that I have gotten this beautiful display
into over 200 stores! But... I've got another 750 of them in
my warehouse... and our card games are in a
LOT more than 200 stores.] Why don't more stores want the
display? The #1 reason they always give for not wanting the display,
is that they don't understand and don't want to sell the pyramids.
So I was really excited when I figured out that I could just
remove the pyramids completely and we'd have a perfect spot for
our new blister-packed card games.
We created this POP display as a way to hopefully, finally,
get the pyramids into stores. It gives our stores a cool, colorful
way to display the tubes of pyramids, right next to our card
games. The first boxed set, The
Martian Chess Set, had done very poorly in stores, even though
it sold like hotcakes from our website to fans of the Icehouse
system. The tubes sell a little better in stores, but not well,
even when showcased in our beautiful POP display. Even our largest
distributor restocks them only 2 or 3 of each color at a time
- so there are a handful of stores out there selling them, but
not very many. We then tried the boxed sets - Zendo
- and they didn't sell any better, and they were way way way
too expensive to make (and to store, since they're so much bulkier).
The pyramids are a BIG problem, from a marketing and sales perspective
- yet we all know how awesome this game system is.
anyway, I had this idea for how to retool the POP display by
removing the pyramids altogether, and for about an hour and half,
our display had no pyramids. That's how long it took Andy
to come up with his own brilliant idea, namely redesigning the
packaging of the pyramids in a way that would get them back into
the display. And thus the
Treehouse set was born. Almost immediately, Andy had a really
cool little game to go with his new packaging concept...
and Andy and I dug in, once again, to completely redesign the
way we sell and promote these cool little pyramids.
Treehouse changes everything about the way we sell the pyramids.
Instead of a game system, which people struggle to 'understand',
it's just one game, complete in its own little pocket-sized package.
It's quick and easy to demo, it's enjoyed by gamers and non-gamers
alike, you can play it almost anywhere, and it sells for less
that $10! Wow. Best of all, it's expandable. With Treehouse sets
available in 2 color schemes, we can let EVERYTHING ELSE in the
Icehouse line go out of print, and yet still provide the basic
building blocks necessary to fully discover the complex but rewarding
world of Icehouse.
Indeed, the Treehouse breakthrough adds yet another dimension
to the richness of Icehouse. By finally breaking free of the
rigid "a stash must be 15 pieces" mentality, we've
allowed Icehouse game designers to develop games that focus on
the multiple trees rather than whole stashes. Who knows what
other exciting new games will be created as a result of this
change in thinking!
The next thing that's needed to facilitate the Treehouse paradigm
shift is the accompanying shift in our messages about Icehouse.
Gone are the days of promoting Icehouse "by the stash";
instead we must re-design all of our literature and web content
to show how you can start with one Treehouse set, then expand
it gradually, gaining the ability to play more games as you get
more Treehouse sets.
To this end, Andy has cooked up a new publication which we
will be releasing along with the new Treehouse sets. It will
be called 3HOUSE and it will be a small, thin booklet containing
rules for 3 more games you can play if you've got 3 Treehouse
sets, these being Martian
Homeworlds, and IceTowers
(it's a shorter game but it works just fine with 9 pieces of
each color instead of 15).
The 3HOUSE Rule Booklet will be small: 3.25" x 6.5",
which just happens to be the size of 3 stash tubes lined up side
by side. It will be saddle stitched like the Looney Labs booklet
catalog, with similar stock and a color cover, but a few more
pages. Retail price: $2.
3HOUSE will also include a
more verbose version of the rules to Treehouse (since the
one on the tubes is pretty spartan), teaser info on games you
can play when you get even more Treehouse sets, a couple of Nanofictions, and
other general info about the world of Icehouse.
Hopefully, 3HOUSE will succeed where Playing
with Pyramids failed. While a whole book of games for
the pyramids seemed like a great idea (and I'm not saying it
isn't a great book, it just didn't sell) it seems in the end
it just aggravated the problem people have with Icehouse, of
not understanding it and being daunted by it, not to mention
sticker shock. ("Huh? You mean I have to read a whole book
to understand what these triangle-doohickys are for? And it costs
$12? Never mind!")
So, we're switching to Treehouse and dumping everything else:
Mar's Guide, ICE-7, the boxed sets, the
solid color tubes, the Icehouse books and yes, even the Free
Catalogs, it's all being pulled from distribution. We'll keep
selling the single color stash tubes via our website while supplies
last, for fans who got started in the system with this format
and want to complete their collection of colors... but at Toy
Fair and GTS, we'll be telling store owners, "Forget everything
you know about how we sell Icehouse pyramids. Introducing: Treehouse,
the new way to Icehouse!"
So many changes... not only have we revamped our
POP Display again, and figured out a whole new plan on how
to sell and promote the pyramids, but we also have a new plan
to revamp our literature as well. We decided a while ago that
we needed to put a small price on our literature, in order for
it to move through distribution, and in order to not lose so
much money printing it... and it's time to print new literature
with all this in mind. And we need to make sure we put enough
content in our literature to make it feel like it's worth paying
a small price for. Time will tell, but we have plans for more
booklets like the 3HOUSE booklet, each selling for $2. (For example,
after the Icehouse community has time to develop a few good games
for two Treehouse sets, we can publish a booklet called 2HOUSE.)
To Sum Up:
- New products going into Distribution: Fluxx Espanol,
Treehouse Rainbow, Treehouse Xeno, 3HOUSE Rule Booklet (all coming
soon... Spring 2006)
- Dropped from Distribution: Icehouse Pieces (in 9 colors),
Playing with Pyramids, The Empty City, Chessboard Bandana, IceTowers,
Ice-7, Flowers & Fluxx, and Proton
- Out of Print: Zendo, Stoner Fluxx, Q-Turn, Mar's Guide
to Icehouse, Booklet Catalog
for Playing Our Games! Have a great week!
PS: No update next week: We'll be at Toy Fair then GenghisCon!
||"When the President does it, that means
it is not illegal." -- Then-President Richard Nixon,
heard quoted in the new MoveOn.org TV ad, which assert that "George
W. Bush is Breaking the Law"
||When I designed Chrononauts
back in 2000, I thought the Crown of Thorns was an artifact a
time traveler could swipe without rippling any timelines. Obviously,
no one had saved it, right? Well, I recently learned (from the
History Channel -- gosh I love the History Channel!) that a relic
purporting to be the real Crown of Thorns is at the cathedral
of Notre Dame in Paris! Apparently it was a prize passed along
from one King to the another, ever since it first turned up,
in 570 AD. It was even used as collateral, in 1238, and the thorns
were all removed and incorporated into other cherished relics!
Oh well, it's one more thing to see when I eventually visit Paris...
||"But everything that was great about the first [Star
Wars] trilogy -- reasonably decent acting, an engaging storyline
and cool model-based special effects -- is gone, replaced by
detestably unsympathetic characters reciting torturously bad
dialogue in a manner so wooden that coaching from Keanu Reeves
would have helped, and CGI effects that, while painstakingly
crafted down to the nanopixel, somehow looked less real than
plastic spaceships and Muppets." -- The
Beast's 2005 List of the
50 Most Loathsome People in America, #44: George Lucas (don't
miss the top 5)