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Thursday, May 4, 2000
by the Wunderland Toast Society

What's New?

What's Going On? Product-Backed Investments (and other stuff)

At GAMA we met someone from a company that specializes in gaming-oriented T-shirts, and he said he'd love to add a Fluxx shirt to his line. This would be a great deal for us, since someone else would then be out there making and distributing T-shirts which advertise our product, paying us a royalty for the privilege, and even selling them to us at wholesale rates so that we can offer them to you here in our gift shop. The only question was, what design should we use? Having pondered this for awhile, I came up with the Twilight Zone-style collage you see here. It would of course be printed on a black shirt, perhaps with a Looney Labs logo on the sleeve, and unlike the Keeper shirts, which came in so many flavors we couldn't cope with providing sizes other than XL, this "Fluxx Zone" T-shirt would be available in the full range. (So, what do you think? Would you buy one? Or is there another design you'd like better?)

This weekend, Dale Newfield started getting involved in the mountains of computer work that Kristin's been struggling to keep up with for eons, and I think he's going to be a big help. He's about to leave grad school in search of a life, and even though it doesn't pay anything, he's eager to get involved in helping us build our company. (Thanks, dude! You rock! ) So, he spent the weekend with us, getting started on the work, and it looks like he's going to be our Unix guy, at least for the time being. He's trying to find a job in the DC area, so that he can make a living while also working with us, but there's also a chance he'll move out west or something instead, so we'll just have to see how it goes. But he's already been of great assistance to us, so hopefully he'll be able to find some lucrative and interesting computer science work in our area. (If you know of something, let him know!)

As usual we also found time for gaming over the weekend. Here you see Kory and Dale as we simultaneously playtest both Chrononauts (my new card game) and Volcano (Kristin's new icehouse game). Volcano is the first game that requires both a full Icehouse set and the two extra colors featured in the new Black Ice expansion, and it's proving to be really cool. Last week at the Pop-Tart Cafe, we discovered the ruleset was broken, but Kory had some new ideas, and after tweaking the scoring system and ending conditions again, it's feeling more done (and more fun) than ever. Hopefully by next week I'll get the rules written up, so that more people can get in on the playtesting...

The object that you can't see on the right end of the table (shown more clearly at the top of this page) is a really cool pottery fish sculpture that Alison brought home from the studio this week. (Having made plenty of bowls, she's begining to make more exotic creations...)

We're still getting lots of e-mail with comments and ideas about our search for funding. Our ideal situation would be to find a business angel with assets enough to fully support us on their own (and who of course is also a good fit with us as far as business goals, personality, politics, etc). But realistically, that's a lot to hope for, and it's not likely to happen quickly, so while we continue to look for this angel, we're trying to figure out a way of taking advantage of the many smaller offers of investment funding people have been hinting at.

Our current idea is Product-Backed Investments. This is a way of allowing someone to fund a specific project, with a payoff that reflects the product's success, with the inventory of product itself being the collateral. Our idea is to offer a royalty on the sale of a specific game to the person who puts up the money needed to pay for the printing (or re-printing) of that game. The royalty rate would be calculated so that the investment would have a tidy return if the games sell relatively quickly, and less of one if it takes longer, so that our investors' success rate is tied to our own. Every three months we'd make a payment on the loan, based on the number of units we'd sold, with the loan being fully repaid by the time that print run sells out. We're thinking to try this idea out with the next printing of Aquarius, and if it works out (and we haven't found an angel) we'll potentially do the same thing with the next printings of Icehouse and Fluxx, and even Chrononauts and Zendo.

Speaking of the next printing of Aquarius, we're thinking about having it done overseas. (!) As with our other products, we've currently got plenty in stock and really need to be focusing on getting them sold; but it won't be long before our supplies dwindle. Now, we could just let Carta Mundi print more as before, but at Toy Fair we met with one of our Dreamers, Mark Rice of Games 2 Remember, who gets all of his card printing done by a printer in Hong Kong. We've never really considered this before, having heard plenty of horror stories about the downsides of cheap overseas labor, but Mark (who was a fellow veteran of the C&W Printing Vortex that also plagued the first printing of Fluxx) has learned the ropes and is now helping his overseas partner find more work here in the States. The quotes we've gotten are great - definitely cheaper than anything we can find here, even with the added shipping costs - but of course, the production cycle is a lot longer too, and still being mindful of the horror stories, we also want to allow plenty of time for problems to arise. So, what we're thinking to do is to let this company in Hong Kong take on the next printing of Aquarius, since there's still a fair amount of time before the first printing is expected to run out. This print run will cost around $5K and we'd like to sign someone up as a backer for this project, as a first go at our Product-Based Investment program. So now the question to you (if you're a reader who digs our games and has a few extra sacks of money lying around) is this: Would you like to fund the next printing of Aquarius?

AndyHave a great week!

New Iceland cartoonthe story so far

Thought Residue
"Don't ask me though, I don't even have an icehouse set. I play Martian Go with graph paper and colored pencils in math class with my friends." - Ed, in a posting on the Icehouse list
"I am still trying to figure out which Knizia Andrew Looney is and which Knizia games he did." - Richard Hutnik, in a follow-up to Chris Lawson's assertion that Reiner Knizia doesn't exist: "The truth is that there are approximately 17 people (at the last count) who create the illusion that 'Reiner Knizia', the German games designer, actually exists. How do you think 'he' can produce so many new games designs every year? It's impossible for one person to have had 80 games published over the last 10 years."
No sooner do I mention that Britney Spears has great hair than she goes and gets it all hacked off!

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