Terrene Odyssey is a game where you play as a part of adventures and fight against another party of adventures. In a nut shell, it’s a combat system similar to Final Fantasy games except head to head! This would be my first self published game.
Starting Party Comp
At the start of the game, players would search their deck and pick 4 characters from it and place them face-down. Then they would give them a face-down card to hold. This is the starting party and it’s what this game is all about. Creating powerful team comps and breaking through your opponents. Over the course of the game, characters would flip up and use their held card.
My favorite mechanic from Terrene Odyssey is the Terrain card. When you defeated enemy cards, you would gain XP and your terrain card determined what your XP does. It also gave you additional effects if you maintained certain synergies. In reflection, there is way to much text on these cards. I’d love to bring this kind of mechanic back in a cleaner way.
There are ton of mechanics in this game. Each class has it’s own mechanic that warps the game. The spellcasters has special cards that grew in power with the caster’s level. A mechanic from my middle school card game.
Insane mistakes made:
Photoshop Instead of Indesign: The game was entirely made in Photoshop. Every card was it’s own PSD and updating the game was a nightmare. Never again. Now I use InDesign with links to Photoshop files for pieces of the game.
Box side too big: Box was 12” x 12” instead of 10” x 10”. I thought it looked nice so I didn’t correct it. Due to the increase in shipping costs, about $20,000 was lost. While it’s true that a bigger box will help a product out in retail, as an indie publisher I should have be prioritizing the smallest box possible instead.
The game’s scope was too big: Terrene Odyssey is 118 unique cards and it shipped with 3 copies of each and 3 sheets of 12” x 12” punchboard sheets. It has a 24 page rulebook and 6 ‘build order sheets’ for ease of learning the game. I could have made a smaller version of the game with 50 unique cards and half as many tokens. If I did so, I could have grown my audience and maybe even went on to make even more content. Also, if the game bombed, I would have saved a ton of time and money I could have put to my next idea.
Fulfilled from my actual garage: I shipped every single backer of Terrene Odyssey their game myself. We even put special thank you notes on the shipping boxes. While, it was a fun process, it really didn’t save much money at all. The cost of my time and the happiness of my home greatly outweighed the money I saved.
Incredible things learned:
Credit yourself: I didn’t put my name on the box because I thought it was pretentious. It really stemmed from a problem of not giving myself enough credit, something I struggle with to this day. Making this game opened a massive amount of doors and I would have been throwing that away if I didn’t credit myself.
Completing the game is everything: After it released, the way other people treated me changed and it opened doors to continue making games as my full time job. Up until that point, not many people cared except for the crowd at the Academy of Art and Digipen up in Washington (who understood the process). If I would have known this before, I would have made a smaller game to reach this step first. Then Terrene Odyssey could have been my second title.
It’s ok that it’s not perfect: Making games is deeply personal. It can be difficult to stop making changes on it. Truth is, a game is never done but at some point you got to ship it.
Self publishing is extremely difficult: If I would have known how difficult it was I wouldn’t have self published but I was driven to bring my game into the hands of gamers. Just to make the game itself, I have to dive into disciplines I had only moderate familiarity with like graphic design, character design, and typography. Then I had to think about Terrene Odyssey as a product which is it’s own skill set. It sometimes conflicts with the game designer hat you also need to be wearing. Self publishing never get’s easier even if you get better at it. If you are ever in this boat, reach out to me. I’d love to give you some advice!
An Interview with me at Gencon 2015.