Thoughts on the Old Year 2017

December 26, 2017

My favorite games of the year, made into a weird graphic
Well, this has certainly been an interesting one. It was paradoxically a year of huge accomplishments, but also I still somehow felt like a lot of the year was uneventful. So, first of all, Gloomhaven finally delivered to first printing backers early this year and the whole situation proceeded to get a little crazy (but in a good way). There was a massive second printing Kickstarter that raised $4 million, and that is finally starting to fulfill, which has brought Gloomhaven dangerously close to the number 1 spot in the BoardGameGeek rankings. All of this I could not have fathomed happening in my wildest dreams. Me, the guy who, just a couple years ago, thought raising $100,000 on his first project was a massive success, and had to settle for that first game sitting in the 700s in BGG rankings. It cannot be understated how stupidly successful Gloomhaven has become and how incredibly happy and grateful I am for all of it. But I am ultimately a designer, and Gloomhaven's design was finished well over a year ago. so while the culmination of that design resulted in more than I could have ever hoped for, it also hindered a lot of the design work I wanted to get done this year. Founders of Gloomhaven still progressed along nicely, and it was good to finally get that off to the printer earlier this month. Most of that design happened in 2016, too, though, so there wasn't really a lot of work to be done there, either. No, if we look back at my thoughts last year, what I was really hoping to put a good amount of work into was the Gloomhaven expansion. I have officially started work on it, convening a local group of play testers to start moving through the campaign, but I only got that together recently, and, I don't know, it all feels a little overwhelming at this point. There is so much work to do, and I have only done very little of it. If I want to release it in , let's say, two years, I need to work at a much faster pace.
One of my favorite videos of 2017 (
At the same time, though, it has been nice to not have to push myself every day to get a massive project out the door as quickly as possible. 2017 has certainly given me a level of financial stability that has been very welcome. That stability, however, did come attached to the huge second printing Kickstarter that has sucked up way more of my time than I anticipated. It seemed like such a simple thing, to press a reprint button, and get new people a copy of the second printing in a matter of a few months. But it somehow didn't work out that way. The factory took a lot longer time to print out the ridiculous number of copies I needed, and the whole thing just got dragged out into a never-ending nightmare. Endless, endless emails, and I'm sure my reputation as a publisher has taken a hit, not only due to the lateness of this seemingly simple project, but also because of the lower quality of the product that came off the factory line (even though I used the same factory...). That has not been fun to think about. Eventually I realized I was going to drown in the endless emails, killing any possible productivity I would ever have, unless I did something about it. So 2017 was also the year that Cephalofair Games hired its first employee, Price Johnson, community manager! I'd probably be dead by now if it weren't for him, so I think I made the right decision on that. In fact, hiring him more-or-less coincided with when I started working on the expansion in earnest, so I probably should have done it a lot earlier. And, to be honest, I have been getting done more design work than it seems. After Gloomhaven was released, it seems my name as a designer became worth something, which is quite strange. I was contacted by some people I highly respect to work on some projects that sounded very interesting. I'm sure I could make more money just sticking to working on games I publish myself, but after all these publishing hurdles I've been jumping through with Gloomhaven, there is certainly something appealing about just designing a game and not having to deal with any of that other stuff. So I'm giving that a shot, and it has been pretty fun so far. I'll be able to talk more about those projects whenever they are actually announced by the publishers. In the end, I really can't complain about 2017. The year has been beyond great, and it is only made better by all the fabulous convention experiences I've had. It seems everywhere I go, I meet all sorts of wonderful people and have a great time with them. Sure, I am an introvert, but I really don't interact with anyone but my wife in my normal life of sitting at home at my computer. So it definitely does me a lot of good to go out into the world and hang out with other real people on occasion. Geekway to the West, Origins, Gen Con, Grand Con, Essen, BGG Con, and others... it would be really hard to pick a favorite. I do remember one specific moment that I will keep with me forever, even though the moment wasn't eventful at all. It was at RobbCon, a tiny convention back in March where the guys from Blue Peg Pink Peg and their friends get together in a cabin for a weekend to game non-stop. It was after I had struggled through the fulfillment of the first printing of Gloomhaven, and was really the first time I got to just take a breath and have fun. I was standing in the kitchen making dinner on one of the last days, after my brain had already been filled with more games than I can remember. And I just paused and looked out over all the games that were still going on, past them through the glass doors at the lake right outside. I suddenly had this moment of pure bliss. Nothing specific brought it on, but it was just this rolling ball of all the happiness I had been experiencing hitting me all at once. I was exactly where I wanted to be, and was incredibly grateful for my life taking me there. I still feel that sentiment today. I'm very happy with how 2017 turned out, and I look forward to what next year will bring!

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