Here we are. The final hours of our campaign. We’ve raised more than double our funding goal, and unlocked every bit of content and upgrades we wanted to put in the game …and then some! Thank you!
So, how did we get here?
I have held this moment — right now — as a dream of mine since 2006 after studying under Dave Arneson in college and falling in love with modern board games.
Two years later, after reading a whitepaper by K. Robert Gutschera I started working on a game called Red Tape, which I used as an experimental platform to study game mechanics, and multiplayer political dynamics in games. Meanwhile, I worked as a computer programmer in enterprise and government environments.
It didn’t take me long to realize how much I disliked doing software development in large organizations. So in 2010, I quit my job for the glory of the tech startup scene.
I reached out to a local entrepreneurial hub here in Columbus and I found several mentors who guided me on how I could build a successful technology company. To help pay my way through the startup world I worked 14 hour days. Six hours each day I spent consulting, and eight hours each day on my own projects.
In 2012, I met Dirk Knemeyer when he hired me as a consultant for a tech company he founded. While I did work for Dirk, I continued to work on crazy tech startup ideas. Crazy… because they were doomed to fail before I even began. Of course, I didn’t know that at the time, but you know what they say about hindsight.
I fell into this grind for nearly 6 years, but as I continued to work on Red Tape and other games I slow (very slowly) realized that my heart just wasn’t in technology startups either.
My heart was in the hobby. I made excuses to duck away from meetings, to go to gaming groups, to go to conventions. I stayed up all night playing werewolf and slept in the next day, missing important appointments. The startups I was working on I started working on less and less. I spent as much free time as I could studying, playing and designing games.
I eventually learned that Dirk was working on publishing his own games he designed through a company he created called Conquistador Games. So, I approached him and asked if he would be interested in helping me publish Red Tape. After playing the game together, we came to an agreement. We would work together to develop and design the game and he would publish it under his new Artana brand.
Somewhere in the middle of our design partnership on Corrupted Kingdoms, I pitched him another idea. If I remember correctly, it was one of those conversations you have as you leave the office and end up in the parking lot chatting.
“Hey Dirk, What if someone merged an 18xx game with a euro-game?”
“That could be interesting, Ray. You should try it and let me know how it goes.”
Meanwhile I began helping out at the Artana booth at Origins and Gencon. There I met people like John Coveyou, Nils Herzmann, Matt Fantastic, J.R. Honeycutt, Donna Prior and Morgan Dontanville. I met the folks at BGG. I met a ton of podcasters and media folks. I even got a chance to play the tail end of a playtest of a Scythe Expansion with Jamey Stegmeier. It was a good time.
Then in 2016 Corrupted Kingdoms came out… and it bombed. I was disappointed but Dirk never wavered, he never flinched. He just gave me words of encouragement, and advice.
“The first one is always rough, Ray. Don’t sweat it.” 🙂
A few months later, I read “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg, went to CABS on a Friday night, sat down with our group of train gamers and played 1846. I thought “Hmm… why’s Chicago so great, anyway?”.
Not long after, I started working on City of the Big Shoulders. A few months into the initial design of the game, Joe Wiggins reached out to me and asked if I wanted to come over to a playtest party that Capstone was holding here in Columbus.
There, I got to meet all the great folks at Captstone. Clay, Joe, Tim, Justin and I sat down to play my game. They loved it and wished me good luck. Clay told me to reach out to him if I ever needed his help with anything. Little did we know at the time we’d be launching two awesome games on Kickstarter at the same time. 🙂
Soon after that party I met Emily. We spent the next 2 years developing the game, working on the artwork, and demoing it at Gencon and Origins and now, finally we are here.
It’s inspiring to me how life tends to lay this groundwork for a path you don’t really realize you’re on and yet when you are on the wrong path life tends to throw you lemons. It’s a beautiful and tragic serendipity.
Carl Sandburg once wrote that nothing happens, unless first we dream. I think dreams are the things that guide our path, and lay foundations if only we learn to listen to them.
Thank you so much for joining me on this path. At this precious moment, because of you, my dream is a dream no more.
Now, I think we got some work to do. 🙂