Posted by Sam Mercer as Modern Board Games
In the northwest corner of Nunavut, Canada, Ridback Bay is teeming with sea life. Flush with recent success, the local village is being inundated by intrepid entrepreneurs and champion fisherman. The docks are fixed and the boats have had a new lick of paint – now it is time to bait the hooks, build the fleet and become master of the high seas!
Fleet, due for Kickstarter release today is a strategic, engine building cardgame sporting a rich, nautical fishing theme. After 2 years development and some masterful artistry from Eric J Carter, the game now looks to be a well made and fun addition to any games cupboard.
But the quest to get published originally started as an idea at work one lunch time in Detroit between two old friends, Matt Riddlen and Ben Pinchback…
20 years ago, these two designers happened to sit next to each other in the same church. Then, they found each other once more at the same school and became best of friends. After school flew past, they were surprised to see meet each other in the same Engineering college. After their college education term ended, they gave their farewells to promptly find that they had applied and ended up in the same functional group within the same large engineering company.
In the morning of a bright day at work, Ben came to Matt, said he had an idea, and that he would like to tell Matt over lunchtime. Intrigued, Matt agreed as they headed out to a local fine dining establishment for a bite to eat (which they assure me was called “Baco Tell”) – and a few chomps later, Fleet was born.
Hundreds of hours, countless weekly game design sessions, and many lunch periods at work later – the game was given form. And so started Matt and Bens quest to find a publisher. Excited to be able to talk about Fleet with anyone who will listen, they cold emailed every company they had heard of. Dozens of emails and a few phones calls later, furnished with a nice pile of “no thank you” letters, several companies showed interested in reading the rules. That led to a few companies asking for protos and resulted in a positive contract with Gryphon Games.
Ben – There is a large sentiment in the novice game design community that these big ‘ol publishers are going to snatch your game up, change the theme anyway, jack up all your rules, and generally be overbearing. Maybe we got lucky here, but working with Gryphon Games has been nothing of the sort. It’s been a complete collaborative process from the start, and all changes have been a team thing. I would gladly (and hope to) work with Gryphon again in the future. They are real pros.
After refinements, and some impressive graphical application from this new publishing partnership we find our protagonists here. Knocking on the doors of Kickstarter to get enough money for a print run of the game. Ben and Matt both regularly attest to the value of each others support and collaboration during the design process and their genuine humbleness and kind natured goodwill is very catching.
I for one have already recommended backing this project to my local gaming group, and am looking forward to receiving my copy.
Sam, thanks a ton. The article is top notch!