2016 – A (Fabulous) Beast of a Year

It’s been quite a year! As we kick back for the holidays, why not stack up a couple of mince pies and a sherry or two, and catch up on the highlights of the (frankly improbable) stuff we got up to in 2016.

Preparing the Rewards

The year began with three weeks to go until our Kickstarter launch day. Our weekends were filled with battles over reward titles and early bird discounts, fuelled by Korean fried chicken and the overwhelming fear that we wouldn’t hit our ambitious target. Then Lyall and Tim turned out these beautiful packaging concepts and it suddenly felt like a THING. Day 1 of the campaign was… overwhelming. Thanks to everyone who was there with us that day! 

Packaging concept for Core Edition of Beasts of Balance stacking game

Packaging concept for Collector's Edition of Beasts of Balance stacking game

Kickstarter!

If this graph could talk… If you look closely, you can see the Plateau of No Early Bird, the Thrilling Spike of Featuredness and The Joyous Curve of Fundingnosity. 

Graph showing the progress of the Beasts of Balance stacking game Kickstarter campaignBeasts of Balance stacking game Kickstarter totals when campaign ended

Playtest Thursdays

After we funded on Kickstarter, we headed straight back into development  mode. As we came up with new ideas for the digital game, we needed to test these out on people who weren’t us. So, every Thursday evening we opened up our studio to the public. It turns out that an event in central London that mentions free pizza will reliably gather a diverse an interesting cross-section of people… Thanks to everyone who came! More next year. 

Beasts of Balance stacking game being played at an event in London 2

Beasts of Balance stacking game being played at an event in London

A Whole New World

Some of that playtest feedback triggered a pretty radical redesign of the digital world’s aesthetic, allowing for decorations (plants! Trees! Coral! Anemones!) that added to the world without getting in the way.

Prototype of Beasts of Balance stacking game artwork for the app 2

Prototype of Beasts of Balance stacking game artwork for the app

 

PAX East

PAX East in Boston, MA in April was the biggest show we’d done so far. Two things made it especially cool: meeting so many of our Kickstarter backers, and hanging out with some of our game designer heroes (and playing Secret Hitler with them). 

PAX East attendees trialling Beasts of Balance stacking game
Beasts of Balance stacking game at PAX East in Boston

Finalising the pieces

Tim spent the summer jetting back and forth between Hong Kong and London, sweating over every single last detail of the piece designs. We wrangled with injection moulds, different kinds of rubber coating, and many, many more things that would hurt to recall. Tim is hardcore.
Finalised game pieces for Beasts of Balance stacking game

Testing game pieces for Beasts of Balance stacking game

Boxing Days

As the Artefacts came together, a lot of work on the packaging happened. All at the same time. By a team of less than ten people. How did we do all this? We are honestly not sure. It definitely did, though. Anyway, we all knew we wanted the unboxing to be part of the experience – getting players into the world of the game before they’d even stacked a single piece. It worked too! Eurogamer wrote a review about the packaging alone.

Designing the packaging for the Beasts of Balance stacking game - early ideas

Designing the packaging for the Beasts of Balance stacking game

Image from the top of the Beasts of Balance stacking game box

 

The process of creating the Beasts of Balance packaging

They’re Alive!

In the summer, the wondrous animator Kyle McKernan joined us for just three months. He came. He drew. He brought the beasts to life. His commitment to trying as many different London pubs as possible will also go down in Sensible Object lore. 

Kyle McKernan's animated eagle/warthog crossbeast for Beasts of Balance stacking game Kyle McKernan's animated shark for the Beasts of Balance stacking game

 

Preparing for the launch

If the rest of the year had been intense, the Autumn was intenser. With every deadline under the sun approaching at what felt like light speed, we had to juggle deadlines, make hard choices, stay late and start early. Fortunately, we had good friends on hand to help us: our incredible sound team (Disasterpeace, Eric Van Amerongen, Jon Brodsky and David Kanaga) and on the visual front the wonderful film director Jade Mortimer who worked miracles with our Miracles. 
Film director Jade Mortimer creating the Beasts of Balance stacking game trailer

People playing the Beasts of Balance stacking game during the filming of the game trailer

Release the Beasts!

“Fly my pretties! Fly!” Beasts of Balance is go! We were so happy to get the game safely on its way to our Kickstarter backers. And shortly after, shops! Seeing a thing you’ve worked on from sketch through prototype, all the way to store shelves on both sides of the Atlantic, is an incredible feeling. 

An in-store display for the Beasts of Balance stacking game 4

An in-store display for the Beasts of Balance stacking game 3

An in-store display for the Beasts of Balance stacking game 2

Reviews

With the game finally out in the wild, we started to get reviews from all over. You’ll forgive us if we post them all, right? You don’t have to read them all…. And that was that. Happy 2016 everyone! Shall we do it again next year? We might put our feet up for a bit first… 

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