Recently, we have done quite a few designer interviews for our blog and over the past few weeks, we have been contacted by a couple of Kickstarter projects to inquire as to whether we would be willing to do a quick interview with them and discuss their products. We have created a new category on our blog called “Kickstarter Korner” and hope to be able to offer a series of previews and interviews with various projects. Our first such interview was with the Dek-Den Deck Building Assistant, which was published on our site last week. After that was published, I received an email from Dave Martin from Dicey Ventures Studios to discuss their new Kickstarter project The Elemental Village, which is a line of fantasy roleplaying and wargaming terrain.
Grant: Tell us about Dicey Ventures Studios including How you got started?; Who is your creative team?; and Why are your products better than your competitors?
Dave: Dicey Ventures came from the idea that there are some ideas out there that deserve a chance, no matter how chancy. With our first Kickstarter, the Venture Dice Bag, I’d become tired of endless dice bags with drawstrings and wanted something different, so I took a chance on closing the bags with a zipper instead.
It paid off.
From there, after I picked up a 3D printer, I immediately saw that there was something that could be done through it for gaming, and I set out to make it happen. The Elemental Village is the first product of that discovery process.
Dicey Ventures Studios consists of myself, Dave Martin (Owner and Creative Director), William Garrison (Art Director), and Brittani-Pearl MacFadden (Marketing and Social Media). Mainly, I come up with the ideas and then bounce them off William and Brittani, and if it looks like it will fly, then we give it a shot. We’re very scientific and precise here at DVS.
When talking about our two products to date, beginning with the Venture Dice Bag, well, we don’t believe that there’s a better dice bag out there on the market today. Zippers are a new thing that a lot of gamers never really knew they wanted.
As for the Elemental Village, our goal there was and is to bring to the table terrain models of which people have never before seen the like. Whimsical, cartoony, and just plain fun, the Elemental Village is great for a hobby collector who wants something nice to display, for the 3D printer enthusiast who wants to see something magical printed one layer at a time, and for the wargamer who wants the most unique looking table in the gaming group.
Grant: Talk about your Elemental Village line currently on Kickstarter? How do you envision this set will be used by gamers? What was the inspiration for the set?
Dave: The Elemental Village came from a desire to see a break from the “cookie cutter” fantasy models and terrain that makes up the majority of the wargames market today. The rise of the chibi aesthetic in gaming helped to foster the vision for the style of the Village, and other influences like World of Warcraft and other stylistic, slightly warped perception style art helped to bring the vision into focus for us.
In the end, there’s nothing out there even remotely like the Elemental Village.
After we released the initial set in July of this year, we knew we wanted to keep expanding the line as well as move into printing physical copies of the models for those who do not yet have access to a 3D printer.
This Kickstarter helps us towards both of those goals. The Earth Brewery has been received very well by the community, and the Kickstarter is helping us to pilot test the “We’ll Print It For You!” service that we will launch in early 2017.
Grant: What are the individual pieces and the cost of the whole set?
Dave: For this Kickstarter, the main focus is on the Earth Brewery, which you can get for $20. The original ten Elemental Village element pieces are also available as Add-ons to the Earth Brewery, with individual pieces ranging from $8 to $30.
Shortly after we launched the Kickstarter, there were several people interested in getting the whole Village, so we took the $216 price point that it adds up to, knocked a dollar off, and offer free shipping in the United States for the whole set. $215 total gets you eleven 3D printed models for your tabletop.
Grant: What are some of the stretch goals for the project?
Dave: Right now the only stretch goal that we have up is for the $1,500 mark.
Once we reach that, everyone who backed the Kickstarter will receive a free bonus model, the Water Dwelling, either in physical or digital format, depending on which level at which they backed.
Grant: What are the overarching goals of Dicey Ventures? What new projects are in the works?
Dave: For 2017, we’re looking at establishing the “We’ll Print It For You!” queue service and expanding into convention presence. We don’t have a schedule to share just yet, but you will start to see us out in the world throughout 2017.
Beyond that, it’s tough to say. For now the goal is to remain focused on the Elemental Village, but I’m a gamer at heart. Not even I know when I might wake up one morning with a great idea for a game to play that will use these models.
Grant: Why do you feel the market for role playing game and war game scenery and accessories is growing right now?
Dave: Wargames are far more accessible to new players now than at any time before, and if conventions are any indication, tabletop gaming is a growing market. Not everyone sees it that way, but Gen Con doesn’t expand 5% every year because less people are playing tabletop games.
The first two or three generations of gamers are also getting older now, and I’ve noticed that means that we want our stuff to look nicer. It has a lot to do with appealing to the younger crowd. The shinier the hobby looks, the more younger kids will put down their controllers and take a look.
Having good looking tables and terrain models is a big part of that. I know when I got into wargaming, most people used household objects for table terrain, but that’s largely gone away in the past decade, and the industry as a whole wants to put on a much more finished and appealing look.
Grant: I’m a war gamer with a love for roleplaying games but I’m skeptical about the need for scenery or accessories. What would you say to me to change my mind?
Dave: Skepticism is not always a bad thing. I suppose my main question for you would be if you could see yourself enhancing your games in any way by using the terrain.
If you can, then we can continue to discuss options and what you personally want to see on your personal gaming table. Everyone is different and will have a different vision, which is why all of the elements in the Village are designed to have a distinct feel and look.
If you cannot see yourself enhancing your games in any way by using the terrain, then all I can really do is show you how cool the stuff is on the table and let you decide for yourself. I don’t believe in a hard sell or a pitch that you feel like you have to pry yourself away from for fear of financial suffocation. If you just don’t feel like your games will be better with awesome terrain on the table, then there’s not much I can do to change your mind.
I’m sure several more business-minded people would disagree with me on that view, but I don’t see a point in trying to make you spend money you don’t want to spend. If you felt pressure to buy that one piece from me and then tell your friends that I was a jerk for making you buy it, that doesn’t help any of us.
But a happy and willing gamer will come back for more. Best to invest in those who are willing.
Grant: What challenges have you encountered with the new Kickstarter? What is your number one concern and how are you dealing with it?
Dave: The biggest challenge was making sure I could accurately plan out and anticipate production times to be able to roll out a Kickstarter’s fulfillment in a relatively blazing fast time period.
The number one concern at this point is making sure that, since we did all of the above, we make sure we can stick to it. I don’t have any real worries about it at this point, but it still has to remain a concern in order for it not be a ball that ends up being dropped. One of the things I’ve always wanted to make sure Dicey Ventures does is to not miss a delivery date.
Grant: This statement is taken from your site: “Dicey Ventures looks for crazy ideas that just might work and then finds a way to make them happen”. What does this statement mean to you and how has it driven you to success?
Dave: It really speaks to the mindset that I take into Dicey Ventures and everything that we do.
Have you ever sit around a table with a bunch of friends and talked gaming theory? “Oh, that would be awesome!” “If only we had X to help us do Y.” Or, “Ya know what? Our games would be better if we had some of Z.”
I know I’ve done that over the years. Occasionally these X’s and Y’s would end up being things like “decent terrain” or “something that will hold all of these tokens and tiles without risking the bag opening up and spilling everything everywhere.”
The reason Dicey Ventures Studios exists is to explore. The Elemental Village has been a huge exploration so far. It’s already gone through two major iterations with sizing and scale that originally made physical manufacturing a big problem, almost to the point of having to scrap the entire thing all together. But we’ve pushed past these problems and come out on the other end with a better understanding of our products and how people perceive them.
I think that’s what we do here at DVS. We start with a project like the Elemental Village and figure out how to get gamers excited about it. The best part is that we’re not done doing that yet, not by a long shot.
No idea is off the table for us. From marketing to products to new ways to reach gamers and show them to think outside what’s already out there. Perhaps it’s not as prevalent yet as I would like, that being the long shots that we take here, but I have confidence that one day, someone will look at Dicey Ventures Studios and say something like, “Yeah, that idea had no business working, but it did.”
Grant: What is the status of the Kickstarter project and when does it end?
Dave: Right now, we’re a little over 200% funded, about $300 shy of the first stretch goal. It’s the middle of the campaign right now, which is usually the slowest time, so we’re confident that it will have a surge right towards the end.
Wow! Those models look great and are very interesting. If you are interested in more information or wish to jump in on the Kickstarter, please follow this link to the project page: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/diceyventures/earth-brewery-a-3d-printed-tabletop-terrain-model