This week I had a talk with a rep from a game publishing company about making Camp Nightmare for me. It was informative, but mostly reinforced ideas I had already come to from a bunch of different sources. The rep made it clear that Camp Nightmare is a really good game from a cost perspective because it has a simple list of parts and can fit in a small package. He talked a bit about how game creators tend to have a strong attachment to making their games bigger and shinier and they often get far too carried away. Usually the prospect of their game having a $250 price tag was enough to stop them in their tracks though.
That person trying to publish a game that is way too expensive was almost me. I love FMB to bits but it is a game that really wants miniatures to achieve the best possible look and feel. I could get by with cardboard chits but when I imagine that game built and published I imagine it with shiny miniature worgs and elves and dragons. FMB just isn't the game I am going to publish though, at least not when I am footing the bill! It is the best game for me but not the best game for the public.
I got the impression that a lot of game designers have intractable opinions on how their games have to be built. I think it is common for people to have strong ideas about exactly how they want things to look and feel and they don't want to compromise on that. I am not so much like that though - if a publisher wanted to rebrand the game with a new theme I would be totally okay with that. If they wanted to change about the components so the game felt and looked very different that would be fine. But if they wanted to change the amount of Food that Veggie Soup gives you from 3 to 4? Go To Hell. No Touchy! Hiss! I take the numbers of the game quite seriously.... the rest of it, not so much.
I also got a lot of specific numbers for constructing Camp Nightmare that will inform my design choices. Making cards in units of 54 is apparently the thing to do, and this actually works out really well because Camp Nightmare consists of two ~50 card decks and a few extraneous extra cards that help track game state. I will fit the game into a 2 deck 108 card limit easily and without compromise.
The other number I am working with is 15 cardboard chits per sheet. At the moment I am liking the idea of having 14 Food, 14 Wood, 14 Fun, and 33 Energy tokens for a total of 75. (Some of those tokens are x5, though most are x1.) My other option is to order a cheap cardstock board and use three wooden cubes to track Wood, Food, and Fun instead and just order 30 Energy tokens. I really like the idea of not having a game board though and I think tracking things with tokens will be easier than using cubes on a flimsy board. People always bump the board and if it is small and thin it will fly all about and the players will lose track of their resources.
I want to test the new build that uses tokens instead of a board to be sure but I think I am going to end up going with 75 tokens. 108 cards, and a rulebook as my components. Simple, sleek, and hopefully cheap.