Kickstarter Update 37
This article was originally posted September 20th 2016
Ladies and Gentleman. The first wave of card ships this week, and continue to be pushed through mailboxes until every last one of you patient scoundrels has a chance to open your mailbox and scream at the impossible dream I am sending you.
There is a brand. new. rulebook, which includes a 15 page walkthrough I would have KILLED for in middle school. It also changes and clarifies several key components of the game, and paves the way for how Spell Saga will be presented from now to the near future. The look and feel of this book is everything I wanted the game to be for the last seven years. And our new packaging will add to that effect too.
If you receive a package and do NOT get every.single. thing you ordered (looking at you beauties with multiple decks) I would like to remind you, that anyone who does NOT get a completed order will receive a second package that includes Deck Two: The Forest, as soon as it is printed and shipped with the rest of our product TBD. As of now, it is the ONLY way to get a copy of Deck Two, until further plans are made.
It is at this momentous occasion I feel the need to write about all sorts of behind the scenes info. Spell Saga was born under some of the saddest moments of my life, and it continues to be moulded under relentless duress. I have not written an actual update in many, many months, because I needed to get the game to a place where you could hold it in your hands. I could not shoulder the burden alone and chronicle the endeavor. Now it will be in your home soon enough, and we can own it, and the history of it, together.
This update is seven pages long. I have performed you the service of recording it, should you care to listen to it instead.
LINK to Audio is HERE. Please enjoy my Dark Lisp.™
Here are the secrets of everything. I present to you, past, present, and future:
The Rise and Fall of French Toast Gaming Co.
The Shore 2009 ~ 2011
Life is a constant and privileged horror. We do not believe in ourselves, we do not believe in others. Most of us are surviving through an epidemic of fear; the fear we are not capable to withstanding the storm of chaos we call sentience.
We mark the passage of time to record rare moments of clarity. Years, months, generations…the very idea of time is the hope for personal clairvoyance. It is the belief of a ship leaving port, that through storms and calendar dates, it will mark the trajectory of a destination.
Life is upon the land, and above the water; it is a storm. Some of us go under the water, and there we find art.
I learned the hard way (always) that my head does not work the same way as other people I meet on this planet; I read sentences and letters in front of my eyes just before I say them, and I can see my emotions as much as feel them, in little films that I’m forced to watch. It is hard to explain myself properly because I have to study these little reels and then type them out in my head just so I can read them aloud in a manner other people I know call “talking”.
It’s why I make art. Spell Saga is, perhaps as pure a form of communication as I have ever attempted to give. It is how I view the world, and myself and others within it. This may be a lengthy preamble, but I hope it sheds light on the format of this essay.
In 2009 I created Spell Saga, and I kept making it until I tried and failed to pitch it in 2011. As my life fell apart around me I sunk past waves of depression. I held the game tightly, worrying about what might happen to myself, or this dumb thing I had made. I hit the bottom of an ocean of depression.
The Highlands 2012 ~ 2014
In the Winter of 2012 I considered myself remarried (we skipped the wedding) and slowly pulled my life back together somewhere else, in another house, with someone knew, and wondered what to do with myself. I was young and I needed to crawl out of the ocean, and into the storm. I left the game and my worries about art in general, at the bottom of the water.
After a year of doing nothing, I knew I would have to go back. I was drawn to the drowning as much as the creation. But I knew what would happen if I returned to the depths. The game could never leave the ocean; I would have to go and live with it. Plans were made and a few well convinced friends and I dove into the darkness together.
A year later we had a slightly more finished game, and a way to let others play it (the rulebook, it took four months), and so with grandiose plans we launched a crowdfunding campaign. In two weeks, years of our work became undone. The game was not to be, and we had failed. The ocean began to claim us. Even the art was hard to see after that.
But I did not come up for air. I did not return to the storms of reality. Because you don’t need to leave the water. Not when the weight of the sea is only your own comfortable depression.
A year passed. Another crowdfunding project was launched, and this time it worked. We raised enough money to publish the first third of the game, and all the extra cards, and get everything shipped across the world, and pay ourselves for the effort. We did it.
And then the storms fell down to the ocean, and pulled away the art, my vision, and my friends.
The Forest 2014 ~ 2016
After two years the game was finally funded. We had a great manufacturer, money money money, and a damn good plan. And I couldn’t breathe.
I was almost alone now. Just me, this game, and a thousand faces watching me above the water. The delays began immediately. Some of it was my fault, two years of planning and I still didn’t account for extra cards and delays. And other things were no one’s fault, it was just the imprecise black magic of making things. (I learned it is hard to make things, even with money and a factory that makes things).
With each delay I added more stuff to give back to those who watched above the waves. And this added more stress, more time, and more money. In the end we printed almost three times the amount of cards we had first projected.
Every single card had to be redone from the design up for our printer. Every single one. And all the new cards needed to be designed and then illustrated, and then everything had to go through the factory. It was nine months of digital proofs, followed by several months of overnight shipped Hong Kong quality checks.
It took a year and a half, and during this time my life began to fall apart again. If Spell Saga has taught me anything, it’s the The World is Always Ending, and that life continues beyond it. I cried on a curb the day Sakroka and I parted ways. I have not seen Paxson of Ashgarden in over a year. Cousin Lauren and I are tight, but there were moments I wasn’t sure we could ever get it done. Joshua ended up in Spain with no money and a broken phone. He’s back now but I haven’t seen him.
I continued to create without breathing.
The Fall and Rise of French Toast Gaming Co.
The Caves ~ 2016
Life is a constant and privileged horror. The acceptance of this creates clairvoyance. The storm and the ocean, the chaos and the depression are pointless once you realize it.
A few months ago, something inside me snapped. I looked at where Spell Saga was–as a product, as an expression of my life. And then I remembered where I wanted the game to be, how it deserved to be seen in the world. I started to work two jobs, seven days a week. This allowed me to air-ship boxes of cards for those who had waited for so long, and it also allowed me to refill the French Toast coffers, which were being depleted from the extra card printings and the lack of sales without product. I rewrote the rulebook, redid every card for our Italian publisher, and released a brand new game called Spell Saga Realmwalker.
I fixed things with my friends, and spent an evening laughing with Sakroka. I called Paxson, and made plans to finish the next deck with Cousin Lauren. Last week Joshua sent me the rulebook to his game, and now I’m writing to you.
This game was my idea, the endeavor was my idea, and I want to shoulder the blame as much as the praise. The game was always going to be finished. But the product you’re about to receive in the mail, and the other pieces to follow, are radically altered from anything you might have played had we been on time. And god damn, I wish things would have been finished sooner, but art takes time.
Sometimes I come home late at night after a 15 hour shift, and I can barely walk. I have to hold myself up with furniture and bathroom fixtures just to get into the shower or go to bed. On those nights I lay awake checking my phone, and read comments from people who are disappointed with me, or who have lost interest in the time it took to finish everything. And I completely understand. I do. But on the rarest of nights, after photoshopping in the morning and then pulling a double at the job, I get messages from new fans, wanting to purchase the game, or from patrons who just want to continue wishing me good luck. And I understand that even more. I’m a hopeful person, and I am lucky have met others who feel the same.
Spell Saga is my life, or at least, a great big part of it. The idea that it got funded was a miracle, and I have spent every day for two years straight figuring out a way to get everyone more than they asked for, because that’s what you gave me. The time it took to do this is embarrassing, and I take the comments and concerns about it to my grave.
I hope this letter reads well. It is so embarrassing to be this honest. My days and nights are currently a mixture of melancholy relief, bits of sadness and laughter, and working until I want to throw up. But I love it. Because it means I can print new decks, and send everyone extra cards, and redo the packaging I said “yes” to, only because I was worried about shipping late. It was a living horror to have everyone watching me try not to fuck this up. But it’s been a privilege too.
The Other Shore ~ 2017 and Beyond
There is no storm. There is no ocean. But there is a shore at the end of my thoughts. Spell Saga, which began as 3 decks of cards I made at home, is now so much more. When you write stories, you learn more about them as you continue writing.
I certainly had no idea what the paladins were, or why the world had mystical detectives called sourcerors…or that anyone else would leave The village in The Heathers to go after The Last Minstrel. Now I know all that and so much more.
I know what it was like before the world ended, and the names of the realmwalker decks that will allow you to see it too. I know all about the two hearts, and the Black God on The Shore, and I know how they became a god. I’ve learned about the eggs, and the limbs, and the fall of the guard. I know what they did, and why the world ended. And soon, you will know it too.
Spell Saga continues soon with decks 1.5: The Undersky, Deck 2.5: The Heart of the Woods, and Deck 3: The Caves. And the story of the world continues with the next batch of realmwalker decks, including “realmwalker: The Discordant Shore” which arrives this Winter. There is a magnificent plan for the game that is also a novel. I know how it all begins, and how it all ends. Spell Saga is just that–a saga. I will be here, somewhere on the other side of your computer, making it until it’s finished. I hope we have not lost you in the last two year, but I apologize if we did. The world of delays has ended, and now comes the journey of The Last Minstrel.