Friday, 1 January 2021

2020 in hindsight. What we did, what we didn't, what we wanted and what we couldn't


2020 is past us and it's time to be a bit introspective right?

So with a cup of coffee going, let's have a look at what Nordic Weasel did this year, what we did not do and so forth.

What didn't end up happening?

Quite a few projects did not work out as initially anticipated or are delayed. This is always something that happens for any number of reasons, but I have concluded it is better to be open about them.

These are:

From Shako to Coalscuttle v2, Squad Hammer content and Laserstorm v2

These were farmed out to volunteers and had to be delayed or cancelled through no fault of the volunteer.  This is a risk no matter if I do something myself or someone else does. Sometimes you just get mired in a project or life strikes and you have to move on and I don't blame the volunteers one bit. 

The army builder work for Squad Hammer has taken far longer, as I keep being unhappy with the result. Stay tuned. 

FiveCore 3.x

Under development but turned out to be much more time-consuming than expected. This is a game I absolutely want to have be as cool and creative as possible, so a lot of things get tried and rejected. Soon. 

The real challenge is that I want it to scale up to platoon level, without sacrificing the skirmish elements. I thought I had it nailed but the more I test it, the more I suspect not. It's possible I may say BEEP it and stick to squad level as it was intended though, which would certainly simplify things.

Wow, that's a lot of stuff!

Yeah, it is. Then again, it's not. There's at least 2 more stand-alone games I started working on behind the scenes and abandoned when I realized they weren't going to have what it took. 

I just thought you might like a bit of a peek into the shots that miss.

So what did happen this year?

Well, quite a lot really. 

I've kept a pretty solid release schedule for both Five Parsecs and Five Leagues, with monthly content, as well as several expansion packs for Renegade Scout and Five Klicks

We released five games, all of which have been very well received:

Chrome Hammer by the phenomenal Jason

Knyghte Pyke and Sworde

Five Klicks From the Zone

The 2nd edition of Renegade Scout

Ballad of the Longbow

On top of that, Five Leagues received some major updates to make the game the best it's ever been, KPS received a huge visual overhaul as well, countless smaller updates happened to fix vague rules or to improve things here and there.

That's a pretty solid record for the year I should think. I think KPS and RS2 are some of the best games I've ever done personally, though of course everyone has their own favorites and opinions. 

Bigger picture stuff

More importantly, 2020 felt like Nordic Weasel is becoming a household name. I've seen more and more references to our games as recommendations, things people say they are playing etc. in online discussions. I've seen my games suggested alongside "big brand" titles like Flames of War or Rangers of Shadow Deep and how wild is that? 

I also scored a gig consulting for a big-name project for a big-name publisher, though that's still hush-hush as far as the details.

And of course, we got featured in the Bundle of Holding! That was both a huge boon to us financially, helped score a bunch of money for a worthy charity and helped expose literally thousands of people to my games. An absolutely incredible experience and one I am incredibly grateful for.

In many ways, Nordic Weasel is a single person project, but of course all of this has also relied on fans, friends and volunteers to help spread the word, catch bugs and generally support things. So you can all take pride in what we've achieved in spite of being (or maybe because of being) the scrappy underdog (Underweasel?)

In short, it feels like NWG is on the precipice of something pretty cool and the next steps are open to be taken. I often get emails asking if I am planning on doing this or that thing to get bigger and the answer is always "Yes, eventually". 

I tend to be fairly risk-averse, which has stood me well so far, but of course it's also easy to pass an opportunity by.

Things I probably won't do again

Personal things

All things considered, we came through 2020 okay. We avoided getting the virus and we did not lose work or anything else. I can obviously work from home, while my wife was sent to work from home by her office. So we were comfortable enough, though being at home so much has been a bit of a mental stress, with family medical issues dogging us but as we're starting the new year, we all feel pretty well prepared and resolved to move on. 

We've also finally reached a point where we are not exactly floating in money but a lot of the financial stress is behind us, and we can focus on better things, as well as eliminating the last debts.

We had a great sorrow as Mittens passed away, while the new cat Lancelot is a bundle of joy and love. Scruffy still hangs in there, doing his best to become a fat old cat. We're all thankful that after a bit of a health worry with eating, he is rebounding good and seems to be in good shape for his age. 

One man band means only two hands

One thing that has become abundantly clear this year is that I am starting to push up against the limitations of what one person can reasonably achieve.

I've released some absolutely killer games this year, as well as a rash of fun expansion packs on a pretty regular schedule. I think you'll agree that while we're not doing big glossy books, Renegade Scout 2 and KPS (after the update) are both some of the best-looking games I've done. 

However, it has also been a pretty strenuous schedule and the lack of time to do everything I'd like to do i becoming abundantly clear. Things like scenario books, doing a "weasel-zine", supporting more fan material, updating old games to new and improved standards, expand smaller games to big lovely books, help people get published and so on and so on, while maintaining the current schedule of providing improvements to existing titles, new expansion packs and a few new games in the new year as well.

I just can't do all of that on my own. There's been talk of branching into a proper family business, but there's a gap between what I earn currently and what we'd need to earn to remain above water, relying purely on this job. 

Taking on freelancers has happened in the past and will in the future, but comes with its own drawbacks. Often, this can be as much work as writing it yourself, though it does save time in general and more importantly gets fresh ideas into the mix. Additionally of course it adds another failure point: If either person gets mired or has something happen in life, the project halts.

Still, I am excited to work with people I admire and respect to create new, cool gaming ideas and there are still a number of projects happening behind the scenes (some held up by my own schedule unfortunately).

I suppose the obvious answer is to expand with a co-writer but that's something thats a bit easier said than done. The qualities required is a person who can write well, understand game design, meshes with the "Weasel ideology" of gaming, understands the system in question, can take directions well AND work independently and most importantly has the time and commitment needed. Not exactly a small task!

Still, these are solvable problems, they just require a careful look at things and finding out how to proceed. 

I think 2021 is poised to be an incredibly exciting year for Nordic Weasel Games and I am super excited for all of you to share in that with me. I want to make clear that the problems I describe are GOOD problems to have. It means people pay attention and people want to see more cool games. That's a good place to be. 

It means we carved out a corner of the gaming universe and you folks all helped make it a reality.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Ivan, I just want to say I got to hear about the Nordic Weasel through the Bundle of Holding and boy, am I happy I did! I play solo, and the Five Leagues is a perfect game, just right balance between narrative campaign and battle. Five Parsecs, while I'm still preparing the minis and terrain, seems as amazing, and I can't wait to finally sit down and play. Since the BoH I've purchased several addons for both games, and they seem to greatly expand on the existing fun :)
    While not purely solo, I've found Five Man From Kursk to be a great game to, not too difficult to play both sides.
    One of the things I love about your games is the ease of set up. While I'm able to roll the campaign events etc. at any time, I can set the table for a battle only couple times a week, and for not a very long time. Since I started playing Five Leagues, I am able to play sometimes two battles in an evening, which is amazing :)
    As there was a lot of talk on the gaming groups about playing solo in 2020, I've managed to recommend Five X From Y to several people, hoping they will purchase it.
    I hope 2021 treats you well, that the pen (or keyboard if you are "modern") will flow easy, that the ideas will be never ending, and that a lot of gaming goodness will come out this year. No matter if it's Happy, let it be a New Year!