Our webcomic Erfworld is celebrating 10 crazy booping years online with a beautiful deck of poker-size playing cards, designed and drawn by Erfworld artist Xin Ye. This will be an official Bicycle-branded deck, featuring custom pips and trump cards based on the main characters in our universe.
As we look forward to the next decade of story and art, we're also hoping to raise funds to create two big new features at our website: a gametable where you can play and develop board games with other readers live in your browser, and a system of collectible 3D virtual units, designed by Erfworld illustrator Lauri Ahonen.
We need your help to make it happen. Please consider pledging the project to get one of these sweet decks. These things really need to exist.
Show yer cards, joker
Okay! First off, we're thrilled that these will be an official Bicycle deck. Our design has passed their rigorous review, and we know that these will be high quality cards. We're doing an embossed box with gold leaf printing in three variants. They'll look like this:
And in blue & red, like this:
If you've been subscribing to Xin's Art Blog, you've seen most of the face cards close up. Cards like the Queen of Spades, the inscrutable Croakamancer Wanda Firebaugh:
What you haven't seen yet are these intricate card backs.
We're doing three different decks of poker sized cards, a black deck with a black/brown motif, a blue deck, and a red deck:
The blue/red decks will only be offered as a set.
You can see all of these cards and shuffle them in your browser here at the new Erfworld gametable! (Use ctrl+minus if you don't see all the cards at your browser's current resolution.)
Yes! Part of our anniversary week involves rolling out some proof-of-concept features, and one of these is a virtual gametable, powered by Tabloro.
In our first-ever Kickstarter back in 2012, one of our stretch goals was a "board game testbed." One thing I always wanted for the site was a playable platform that creators and fans can use to develop their own board and card games. Installing Tabloro and integrating it with the site logins, etc. is a start (and has been what we ultimately applied that 2012 money to).
But we need it to do lots more, before it becomes really useful. So if we get close to reaching our other goals on this project, I'll outline a stretch goal for a bunch of additional development on the gametable.
Stretch Goal 1: Collectible 3D Units
First thing's first, though. Behold the Fred!
"Fred" was our working name for the first-ever collectible 3D unit. This Decrypted stabber was given out to all site visitors from December 7 until the next update of the comic.
He was sculpted and painted by our artist Lauri Ahonen, with help from Xin. Whichever way you turn him, he really looks like he stepped out of the pages of Erfworld.
We want to make lots more of these. We would like to build a system where we have a bunch of other units like this one, which may randomly pop as you browse Erfworld.com. We will not be selling units (not even for Shmuckers), but we want to build a marketplace for users to sell and trade units with one another. (More about that in future news posts.)
As you can imagine, these little guys are time-consuming to make. As always, we want to make sure that Lauri and Xin are paid what their enormous talents deserve. So if we meet our main project goal of $22,500 for the card decks and associated merchandise (this includes paying Xin and Lauri for all of their work on these things), then we'll be going for an additional $12,000 to pay our art team (mostly Lauri) to make lots more of these.
About the rewards
- Plastic cases look like this, and can be added on for $5 each:
- The Decrypted Orly (a unit that has never even been seen in the comic) will be awarded exclusively to backers of this project, at all levels. It will be created by the Erfworld artists in the style of Fred, and given out as soon as it's ready.
- The "Deal With It" site badge will be handed out after the project. You will need to tell us your user name in your backer survey. No art available yet.
- The oversize Book 1 panels download is a surprise treat! You will get a complete download of more than 1500 panels at enormous size (bigger than even Tools see), along with a slideshow viewer for reading the comic panel by panel, at giant size. You can really appreciate Jamie's art, and the pace of the story feels different and new.
- The 2-deck display case is custom printed with the Erfworld logo, and will look (we think) like this:
- The 3-deck acrylic collectors case is really pretty. It was designed by Carat Card Cases for people who collect decks as a hobby, and lets you see every face of the box from outside. This is from the manufacturer's website:
But we have a few of these in hand. Xin took a pic of one:
Xin and Rob will sign the outside of these cases for backers at the $85 reward level and up.
- A cameo appearance in the comic is just that. Xin and Lauri will draw your likeness into a future scene in an Erfworld update. No specific promises made as to when, but you will be there (and also get the Canonized site badge). You will have to provide photos of yourself.
- The custom unit is pretty exciting, too. Sometime in 2017, Lauri and Xin will create one of these 3D models based on your idea for a character or a unit. You will have the option to release it to the Erfworld community as a unit that might pop to other users, or keep it as exclusively your own to have and display. We'll come up with some kind of a site badge for this level as well.
Add-ons You may add any of these items to your pledge rewards by adding the appropriate amount to your pledge.
- $10 - black deck, no case
- $20 - red and blue decks, shrink wrapped
- $25 - (US ONLY) Uncut sheet of cards, black deck
- $30 - black/red/blue decks
- $5 - commemorative plastic case
- $15 - erfworld 2-deck display box
- $45 - acrylic 3-deck display box
- $60 - acrylic 3-deck display box with black/red/blue decks
- $50 - 6 black decks
- $50 - 3 red and 3 blue decks
- $50 - 2 black, 2 red and 2 blue decks
As always, we thank you for your generosity and support. We think these kinds of special extras are worth doing, but we can only make them happen if you agree and pledge to our project.
Risks and challenges
Over the previous five Kickstarters, we've learned a lot of lessons about planning workable goals and rewards.
These tiers and add-ons are pretty streamlined. They're all achievable if we can just raise the funds to get them made. Our artwork is complete, Bicycle has approved our deck for printing, and we've got our quotes and delivery estimates in hand. Samples of the cases and add-ons are on their way.
The only major unknown with this project is the development of the gametable. We're still working through our options, in terms of what developer talent we may have to recruit, and how much we can achieve with the Tabloro engine. Other tech and development projects have sometimes taken a whole lot longer and been more expensive than we planned, but we've tried to learn from those lessons as well.
If we do hit a dead end with the gametable, that would be sad but nothing new. And that's one reason we're not offering any rewards related to the gametable itself.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Just choose the $25 "Red vs Blue" level, but put $35 as your pledge amount.
When the backer surveys are sent after the project ends, you will be able to indicate that you added one black deck of cards to your rewards.
When we first announced that we were working on a deck of playing cards in 2014, I called for readers to invent Erfworld themed games you could play with a regular poker deck. We even tested some of these at Gencon in 2014. You can read the thread in the forums and try these games out, too. http://forums.erfworld.com/viewtopic.php…
I said that I wanted to publish a book of these, and that's definitely still in the works. But the testing that we did really showed us how many more hundreds of hours of playtesting is probably required to do it right, and end up with a book of fun, playable games.
Our plans for the gametable is a big part of making that happen. What we want to do with the $12K if we can raise it is to get the gametable really playable for ordinary playing card games, and also integrate some shared documents and notes features which would let the authors of those games create a game setup they control. Others could then test and evaluate and make suggestions about the game.
We think we could unlock some really incredible games, if we just had the person-hours to test them and shake out the obvious hitches. So that's where we are with the plan on the book, and I definitely have not forgotten about it. Some of the games people came up with were really fun and need to find more players, both on the Erfworld site and in "realspace."
Yes! For Tools (Erfworld supporters who are pledged to the Toolshed), we will be sending out a free black deck of the playing cards as soon as we hit Milestone 4. You won't get the badge, the Decrypted orly unit, the panel-by-panel download of Book 1, or any future group rewards unless you pledge this project specifically. But your support is very much appreciated, and we have planned for a long time to send you these cards as a thank you. More details about Free Cards Day in this news post:
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