Friends of Five24 Series

An Interview with Punch-It Entertainment

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Today, we chat with Jesse Bergman, found of Punch-It Entertainment, makers of the card game Battle for Sularia. This is another in our #FriendsofFive24 series and friend here in Lincoln, Nebraska.

What is your story?


My name is Jesse Bergman and I’m one of the founders of Punch-It Entertainment. We are a small indie game developer/publisher in Lincoln Ne. I started playing board games early on in my life with games such as Risk, Monopoly, and Stratego. In my early adolescent I started playing games such as Battletech, Magic The Gathering, Warhammer 40K, and a few different RPG’s. I have GM’d campaigns as a young adult set in the Paldium universe of TMNT and Rifts. I also ran a Mechwarrior campaign.

When I got into my teens video games became a strong influencer on my life and lead me to pursue a degree in Game Design from UAT in Tempe AZ. I graduated in 2009 from UAT with a BA in Video Game Design with honors. I was a non-traditional student and earned my degree at 29 years of age.

 In 2011, I began in earnest working on my own games and in 2014 I established Punch-It Entertainment along side my oldest friend John Kimmel.

What are you playing?

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Currently I’m trying to reduce my shelf of shame, and have been attempting to play the many games that have been sitting in shrink. I have most recently played Rise of Tribes, Rising Sun, Lords of Hellas, and Aeon’s End. I also play a ton of card games and have most recently been enjoying Transformers TCG and Warhammer Age of Sigmar Champions.

What game is a hidden gem?


Probably the game that I enjoy playing the most that many haven’t played Overlords of Infamy. It’s a fun little game where we as players take on the role of the villain and I just love the role reversal. Combined with a very Saturday morning cartoon aesthetic, it’s easily my biggest hidden gem. Although I just got a copy of Shadowrun: Crossfire and can’t wait for it to kick my butt.

 

What are you backing?


I’ve been on a bit of a Kickstarter hiatus lately. I currently have 5 games needing to be fulfilled or currently seeking funding.

1.)   Overlords of Infamy: Misery Loves Company! Expansion

2.)   Tidal Blades – Heroes of the Reef

3.)   ROBA: Radiant Offline Battle Arena

4.)   SiegeStorm: The SiegeMode

5.)   Penny Lane: A Charming Game of People and Pennies

 

What are you excited about?


I usually don’t find myself super hyped by many games. I tend to look at each game objectively and decide if it fits a space in my collection. With that said Wave 3 of Age of Sigmar Champions is launching the first of March and I am very excited to see the new cards and add some of them to my decks.

 

What is your next project?


While we don’t have titles officially set on either of the titles we are currently working on three different games.

 1.)   Sularia – A Deckbuilding Game

2.)   Hunt – A Cooperative Legacy Dungeon Crawl

3.)   Zen – A Tile Laying Game of Balance

What are your hobbies outside of board gaming?


I am pretty busy being a dad, husband, and entrepreneur. But when I do find time I enjoy watching shows on Netflix and playing video games.

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What do you need help with?

Right now, I don’t have specific help needs. We are always looking for potential blind playtesters for our games and just advocates for our brand, as we simply don’t generate large revenue to massively promote our products in the world.

What tip do you wish you knew when you started?


There is a lot of advice out there regarding how to promote and raise funds for your game on Kickstarter. I wish I would have started building community earlier. When we were developing our first game we went around to conventions and collected emails. We would reach out to those subscribers once a month with development updates, but unfortunately many of those early convention subscribers lost touch with us by the time the Kickstarter launched. All of our KS backers came from conventions visited within 90 days of the campaign. If I could do it all over again, I would have put my energy into building a community through giveaways and various other outlets, instead of spending travel dollars attending conventions. I still believe conventions are important, but the larger conventions are very costly for an indie developer and I actually love the mid size cons of 400-1000 attendees.

 

What is one of your goals for 2019?


My goal in 2019 is to get one of our games ready to release and continue to foster an inclusive and open gaming environment here locally in Lincoln. We have been using a local co-working space called Turbine Flats to foster this environment and in three months we have gone from 6 regular attendees to around 25 per week.

What cons will I find you at?


Currently we are committed to Great Plains Gaming Festival and O Comic Con. If you are reading this and have a con that you think we should attend, please reach out and let me know!

 

Where can I find you online?

Web: www.punchitent.com

Twitter: @punchitent

Facebook: @punchitentertainment

An Interview with Kane Click

Today, we meet Kane Click, designer of Coal Country by Rio Grande Games. Kane is from here in Lincoln, Nebraska. Let’s dive in!

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What’s your story?

I live in Lincoln, NE with my wife, Michelle, our son, Achim, and our dog, Zuul. I grew up in Chicagoland and moved here to finish graduate school. I fell in love, stayed, and stayed in love. 

I have been designing games, in a way I would consider "seriously," for five-ish years now. I started designing games as an extension of my various responsibilities at the university. At the time, I was teaching courses on popular culture and realized that I had many students that were primarily interested in video games and, well, we just didn't have enough time in the curriculum to cover them to the extent the students wished. So, I started a gaming research group for the students and included board games as an area of study. The students turning up that were

interested in board games were, unlike the students interested in video games, primarily interested in designing their own games. I was fine with this, as design is a form of research. To accommodate the difference in interests we began alternating the focus of the meetings. One week we would do video game analysis and criticism. The next, board game research and design, with an encouragement to bring your own games to be played. The games I was bringing seemed to be well received, and I really enjoyed the work, so I started pursuing them more intently...and here we are.

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What are you playing?

Lately we've been fooling around with Dragon Castle, Dinosaur Tea Party, The Estates, Gravitrax, Haspelkneckt, Menara, Piepmatz, Shadows in the Forest, Silk, Trekking the National Parks (2nd ed.), Voltage, amongst others.

 

What game is a hidden gem?

One of my all time hidden gems is Alchemist, the Rossi game. I'm a big fan of games with player-programmed elements...if you can't tell from Coal Country. In Alchemist, the value of resource sets is player determined, which thereby influences the flow of said resources throughout the game. It's extremely elegant. The in-theme, in-world game board in Coal Country is actually a homage to the in-theme, in-world game board of Alchemist (minus disembodied hand). Unsurprisingly, no one has made this connection.

I'd also like to mention Piepmatz, for a recent release. It could very well be my GoTY for 2018. It's definitely my favorite card game of the past year. The mechanisms for establishing card flow and for converting that flow into scoring sets are quite clever. The game makes fantastic use of its theme, which we love, to tie it all together nicely. Oh, and it's pretty, too.

For fun, here's ten more: Celtica, Darjeeling, Dragonheart, Dreams, El Gaucho, Krysis, Mord im Arosa, The Name of the Rose, On the Underground, Safranito. Too many to list, really.

What are you backing?

Nothing, currently.

What are you excited about?

I'm looking forward to Planet, Men at Work, Farben. Maybe The Boldest. Maybe Underwater Cities. Maybe Lighthouse Run.

What is your next project?

Seemingly its continuing to tinker and cycle my current batch of prototypes between interested parties. It feels never ending, which, to be clear, isn't a complaint.

I'm also at work wrapping up a trio of dice-driven games aimed at younger players. After that, I have to get back to work on an expandable card game designed to be compatible with licensed properties. It started as a fun personal project a while back, but has since been requested by a publisher. I'm way behind on it.

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What are your hobbies outside of board gaming?

It's a dwindling list, to be sure. We do still make time to read a lot of books in our house, and we collect 1st/1sts of our favorites. 

Oh, and dinosaurs. We have a four year old, so the study of dinosaurs has become a whole house hobby.

What do you need help with?

The usual...testing, rules editing.

What tip do you wish you knew when you started?

I came from the world of academia, so I was already prepared for high rejection rates and unexplained delays. It helped me take all the weirdness of the board game industry in stride...except for the IP abuse. That's taken some getting used to.

One thing I wish I would have done is just focus more exclusively on "my designs", plain and simple. I've done a number of projects by request/direction that have never gone anywhere and have been a huge waste of time. I've signed contracts on things that never saw the light of day, and so on. Other than helping me hone the efficiency of my design process, I feel now that there was a lot of valuable time wasted that could have been better applied to the completion of designs I certainly cared more about personally.

If you focus on your designs, just for their own sake, at the end of the day you'll still have a game you love...even if it never leaves your own house. That's worth it, to me. Plus, if you're "lucky", when you later have to make publisher-suggested edits, you'll still have that core game you love for yourself, regardless of what it ends up becoming.

What is one of your goals for 2019?

I have the same goal every year, which is to find more time to work by in turn becoming more efficient at work. Improving efficiency, in all aspects of my life, is the game I play with myself.

What cons will I find you at?

Origins, Gen Con, Essen. This year was supposed be my first Nuremburg Toy Fair, but a confluence of life events made it impossible. I consider those "work" conventions, though. For "fun", I occasionally go to various local and regional cons when it fits my schedule. If there is a con you'd like me at, just ask and I'll try my best to make it.

Where can I find you online?

I'm on Facebook. I've mostly abandoned Twitter, but feel free to follow @KaneClick. Who knows, maybe I'll just randomly start caring about it again.