HOW DOES SWEET LEMON DECIDE WHICH GAMES THEY ARE GOING TO RELEASE IN THE US/EUROPE?
As a relatively new company (Terrible Monster was released in 2016), Sweet Lemon is still finding its feet and trying to let these processes develop naturally. We try not to box ourselves in!
Of course, the mission statement we give online is 'Good games that don't fit the criteria for conventional publishing' so we're always looking for something distinctive. International networks have helped a lot to unearth gems. For example, we discovered Terrible Monster from a friend scouting for Korea Boardgames. Then Fantasy Defense began when Mandoo Games in Korea approached us. Finally, Dragon Canyon came from a trip to Tokyo Game Market.
That's a long way of saying there isn't yet a firm process – if we love it, we try to bring it to the rest of the world!
HOW DO YOU FEEL SOCIAL MEDIA HAS HELPED YOU CONNECT WITH GAMERS IN THE UNITED STATES?
For German publishers, social media is crucial in helping us reach the English market. We can't (yet) attend GenCon or BGGCon, and even simple interviews or podcasts can be a nightmare to arrange across time zones. But if you follow Sweet Lemon on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, you'll see a very consistent stream of tabletop chat that's beginning to find an American audience – the first thousand followers on any platform are never easy!
One thing that helps enormously is NiceGameShop. It means we always have new and unusual titles to unbox, talk about or play-through; it's not just about our company and our games. We're betting the concept of 'rare and unusual' titles will hook gamers wherever they live.
I AM A FAN OF GAMES FROM THE EAST, YOUR STORE ONLINE SEEMS TAILORED TO THESE GAMES. IS THE GOAL TO BE A EXCLUSIVE OUTLET FOR THESE TYPES OF GAMES?
I suppose we're trying to be the best outlet for these types of games, which in my mind is a little different to exclusive. A lot of these titles (particularly from Tokyo Game Market) are genuinely rare – in some cases unavailable anywhere else – but
others can still be picked up directly from the publisher. However, what NiceGameShop does offer is the largest selection in one place. This means a much cheaper price than individual shipping from Taiwan or Shanghai, but it also provides important context and a kind of historical record for designers and fans. We see great things happening in these newer or smaller design communities, and NiceGameShop is a way for gamers to share that excitement.
It depends! The Mystery Box came was a pretty random idea we had in
the office. Nobody knows much about these games, which are pretty obscure for even die-hard gamers – but what if we chose for people, giving them a serious discount in the process? So the Mystery Box is basically Sweet Lemon playing Secret Santa for our customers. They can provide information about their tastes/collection (as simple as sharing their BGG account) or give us free range to build a balanced box. We didn't know if anyone would be interested, but there's been a steady stream of orders, which have been really nice to see and really fun to build. To answer your question: the average Mystery Box probably contains about 4 titles, but it can vary significantly if the customer prefers (say) micro-games or heavy Euros.
The video game analogy is perfect for Fantasy Defense, especially considering the solo/cooperative play. However, I should clarify that it definitely isn't a legacy game! None of the components are destroyed or even modified during the campaign,
so you can always play it again – from the start or any other point. We've just hidden each part of the expansion in a series of enveloped 'chapters' that need to be unlocked by completing the game. There's narrative snippets, new rules, new units, and all that fun stuff. We're even asking reviewers to give spoiler warnings before revealing too much of the plot!
It definitely wasn't easy (and the whole team learned a bunch) but we just hope the community appreciates the Stone King experiment.
YOUR NEXT KICKSTARTER WILL BE DRAGON CANYON. WHAT IS THE PROCESS FOR TAKING A PUBLISHED GAME FROM TAIWAN TO KICKSTARTER?
So much in any industry revolves around two things: being there and being lucky.
Leon makes regular international trips to scout games and buy stock for NiceGameShop. But perhaps most important is the networks developed by physically going to these cities and shaking hands. In this case, Dragon Canyon was handed to Leon in the dying hours of Tokyo Game Market. It's published by a Taiwanese company called Sharp Point Press. They're quite large and have a fascinating history, but are just starting to spread from manga and books to the tabletop world. That means English – which makes Sweet Lemon a perfect fit.
After all that, we just had to open the box and fall in love.
Yes! As the rookie coder tasked with building and scripting these digital versions, I'm very glad you asked. Development started before the final rules were locked in, so the process has been a little complicated (lesson learned) but I'm happy to say the digital version of Dragon Canyon will be freely available. A lot of Tabletop Simulator
games aren't really programmed – they're just 3D objects on a table – so this level of development is also a bit of an experiment.
If you have a chance to check it out once it's released, please let me know your thoughts. Just don't look at the code, because I'm still learning!
FINALLY, WHAT IS A IMPORT GAME THAT YOU LOVE (OR IN YOUR CASE TWO)
THAT WE MAY HAVE NOT HEARD OF?
I was lucky enough to attend Tokyo Game Market personally at the start of the year. There's this incredible kind of punk attitude among some designers (mostly self-published) who spend their weekends cutting up cardboard and assembling copies by hand. Pretty much everyone is doing it for the love. It's one of the most fascinating creative scenes I've ever seen – so I'll choose two titles that reflect that quirky spirit.
Gem Duel is a beautiful micro-game produced by a woman I met in Tokyo. And she literally does everything – game design, art, layout, production, sales. It's really inspiring to see.
On a larger scale there's Matanga from Colon Arc. It's this completelycrazy dexterity / speed game that games with a wobbly pen you have topass around the table. Genius!
The Gentlemen Blogger
Jim is a lifelong gamer. He will play any game at least once. You will see a wide variance in the games he reviews.
Halden is our war game correspondent. He is on the front lines for skirmish game reviews.
Chris Globus is the newest member of the blog team. He is on a personal quest to fine tune his collection at all times.