Today I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mr. Dan Letzring, owner of Letiman Games. If you have ever played Groves or Dino Dude Ranch you are already familiar with his work! Even more exciting is the fact Dan took time out of running his Kickstarter campaign to speak to me!
Dan and the other creative minds at Letiman have presented the gaming community with “The Neverland Rescue” an asymmetrical 2 player game based on the work of J.M. Barrie. The asymmetrical concept really excites me, and Dan does a really good job of participating in the online board game community so I decided to reach out.
After briefly introducing myself I was able to probe the mind of a successful game publisher! So without further ado, here is what he had to say:
How did Letiman Games begin?
I had been playing hobby games for a few years when I finally played Fluxx. The game-play inspired a design of mine that I self-published with my first Kickstarter campaign in 2014. I loved everything about developing games, running a business, and working in the game industry. The company has been going ever since!
Fluxx is great! How long was between playing Fluxx and the first campaign?
After playing Fluxx, I took about a year to design the first game and quite some time after that getting it to Kickstarter. However, I should have done more and still kick myself that I did not take more time on both the design and the first campaign.
Were there any legal hoops to jump through for using J.M. Barrie’s work as inspiration?
So the original novel is in the public domain, so I did not have to as long as I stuck specifically to the original works. The play and later versions (like the Disney version and other films) are not in the public domain so any character traits, plot points, and locations mentioned in those later works had to be avoided. To prepare, I read the original novel in the original text. Over and over. And over. If our artist used any character traits that were in later works but not the original novel, we had to discuss removing them to make sure we adhered to what we legally were able to. It was quite fun to work on!
What is the toughest part of being a Publisher?
So, everyone thinks that when they have a good design, they should just go for it and self-publish. I try to tell them there is so much more to it than just funding a game on Kickstarter (which is also SO much work!). Running a company involves building a brand, social media presence, paying taxes, working with large groups of contractors. There are so many moving parts. If you do not have business sense and you do not do project management well, pitch your game to a publisher.
So I guess the short answer is the hardest part about being a publisher is having so much to do that it leaves you little to no time to keep designing and you have to be very organized and efficient to get it all done.
If none of that scares somebody off, what is the best advice you can give brand new publisher hopefuls?
TALK TO PEOPLE IN THE INDUSTRY. Do not be afraid to approach other publishers who have done it, share your ideas and collaborate with us to help make your game as good as possible. We have been doing this a while now and can provide valuable resources in getting your game out there!
Thank you so much Dan for giving my little blog some great insight! Now everyone check out the Kickstarter page, watch or read some reviews, and pledge away!
– James Schoenster
Co-founder of Cerebral Cellar