Hallo fellow Dreamcatchers!
The Play Nation team visted Essen Spiel 17 over the past weekend and introduced the game to over 700 visitors over the course of 4 days. That's 700 newly trained Dreamcatchers over 1 weekend, imagine how many more good dreams we can create together?
As a new games publisher, we learnt many things over the course of this weekend, and I will like to share this experience with everyone reading this blog.
Lesson 0: What kind of game is Dream Catchers?
*Spoiler alert: Noob publisher ahead!*
The first 3 hours of Spiel 17 presented the Play Nation team with an unexpected challenge. Visitors to our booth rightly asked the team what kind of game that Dream Catchers is. As a new publisher, we kinda did not expect to have to explain this at our booth, opps! While we fumbled to define what kind of game Dream Catchers is, it was harder to persuade players to try the game initially. Once we figured out what to tell people though, the tables was filled non stop for the rest of the fair, god bless our full bladders and empty stomachs!
So... ... what kind of game is Dream Catchers?
Dream Catchers is a light weight cooperative game for 2-4 players that plays out within 30 minutes. In this game, players take on the role of Dream Catchers who visits sleeping children at night and helps to give them a good night sleep by creating sweet dreams for them before the night is over. However, they have to accomplish this goal while battling monsters and nightmares who are working to scare the child up from sleep!
Mechanically, Dream Catchers is a cooperative hand management abstract puzzle game with a push-your-luck element. The variance involved in the game stems from the fact that there are certain aspects of the game that are not fully controllable by the players. These elements includes, the movement of nightmare tiles on the dreamscape, and the appearance of monsters under the bed and sweet dream tiles that are removed from the game as a result.
Dream Catchers is NOT a children's game, even though children can definitely play the game as well. Thematically, the game is centered around children and their dreams because we like sweet and beautiful things like that. However, the game is designed to challenge the players and is built to punish reckless players who take excessive risks in the game. Planning well as a team a few turns in advance is necessary to beat the game, especially at higher difficulty levels.
So there, a proper introduction of Dream Catchers! If you still wish for a more detailed explanation, fret not and just CLICK HERE!
Lesson 1: Spiel 17 - best place to meet new friends
Let's be honest here, attending Spiel as a new publisher is an extremely stressful experience. We made plenty of bad decisions (and some good ones!) due to our inexperience as exhibitors. However, what is very heartwarming to the team was how friendly the people we meet in Essen were.
The Play Nation team made many new friends in the industry who gave us valuable advice and helped us during the exhibition and turned what would be a nightmare scenario into a happy ending. Yes, it felt like a fairy tale to us too!
Above all, we are so grateful to the 700 new friends who gave us their gift of time to play Dream Catchers for the first time. Given that each game takes approximately 30 minutes to complete, thats 350 hours that total strangers have entrusted to us to try out our new game. If I could, I would say thank you to all 700 of you personally!
Lesson 2: Mochi, the real star of Dream Catchers booth
As a new publisher with a new game that nobody knew about heading into the show, we knew we had to do something to attract/trick/bait/hook the discerning vistors into trying out the game or just to check out the game. What we decided to do is this;
1. Dress the Play Nation team in pyjamas uniform and bedroom slippers!
The picture says it all. What better way to put players into the proper mood to catch sweet dreams than to be dressed appropriately for the occasion? Each host from the Play Nation team is fully decked out in our blue pajamas and bunny slippers during the show. : )
2. Free Balloon of Mochi
Our official mascot for the show was Mochi the Panda Dream Catcher! We gave out 1000 of these balloons over the 4 days at the fair and throughout the day, Mochi the balloon travelled tirelessly accross the various halls to promote our booth and led even more visitors to us. *Cue self-gratifying laughter.*
Lesson 3: Heartwarming stories from playing Dream Catchers
When the Play Nation team started work on Dream Catchers almost 1 year ago, we set out a goal to create a game that will be rich in its narrative power. It is our hope that each game tells a unique and personal story of struggle and (hopefully) triumphant for the players experiencing the game, and that players will be able to relate to the dreams in the game on a personal level. To a large extent, we believe we have acheived this goal. During the 4 short days at the fair, we created many of such stories;
A 60 year old Dream Catcher who played the game with the Play Nation team and confided in us that the game left him deeply touched because it brought him back in time to relive his childhood.
A team of 4 Dream Catchers who misplayed the game and realised that monsters hiding under the bed are going to defeat them unless they make a risky play and get lucky. The team entrusted 1 player to hold the cards and make the attempt to fight off a stong monster. He rolled the die while everyone held their breath and defeated the monster! The team took a full minute off the game to give each other high fives and hugs before returning to their seats to beat the game.
A father playing the game with his young daughter and trying to guide her on the strategies of the game. Towards the end of the game, the young Dream Catcher became a better player and started guiding her father's play towards victory! The gracious father acknowledged that they would have lost if not for the sage advise from his little girl.
A team of 2 German Dream Catcher sat down with 2 Chinese Dream Catcher to play the game. We taught them the rules of the game using a mixture of English and made up sign language. They went on play the game communicating purely with lots of pointing, sign language and body language. They lost the game narrowly but we hoped they were able to walk away with a deeper appreciation of the universal aspect of the job of being a Dream Catcher!
Married couples makes good Dream Catchers team! Many married couple tried out the game and we had a lot of fun teaching them the game. So much of the game is about working out a team plan as many turns ahead as possible that it was amazing to watch the dynamics of a couple's relationship unfold. It was also amusing to watch some couples playing irrationally simply because they prefered some dreams over others! Sweet dreams involving Cats going for spa treatment and Pizza feasts are hot favourites...
This concludes our lengthly account of our Spiel 17 experience. We hope you enjoy reading about our experience and we hope to be able to meet more Dream Catchers in the days ahead!