Year Three

2015 has come and gone. And while A.E.G.I.S. isn’t up yet (soon!), this has been our best year as a company so far. After a shaky 2014, it’s great to look back on this year and see all of the things we’ve experienced and accomplished, all the people we’ve met and all of the great new game concepts that’ve come out of it. Let’s go down the big list!

GreenBrier Games and A.E.G.I.S.

PlaytestMeetingsWe kicked off this year by signing A.E.G.I.S. on with publisher GreenBrier Games. When A.E.G.I.S.  was signed on with them earlier this year, it had 60 playable robots and a single game mode, shipped in our trademark hand-made boxes with components from a myriad of different producers. GreenBrier sought us out because the game itself was awesome.

Since then, the game now has over 80 robots, including the titular AEGIS-Class “Voltron” units, a half-dozen game modes and has had several new prototypes made with vastly-improved components. Some rules have been changed and taken out to streamline the system, and A.E.G.I.S. is a better game than ever as it stands right now. Back when we first started making this game we admittedly underestimated this game’s needs. We made a great system but in order for the game to be as good as it deserved to be, and to make it viably sellable, it required the experience that we’ve built up over time. It’s a big game and we’re going big with it.  Look forward to seeing A.E.G.I.S. on Kickstarter in the first quarter of this year.

An Awesome Start-Up

This year we really kicked it off by getting into Start-Up Worcester and beating out 20 other companies. Zephyr Workshop Startup Worcesterwas awarded free office space, business mentorship and membership to the Venture Forum by the Worcester Chamber of Commerce. This program has been incredible for us, giving our team resources and a meeting place accessible to everyone where we could do major development work and play-testing. This arrangement has given us a deal of notoriety and great opportunities to speak in front of some great people. Our new-found office space has also allowed us to go beyond the realm of our company be more beneficial to those around us.

Building a Community

Game PileZephyr Workshop isn’t just about us. It’s always been about making other people happy and giving them great opportunities to experience cool things. We also want everyone to like and understand what we do. These feelings culminated with us collaborating with Play Nimbus, Box Mountain, Petricore and so many others to establish the Worcester Game Pilea collective of Central Massachusetts game developers. It’s no secret that Boston is one of the best game development hubs in the country, but our goal is to really grow that community out to the rest of the state. Zephyr Workshop’s Breeze and Sarah have been putting time into event organization and convention appearances, and Game Pile has been incredibly successful for everyone involved.

Conventions

Zephyr Workshop gets around. This year we explored new horizons and spread the gospel of robots at 10 conventions, enormous and small, nearly one per month! This isn’t counting several smaller venues, events, demo showcases and other things. If we included all our public events the number would be over 25. That’s a lot of traveling , and a lot of new faces!

This year we’ve been to:

  • TotalCon
    • Second year here. Fun weekend of gaming, would reccomend going for tabletop enthusiasts. We met the folks behind PBL Robots!
  • TempleCon
    • Ryan and Craig tackled this one bringing us to our second year here, where we met up with some old fans!
  • PAX East
    • Our biggest event of the year, here we sold launched Stellar Ascent, a limited print expansion for A.E.G.I.S. and sold the final portion of our original print run for our Arc Buster and Sky Guard  Starter Sets.
  • GAMA
    • The Game Manufacturers Association Trade Show, where all of the biggest tabletop industry folks gather in Vegas. Our first time out of New England! Sarah was flown out by our publisher Greenbrier Games, and we made some amazing connections here with industry folks, and their knowledge has really pushed us forward in the right direction.
  • MASSive Comic Con
    • The first time our home city has had a relevant nerd convention! This was the pilot for joining up with the Worcester Game Pile and it went great. We showed off A.E.G.I.S. right down the street and exposed a bunch of new, local players to the game. We’re very excited to return in 2016.
  • GenconGenCon
    • Here we made our debut at the hugest tabletop convention in the country, and it was amazing. A.E.G.I.S. showed off its brand new prototypes at a convention as big as PAX, with much nicer accommodations. On top of that, Indianapolis is a truly great city and we’ll definitely be back this year.
  • BostonFIG
    • Our third rondo at BostonFIG, we worked hard behind the scenes to help out with the organization of the Festival itself this year, which was a very rewarding experience. As usual, BFIG went great for us and we were holding numerous demos for A.E.G.I.S. simultaneously throughout the entire day.
  • TopatoCon
    • This was another new one for us: out in the far reaches of Massachusetts wilderness, there was a brand new convention being held focusing on Web Comic artists and indie games. It was a good time and very quaint, and we met a few very talented people, like Tyson Hesse and his A+ comic Diesel.
  • BGG.CON
    • Our first time in Texas! BGG.CON was interesting, very small, but very exclusive and a majority of the industry shows up here. It was an excellent opportunity to meet with other tabletop game publishers and get great one-on-one time with some hardcore players.
  • NorthEast Comic Con
    • Rounding out the year was our first time at NECC, trying something new! We decided to organize and host the convention’s tabletop freeplay area, which is something we plan on expanding into more this coming year. We also got to meet and party with creative industry hero Andrew WK!

MassDiGI Game Challenge and New Projects

2015 was a great year for us in terms of new game projects. For all of 2014, we were focused on various aspects of A.E.G.I.S. and our team, and didn’t have much time for new ideas. This year our team really settled into itself and we were struck with a number of new ideas we’ve pushed into the prototype stage. This year at the MassDiGI Game Challenge we nailed second place with our pitch for Florafiora, which featured art direction from the incomparable Emily Hancock. Florafiora is in regular development and we’ll be pitching an Alpha at the game challenge this year.

Ferret TyphoonIt was preceded by another new project, which is called Project Footloose, a combat card game which went through numerous iterations before ending up in its current state: submitted to Indie Megabooth for PAX East 2016.

We participated in the Fukushima Game Jam where we worked with engineer Josh Corvinus to produce an Oculus Rift prototype called Ferret Typhoon, a long-time running gag that we made into a reality.

A Growing Team

Zach KettellMichael Epstein joined on as a Summer intern and part-time collaborator, who was an amazing help during development for Project Footloose, and produced a half dozen other fascinating card game prototypes along with social media and blog post authoring. he does stuff with AEGIS design now and owns Copperfrog games, watch out for his game Tattoo! Zach Kettell worked with us at PAX East last year, and took up Epstein’s mantle this fall and has been working on design for A.E.G.I.S as well as writing blog posts. He is also the programmer for Florafiora.

We’ve also scouted some awesome artists for new card art and robot designs, including Maung Thuta, Daniel Olsen, Rolando Ortiz, Julio Bencid, Aline Baumgartner, and M Dipo. Maybe we’ll see more of their work on A.E.G.I.S. and other projects in the future.

We’ve just recently brought on talented indie Jacob Peltola of Box Mountain Games as Technical Designer, working in tandem with Zach and Mob Made Games to bring Florafiora to a polished demo.

Which Direction does the Wind Blow?

Towards the future! Our Q1 Kickstarter for A.E.G.I.S is still on! It’s more on than ever. 2015 was the best year so far for Zephyr Workshop, we’d like to thank both everyone who has been with us for years, and those who have just found us recently for making last year so awesome.  We also learned quite a few lessons, and in  12 short months we’ve really matured as a team and as a company.

With a polished core project and a growing team of talented people, we’re looking at 2016 with a lot of optimism. Zephyr Workshop will be bringing you great games, just wait and see.