If our plan had a “Phase 5 - the next title” that would be the current FiaB make-up and the Processing Kickstarter. (We went into detail about those efforts in the three part blog series “The Road to Processing.”) GenCon 2018 brought Wendy, Queen of the Universe, as a regular booth presence. Edward and Stacey lent their creative talents to our videos, teaser videos and behind the scenes. Logan joined us to help with regular content posting on the socials.
All of this help, couldn’t have come at a better time. June 2018 was devastating for me on a personal level. If Fight in a Box hadn’t gotten folks like Wendy, Edward, Stacey, Chris and Logan to pitch in, the Processing Kickstarter wouldn’t have been the success it was. Behind the scenes, the wheels came completely off on playtesting and game development as my personal life completely drained me of inspiration and energy. In November 2018, all that was left in the bottom of my creative well was this one thought droplet: “I wonder if I could make a game about hedgehogs dancing with each other.” As a distraction, I sat myself down to work on the dancing critters project - not expecting much.
Mark Eberhardt tracked me down at PAX U 2017 with his brother Doug. The pair brought their portfolios and wanted to do art for games. Though I didn’t have work for them at the time, I wanted to collect more artist submissions for Conquest Princess Pew Pew Pew. After meeting with them, I made Mark a proposal - if he would meet with me 15 minutes a month every month or so, when I did have work he would be the first person I would ask.
In November 2018, Graham Judd didn’t have the bandwidth to take on our dancing critters project. I say “dancing critters” because at that time we were toying with the idea of calling it “Fluffy Kitten Dance Party.” Never underestimate the power of cat people on the internet. Since Graham was out, I asked Mark if he’d like to give us a proposal. Mark’s submission sold me on him and on hedgehogs.
Every year the con season starts with ProtospielMN. We test hard what we’re going to KS that year before taking it on the road even more testing. In 2018, it was Processsing and in 2019 twas the Hedgehog hop. Hoping to avoid the issues with art feedback we ran into with Processing, I brought Logan and Mark up to the Twin Cities for the event and commissioned an Acrylic Prototype from Muse on Minis. Now at this time, the Hop could not be played 2-player and the puzzler set of rules did not exist. It was all “Dance Battle Royal” which you can download with the multiplayer rules. The game transformed at the ProtospielMN and the following week I wrote the first draft of the 2-player rules so we might have it for CaptainCon and Con of the North.
If you attended Con of the North 2019, you may have noticed a couple things peculiar with our booth - we didn’t sell anything and the majority of it was occupied by a cityscape made of cardboard boxes. My personal crisis made the prospect of proper convention adulting seem insurmountable; so I abandoned convention convention and focused on fun and feedback leaving the selling of our games to Atlas for the event. The city scape was for Ultimate Toy Combat (UTC) based on a game my highschool friends and I wrote back in the day. I ran games of UTC, the Hop, and Processing for anyone who be entertained. Attendees made it clear which Hedgehog Hop they preferred and it was the 2-player puzzler. We confirmed this a month later at Adepticon.
The Processing fulfilment went well, but it wasn’t easy. Even with the token swap, we got everything out about 5 months earlier than our KS promise. Despite my low energy, Andrew Chezney and Edward insisted that Fight in a Box should have a kickstarter in 2019. The argument was made that if were going to reprint End of the Line with the IMR expansion we’d need to keep the Fight Fans energized and engaged with an additional successful projects. We promoted Logan to managing the project and I would mentor him around any possible pitfalls.
The amount of personal relief I felt when the Hedgehog Hop kickstarter funded in 7 hours went a long way to promoting my recovery. I can not thank enough those folks who took the time and believed in our little dance critters game. It was a real gift.