Interview with Michael Iachini of Clay Crucible Games, Part I
Game lawyer Zachary Strebeck interviews Michael Iachini, the owner and designer at Clay Crucible Games, about his business and the legal aspects of designing, funding and publishing his games Chaos & Alchemy and Otters.
I interviewed Michael Iachini, the owner and designer at Clay Crucible Games, about his business and the legal aspects of designing, funding and publishing his games Chaos & Alchemy and Otters. While Michael is a board game designer, I think that his advice and story are useful for those designing video games, as well. The interview was conducted over email last week. I won’t bore you with my intro, since he does a great job himself! Here goes Part I (Part II will be posted on Wednesday):
Hello Michael. Thanks for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers. Let’s start off by having you introduce yourself, your company and your games.
My name is Michael Iachini. I work in finance for my day job, but I design board and card games for Clay Crucible Games LLC (my company) on the side. I’ve been involved with game design since mid 2012 when I came up with my first game, Chaos & Alchemy, a card and dice game.
I paid for a small print run of Chaos & Alchemy out of pocket in 2012, which sold out in a couple of months, and the game was subsequently picked up for publication by Game Salute. Game Salute ran a very successful Kickstarter campaign for Chaos & Alchemy in the summer of 2013, and it should be coming out to backers and stores in the near future.
My second published game is a childrens’ card game called Otters, which I am publishing myself under Clay Crucible Games. I ran a successful but intentionally small Kickstarter campaign for Otters in February 2014, and I’m in the fulfillment process for that campaign now.
You’ve chosen an LLC for your business, even though you are a lone developer. Why did you go with this business entity, or any entity at all, and how did you go about it (hiring an attorney, doing it yourself, LegalZoom)?
I went with an LLC mainly to keep my business assets and liabilities separate from my personal assets and liabilities. It makes things easier for me to keep track of from a tax perspective, and it protects my personal assets in case I accidentally screw something up with Clay Crucible Games LLC and get sued.
As for how I did it, it was a piece of cake. I live in Colorado, so I went to the state web site for new businesses and registered my new LLC online (as well as registering for a state business sales tax license). It took about 15 minutes and cost about $50 (plus another $65 or so for the business license).
Can you tell us a bit about the Kickstarter campaign for Otters? What was the reasoning behind “going small” and do you think that had a lot to do with its success?
For Otters, I ran a Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal of just $1,000. I’m using DriveThruCards as my manufacturer, which means I could theoretically print as little as one deck (though the prices are better if you print at least 5,000 cards at a time – about 100 decks).
I had the luxury of “going small” because I didn’t need to hit a minimum print run of 1,000 or 5,000 copies of the game in order to make it work financially. I also didn’t have big expenses for art or non-card components (dice, boards, token, etc.).
Mainly, I didn’t want the Otters Kickstarter campaign to take over my life. I have a day job that I love, and I have a wife whom I love, and I have friends whom I love, etc. I didn’t want any of those things to suffer neglect just so I could publish Otters.
Having a small funding goal definitely helps a campaign succeed, especially since this was the first Kickstarter campaign I had run myself (Chaos & Alchemy was run by Game Salute, since they are the publisher on that one).
Note: Michael has a great post on his blog with more detail about why and how he ran the Otters campaign the way he did. Check it out!
How did you go about funding and getting Game Salute to publish Chaos & Alchemy?
Game Salute approached me. I was gearing up for my own Kickstarter campaign for Chaos & Alchemy, and one of the steps was approaching reviewers to have them review the game before the campaign launched. One of those reviewers had a close connection with Game Salute, and he liked Chaos & Alchemy enough that he recommended I talk to Game Salute about possibly publishing my game. I did, and they did!
That’s the end of Part I. I hope that other developers can take something away from all of the great advice that Michael gave. Stay tuned here, or subscribe below, to check out Part II and the other interviews I have lined up with other devs in the future. In the meantime, feel free to contact me if you want to set up a free consultation.