Sunday, April 14, 2019

Game Business: Starting the Business (Washington)

The first game that I'll offer for sale will be Slay The Oly Dragon; I expect it to make very very little money (reasons I'll go into in a future post). The steps to create the business have been very interesting, and I haven't found any step-by-step guide (free anyways) that details it out.

I've been debating whether or not to blog about my process of creating this game business. I'm not a lawyer or accountant or MBA holder or tax expert. I basically attempt to research something thoroughly enough that I become confident enough to do it myself. It doesn't always work but frequently does. (Coupled with very bad experiences with hiring contractors - I try to do as much as possible myself.)


So I think I'll go into my business creation process here to help others. I am NOT AN EXPERT - this is just (mostly) what I did. I say mostly, because it's just not practical to include everything. I'll be trying to hit the major points and smaller gotchas that may help others. If you saw me leave out something incredibly important and obvious and everyone should know; it's probably because I thought so too and didn't bother saying anything. (Or maybe I missed something and you should say it in the comments before I get audited. ;-) ) What I've done may be horribly wrong, so as I've said with electrical work - use me as just one more bullet point in your research.

Everything I say is based on United States & Washington State (and early 2019). Anywhere else... at anytime other time... I don't know... Also my goal is a simple one-man game design shop where I do not sell direct to consumers (very limited scope). It gets complicated fast once you sell direct to people.

The very first thing to do is pick a business name. Basically you have to have something that is unique in at least the fields you'll be operating in. For example: don't touch the word "Apple" with a ten foot poll if you're doing anything technology related.

At least for Washington, they recommend business searches local to the state and with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office:
https://bls.dor.wa.gov/addtradenames.aspx

Then (in Washington State) you submit a Business License Application with the Washington Business Licensing Serve at the Department of Revenue:
http://bls.dor.wa.gov/

It's quick and easy to apply online at "My DOR":
https://secure.dor.wa.gov/home/

In the application you'll include all possible trade names your business will use, whether its a Sole Proprietorship or Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), and the type of business activities you'll be performing. Sole Proprietorship is by far the easiest and cheapest to setup, but it also has the greatest liability in terms of lawsuits. LLC has much more overhead in setting up and running but it gives some protection from lawsuits affecting you personally. There are lots of websites that explain those in far more detail than I'll ever go in, so I'll move on now. The type of business you select determines the frequency Washington state wants your taxes reported.

After a couple weeks you'll get a fancy "Business License" with a UBI (Unified Business ID). On that license will include any trade names you submitted for and you'll be told your required tax reporting frequency.

When I received my license, the tax reporting was quarterly. Since I'm not expecting to make practically any money with this first game, that seemed a bit excessive. I called up the Washington Department of Revenue, and the reason it was quarterly reporting is because I picked business segments related to game sales. Washington state reasonably figured I'd be selling directly to customers and collecting sales tax and thus should report taxes on a fairly frequent basis.

 At this point, I need to go into how The Game Crafter works...

I design a game and compile all the artwork. I then upload it to their website and publish it as a game. People can go to thegamecrafter.com to order my game where it's printed on demand and mailed directly to them. I never deal directly with customers. The Game Crafter sends me a periodic royalty payment to pay me for my design.

From The Game Crafter website...



I called the Washington DOR (Department of Revenue) and read off how The Game Crafter works to them (Game Crafter collects the sales tax and sends me a royalty payment). The DOR agreed that the quarterly reporting was not necessary. In fact, since I'm only expecting to get a couple hundreds dollars a year (at best) for this first game, then my business can be downgraded to "Active Not Reporting". Washington does not require me to report my revenue until I hit $28,000. Just over the phone the DOR representative put in the change of status request for me!

https://dor.wa.gov/file-pay-taxes/filing-frequencies-due-dates/active-non-reporting


It took about 2 months for my reporting status to change from quarterly to "Active Non Reporting". But it's nice not having to worry about that.

If I ever do a Kickstarter for the game or anything similar where I'm selling directly to consumers, then I'll have to collect sales taxes and go back to the Department of Revenue to start regular reporting - even if I'm making very little revenue total.

I'd like to mention calling the Washington Department of Revenue to ask tax questions was an absolute breeze. Very little wait time (if any really) and friendly and helpful people. Don't be intimidated on calling them.

This is a common theme I've noticed online. Someone will ask a question on a forum and they're hammered with "if you don't know, call a professional attorney/tax specialist/electrician/whatever". My suggestion... do research yourself then just call up the government office directly. After I did the electrical calculations for my shop and was on the fence of 6/3 copper or thicker aluminum wiring, I called the county electrical inspector. The inspector said "I can't design your electrical wiring, but when I did mine on a similar project I used 6/3 copper." ;-) If after all that you're still not confident, you can always fall back to a professional!

Except for major plumbing, f plumbing.

Back on topic... according to The Game Crafter they'll be sending me a 1099 for federal tax filing, so that should be pretty straightforward... Report on my federal income tax return and pay taxes on the "self employment income" as appropriate.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Board Game: Slay the Oly Dragon Printed Prototype

I received the first professionally printed version of the game, and it looks fantastic!


I've been doing a LOT of play testing with it. With my family, friends, and even showing it at the local game store to strangers. Going to the game store for feedback was kind of a bust; since this is a family game it just wasn't the right audience. I've been getting great feedback from friends with families though.


Added some clarification to rules. Many changes to the artwork - shades of colors tweaked, fixed graphic artifacts, and added more detail. But the most time spent has been on balancing. I found the game to be too easy, so I bumped up the attack requirements for nearly every monster. It feels pretty good now, but it requires so many playthroughs to build up the confidence to say it's solid.

My computer RPG is on a very brief hold, but I will return to it!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Board Game: Slay the Oly Dragon Printing

First professionally printed version of "Slay the Oly Dragon" has been ordered! I'm a little behind schedule of where I wanted to be, but I should have the physical game in early March to begin play testing. I'll make adjustments if necessary from the play testing then post the game officially for sale.

The box front...


The box back...



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

RPG: Externalized Events

Latest change in the RPG has been externalizing both events and items into files that are loaded at startup. Now it's far easier for me to make complex events of when <X> happens then trigger <Y>. (And those can be compounded such that <X> and <Y> must happen to do <Z>.)

Every character and item in the game can have a tag. And events can be triggered based on the state of objects with a certain tag.

Here is the tutorial externalized...


And here is the first quest externalized...


The tags are assigned in the character list loaded at startup...


And here is the item list...


So that's what it looks like in the data files; what does it look like in the game?






Saturday, December 29, 2018

Board Game: Slay the Oly Dragon Artwork

The game mechanics for Slay the Oly Dragon have been firmed up and the new artwork is well underway. There was no chance it'd be done by Christmas, but a releasable product should be available in a few months. If I consider the prototype as version 1, then this first professionally printed game with actual artwork will be version 2. I'll do play tests with friends & family for awhile, make some adjustments, then hopefully have my purchasable version 3 as "final".

Teasers for the artwork...



Experimenting with using real world photos...


And finally a monster... (I actually have much better monster images made by a much more talented artist, but until everything is finalized I won't post them publicly.)


My goal is to have all artwork completed & printed game ordered by the end of January with friends & family play tests in February.

(Game images within this post are Copyright 2018 by Clinton Kam.)

Friday, November 30, 2018

RPG Tactics 2

In theory, all tactics are now in! I've already made and discarded a couple tactics I found lacking - so there could always be more adjustment in the future, but these are pretty solid.

The idea was to have 20 very distinct types of tactics a player can choose between. There are some similarities between a few of them, but really the goal is to offer several very different options for a player in a given scenario. Need to steal something that's being guarded? You could kill the person guarding it, charm them into liking you, go invisible and sneak past them, teleport in and out before they can react, or throw up vines to slow them down so you can run past.

They still need balancing, but here they are:


Row #1: General

Abilities that are non-magical.

Search

Search the ground for hidden items. After using, invisible items will suddenly appear.



Attack

Use your wielded weapon - sword or ranged weapon, or fists if unarmed.



Lock Pick

Pick the lock of a chest. (Unlocked chests can be opened with single left click. Locked chests must either be hit many times with a weapon or be lock picked.)



Repair

Repairs a broken item. Does not bring once living things back to life.



Charm

Attempts to convince a target creature to be friendly to you, if only temporary. Also improves your overall reputation with the target creature's allegiance.



Row #2: Arcane Spells (Wizard)

Abilities that come from the power within the person.

Light

Temporarily increases the vision range of the player.



Teleport

Instantly jump to somewhere else that you have vision on.



Fireball

Send a flaming projectile in a given direction. It explodes upon impact and causes damage to anything nearby.



Directed Energy

Send an energy beam in a given direction. Beam energy passes through creatures to continue damaging those behind.



Invisibility

Temporarily causes the player to be invisible - enemy creatures won't be able to see and attack the player.



Row #3: Divine Spells (Cleric)

Abilities that came from the power of a deity.

Heal

Heal yourself or a target character.



Protection

Create a protective ring around yourself or a target character.



Presence

Show the relative alignment of nearby characters.



Holy Bolt

Request a bolt of lightning to come down on a target character.



Resurrect

Bring a target person/creature back to life.



Row #4: Nature Spells (Druid)

Abilities that came from the Earth.

Regenerate

Cause a target plant to regrow.



Entangle

Creates vines out of the ground to slow down all creatures within an area for a short period of time.



Flame Wall

Create a ring of fire that causes continuous damage to anyone within it for a short period of time.



Blizzard

Create a snow storm that both damages and slows down anyone within it for a short period of time.



Summon Golem

Create an Earth Golem that fights your enemies for a short period of time.