HISTORY OF THE GAME:
October 2003 Mike Pierson and I were partners in a design firm we owned called LETHAL MEDIA in Oakland CA. We were doing a lot of things in the music industry (Websites, Logos, and Packaging mostly for lots of independent labels)...
One day we were sitting around discussing games of different sorts and I mentioned TCG/CCGs like MAGIC the Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon to Mike to see if he'd like to duel me cause these games were a lot of fun. Mike dismissed me with a wave of his hand and laughed "Man I don't play magical fantasy things like that." Then it hit me like a lightning bolt. "What if there was a gangsta card game, one that had some serious urban stuff in it? Like gangs and Pimps and Cops...?" He paused and thought about it. "Hmmm... I guess I'd check it out then." So I got started designing the basic infrastructure of what was to be known as The STREET WARriorS. The early test versions of the game were a huge success with various folks who were introduced to it (urban non-card players), and so both Mike and I began laying out the base rules and marketing strategy. Soon after, my wife Irene got involved adding her 2 cents...
We decided we wanted to do the gaming thing full time and phased out LETHAL MEDIA and created LETHAL ENTERTAINMENT, INC. I discovered my wife was pregnant and we decided since I was going to work on this full time we should move to a location where I could work the long hours and still manage the finances.
So we moved to "BFE" with my wife's sister and I set up the lab in the basement and development went hard and furious...
Over 3,000 hours went into the initial design of STREET WARriorS with all of the design work being done by me. During the development we were fortunate enough to meet with some great people like Chris, Dave, and James. They have been more help then they know and schooled us on what we needed to do from the business end of things to get funded and run things correctly...
The development of STREET WARrioRS was by far the hardest thing I have ever done and the most rewarding. There were three PCs rendering around the clock and mad amounts of Coke and Dr. Pepper were consumed. Mike and Irene kept me honest as I slaved away not letting me cut corners or lose sight of the vision...
October 2004, I finished the final character and did a little jig.
I had finished the design and then the tedious Q&A commenced. Irene, James Lin, (and a small army of friends and family) tore each card apart and checked and rechecked until everyone was satisfied... But there was a small problem, the game was a little too edgy for some of the early investors/advisors and James warned it would be a bad thing to be too over the top and he was right. Yes, it's true we had some seriously foul language in there (At least 20-30 "F" bombs...)
And so after some serious thought and discussion we edited ourselves down.
We shopped around looking for the best printers in the industry... We found some really great folks at UVColor and PBM Graphics who were very helpful to us, and assisted us on every aspect of the submission.
Notable folks like Nate, Andy and Mike at UVColor are deserving of a serious thank yous. I had done all the design work but when it came to doing holofoil cards and the actual final edits I didn't know what to do next and needed some help. Nate and Andy walked me through and explained everything to me. Also Greg, Bonnie, Will, and WC from PBM Graphics handled the other end of the business with Packaging and layout and sorting strategies.
Let's just say for us being a small fish in a big pond, they treated us very well and we just want to publicly say they seriously rock and are true professionals which I highly recommend to anyone who is crazy enough to attempt the same thing we did!
The Alpha sets arrived at my sister’s house in Utah and we didn’t have the money all up front to do the final box and the shrink wrapped cards, so we did the cards first and then the inserts and finally the box. The only problem was, they all had to be put together. So Mike had a batch and I had the rest. We spent a month and a half stuffing boxes and sealing them. Murphy’s Law kicked in and we found that the clear sealing tape we used was peeling off, so we had to redo them all…
We went to the Gama trade show and listened to what everyone was saying and when we mentioned we had a new TCG coming out a lot of people laughed out loud. It was kinda obvious by the crowd that we were outsiders. I didn’t really care. I was on a mission. We managed to get some meetings with Scrye Magazine and Inquest. And we announced we were going to launch the Alpha version at the ORIGINS tradeshow.
I wanted to have a soundtrack to go along with the game and felt it was important because a simple flyer was destined to be floor trash, but an Audio CD with an interactive demo would get checked out. I made sure that the link on the CD would go to a special marked page for tracking purposes. I reached out to some seriously talented bands and they agreed to provide the tracks to us. The soundtrack turned out awesome!
We wanted to get some exposure and we hadn’t finished raising money for the big push and we needed some sort of a press kit which would stand out and make people take notice. I wracked my brain and was coming up blank. Irene suggested we use evidence bags and I was like “You’re a genius!” I convinced a company to sell us real evidence bags and we made up the kits (which included, wrist bands that said “I’m a Player”, a T-Shirt, 2 Decks, The Soundtrack, a One Sheet, Biz Cards and Flyers) and sent them out to various magazines, newspapers, etc.
While we prepared for the ORIGINS trade show we went to E3 and had our street teams and met with a bunch of folks to discuss the possibility of STREET WARriorS becoming a video game. While we were inside shopping the IP our team was outside spreading the word. It was pretty cool.
We didn’t land a video game deal, but we kept pushing ahead. The launch was in June and we had a lot of press going into the show. Scrye #85, Inquest #124 (Mistress Rose was on the Polybag!) and TCG Player Magazine #4 we had a cover lead-in.
ORIGINS was at Columbus Ohio and we set up and really didn’t know what to expect and we were slammed from day one. We only had a 10’x10’ booth and it was hard to do the demos. Some people waited almost two hours to get a demo. We were small but we made noise!!! We gave demos, and worked our asses off. After everything was done I’d go back to the hotel and update the website with coverage from the shows.
By the end of the show I was exhausted. We had people from England come special to see us and they ordered 100 pieces. One player bought one deck, and came back and bought two more and then eight and on the last day of the show bought twenty more decks. Our players were hardcore.
The next show we did was San Diego Comic-Con. It was a last second opening, and we took it. We had really bad placement since we were at the opposite end of gaming and were placed by Cartoon Networks Adult Swim which blocked us at one end and collectible toys on the other. So our foot traffic was light, but we used the slow show to allow us to go and get our hustle on and we met with some good people and it was awesome to be back in California. My wife and kids got a chance to see dad work and they had fun as well.
GenCon Indy was the next tradeshow we did and it was also our first tournament we threw, as well as updated rules which were needed because player feedback was almost overwhelming. We modified our layout of the booth a little and it was starting to become old hat for us. We had good placement this time and also had a gaming room that we were allowed to do our tournament in. A lot of people we met at ORIGINS and ComicCon showed up and hung out with us. Some players like Tom drove 6 hours from his home after getting off of work just so he could compete. After he dominated and won the event he drove back home so he could get ready for work the next day!
The final show we did was GenCon SoCal, and for that show we pulled out all the stops. We had a larger booth 30’x30’ and had all of our product on display (Hats, T-Shirts, The Game, etc.) and we were right across from Upper Deck.
We also threw a concert called “Rock the Con” and had a few of the bands featured on the soundtrack rock the house.
After that show we regrouped and tried to find more ways to get the message out. We were able to negotiate with EIDOS to get one of their characters from the 25 to Life video game in the STREET WARriorS game. I was just finishing up the final new characters for the First Edition set and we got the card insert added into the PC boxed version of the game.
Unfortunately we ran out of funding and the rollercoaster ride came to an end.
Those were some of the most stressful, fun, exciting times in my life. I learned a lot from STREET WARriorS and look forward to more adventures like it…