The humble beginnings...

Being avid long time strategy gamers, we were looking for social things to do on the weekends now that we have kids.  I came up with the idea of a “game night“.  Everyone brought their kids over for dinner, the kids got “movie time“ at 7:30 while the parents ate, then at 9 the kids would have a sleepover upstairs.  I would open up the new tiki room bar and we started playing old board games.  Then we started buying games.  Lots of games.  All of which is chronicled at www.basementgamers.com  This continued on for years...

Late July 2003, I am having a party in my tiki lounge (pictures also available at www.basementgamers.com).  It is a nice night, so we are having our rum punch (Trader Vic’s) on the back deck with a fire in the chimena when Don starts talking about an idea for our own game.  He did not have a name, but it was about shipping cotton in the post revolutionary war era.  I did not like that at all theme wise, and quickly suggested alternatives.  A friend of ours was piping in with some interesting suggestions.  

I would love to be able to tell you that we started SDR Games for the same reason the Ramones formed. (They put together a band because they wanted to hear music that they could not get on the radio.)  But I can’t really say that.  There was a plethora of good games out there and the ability to get even the German ones.  Still, I missed the golden age of American board games with their elaborate themes and over the top graphics.  To this day, one of my favorite games of all time is “Careers”.  (I own 4 versions, since it was undated every 5-10 years based on changing career tracks.)

The next day (a Sunday!), we start serious discussing the mechanics.  We arrange a quick mock-up featuring plastic novelty champagne glasses as trucks, pennies as whiskey crates, and a hand drawn poster board for speakeasies.  Steve is hard at work with us, being sucked into the process like a farm animal picked up in a tornado.  “Hey, what’s Steve doing here?”  Before we started game night, Steve was an avid game HATER.  And here he is, joining us based on nothing more than the thought of doing this based on the stories he heard of the party “he missed”.  Amazing.

Later that same month, we decide we are going to finish this game.  By the end of August, Bootleggers (working title) is coming together very nicely.  We take it to the annual Camp Lucky camping fest and play it with some friends.  They “like it“, but it still needs lots of work.  

My wife and I are planning a RARE getaway to Chicago for the weekend.  We plan it for Labor Day weekend.  Two weeks later I find out about a game developer convention and all heck breaks loose.  Suddenly the entire SDR design team is on our vacation trip!

At the Chicago International Toy and Game Fair, we run into Eagle Games.  We spend most of our time just talking to the founder Glenn and their artist Paul about games and sharing stories about our favorites.  We buy copies of ATTACK! (and they autograph them!)  Later, we are talking with them again about games and we mention that we are actually designing one.  We decided to come to see if we were insane or way out of our league.  We conclude that although there are many games on the market, our game did stand up well against them.  Especially against the guy with “super checkers”.  Actually we were encouraged as our game seemed better than a good many of them.  We say our goodbyes and Eagle’s President, Glenn gives us his contact information and says to call them in the future when we have a game.  We smile and thank everyone.

The next morning at Starbucks we are staring up at a Chicago Skyscraper and I come up with the idea for Corporate Climbers.  Don later adds this wonderful “project hours” mechanic and the game falls into place.  It is a distraction to the seemingly endless hours of tweaking Bootleggers.

In the fall months, we also come up with other game ideas.  We bring a total of 4 to fruition.  Bootleggers, Corporate Climber, Fallen Idols and Maltese Falcon.  The latter two are great concepts, but in questionable states of maturity.  We contact Eagle and reintroduce ourselves.  We are shocked to learn that everyone remembers us.  In this business, what were the chances we would run into a class act like Eagle games?!  Like drawing to a belly-buster straight and hitting it!  We finally manage to schedule some demo time in their secret Chicago location.  (It’s so secret, the address did NOT officially exist!)

We set our expectation as normal people should.  We are there to show off our games, have fun, and expect nothing more than a “Nice game guys, see you next year” type of result…
After brewing coffee and opening the donuts, we demo Bootleggers, Corporate Climber, and Fallen Idols.  Fallen Idols just isn’t working as well as it should and it’s obvious that the players want it to be different than it is (the current version is nothing like this version was).  Corporate Climber plays well and we have a laugh riot, but it’s just not the type of game that excited Eagle.  Bootleggers, however, really captured their imagination.  We played a couple of times and talked about what components would look like (a good sign).  All in all, we had a lot of fun playing games with the Eagle Games staff.  That and we just plain liked them.

A few days later I get and email from Eagle offering to publish Bootleggers.  Wow.  What a rush.  The staff really liked the game and its market potential.  We recommitted ourselves to play testing and polishing the game…

A month or so later, we return with updated rules and clarification and Eagle has some preliminary sketches of components.  We are in awe (all hail the artist known as Paul).   We play test more with staff and the game is really working well.  We are now shooting for a GenCon release date.  (Later, we will miss that date and target a more realistic date before Essen.)  But we are going to run demos at Origins and have pre-sell sheets and a real component game to demo at GenCon.  At this point, I discover RSS blogs and thus ends this chapter…
Blog Entries (2004-2008)
Sold another Title!  by reifler on 4/3/2008
SDR Games - news and diary
Well, we caught a break as Simply Fun 'discovered' one of our prototypes in their old GenCon stuff. Turns out it was Canoe Race and they loved it. So, after the expected paperwork, we have sold a second game.

It will go through a name change... Kayak Chaos!
By reifler on 7/10/2007
SDR Games - news and diary

We got ourselves in front of some publishers and even got some playtesting done. More than one publisher was interested in Charlestown! Since we dont believe in bidding wars or other games, first publisher with an offer is going to get this gem!
Pirates morphs into Outlaws
By reifler on 6/10/2007
SDR Games - news and diary

When the pirates game license died, we ripped apart the game and rebuilt it on the Wild West. It fell together quickly as the theme works better with the mechanics! We now have another title close to complete!
Looking for a new publisher
By reifler on 3/11/2007
SDR Games - news and diary

Its killing my now that Eagle is no more. Pirates is done, Jet Set is awesome and complete, and the other games like Wanted are truly original designs! Nothing out there is like Wanted!

Plus, Charlestown Exchange was print ready! Graphics and all! Heck we even thought about self publishing.

Who wants to publish these gems?!
Pirates takes a turn for the better
By reifler on 7/26/2006
SDR Games - news and diary

Suddenly I have gone from pessimistic to optimistic. The project is not dead. There are still hurdles in testing, licensing and publishing but I can say this. It is a good game, its playable, and its fun. And it has a honest shot at being picked up.

I have more information, but its not for me to disclose. As news breaks, check back here for more updates.

NOTE: SDR Games still has excellent titles that are completely finished and ready for production. Some of the titles are very original in both concept and game mechanics. And one publisher can't publish all of them. Hopefully, SDR can get some of these wonderful titles into a publisher's pipeline.

Charlestown Exchange and Jet Set Resorts are particularly good. Wanted! is a new original mechanic. (and that is saying something in 2006). They wait for the right opportunity.
Pirates at Risk
By reifler on 4/24/2006
SDR Games - news and diary

I dont know if anyone is reading this, but I will say this. Our design for a pirate game is pretty good. And it looks more and more like Eagle is going to make a mistake and pass on it. If you want to publish an excellent pirate themed game, its up for grabs.
By reifler on 1/25/2006
SDR Games - news and diary

Well, SDR has secretly been working on Pirates for months now. The first version was rejected by the publisher. This ended up being a great break, since the second version is far superior. I could write pages here, but I just want to put in a place holder until the deal is done. Then, I will return to the blog and do a mass update.
Railroad Tycoon
By reifler on 8/24/2005
SDR Games - news and diary
Our design was a muddled mess and was scrapped. Obviosuly the original designer coming in and updating the property for Eagle was a coup. We were glad to step out of the way and return to our titles under development.
A quarterly update
By reifler on 5/3/2005
SDR Games - news and diary

We are in the final stages of testing 6 titles. We don't know if Eagle will be interested, as they are growing so fast, they may not be able to publish our stuff in the Bootleggers model. Maybe a joint, maybe another publisher, who knows. But we are polishing are getting our prototypes show ready. We will be at Origins either way. And heck, why not? We have been nominated for game of the year. But, we are against everyone's love child, "Ticket to Ride". A cute, well thought out, and in my opinion, just a bit vanilla, juggernaught. Oh well, its an honor just to be nominated, right? Another good user review at boardgamegeek.com

Reviews continue to be positive, and I am hopeful that the game continues to sell as I think very few will be disappointed. It's just plain fun.
What lies ahead
By reifler on 12/17/2004
SDR Games - news and diary

Went to Chicago for the Eagle Christmas poker launch party. Annie Duke was a fun celebrity to have and the whole thing was a big coup for Eagle and their poker game. I never got a hand better than ATd all night, and after an hour had about 3500 chips (2200 to start). But when some guy on my right decided to go all-in in the dark 3 hands in a row, I decided to call him down with A5d in the BB (everyone else had folded). Turns out he flips up his cards blind and has 55. Can you believe that? I had only 1 live card. I hit nothing and I was out. Still, the other SDR guys did better and Steve made it to the 2/3rds mark.

Saturday, we were going to show Glenn our new pipeline, but Annie wanted him to escort her around Chicago. It was difficult to take, as we laid out a lot of money to go down there, but the poker party was fun and later that night we all went to dinner and drinks with Eagle. Still, Glenn did get to see much of Railroad Tycoon, but his Marketing guy got to play it with us.