Author Topic: Doing some market research ....  (Read 2350 times)

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wotmaniac

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Doing some market research ....
« on: October 04, 2011, 06:33:38 PM »
... and viability study.
And I would very much appreciate any and all feedback.

Here's the deal -- in a brainstorming session trying to figure out how to generate some supplemental income, I thought that perhaps there might be a market for custom gaming tables (albeit a small one).  As I see it, we have basically 3 options for game tables:
1) dropping a grid mat on an existing table
2) the Sultan
3) try to make your own (with infinitely-varying degrees of success/failure).
Surely, there needs to be something for the group that wants a solid, dedicated gaming table, but doesn't want to shell-out $10k.

So, I've got a "prototype", so to speak (read: my untrained attempt at building my own table 3 years ago).  I really learned a lot in that process; and have made a few notes over the last 3 years on what I'd do differently. (and the fact that I've since gotten some advice from an actual carpenter couldn't hurt my future endeavors).
For reference, you can see a few pics here, here, and here.

My basic concept, originally, was basically 3 features:
1) sliding drawers
2) full gridded top with wet/dry erase
3) minimal profile, to accommodate adequate leg clearance without having the top set too high
Some basic no/low cost modifications that would need to be made would include:
- deeper drawers (there's barely an inch clearance on the 4 side drawers -- would want to increase that to 2 inches)
- better legs/leg design (it's plenty sturdy enough ... the changes would be for aesthetics)
- wet/dry erase surface covering all the drawers (as-is, it's just the wood)
- dampening the play surface and drawer surfaces (just the wood is pretty loud and has lots of rebound) .... simply placing a piece of fabric between the wood and the mat does wonders.
- aesthetic improvements all around (as-is, since I was making this for just myself, I cared only for functionality -- prettying it up should be fairly simple).
- include a push-pull stick (kinda like what's used at craps tables)
- various battlemat options; e.g., smaller/larger grid, hexes, reversible, etc.

I would be offering several models (most of the variation would be in the size).  Sizes would included: 4x4 ; 4x6 (standard model, pictured) ; 4x8 ; 3x5 (for smaller rooms).  Varying heights would also be available.

So, what I'm looking for is this:
- general thoughts on design
- other improvements and/or added features (keep in mind, I'm not trying to compete with the Sultan -- I'm aiming for a price point of around $700-$800 for the standard table)
- specific aesthetic improvements
- foreseeable viability at suggested price point.
- possible supplemental products that I could make myself (I've already thought about dice bags; but I'm kinda stuck after that)
I don't expect to be able to quit my job with this (though that would be nice); but if I could average 15-20 orders/year

I've also considered also having just the professional-grade blueprints available (for a price), for the DIY types who just can't be bothered with actually designing such a table, but still want the cost savings of the DIY.
The table would ship fully assembled, except for the legs, which can be easily screwed on in a matter of 2 minutes or less (leg removal would be just as easy, allowing greater flexibility in storage/transport).
If I determine that this is indeed viable, then I'll be making 2-3 more in the near future (perhaps around the first of the year) -- this would serve a couple of purposes: 1) practice refinement, 2) display/promo models.  I foresee having the website up and running by March, ready to take orders.

I very much look forward to hearing your thoughts.
This is very much a serious and genuine business venture proposal, so pulling your punches is strictly forbidden.
Thanks.

[spoiler]
If you stop ignoring 289 pages telling what the intent is to stretch "more power" in your own god complexion of your interpretation trumps all to cover ability adjustments from aging then I will ignore a quarter page of rules that exist within a sidebar.
I think in this case the grammar is less important than whether the Str and Dex bonus provided to your created undead scales.

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wotmaniac

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #1 on: October 09, 2011, 10:43:52 PM »
Okay, it seems that discussion on this has picked-up over on a couple of other sites: here, here, and here.
At this point, I'd probably prefer to relegate things to over there; but feel free to chime in here if you like.

Thanks.

[spoiler]
If you stop ignoring 289 pages telling what the intent is to stretch "more power" in your own god complexion of your interpretation trumps all to cover ability adjustments from aging then I will ignore a quarter page of rules that exist within a sidebar.
I think in this case the grammar is less important than whether the Str and Dex bonus provided to your created undead scales.

Greenbound Summoning RAI
Expanded Gestalt
More Savage Progressions[/spoiler]
Report any wrongs I have done here.

Monotremeancer

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2011, 01:53:19 PM »
An idea might be a small whiteboard that a GM can use for quick notes that he won't have to save (current monster HP and such). It will save a lot of paper in the long run
Who cares for realism when you can be awesome?

wotmaniac

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2011, 05:10:25 PM »
An idea might be a small whiteboard that a GM can use for quick notes that he won't have to save (current monster HP and such). It will save a lot of paper in the long run

Like this?:
Quote from: wotmaniac
- wet/dry erase surface covering all the drawers (as-is, it's just the wood)
:p

My proposition allows for the entire pull-out surface to be usable as such.


Thanks.
Please, keep it coming.

[spoiler]
If you stop ignoring 289 pages telling what the intent is to stretch "more power" in your own god complexion of your interpretation trumps all to cover ability adjustments from aging then I will ignore a quarter page of rules that exist within a sidebar.
I think in this case the grammar is less important than whether the Str and Dex bonus provided to your created undead scales.

Greenbound Summoning RAI
Expanded Gestalt
More Savage Progressions[/spoiler]
Report any wrongs I have done here.

archangel.arcanis

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2011, 05:35:02 PM »
Take a router to the edges to round them out. It can even make it look rather fancy depending on what kind of bit you use. It probably shouldn't take more than a few minutes to do that and I think would add a lot to the aesthetics as well as alleviate the sharp edge to forearm issue.

Also it is hard to tell from the pictures but have you considered simply having the battle mat be a clear piece of plastic or glass? Then you can place whatever is needed under it, being larger/smaller/hex.
« Last Edit: October 11, 2011, 05:46:30 PM by archangel.arcanis »
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altpersona

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2011, 05:51:16 PM »
imo next to the sultan, that i would never pay money for...

i like this


need to remove the bumpers, and make some inserts for it, white board , chalk board, hex grid, square grid... those sorta inserts. the inserts should be two sided and easy to lift out/flip over. maybe just have them be round to sit on top of the regular cover surface...

my 2c.


also, paying for it would damper my enthusiasm.
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wotmaniac

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2011, 02:12:13 AM »
Take a router to the edges to round them out. It can even make it look rather fancy depending on what kind of bit you use. It probably shouldn't take more than a few minutes to do that and I think would add a lot to the aesthetics as well as alleviate the sharp edge to forearm issue.
That's pretty much what we've come to.  I'll be doing some more research on the issue in the very near future.
We also thought about perhaps adding some designs burned in with a wood-burner. :shrug

Quote
Also it is hard to tell from the pictures but have you considered simply having the battle mat be a clear piece of plastic or glass? Then you can place whatever is needed under it, being larger/smaller/hex.
It's not actually a "board", per sa. It's actually a custom job .... The grid is printed on a sheet of heavy-duty paper (either blueprint paper or map paper -- I forget), and then laminated with a fairly heavy-duty laminate that is specifically made to be used with wet and dry erase markers; and then secured to the top of the table's surface. Incidentally, even permanent marker is easily removed with generic window cleaner (but is immune to water/soda -- for when you want to draw a map/dungeon/etc that you want to stay on the board for a while) -- try that with whiteboard/plexiglass. It is easily removable/interchangeable.
As for durability, mine has been through 3 years of heavy use, and still looks as new as the day I made it. Obviously, you can't go out of your way to intentionally beat it up (which is true for any surface); but if you do, I'll have replacements available (takes less than a minute to change). I've actually been quite surprised (and pleasantly so) at the durability of this thing.
I had considered several different play surfaces, and my evaluation went a little like this:
- whiteboard : easily scratched, and scratches are painfully obvious ; ones of that size were prohibitively expensive ; lack of marker versatility
- glass : very heavy ; fragile (tempered glass is stronger, but is prohibitively expensive) ; marker versatility is hit-or-miss, depending on the specifics of the type of glass you use
- plexiglass : easily scratched, and scratches are quite obvious ; prone to chipping/cracking ; lack of marker versatility ; depending on the thickness, still more expensive (and potentially excessively heavy)
Given this, I find that the surface I went with to be superior in every practical way. And practicality is part of what I'm going for.



i like this


need to remove the bumpers, and make some inserts for it, white board , chalk board, hex grid, square grid... those sorta inserts. the inserts should be two sided and easy to lift out/flip over. maybe just have them be round to sit on top of the regular cover surface...
Perhaps I could offer custom shaped mats (such as to fit the table pictured)?  It wouldn't be that hard.

Interestingly enough, we had actually discussed a hex/octo design.  Our initial assessment was that we would simply be over-complicating our manufacturing process.  We may revisit this.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2011, 02:15:26 AM by wotmaniac »

[spoiler]
If you stop ignoring 289 pages telling what the intent is to stretch "more power" in your own god complexion of your interpretation trumps all to cover ability adjustments from aging then I will ignore a quarter page of rules that exist within a sidebar.
I think in this case the grammar is less important than whether the Str and Dex bonus provided to your created undead scales.

Greenbound Summoning RAI
Expanded Gestalt
More Savage Progressions[/spoiler]
Report any wrongs I have done here.

Monotremeancer

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2011, 05:26:19 PM »
An idea might be a small whiteboard that a GM can use for quick notes that he won't have to save (current monster HP and such). It will save a lot of paper in the long run

Like this?:
Quote from: wotmaniac
- wet/dry erase surface covering all the drawers (as-is, it's just the wood)
:p

My proposition allows for the entire pull-out surface to be usable as such.


Thanks.
Please, keep it coming.
:banghead I should have re-read all the ideas once more after contemplating the issue for two days.

Still, it might be a good idea to allow you to have a board you could angle slightly. If it's horizontal you will sooner or later put your elbows there for support and you will probably erase your oh so precious notes. And I do not know about you guys, but I am more comfortable writing at an angle rather than a horizontal surface.

Quote from: wotmaniac
Interestingly enough, we had actually discussed a hex/octo design.  Our initial assessment was that we would simply be over-complicating our manufacturing process.  We may revisit this.
There is nothing stopping you from offering a few different models. For someone plays in larger groups, that would probably be quite useful.

Adding small decorations made from veneer is always a good idea.
Who cares for realism when you can be awesome?

wotmaniac

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Re: Doing some market research ....
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2011, 01:56:27 AM »
Still, it might be a good idea to allow you to have a board you could angle slightly.
Any ideas on how to make this work?  I like the concept, but I'm a little stumped at the moment on how to make it work without either over-complicating things or compromising the strength of the tray.
I'll be hitting the drawing board hard and heavy this weekend.

Quote
Quote from: wotmaniac
Interestingly enough, we had actually discussed a hex/octo design.  Our initial assessment was that we would simply be over-complicating our manufacturing process.  We may revisit this.
There is nothing stopping you from offering a few different models. For someone plays in larger groups, that would probably be quite useful.
My major concern is cost of start-up (as I will initially be financing everything with my current meager income).  Every model (after developing the plans) will first need a "proof of concept" model built, and then (once the model is determined to be "market ready") templates will need to be made.  Unfortunately, several-hundred extra dollars is just not a luxury I have right now.
Once everything is up and running, I may be able to develop various new models as time goes on; but right now, I think I may just have to go with my first 4 models to start.

Quote
Adding small decorations made from veneer is always a good idea.
I just need to make sure that it doesn't look chintzy.  But yes, fancying it up is definitely a must.
(it's just that when I hear the word "veneer", I kinda cringe -- in my head, the word has become synonymous with the cheap mass-produced crap  ....  of course, that just may all be in my head)

------------

Oh, and while it hasn't been mentioned here, I've repeatedly gotten responses in regards to sturdiness (or apparent lack of).  Check this out:
1) this is 110 pounds of iron setting on a single fully-extended shelf ;
2) this is 600 pounds of humanity just chillin' out on the top of the table (2 of my players)
 :D

[spoiler]
If you stop ignoring 289 pages telling what the intent is to stretch "more power" in your own god complexion of your interpretation trumps all to cover ability adjustments from aging then I will ignore a quarter page of rules that exist within a sidebar.
I think in this case the grammar is less important than whether the Str and Dex bonus provided to your created undead scales.

Greenbound Summoning RAI
Expanded Gestalt
More Savage Progressions[/spoiler]
Report any wrongs I have done here.