Cardset creation trials and tribulations

I want to expound on creating cardsets. Customers love new sets, it really doesn’t matter the year, anything new will find an audience.
Cardsets for Football Bones are a very detailed and expansive process. They take well over 200 hours to create and at times are not a labor of love, rather are akin to root canal.

Retro sets are a whole other ballgame, so to speak, they can be a tremendous drag to undertake. Finding data to build cards can be a torturous endeavor. In all sports the level of detail and stats has risen dramatically. Rotisserie baseball has alot to do with it. As a player of the original rotisserie in the mid-80s I can attest to the fact that the newspapers added inches for stats and magazines were born. Bill James came to mass popularity off of rotisserie baseball. Soon all the sports had statheads combing through and adding masses of data. With the internet the explosion was complete as millions more joined the ranks of fantasy players and stats, of any kind were sought. Anyway, back on point. All of the sports games we make and play today are stat driven, in creation, in game outcome, they all rely on stats. When stats aren’t available then other sources are dredged. I can’t tell you how many stories I read from the 72 and 81 seasons to determine sacks and other details.

The man hours we put into the work sometimes feels like a black hole, until you come across a nugget, some small detail that makes us think back to the season or player. For me making the 81 season was Chuck Muncie passing as I made the set. I was working on the running backs and reading articles when news of his passing popped up. I had to stop and pause to remember Chuck running on the field, it brought a tear to my eye and helped to refocus my energy.
When a customer says great job, or I see a write-up on a game from a retro set, I immediately look to the stats and then read the story, wondering “was the set any good, did the player enjoy the experience”.

Undertaking a just completed season is a different task, at least for me. Stats are readily available, maybe not in the best form, but they are there for the digesting. With the 2013 football season I have almost completed the set with the Super Bowl yet to kickoff. I take extra precautions to not let my recent memory cloud the cards. It’s very easy to watch a game and listen to the announcers and assume they are correct in the split-second analysis they tell. So everything I do, I make sure to do it blind without player name until the final review. Then I may tweak a number here or there.
Cardset creation can be a hassle, but it can also be fun. Hockey Bones cards are a collaborative effort, roughly 40% of the card is subjective ratings. The model works because I get many people involved, from casual fan to hockey professional. They all understand the game both real and tabletop and lend credence to the ratings with valuable insight and opinion. We even built a website so more people can be involved and we get even better detail. The model works, it won’t change under my watch, and I hope never.

The one constant across all sports is the customer. If you make a good set they will buy it. If its a bad set, they will not. Sometimes its the set chosen, maybe its recent, like a couple years old, maybe its from a season that wasn’t outstanding or lacked star power. Either way, its a tightrope, lots of hours for a great return or lots of hours for little to no return. I can tell you that lots of hours for little return, makes more sets less likely. Its very hard to devote so much time and energy for a losing proposition.

Back to the 2013 Football Bones set. When I completed the 2012 set, I knew immediately I wanted to make changes in process and presentation. Retro sets aren’t possible to make the changes but as 2013 loomed I started to make a list and work out the mechanics. I changed the punting, kickoffs, and returners, qb cards, and a few other things. All to make a better game. That is the ultimate aim for anyone making a cardset. A better game.