JOURNALIST • EDITOR • DIGITAL STORYTELLING
SANTA CRUZ — Picture yourself stranded in a lifeboat of people amid shark-infested waters trying to paddle ashore, throw in a few torrential storms, food hoarders, pirate attacks and a bout of the crazies and you’ve got yourself a new locally produced card game that is hitting the shelves this month.Oar Else!, with its cartoon-like style presentation, is a cooperative strategy card game just released by local independent producer Flatcar6 Studios.
A project of devoted card-playing fans, Julia Huff, Bob Heubel and Jason Fleming, the fast-playing game allows two to five players to cooperate or abandon ship one-by-one to try to reach shore with the most points.
It’s been a three-year labor of love, Huff said last week from her studio in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The three gamers, who met at a tech company in San Jose, decided to create their own card game, then set about strategizing. They liked the idea that cooperative play would be a possible winning strategy. It took them about a year to bring together the basic ideas and another six months to work on the unique artwork with cartoonist Mike Gray of Pencil For Hire.
“Players can work in a group or go it alone,” said Huff, who has run her own web design business since 2005.
Strategy and designing the game “was a piece of cake,” Huff said. “I really thrive on those things.”
She decided to produce the game herself and the trio tested and refined the game with dozens of players. Then came the task of funding the project and marketing it through social media avenues.
“I’m learning new things,” she said.
Earlier this year, they continued testing the game at a table at KublaCon, a West Coast gaming convention, and last month, Huff opened the first box of cards. They are on the shelves locally at Comicopolis and Mythic Games in Santa Cruz. Mythic Games is hosting an in-store introductory play 5-6 p.m., Tuesday. This is Huff’s first venture into the marketing world on behalf of her product and she describes it as “a crash course in sales and marketing.” Local video producer BlueOnly.tv helped shoot promotional videos and her co-creators have been onboard teaching and testing the game as much as possible.
“It’s a tremendous amount of work to be a one-man band doing it all,” Huff said.
Troy Geddes, co-owner of Comicopolis said he heard about the game from a customer and contacted Huff to get copies for his Santa Cruz store.
“It looks like it will be a fun game to play,” Geddes said. “It’s so polished and professional looking.”
Huff is gearing up for the Alternative Press Expo ComicCon in San Francisco this weekend where they will be at booth No. 716B. Artist Mike Gray will be nearby at booth No. 508 for fans who want a personalized signed deck of Oar Else! cards.
Follow Sentinel correspondent Jennifer Pittman at Twitter.com/jenniferpittman
At a glance
WHAT: FlatCar6 Studios is a Santa Cruz County-based web development company that has evolved into an independent eLearning materials and educational game creation company providing project management, web programming and instructional design. Flatcar6 Studio also produces the Coffee Contrails podcast, (http://www.coffeecontrails.com) an ongoing production of original noir and sci-fi radio plays.
HEADQUARTERS: P.O. Box 486, Campbell, CA 95009
INFORMATION: email@example.com, flatcar6studios.com, www.oarelse.com
HISTORY: Founded by Julia Huff in 2005. Huff has produced Oar Else!
OAR ELSE!: A 122-card cooperative strategy game co-created by Huff with Bob Heubel and Jason Fleming. Artist Mike Gray, of Pencil For Hire, designed the artwork on the playing cards. The game is for adults and children 8 years and up
GAME DEMO: 5″“6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8, Mythic Games, 149 S. River St., Santa Cruz (10 percent discount offered) 831-600-7451.
WHERE TO BUY: Retailers Mythic Games and Comicopolis in Santa Cruz and online atwww.flatcar6studios.com