tabletop season three

How busy have I been? So busy that I forgot to write a blog about TableTop Season 3, and how you can help make it happen.

tl;dr: We’re crowdfunding Tabletop’s 3rd season. We’ve raised $500,000, so we can afford to do 15 episodes. If we get to $750,000, we’ll have enough to do 20 episodes (like seasons one and two), and if we get to one million dollars, we can afford to do the RPG spin off that I’ve wanted to do for years (a season-long campaign, cut into about 20 or so 40-minute-ish episodes with the same players, characters, and GM).

Here’s a spiffy video I made about it:

(Don’t read the comments; they will make you mad. Or, if you’re me, they’ll make you sad, because a lot of people don’t understand television production, and how much shows cost, so they yell at you a lot, based on presumptions that turn out to be wrong.)

Because we’re going completely independent , we can do some things we’ve always wanted to do, like an episode that’s me, Anne, and our kids. We’re also going to do a special episode that’s just a game or two for children, played with children, because thousands of people have asked me what I recommend they play with their kids.

We’re also going to do the SUPER DIRTY and PROFOUNDLY INAPPROPRIATE “TableTop After Dark” episode, where we play Cards Against Humanity. There may be beer and a couple of dirty comedians involved. This will be the episode that likely makes the world hate me forever.

We have a bunch of perks for people who choose to contribute various amounts to our effort, but I want to be really clear that we’re making Tabletop for everyone who loves it, whether they can give us zero or infinity dollars.

I’m not entirely positive when we’ll be filming the first 10 episodes, but I know we’re going to try to get them done soon, so we can release them later this summer. A lot of that schedule is going to be determined by how busy I am with The Wil Wheaton Project.

There have been a lot of FAQs about this campaign, so we did our best to answer them in the standard way:

Why are you going Independent?

Felicia: Geek and Sundry (and Tabletop) up until now was funded by YouTube’s original channel initiative, which is not continuing to go forward anymore. We have been talking to a bunch of partners and are excited about some of our options to continue G&S as a company, but Wil (and we) were passionate about being able to keep Tabletop on schedule to release more episodes this year, and stay independent of influence to change the show for sponsor/commercial reasons. That is why we are fundraising like this.

Wil: We want to make the same TableTop that we’ve made for two seasons, and give our audience something that we’re proud of, and we wanted to do that without compromising our vision for the show. The quickest and most reliable way to make that happen was to go directly to the people who love TableTop as much as we do, and ask them to help us make our third season as awesome as our first two.

Why are you asking for so much money?

Felicia: This show is a standout for a reason: We pay professional people to make it. It’s polished and stands next to TV show quality because we wanted to make something long-lasting, and impact in a big way, like a TV show when we conceived it. To put it in perspective: The average 30 second commercial you see on TV? Costs 1-3 million dollars. EACH. The average 1/2 hour comedy? 2-3 million dollars. Shows like Game of Thrones? 7-9 million dollars. PER EPISODE.

We are doing a minimum of fifteen, 30 minute shows for a fraction of ONE TV SHOW. If you put it in that perspective, we are definitely not paying people professional rates to work on it. I do a lot of low budget web videos (to help do shows like TableTop, actually), and I think the ones that last beyond that moment of consumption are the ones that have budgets, that people tend to enjoy over and over. My goal always has been to show the established TV world that people can work outside the system and compete with their business, Tabletop is our best example of that, just like The Guild before us. We are doing this show for the minimum we can do it and keep up what we have established before us.

Wil: This is a question that I wasn’t expecting, and I feel really stupid for not explaining this more in advance. I’ve lived in the film and television industry my whole life, and I’ve been an active producer on TableTop for 40 episodes, so I know how much it costs to make an average show, and how much it costs to make our show. Let me be clear right away: we’re not getting rich off TableTop. In fact, if TableTop was my only job, I wouldn’t be able to support my family for even one year. That said, to anyone who does not live in the film and television world, i completely understand a sense of ‘sticker shock’ upon hearing that this YouTube show needs half a million dollars to produce fifteen episodes.

This week, I’m doing an episode of The Big Bang Theory, When it’s all finished and cut together, it’ll be about 22 minutes (approximately the same length as the average episode of TableTop), and it’ll cost several million dollars to produce. If you do a strict math problem, you’ll see that we do fifteen (or 20 if/when we get there) episodes of TableTop – 33 minutes, at least, that’s 660 minutes of TableTop – for less than the cost of a single 22 minute episode of network television.

We put everything we have into TableTop, because we love it, and we push our budget to its maximum limited so the show that we put out on YouTube can stand next to anything you see on Broadcast or Cable, and I’ll keep doing that as long as we can. I also want to make one thing really clear: we’re incredibly grateful – I am personally – incredibly grateful and honored by the contributions we’ve been given by the TableTop community. I know that you’re trusting us to keep doing what we’ve been doing, and I’m going to honor that trust by making the very best show we can possibly make.

Will TableTop still be free to watch? Do I have to donate to see it?

Wil: It will absolutely be free to watch. And now that we are completely independent, we aren’t limited to broadcasting on YouTube, so we’ll be able to make Tabletop available to even more people in even more ways, as we release season three.

Felicia: You do not have to donate, we appreciate it so much if you choose to do so, and understand if you don’t. It will still be free and watchable by you if we make our fundraising goal.

So there you have it. Tabletop Season Three is guaranteed at least 15 episodes, and we’re feeling pretty optimistic that we’ll get to 20. I think it’s a longer shot that we make it to the RPG show, but Tabletop fans keep surprising me, so maybe I’m more uncertain than I should be.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us, and PLAY MORE GAMES!

65 thoughts on “tabletop season three”

  1. Already backed you on day 2 – we SO have to push you past that 1 million limit. I am so happy for you that things turn out this great for you – 2014 is going to be the Wheaton-Year! :)

  2. A very good read! The only thing perk I wish was available was an unsigned all the games level. Basically tabletop can put games out of stock and I trust your judgement enough that I’d pay to get them all even without them being signed.

  3. For all your whining and complaining about math being hard, you sure did drop some good math calculations in there! Thank you!

    Sincerely, middle school math teacher
    PS: This is awesome!
    PPS: Have i told you about how awesome this is?
    PPPS: I can’t wait for more TT!!!!!

  4. OMG – Cards Against Humanity is A BLAST!!!!!!!!!!!! It’s so rude and politically incorrect that it’s hugely cathartic to play in this oh-so-careful society!!!!! I can’t wait – that will be priceless!!!

  5. First, I love Tabletop.

    Second, why does it cost more (per episode) to do 20 than it does for 15?

    750K/20 = 33.3K vs 500K/15 = 37.5K per episode. Not trying to be snarky here. I know nothing about video production. Is there no economy of size or dilution of fixed costs?

    Finally, I understand that at twice the price you are still producing entertainment at fraction of the cost of a network production. So, keep up the great work!

    1. This is a good question, and one I should address in the FAQ. The short version is that we have a set of fixed costs that we have to cover before we can even get onto the set, regardless of how many episodes we shoot. Because the 500K we’ve raised will cover those costs, we can do another 5 episodes at the slightly-lower cost per episode.

  6. Screw the haters and the nay sayers that leave whiny comments on you tube about the cost. I was more than happy to donate and so are a lot of other people. 7.5 or 10 hours of quality programming that is made purely for passion, free from sponsors and corporate interference. An absolute bargain.

  7. Have you guys every considered also looking into something like Patreon or Subbable?? I would eagerly pay a monthly couple of bucks a month to keep G&S going – and even if a quarter of the people subscribed did the same…. well, to quote Krusty the Clown, that’s a LOT OF KABLINKY!

    1. I hope he answers this question because I’d love to see TT on subbable. I know he knows the founders so there is that bonus. Be nice in the future to do set and equipment costs on indiegogo (if needed) and do the other costs through subbable.

  8. So excited about Tabletop After Dark – Cards Against Humanity is probably our favourite game (because we’re horrible people!)

  9. Thank you so much for fighting to keep this wonderful show online. I gave a small contribution of 15€ and if it can afford a snack for 5 people of the crew, I’ll be glad.
    I don’t know if the world will hate you for the CaH episode, but I personally can’t wait for it.

  10. I initially read “afford to do the RPG spin off…” to mean “design and produce an RPG game, Tabletop, which is based on the show Tabletop.”

    Which is also an awesome idea.

  11. Wil, thank you guys so much for the hard work, cool heads, and great sense of humor you put into TableTop (and all things G&S)! I’m trying to see what tier I can fit into my budget, but I’m planning on sending support your way. Keep up the good work!

    As a side note, I definitely want to see Geek & Sundry survive as a company/business. Please keep us informed about how you guys are progressing towards self-sufficiency, in partnerships, and so forth! LLAP!

  12. Why did you have to tell me not to read the comments? Don’t you know that’s the best way to get me to read the comments? All the stupidity and rudeness hurt my brain.

    1. Me too! I always find the best way to totally lose faith in my fellow man is to read You Tube comments. It’s just a platform for knobs.

  13. Cards Against Humanity! Wil, please give me this opportunity to hate you forever. Please please please.*

    Here’s my take on how much it costs: I think that shows/art/music/etc should be able to pay the people who make them. Not just recoup costs, but be able to compensate people for their time. PAYING PEOPLE IS IMPORTANT. People being able to make a living off their art, or off of doing what they love, is important. I know–I’ve been making art that I love for nothing, and working jobs that I don’t always care about, for a number of years. The world doesn’t need more bitter baristas who write stories on weekends. The world needs people who can make a living with art, and spread happiness. I don’t have money to donate, sadly (see above about being a barista), but if I did, I would happily pay extra money if I knew that it meant that a cameraman was able to pay his rent, or that Marlowe was able to eat all the doggy treats her little heart desired.

    *It should be very clear that I am kidding, and do not actually want to hate you forever, and that I’m pretty sure CAH/TT After Dark won’t cause that to happen.

  14. I would love to see Cards Against Humanity after dark. Given how popular the game is, I’m guessing it will have the exact opposite effect of people hating you for playing it, though it will probably cause a serious increase in number of cards people ask you to fill out, which might cause you hand pain, which might cause you to hate us, but definitely not the opposite.

    1. I also read the comments, mostly because Wil told us not to (what can I say? I buck authority whenever it, er, doesn’t matter at all). And I’m with you.

      As a friend to several amateur filmmakers (one of whom made a feature-length that won the category in several small film festivals and who happens to be my ex-fiance), I have what I suppose is a better-than-average idea of what it costs to produce high-quality video.

      Could TT be made for less? Sure. Would it look like it does not? Absolutely not.

      Wil and Felicia and the entire gang at G&S want to produce something that doesn’t look like it was filmed on iPhones… which means they can’t film it on iPhones (not beating up on Apple, just an example; you couldn’t film it on a Samsung Galaxy, either).

  15. I would love to know which RPGs are being considered. It might be a nice incentive closer to the end of funding to make it the 1 million mark and get fans of particular RPGs interested.

    Will it be more mainstream?
    D&D Next
    Savage World

    Or more indie/small press games?
    Dungeon World

    Or Classic?
    Red box D&D (good god I would love if that was picked)
    Call of Cthulhu?

    I loved that Dragon Age was chosen as one of the RPG episodes. I think it was wise to go for something that was more introductory/rules lite. I also am one who prefers to play in “the theatre of the mind” rather than with playmats and minis. I think rules lite is the way to go that is campaign friendly with room for characters to grow and evolve, and not 90% combat.

    I personally think Savage World might be a great pick for something that’s not so crunchy and could support a really interesting/alternative campaign.

    Mouse Guard?

    Dungeon World is really fun. It would be great to see something improvisational and fast.

  16. Wil, I’m sorry you read those comments and they made you sad.

    I am willing — was already willing and have already committed — to pay for TableTop to continue. I’m saddened that people aren’t, but I hope they learn the lesson one day that if you want to change the world, even in small ways, you have to be willing to pay for it. You pay with your time (e.g., volunteering) or your money (like this campaign). I hope when they learn that lesson, it isn’t as hard as it could be, but is just hard enough to drive home the point.

    And it deserves to be said, at least once, that for every vocal person who doesn’t know you and “hates” you, there are others who do and don’t… and still others (like me, for instance) who know your work, have read your blog, and feel like we know you just a little. We like you. We like your work.

    The people who troll YouTube bashing things and people, don’t *nearly* represent your audience, your friends, or your fans.

    I love TableTop. I’ve celebrated both (annual) TableTop Days in my community and had a blast. I’ve created new friendships and rekindled old ones over a board game and I believe in what you’re doing. I’m obviously not the only one: the campaign made $500K handily and are already moving on to bigger goals. I’m so proud to have been a part of it.

    So there. I’m going back to my quiet lurking.

    1. Omg TableTop After Dark sounds an awfully lot like the Beer and Board Games cross over that’s been hinted at in the past. This must happen!

  17. I backed as soon as possible because I love the show and what you and Felicia do, so I want to give something back. I am very excited about the upcoming episode, especially the “after dark” idea, and more especially the RPG show if we can crack the 1 million mark. I’m pretty confident we can get there, given how quickly we got to 500k. Thanks also for the info about production costs for a TV show, that was interesting reading.

    Love your work, and I look forward to what’s on the horizon in the future!

  18. Are you able to use some of that money to hire someone else to read the comments so you don’t have to be sad?

    1. Definitely! I was inspired by Wil’s google hangout to start playing more games with my kids (4 going on 5 and 7). I’m always on the lookout for new games that will prepare them for bigger games in the future (eg we play Agora (recently redesigned by Boyan as Camden), a simple tile-laying game that might lead to Carcassone in the future…)

      Having said that – they’re surprisingly adept at Forbidden Island now, and they’re even getting the hang of Settlers of Catan!

  19. Hi Wil,

    Congrats on funding season 3! I’m really looking forward to seeing what you come up with, especially the Wheaton family and CAH episodes.

    Just a quick question regarding the crowd funding decisions you made for this campaign. Can you please explain what the reasoning was for running the fundraiser on Indiegogo rather than Kickstarter? It just seems that not using the largest crowd funding site out there is an odd choice if you’re pushing for as much success as possible. Apologies if you’ve already answered this elsewhere.

    Thanks again for everything you keep creating!

  20. Hello Wil,

    That’s the first time that I post on your blog, even if I read it for more than a year now. It makes me really sad and angry to read all those hate comments on the YouTube video about Season 3 of TableTop. It must hurt to read such things about yourself and your friends and colleagues.

    I think you guys do an amazing job! TableTop is funny, well produced and you certainly have a talent explaining rules. Even my wife enjoys your show and she isn’t as mad about gaming as me :-)

    I’m really looking forward season 3 and am very excited to see which games you will present.

    I wish you and your wife a wonderful Easter break.

    Best wishes from Bavaria in South Germany,

  21. Have you considered doing a channel on Roku? I’ve seen some that are lesser quality than what you are currently producing. It might give you a bigger audience. I don’t know the logistics of such a project but thought I would suggest it.

    1. You can get Geek and Sundry on the Roku “Nowhere TV” channel, but it’s unofficial and has some problems. For example. it hasn’t been updated to add feeds for the Season 2 shows. So Tabletop continues to work, since it was there in Season 1, but there’s no Caper. And the web video scaled up to TV size doesn’t look awesome – but it’s easier for my whole family to watch than gathering around the laptop.

      TL;DR – yes, an official Roku channel, please!

  22. I read the comments because I’m a rebel and it’s obvious that some people don’t believe the Wheaton Rule…too many dicks! As someone who is involved with a family friendly game store (The Armored Gopher, Ubana IL, owned by my daughter and son-in-law*) I totally appreciate TTG. It pisses me off that there are people who believe in art or music (and you are an artist, Wil) but only if it’s free.

    Also, I think being at Gencon might make anybody testy…it’s too much. The guy who bitched about not getting the picture he wanted should just go to a zoo….

  23. Completely worth every penny that I donated. I just wish it could have been more. I love this show and how it has helped me get over my own shitty inner voice that tells me that I am stupid and not as smart as the other people because I just started playing games a year ago and they have been playing forever (so it seems to me). I can’t tell you how much I appreciate Tabletop and Wil and Felicia for coming up with and continuing to make this awesome show!!!!

  24. Wil, thank you, thank you, thank you for pushing to make season 3 of TableTop! This show has introduced our family to so many new games, and has caused us to do exactly as we are told — play more games!

    We backed on day 2 of the IGG campaign, and if we can, are going to send more money before the campaign is over. Words can’t describe my excitement over the idea of getting 15-20 episodes of Wil and Friends playing an RPG campaign!!

    Ignore the haters – they are jealous that you have created and continue to curate something amazing, while they bring nothing to the table to offer.

    Thank you for all that you and the G&S team do – it really has made the world a better place!

  25. Added a little and hope it helps. Really looking forward to the extras on behalf of my nieces and nephew for the kids’ games, my hubby for the possible RPG and myself for the TTAD episode. :)

  26. I wanted to back you, but the timing just sucked. Will you have some king of ongoing way to support Tabletop? Subbable? A store to buy stuff?

    1. There are lots of ways to support us that are not directly financial:

      1. Tell your friends!
      2. Play more games!
      3. Get together with people and watch Tabletop, then play games together!

      I totally understand that it’s just not possible for everyone to kick in to the budget, and it’s very important to me that you know this: taking care of your personal needs and your family’s needs is WAY MORE IMPORTANT than helping us. At the moment, we can make at least 15 episodes, and it’s looking like we’ll be able to do a full 20, so even if you can’t afford to help us fund it, you can still be part of it by sharing the joy of gaming we all have with as many people as you can.

      1. Well. I invested many dollars into board games due to you introducing me to them on TT. Like house on the haunted hill. I will kick donation your way and keep watching the show with my beautiful gamer wife and playing board games. Then sharing the new episodes with my friends and co-workers. Excellsior!

  27. I’m adding another vote for Killer Bunnies. ClueFX would be another good game to add (it involves a lot more randomness than the classic Clue, which should make it a better fit for TableTop than the original). Lastly, how about some trivia-based games for variety? My personal recommendations would be Mind Your Marbles (the questions are easier, but you have to deal with 3 at once) or Balderdash (so obscure that nobody knows the answers, so it’s sort of like a cross between Trivial Pursuit and Say Anything).

  28. Hi Wil,

    It’s great work that you’re doing. I just wanted to let you know that I was really inspired by what you have to say about the power of tabletop games. The Easter bunny brought “the Game of Life” for my children this weekend, and we’ve played four games already today, and had a great talk about why the winner of “life” should be the one who had the most fun, not the most money. It’s nice to have something to do as a family as our kids are very far apart in age (six years between the older two, and five years between the middle and youngest). Thanks again!

  29. I really look forward to 20 episodes of TT!

    On the topic of “quality”: If your post production could do a better white balance correction this season (I often thought “why do they look so yellow?”), that would be great 😉

    On the other hand: I really like your post production – all the nice details and interludes. The white balance is just a minor thing.

  30. Um, that should have been the same link with &t=1m7s The Blog software auto-inserted the video.

  31. I really want to contribute, but I don’t like that every tier above the second one has physical rewards in it and thus requires that international shipping fee.
    I’d really like to see more purely digital reward tiers.

  32. I was looking to get into table top games and as soon as I watched my first episode (which was the Pandemic episode) TableTop got me. Hook, line and sinker! I now own 6 games (of course pandemic being one) and counting! I love this show, you guys do an amazing job. Keep it up!

    P.s. Would it be possible to see a Zombiecide episode in the future?

  33. Wil Wheaton playing Cards Against Humanity? With dirty comics? ON VIDEO?!?!?

    Oh, yeah…..

    (I know I’m not adding much here – I’m basically just commenting so that you can say “lots of people gave lots of great feedback on the CAH idea, so we should do it early & often…”)

    On a separate, but related note: finance is kind of my thing (don’t judge – geeks love different things the same way, remember?) Anyway, without appearing snarky or disrespectful, I would *LOVE* to understand the broad budget categories that lead to a single episode of TBBT costing several million dollars. On the face of it, it seems inconceivable. It would also be great to compare those broad categories with the same categories for TableTop, so I could understand how/where the savings come from. Is there a resource online somewhere that delves into this? If so, link?

    Thanks again for everything you do. I’ll be watching (especially the CAH episode…!)

  34. On the DVDs of season 1 and season 2, what is license they are released with? Can they be used say in a game shop to run in the background to help sell games, or are they noncommercial share alike attribution or something else?

    1. I think it’s the BY-NC-SA license, but I have *always* said that it’s fine with me to run the episodes in friendly local game shops.

  35. I am not going to lie to you Wil, that is awesome!

    Also, be aware you have to carry the challenge coin with you everywhere, if not you are going to be buying a lot of Stone Farking Wheaton w00tStout for people.

  36. Hi Wil! I hope I’m not asking about something already posted on here, but is there any way we could get a preview of some of the games being played this season?

    If you’re taking suggestions – I’d love to see Quantum or Tokaido popping up on there (or Terra Mystica if it’s not too massive).

    Also – I saw a lot of CAH requests… I love the game, but I’d rather see things the bulk of the gaming community haven’t seen yet. Besides, with the right group of people it’s great, but you always get that one or two people playing who get offensive for the sake of being offensive instead of actually playing the game. Meh.

  37. I guess I my only problem with it is I am inherently suspicious when millionaires ask plebs for money while pointing to their product and telling them this is what they want. But hey, I’m a weirdo. And this is one weirdo’s singular opinion, meant with zero hatred.

    I love board games. Board games have saved my life, if I can make such a bold claim. I don’t see how something profound and moving needs celeb appearances (if those cost money) or top tier production values. Books, one of the oldest forms of art, have since time immemorial done so much with so little. Maybe I’m asking too much, maybe I’m easy to please.

    The Kickstarter model, I feel, is replacing traditional revenue streams for inappropriate projects. I would feel the same if, in the future, Microsoft was able to crowd source talent, assigning mini projects out to thousands of programmers, to build their next OS. And then they sell the OS. And the programmers aren’t financially compensated if the OS is the next revolution in computing. This show IS going to have advertising, I assume? If not, I stand corrected.

    I guess another problem I have is when people with the financial means to “do something special” point at their own chests to plead this point, but ask people who make anywhere between 10-30k or 30k-50k (potentially) a year to make his “dreams” come true. Or to show how board games can bring people together. Or to create a top notch show. It just rubs me as self serving, in the worst kind of way. I understand how everyone has to make a dollar, but at the end of the day I would feel weird taking money from someone who has a kid to feed and is living paycheck to paycheck. Of course, as you politely pointed out, with all credit to both of you, nobody is required to donate, nor is the show at any cost to consumers. However, I feel there is a great chance this comment won’t even get posted or will eventually get deleted because “Waaah, waaaah, Wil Wheaton’s feewings are hurt”

    Please grow up. Don’t be patronizing.

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