BitFlip Games Unleashes Free Minion Master Lite Version and Releases Co-Op and Team Multiplayer Modes with October Beta

Digital Board Game Releases Free Lite Version and Introduces Awesome new Co-op and Multiplayer Modes

Berkeley, CA – October 15th, 2012. – Independent micro studio BitFlip Games today announced that a free Lite version of Minion Master, its debut tactical collectible card game, is now available from the official Minion Master website at www.minionmaster.com. The Lite launch coincides with the release of the gigantic October beta update that introduces Co-operative play, Team Multiplayer, a new Level Sharing feature, and over 75 other additions to the game.

“As we edge closer to the commercial launch of Minion Master, we are excited to release the free Lite version and look forward to welcoming a whole new generation of players to the battle arena”, said David Steinwedel, Executive Producer of BitFlip Games, “With the added introduction of new co-op and team multiplayer modes and the level sharing tool, we have doubled down on empowering the community to create awe-inspiring strategic battles”.

The new Minion Master Lite version aligns the moment-to-moment tactics of Collectible Card Games with the long-term strategy of Miniature Wargaming. Lite players will choose one of 3 pre-built decks and receive a Booster Pack of cards to use in online multiplayer battles. In addition to multiplayer modes, Minion Master Lite players will have access to the full set of single player challenges and size-limited Level creation. Lite Minion Master players can upgrade their experience by pre-ordering the game and receiving the full Minion Master card set as well as an unlocked Level Editor.

Co-op and competitive team multiplayer modes are also included in the October update, allowing Minion Master players complete freedom in team creation. The new level sharing feature allows users to display their custom level creations on the Minion Master website. Players can download any of these levels to play on or to continue building upon.

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Minion Master Beta 1.1.2 Release Notes

Here’s the full list of new, updated, and fixed items in the October 1.1.2 Minion Master beta build.

+ Added feature or noticable improvement
– Bug fix or something removed
* Changed or Information
! Important – Take note!

10/04/2012 1.1.2 – Beta October release
! Team play support is in! You can now play with your friends, or against them
! Single Player configuration now operates the same as multiplayer configuration
! Any card not played or discarded is now held over into the next round
! Deck Point Limits are now in. You can enforce a limit on the number of deck points that people can bring to a match.
! Levels can now be stored in the cloud! Any level that you mark as “Public” in the Level Editor will be saved in the cloud. These levels will be automaticaly synced to any other machines where you log in, and are visible from your user page.
! New Game Options page! You can now set your graphics options and audio volume balance from inside the game.
+ Added a new “Circle” edit mode in the level editor
+ You can now filter the cards in the Deck Builder by minion to make it easier to create themed decks
+ Deck Builder displays information about a minion when it is selected as a filter
+ A bunch of new card art
+ New cards! Ranged -15 Attack, Melee -15 Attack, Ranged -15 Defense, and Melee -15 Defense. These are all debuff cards you can play on your enemies.
+ Horror minions are now animated!
+ Tutorials now have a narrator
+ You can now see where a minion is likely to move and attack when you hover over them
+ Multiplayer Game List now includes a list of currently-playing games
+ Players who are in game will show up grayed out
+ You can now double-click on a game to join it, or double-click on a player who is in a game to try to join their game
+ Added new 4 Player (3v1) Tower Attack level
+ Lots of new challenges in Single Player
+ Deck builder now has scroll left/right buttons
* Return/Enter now opens the chat window. Ctrl-Return/Enter commits.
* Focused Bolts card now sets different tactics (Most Attack, Most Defense, Least Health), and only sets 2 attacks for one round
* Gnomish Luck card now has a deck point value of 1
* Blood Moon now has a deck point value of 3
* Defend Tile now gives a 15% defense bonus and has a discard value of 3
* Summon Sorceress now costs 5 deck points
* Extra Life now costs 4 deck points
* Teleport 1/2 Board now costs 6 deck points, and has a discard value of 5
* Warp Enemy 3x now costs 7 deck points
* Teleport 3x and Warp Enemy 3x no longer allow you to pick a target with a movement of zero
* Berzerk now costs 8 deck points
* Friendly Fodder card will now target your newest Kobolds instead of your oldest Kobolds
* Wraith minion and modifier cards have been rebalanced. Wraith starts by getting +5 Defense/round. Cards now distribute +10 stats among attack and defense.
* Zombie Brute chance to act again is now 16%
* Tweaked lots of card text to be clearer, shorter, or more precise
* You can now skip straight to the next tutorial at the end of the previous tutorial
* Bunch of tweaks to tutorials flow
* Checkbox UI settings no longer have question marks
* Mouse input has been improved to have better compatibility with some laptops (particularly when scrolling)
* Performance optimizations when calculating minion actions
* When leaving the game, you will now be taken back to the appropriate menu (match select, tutorial select, single player config, or game list), rather than the main menu
* Tutorial 3 now has a more meaningful label than “Advanced Topics”
* Level Editor now uses the proper 2D background
* Minions that are sacrificed will now disappear all at once, rather than one at a time
* Setting the monitor for windowed mode now actually places the window on the appropriate monitor
* Minimum angle for the camera is now much lower
* Lots of user interface tweaks
* Improved “Freeze” particle effects
* Slasher now attacks everybody (allies or enemies) if he chooses to attack allies
* 2 Player Duel Across the River has been updated to include wider channels, and changed tile types in some places from Forest to Cobblestone
* User configuration files now live in a subdirectory with your username
- Fixed Frenzy Single not having a state indicator
- Fixed an issue where cards would be lost (or played on non-existant targets) if the selected target becomes invalid
- Fixed fullscreen window not getting appropriate name or icon
- Fixed an innocuous extra character getting written in some config files
- Fixed commit checkbox getting sent to clients while the player is selecting a target for a card
- Fixed the Health jar disappearing if your health goes above the starting health
- Fixed dangling games showing up if you accidentally click on “create game” twice
- Fixed outer board texture and material being all dark
- Fixed user colors not showing up in Game List chat window if the username had capital letters
- Fixed a family of crashes related to the UI being in an unexpected state
- Fixed some crashes related to players leaving the game in the middle of the action
- Fixed a crash related to transitioning menu pages
- Fixed a crash when returning to the menu from the game
- Fixed a couple of server crashes
- Fixed a crash if you passed in a set of invalid command lines
- Fixed a crash in the level editor if you right-click on the menu before adding any tiles
- Fixed a crash when saving a level
- Fixed a crash in an edge case when calculating tile positions
- Fixed a crash when moving Minion Master window to another monitor (when in windowed mode)
- Fixed a crash when reconnecting after Internet connection goes down
- Fixed a crash if exiting the game from the loading scene
- Fixed a crash if the game would end in a draw (ie the last avatar on the board dies)

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BitFlip Games Celebrates Successful PAX and Shuffles the Deck with September Beta Update

Independent Micro Studio Doubles its Player Base during 3 Day Show, Launches Steam Greenlight Campaign and Releases September Update

Berkeley, CA – September 11th, 2012. – Independent micro studio BitFlip Games today announced that Minion Master, its debut strategy release that seamlessly combines elements of tabletop gaming, turn based and real-time strategy, and collectible card building games doubled its player base during the the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle, Washington that took place on August 31st – 2nd September. The news coincides with a new update available now that introduces in-game tutorials, new Horror Minion models and an all new look. To build support for a Minion Master commercial release on Steam, the team has also launched the official Minion Master Steam Greenlight Campaign. To support Minion Master please visit visit: http://minionmaster.com/greenlight

“PAX Prime was a fantastic opportunity to show off Minion Master outside of our loyal, dedicated community for the first time and we are astounded to double our player base over three days”, said David Steinwedel, Executive Producer of BitFlip Games, “With Minion Master playable on six PCs, we were delighted to see new players wait for up to 30 minutes to get their hands on the beta”.

Minion Master was unveiled to the public and media for the first time at Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). Attendees who visited the BitFlip booth were given limited edition playing cards from the Minion Master universe and those who pre-ordered Minion Master will receive the game’s first expansion set for free. Twitter follower @lianuchan won the PAX Minion Master contest and will now be turned into a Minion in the game.

This month the Minion Master update includes a host of features that improve the experience and will help guide newcomers through the universe, including in-game tutorials that allow players to learn the skills of becoming a minion master from gameplay basics to mid-level training. New tutorials will be added in future updates. The September update also adds new Horror Minion models including the Spider, Slasher, Banshee, and Zombie in addition to a complete graphical overhaul.

BitFlip Games will also continue to run the ‘Play with a Developer’ events whereby the beta community can play online with members of the development team and join a chat server to ask questions, talk strategy and deck-building or just make suggestions and give feedback. Launched simultaneously with the multiplayer, these weekly events are becoming increasingly popular and crowded while providing direct feedback to the development team.

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So, You Want to Take Your Indie Game to PAX.

A line item expense breakdown & other logistical challenges.

Editor’s Note: Based on a few comments floating around the internet, some people think this is meant as an indictment of PAX. It is not. PAX is actually one of the cheapest video game related trade shows around and they have been super helpful along the way. This is here to give you an idea of the cost and logistics of going to any large trade show and to encourage you think about and budget for marketing your game.

Also, there’a great writeup of Minion Master here, and don’t forget to visit the Minion Master website!
/Editor’s Note

Most indie game developers (the successful ones, at least) will tell you that marketing your game is just as important as making your game. Too many post-mortems have come to the conlcusion, “I (we) focused all my (our) time making this great (awesome, beautiful, super fun) game, but I (we) never thought about promoting it until it was done.” I have thought/done the same thing in the past. It always made sense to me that, “If we build a good, fun, game, people will find it!”

That was younger me. Younger me was stupid and gets a SLAP to the face. Older me says this, “Here’s the reality, younger me: Marketing your game is 50% of the job.” It is generally the harder 50% of any indie dev’s job because, for the most part, we’re good at making games. Being a salesman is a whole other ballgame.

Tradeshows and festivals are wonderful places to promote your game. They are a great way to get your game in front of (and played by) gamers (your potential fans) and press (your potential promoters, also your best friends, new drinking buddies, and all around fantastic human beings). However, a tradeshow is both expensive and a lot of work (the larger the show, the more of both). Below, I’m going to lay out the cost, line by line, and logistics involved with doing so based on our visit to the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) prime this weekend. By no means is this the be-all-end-all guide. There are places where we wasted money. We made some decisions based on our game, our location, and our needs that are not right for you. Also, PAX is a HUGE show. There are many, many smaller shows where you can engage with fans and press with far less planning and expenditures (and I suggest you go small and local before going big).

Booth Space
First things first, you need booth space. This means becoming an exhibitor. For 100 square feet of space on the 6th floor of PAX, we shelled out $1300.

Furniture
Our game, Minion Master, is awesome. It’s a genre busting game that mixes table top gaming, RTS & turn based strategy, collectible card deck building games, and even has some MOBA thrown in. Needless to say, it’s been a challenge to describe it on paper, especially to a marketing noob like myself. But when people see it, wow, do their eyes POP. Because of this, we wanted to maximize the number of stations available for people to play the game as well as have the largest possible screens as high up as possible (so we can pop eyeballs from across the room). We thought about building our own custom arcade cabinets (badass!) but after pricing out the materials (not too bad) and the amount of time it would take to build (a couple weekends) and the shipping weight (horrendously heavy, hence expensive), we decided to find another way. After quite a bit of searching, we found modular, customizable racks from Ikea that were about the perfect size, the same cost as building it ourselves, and much, much lighter. We’re able to fit 6 of them in the booth. For those 6 rack units, we paid $435.28.

The finished Minion Master booth, built at PAX

The finished Minion Master booth, built at PAX

Remember when I said large screens? Well, we need a way to mount those screens. Add in $67.40 for two TV mounts. Thank goodness Brown Bear is in our neighborhood. Buying direct from the manufacturer saves you 50-75%.

We also need a way to attach the TV mounts to our Ikea racks. Fortunately, we got off light here. $14.75 for 2×6 packs of beer, traded for welding services. Much thanks to Philip at 522 Industries in Oakland. You are awesome!

So we have furniture for 6 stations, but our game is multiplayer. The cheapest wired internet option at PAX is $3,500 for the weekend. FUCK. THAT. SHIT. Add in another $60 for a stand to hold our on-location server.

That puts us up to $1877.43. It also has taken at least two full weeks to fill out all the applications, cut checks, pick booth space, price materials, and customize our booth build.

Hardware
Fortunately, our game targets low-end machines. You can play Minion Master with an old system running Windows XP and a GeForce 6600 graphics card. We want the game to be smooth, but we don’t need a full sized gaming rig. Also, we have to ship these machines from Berkeley to Seattle and back (there’s that shipping thing again). We found what looked to be a decent machine at New Egg and bought 1 to test it out. $375.36. Then we went to buy 5 more and New Egg no longer carried the exact model. Shit. So we found a similar, comparable machine, and New Egg offered us a great deal on checkout, so we bought 5. They sucked (I should say, their integrated graphics were not up to par). We kept one to use as the server ($375.36) but had to eat another $60 shipping the other 4 back. We found 5 more of the first machine at Best Buy ($2055.32). About two weeks before PAX, we rewrote our graphics shader and added a new particle engine. Unfortunately, we had already shipped our machines to the show, so we had to buy yet another one to test and make sure the new shader/particle stuff performed well on our demo machines. Add another $400.

The array of computers for PAX.

The array of Minion Master computers for PAX. Waiting to be set up.

Computers are fairly worhtless without monitors. For 5 x 23″ monitors plus 2 x 40″ televisions, kick another $1813.21 on the pile.

Add in a router, network cables, power cables (strips & extension cords), and mouse pads. $186.92.

Then there are the miscellaneous supplies. Sharpees, scissors, packing tape, boxes, cable ties, boxcutters. We’re taking pre-orders at the show, so fanny packs for holding cash & redemption cards. $78.20.

Shipping
Now comes the fun part, we need to get all these great supplies from our office to the Seattle convention center. That means shipping. Logistically, this is one of the more daunting aspects for a tradeshow noob. Your stuff needs to either, A: Get to the convention center at the exact correct time or B: Go to a warehouse a few weeks beforehand. In option A, you are likely to incur lots of overtime labor charges if you get things wrong. In option B, you have to pay a separate, “Material Handling” charge to get your supplies from the warehouse to the convention center. All in all, we’re out $1505.77 to get our stuff to the show. Yes, it cost us more to ship our stuff to the show than it did to buy our booth space.

Our entire booth packs up onto two pallets. Adding onto our time statistic, we’ve spent another 2 full man weeks setting up our booth in the office, adding the computers, running the cabling (to make sure everything is long enough), building a custom game client that connects to our local game server (among other changes), and packing up the booth. It actually took me 2 full days to dismantle and box up the booth by myself.

Finished tearing down the booth. Two pallets going back to the BitFlip headquarters.

Finished tearing down the booth. Two pallets going back to the BitFlip headquarters.

Getting There and Sleeping
If you’re local to whatever show you’re visiting, you’ll get to save a bit here. Airfare for 4 team members, even with Virgin’s lovely summer sale: 1257.40. Don’t forget a place to sleep. Hotels in downtown Seattle were running $300/room/night when I checked. We decided to save some cash by renting a house for the weekend. We’re about two miles from the convention center in a nice, cozy two bedroom. $710.

The BitFlip PAX House

The BitFlip PAX House

At the Show
You had to order electricity a month before hand (or the price went up). (Most services worked on the “order early and get a discount” model. It’s best to keep a calendar at your desk with all the deadlines marked.) Most shows we’ve been to give you enough electricity to run a computer, maybe two. We have 7 and estimated needing about 3000 watts. We paid $219.05 for 3500 watts (better to have more capacity than to go dark).

Internet? Like I said before, $3,500 for the cheapest wired option provided at the convention center. Exhibitor only wifi was available for $100 / day / device. There was also free wifi–though it can be un-reliable. Fortunately, PAX did a great job this year and we were able to keep our Square running smoothly on the free wifi service all weekend. (Are you taking orders for your game? Want to accept credit cards? Square is your best friend ever. I wish I could take all my laundry money and invest it in Square. Those guys are going to be ga-ba-jillion-google-plex-aires.)

Then there are incidentals. Food, taxis, beer, coffee, etc. I have yet to run our receipts, but our estimated cost for the wekeend is $1750.

Promotional Items
With 70,000 people potentially walking by or visiting your booth, you want to be sure they remember you and have the opportunity to look your game up later. Minion Master play is based on cards, so what better thing than to give out actual cards from in the game? For 22,500 cards we spent a whopping $1836.10. (Thanks to Guy’s parents for picking up part of the tab.) That ends up being about $0.08 per card. We also littered our booth with signage (homemade prints, laminate, and foam core backing). Add $150.

Minion Master Limited Edition Promo Cards

Minion Master Limited Edition Promo Cards

Branding
We’ve spent all this money already, so the team better look good. Add 8 embroidered polo shirts and a few caps for $600.

The Recap:

  • Booth: $1300.00
  • Furniture: $435.28
  • Mounts: $67.40
  • Beer/welding: $14.75
  • Server Stand: $60
  • Computers (8): $3265.36
  • Screens (7): $1813.21
  • Router, Cabling, Power: $186.92
  • Misc. Supplies: $78.20
  • Promotional Cards: $1836.10
  • Shirt/Caps: $600
  • Electricity: $219.50
  • Incidentals: $1650
  • Airfare: $1257.40
  • Housing: $710

Total: $11758.70.

That’s a hell of a lot of money for a 3 person, self funded team to spend. And that’s just one 3 day show. Many of the items we bought can be re-used for other shows or around the office (or sold, anyone need a 39″ LCD TV? Going cheap!). Even so, every show will have a new charge for booth space, travel, promo items, and incidentals. Single use expenses were over 58% of the total dollar amount we spent on PAX

Time
Preparing logistics for the show also took *at least* a full month of time for myself. It also took another week from the rest of our team doing little tasks to help prepare (on top of all our normal, “making the game” things.) I also spent at least a week contacting press outlets and booking appointments for them to come see Minion Master and get a hands on tour (nothing like letting someone play your game to get them excited about it!). We brought 4 team members to the show for 5 days, so that’s another 4 weeks of time. All in all, we put in about 10 person-weeks to prepare for and attend PAX.

The Bottom Line (tl;dr)
$12,000.
10 person-weeks.

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Come Visit BitFlip and Play Minion Master at PAX!

We’ve been working hard and preparing for our visit to the Penny Arcade Expo. The show is next week, starting Friday, August 31st through Sunday, September 2nd. We’ll have 6, fully networked stations where you can come play Minion Master (and that includes multiplayer)! We’ll also be giving out limited edition Minion Master trading cards. If you’re at the show, you can pre-order the game for 25% off the normal price and get instant access to the closed Beta. Finally, we’ll also be running a contest on Twitter where you’ll be able to win prizes, including immortality as a Minion in game, a Lifetime Founder’s Account for Minion Master (that gets you everything ever released for the game) and full sets of the Limited Edition Trading Cards. Visit the contest page for full details..

To visit the Minion Master booth and get your hands on the game (as well as the Trading Cards), head up to the 6th floor, booth #6011. Or, just follow the map.

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Minion Master gets a Facelift

Our 2nd Beta Update video is live and ready for viewing. Over the last week, we’ve completely rewritten our rendering shader to give Minion Master a new, shiny look. In addition, there’s a new particle engine, so you’ll be seeing lots of great, new effects coming online soon!

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The First Minion Master Beta Update Video is Live

We’ve got some new Minion Models in game to show off this week, including the Werewolf, Shaman, and Zombie Brute.

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Multiplayer is Live!

Hello out there, Minion Master fans. We’re pleased to announce that the August revision of Minion Master is live and ready to go. If you’ve already pre-ordered the game, grab the latest build by logging into your Minion Master Account, visiting your User Page, and downloading the game. If you haven’t yet pre-ordered, you can do so by visiting our order page. Minion Master is in open beta, and anyone who pre-orders gets instant access.

Here’s a list of what’s new this month:
08/08/2012 1.1.0 – Beta August release
! Added MultiPlayer!
! Minions now animate.
+ Lots of new card art
* You can now take screenshots with either the PrintScreen key, or by pressing Ctrl-Shift-S
* The background has been changed from the pastoral scene to a gradient colored with your banner color
* The card frame is now forced down if you have no cards
* Minions now move toward the nearest enemy minion rather than the nearest enemy Avatar if they can’t reach their target
* The 4 Player BackPass map has been tweaked to allow for more paths between the Avatars
- Replaced yippy Kobold sound effects with better ones
- Changed compile settings to make better use of SSE2 instructions
- Removed ZeroMQ as a dependency and added websocket++, hiredis, and OpenSSL as dependencies
- Single player name has been shortened to “MinionMaster” without a space
- Fixed IceBolt freeze particle not showing up
- Fixed incorrect positioning of 3D sounds
- Fixed performance issue with combat log
- Fixed a minor bug when writing .mmlevel files
- Fixed a drawing error with the game board
- Fixed card-sacrificing cards (such as Healing Surge) not actually sacrificing the cards
- Fixed minions that can’t find complete paths to their targets not moving at all
- Fixed an issue where hovering your mouse over a minion would not show all of the tiles that minion could attack
- Fixed Dragons (and possibly other minions) facing the wrong direction sometimes if their Line attack went through a non-existent tile

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BitFlip Games Marches onto Beta Release of Digital Board Game Minion Master

Independent Micro Studio Pushes out Beta Build Featuring Competitive Multiplayer, New Animations and a Host of New Features

Berkeley, CA – August 8th, 2012. – Independent micro studio BitFlip Games today announced that Minion Master, its debut strategy release that seamlessly combines elements of tabletop gaming, turn based and real-time strategy, and collectible card building games, has now officially gone into beta. The beta build releases this afternoon and introduces a new competitive multiplayer mode, awe inspiring new animated minions, new card art and UI backgrounds.

With the introduction of the new competitive multiplayer mode, Minion Master becomes fun on a new level with play against human opponents. To create, find and join multiplayer matches, simply log onto the new lobby and jump into custom maps, where players battle against any combination of six human and AI opponents. Featuring a new integrated chat client, password protected multiplayer games so only your friends can join, multiplayer matches open up a whole new world of ever changing opponents. The beta build also contains a radical overhaul of the in-game animation system, as Minions now come to life to attack opponents during matches.

“The launch of the Minion Master beta is a massive step for BitFlip – the introduction of multiplayer opens a whole new world of tactics and challenges against human opponents. Along with a new animation system, we’ve given the digital board game a massive overhaul”, said David Steinwedel, Executive Producer of BitFlip Games, “We look forward to listening to community feedback over the coming weeks, that will continue to shape Minion Master as we move closer to commercial release”.

The BitFlip Games team will be at the Penny Arcade Expo (PAX) in Seattle, WA from August 31st to September 2nd to unveil Minion Master to consumers for the first time. All attendees who visit the BitFlip booth will be given limited edition playing cards from the Minion Master universe and anyone who chooses to pre-order Minion Master between now and the end of PAX will receive a special in-game character. To book a media appointment please contact David Steinwedel at david [at] bitflipgames {dot} com

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Alpha Update 11 (Multiplayer!)

As we’ve been saying all Summer, multiplayer is coming soon. The wait is almost over. This week’s Alpha Update Video is the first ever public multiplayer match! Watch as the the underdog Sorceress Deck battles against the Fantasy Heroes. An exciting bout, the match is seemingly lopsided at first… but it doesn’t end that way. You’ll have to tune in to find out who wins.

Multiplayer will be available to everyone in the August build, with a planned release date of August 8th. The launch of Multiplayer also marks the transition from Minion Master’s Alpha phase to Beta. If haven’t yet Pre-Ordered, the Alpha discount is only good through August 7th, so act fast!

There’s a new Minion coming on the horizon: the Vampire. He will be the last Horror Minion to join the pack. Though not in this week’s video, he will be playable in one of the next few releases. Head over to the forums and tell us what *YOU* want to see with this new Minion!

We recently announced that Minion Master will be showcasing at the Penny Arcade Expo in Seattle next month! We have a new trailer to mark the occasion. If you’re making the trip, be sure to come by our booth (#6011) as we’ll be giving away free, limited edition, physical Minion Master cards! You can check out the full press release here.

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