Monday, February 18, 2013

ADD Game Masters Toolkit - No Kickstarter

I view Kickstarter as a way to, well, kick-start my projects. It's not an ATM that I want to go to every time I've got a book to publish, just because I don't want any risk. Publishing should incur some risk, and I should be willing to put up some of my own money to see my vision come to pass. It's only when I don't have enough to get the ball rolling that I want to use Kickstarter, and I'm glad it's there for that purpose. 

That said, my announcement is that, having run the numbers, barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Adventures Dark and Deep™ Game Masters Toolkit will be coming out in the May-June time frame, without any Kickstarter. The first two books, A Curious Volume of Forgotten Lore and the Players Manual, have primed the pump enough that I can put out the GMT on my own. (I think!)

Looking at the project plan, it does seem like I'll need to Kickstart the Bestiary, but it's also bigger than the first two books put together, and I want it to have literally about 8 or 9 times as much art. But the Game Masters Toolkit is, I think, doable without another trip to the Kickstarter well, and for that I thank everyone who's bought or supported the first two books, the Darker Paths booklets, and the first adventure module

Kickstarter Thoughts

It should come as no surprise to anyone that Kickstarter is rapidly becoming ensconced as a key component to many new RPG projects. The ability to raise funds without recourse to traditional pre-order systems (although many people feel, not without some justification, that some Kickstarters are just that) or bank financing is a huge boon and has yielded some great stuff. Heck, I've used it twice myself to raise funds for Adventures Dark and Deep™.

However, it's not without its pitfalls.

As we've seen quite a few times over the last year or so, gaming projects that are funded through Kickstarter have a pretty crappy record when it comes to delivering rewards on time, and that record is starting to give a lot of people pause when it comes to funding projects through Kickstarter at all. I see these problems stemming from a variety of causes:

Problem: Underestimating the amount of work left. This is huge, and is caused by starting the real writing of a game after the Kickstarter campaign has ended. Don't do this! If you're doing an RPG, at least have the rules written before you ask for money to get it in print. If you feel you deserve to be paid for your writing before a single book has hit the shelves, you might want to consider submitting freelance work for an established publisher, rather than self-publishing.

Solution: Front-load the work. Have it written before you Kickstart it, and only ask for the money you need to get it in print (art, layout, editing, printing, etc.).

Problem: Getting distracted.
I'm starting to see this more and more; a Kickstarter really takes off, and the game designer starts throwing in all sorts of tangential bonus rewards. Mugs, computer programs, Minecraft servers, conventions that a dozen people will realistically be able to attend, etc. None of these things are really connected to the actual project, and end up being enormous distractions because the game designer fools himself into thinking that the Kickstarter supporters actually pledged their money to get a some iPhone or Android app, rather than the dungeon that was at the top of the page. 

Solution: Stay focused. Concentrate on getting the core product out the door first, and worry about the tchotchkes after. Except in rare cases, people aren't supporting your campaign for the extras. They want the main item.

Problem: Underestimating costs.
I've heard horror stories about people who forgot to include shipping in their calculations, or who offered a bonus stretch goal that ended up costing more than what they raised in the campaign to begin with. Some even need to do a second Kickstarter campaign to pay for the extras in the first one! 

Solution: Know your costs! Keep the extras cheap and simple and for Zilchus's sake make sure you have accounted for every cost you're going to incur. Pantomime going through the entire process if you need to (literally-- physically go through the motions so you know you're not skipping anything), from typing to mailing, and track the costs along the way.

Problem: Life gets in the way. It's hard to plan for this one, granted. But if a project is the brainchild of a single person, rather than a creative team, then an illness, computer problems, etc. can be devastating. 

Solution: Teamwork. Don't try to be a one-man band.

Now, this isn't a comprehensive list by any stretch. I've been pretty good with the first three bullets so far, but I'll confess I'm opening myself up to the third pitfall, and am working on mitigating it. I do think that if people who are considering Kickstarting their game are cognizant of those four pitfalls, the whole process will work a lot better for all concerned. 

Dreamation Convention Schedule Now Up

The schedule for this weekend's Dreamation convention in Morristown, NJ is now posted. Here's what I will be running:
  • Thursday, 8:00 PM: R155: AD&D 1st Edition; "Steading of the Hill Giant Chief"
  • Friday, 2:00 PM: W465: Ogre Miniatures; "Last Sub Out of Bristol"
  • Friday, 8:00 PM: R222: AD&D 1st Edition; "Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl"
  • Saturday, 8:00 PM: R304: AD&D 1st Edition; "Hall of the Fire Giant King"
  • Sunday, 10:00 AM: W772: Ogre Miniatures; "Last Sub Out of Bristol"
Hope to see some folks there!