QT Games: Turning a Corner

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I’ve given the future a lot of thought. Trust me when I say that I did not turn corners and take on a new roleplaying game design and add on another campaign setting lightly. I loved the direction Cosmothea was going and the Cosmoverse has been near and dear to my heart for nearly 40 years. It still is. Forty years of writing stories, designing and redesigning, expanding and polishing my dream.

I haven’t cast either IP’s aside (heck, I just finished writing a novel based on the Cosmoverse), nor has my love for them diminished. I’d still rather play Cosmothea than any other roleplaying game. After all, I designed both to assure I got my fix of blended-genre adventure.

For the uninitiated, by blended-genre I mean science fantasy—maybe with a bit more bite—certainly with a few more genres. Superheroes, zombies, western, horror—they are never far behind. When done right, genres blend together like peanut butter and chocolate.

I love how the Cosmoverse came together and I will probably always publish stories about it. I love how Cosmothea hit all the sweet spots of what I love in a tabletop rpg and so neatly worked together with the Cosmoverse to make cool things happen. But Cosmothea 5.0 is a big rpg and is still a long ways from completion. The Cosmoverse is enormous and loads of fun, but rpg materials don’t sell very well regardless of quality, especially for a small, largely unknown publishing company like QT Games.

Even the big gorilla has struggled, and only the top names in the industry tend to make any money worth mentioning. Nothing’s a sure thing. Some of the third party companies designing for the big IPs make some money, but those of us who are going down our own paths? Just breaking even is difficult. Making a living off rpgs is uber unlikely for most folks, and requires piles of money just for a chance at making a small amount of money.

When I think of the bigger picture . . . how much time I have to put together projects and how much time you have to play them . . . when I consider the size of my budget and the need to keep expanding it to put out more cool stuff, the size of the rpg industry and available gamers, and a host of other factors, I see that I need to tread very carefully with every hour and every dime I spend. I need to play it smart.

I still hope to publish Cosmothea in some form as well as put out some Cosmoverse source books down the road (I have several very cool projects in the works), but I think the corner I turned was an important one. While the Epic Destinies Roleplaying Game and Toonaria Campaign Setting (Itself nearly 40 years old and fairly well developed) still require a lot of work, I think they will help me move forward with QT Games more effectively for now.

I’ll start unveiling the roadmap and talk more about these latest projects in the upcoming blog posts. Have an amazing week, my friends, and as always, I’d love to hear from you. Cheers!
Bob
P.s. Don’t forget I have a free fiction ebook for you just for joining our newsletter! The Train Less Traveled is an exciting, epic tale that will give you a taste of the Cosmoverse and our unusual magic system.

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmothea, Cosmoverse, eBook, Fiction, free, Game Design, publishing, QT Games, Roleplaying, RPG, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Going Epic!

I’ve been blogging about our fiction and games for quite awhile. After taking a step back and reviewing the path ahead, I decided the vision for QT Games and our roadmap needed a bit of tweaking. We’re going in an epic new direction with a new budget, so, I thought I’d restart this blog now that I’ve finish the editing phase on my latest novel, The Shadow Reaper.

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Wait, before you go all epic on us, who are you again, and why should we care? 

QT Games LLC is a Las Vegas-based publishing company created to publish blended-genre (fantasy blended with sci-fi, etc.) fiction, board, card and roleplaying games for a discerning gaming community.

Our Mission:
Never publish junk. Never waste people’s time. Publish only high-quality fiction and games. ‘Nuff said.

Overview:
We ran a successful fiction Kickstarter for Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology in 2014 and have since published that big anthology.(Read an excerpt by clicking here.)

 

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You can get our ebook: The Train Less Traveled FREE just for joining our newsletter, btw! The Shadow Reaper will be out later this year along with The Sea Of Worms, with more to come, including that “epic” thing I alluded to.

Unlike most small press, we have very strict standards: Only pro writing, pro editing and pro art. That means that if we can’t get it right, we find someone who can. We pay well for what we don’t do in-house. We don’t cut corners on quality. This means we stand to make less money than other small publishers, but that’s okay with us. We value your time and money, so we’re willing to take the bullet. Your reviews and spreading the word will go a long way toward helping make up for our sacrifice (not that we’re complaining. We insist on doing our best, and that means running QT Games in a pro manner).

We’ve designed a large number of games and wrote an even larger pile of blended-genre stories. Now we’re polishing some of them and getting them out the door. ‘Bout time, we know. Good stuff ahead!

Okay, okay, but what’s all this about going epic?
After designing the Cosmothea Roleplaying Game and Cosmoverse Blended-Genre Campaign Setting decades ago and tirelessly updating and expanding them ever since, we’ve taken a big turn. We didn’t have the budget to publish such big projects, which is why we went down the path of publishing fiction about them (well, that and we thought we had some pretty killer stories to share). Yeah, I know, I switch between “we” and “I” regularly. That’s because QT Games is a business, not just an individual, and “we” work with other pros to get things done as needed. With some cool new products, a bit more money in our pockets to get things rolling again and the help of our fans via Kickstarter, we should be able to accomplish even more epic goodies!

Last year after much consideration, I decided to create a simpler, faster, card-based roleplaying game based loosely on Cosmothea. After months of brainstorming, I nailed the concepts and went to work on a new game I call Epic Destinies. Rather than just water down Cosmothea, I decided to build a new tabletop roleplaying game from the ground up and just use the very best and relevant concepts and mechanics from Cosmothea, make them even better, and go from there.

Epic Destinies is about epic heroes (some very, very small, and others titanic in size) doing cinematic, epic stuff.  It’s still under heavy construction, but so far it’s exceeding all of my expectations. I’m on the right path. Things are looking up! Further, we plan to simultaneously release board games and adventures based on Epic Destinies (all using the same rules set). I took a very old campaign setting design of mine (No not my beloved Cosmoverse Campaign Setting), but one you may not have heard much about before. One that has also been near and dear to my heart for over 3 decades, and blew the doors off of it with cool new twists. I couldn’t be more excited about it. QT Games will continue to publish fiction and setting material for our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, but Epic Destinies will be married to the old made new and improved Toonaria Blended-Genre Campaign Setting. They’re a perfect fit for epic, cinematic adventures.

We have more goodies in store for these latest two product lines than you can shake a stick at! Our first adventure/board game will be Freeze Or Burn.

More on our new direction in the blog posts ahead. I’ll try to post at least a little something every week or two, less often when we’re in crunch time on a project.

That’s all for this post. Don’t forget to snag your free ebook just for joining our monthly newsletter so you can stay up to date on everything QT Games! Have an amazing rest of the weekend, all, and remember: Every day’s a gift. If you have a dream worth pursuing, never give up, but brainstorm on how you’re going to make it happen and then go for it! Questions and comments? I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

Posted in author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, eBook, Fiction, free, games, novel, publishing, Roleplaying, RPG, Toonaria, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kickstarter Wants My Firstborn!

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Today I’d like to talk about some of the trials and tribulations of both running Kickstarter campaigns and backing them. I often encourage people to invest in others—to back worthy Kickstarters campaigns (at least those they have an interest in). I sometimes back Indiegogo campaigns and other crowdfunding outlets, but not too often.Indiegogo would be my second go-to and it slows down after that.

I primarily focus on Kickstarter, since I can only do so much, and only have so much time to research worthy campaigns. I trust Kickstarter more than the others and like some of their philosophies. They aren’t perfect, of course, but this post will focus on what not to do when running a campaign, and those looking to back a campaign might find some useful reminders here as well.

Invest in others!
I’ve posted numerous times that we ought to be there for each other, especially if you have an interest in what the Creator is doing. but also to help support your own industry—those with like minds and dreams. I don’t mind backing my competition, and do, when I like what they are doing. Authors should stand together and see how they can lighten one another’s loads. And of course readers should back authors. Game designers and gamers should back each other as well—again, if they see something they like. But we should all be trying to back each other’s dreams in some way or another on or off crowdfunding, because it makes life more meaningful, giving is as much a blessing to the giver as the receiver. Because it’s helping people, and that’s a good thing. One shouldn’t just back blindly, however.

Iron sharpens iron!
We all need each other. We all have something we can contribute to brighten another’s day, to help along another’s dream, or simply to be an ear or provide an encouraging word. I’ve spent countless hours consulting with Kickstarter Creators, trying to help them understand Kickstarter better, uncover some of the holes in their campaigns (not in an arrogant “I’m the expert and know everything” sort of way. I’m not an expert, but I have some experience and have also made some of my own mistakes, have done a great deal of research, and have a bit of common sense. I can usually spot some problems and try to help when I can find the time.)

Sometimes it’s just easier to spot issues because you aren’t so close to the project. My sons aren’t game designers, but they both know how to read, are sharp and creative, and can spot confusing language and design flaws. When we stand together, we can accomplish so much more than we ever could on our own, but I’ve discussed this numerous times on previous blog posts. And there are plenty of Kickstarter Creators out there with far more intel on this topic than me, which is why I’m just doing a brief overview. That and I just don’t have much time.

Everyone has a dream!
Frankly, I’m tired of all the mediocre dreams out there. If you believe in your dream, do your homework and give it your best shot! Help me to believe in your dream too. I want to believe. I want to root for you. I want you to succeed! I’ve been on the other side, needing the help (and still do, frankly as my finances are still tight and I have piles of cool projects to publish). I look for ways to help people when I have time. Now, I can’t help everyone, and I’m not expecting everyone to help me.

With the help of 76 people, I was able to bring my first kickstarter, Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology to life back in 2014. Sadly, not only do some not try to invest in others, but they try to hurt others. I had a couple of those in my campaign, who only came on board to hurt rather than help. There are spammers and criminals both among the Backers and Creators, unfortunately. I can only assume that helping people is far more fun and that’s what I like to do.

So far, I’ve backed 63 projects. I’m not boasting, I just enjoy doing it, knowing I’m making a difference and sometimes even walk away with a decent reward. I hope to find many more that appeal to me, to back in the days ahead. Some I only give a few dollars to, others quite a bit more. I actually look fairly often, somtimes tossing a little money in their pot, other times quite a bit more.

I can’t back everyone, and I’m not even interested in every project. Others, I feel were done poorly, had unrealistic goals, terrible rewards, or were unprofessional in other ways. Some projects I couldn’t throw money at fast enough, because I liked what they were doing, even though I couldn’t afford what it was they were offering.

As more and more people find out that I like to hand money out (to projects I’m both interested in and feel were done right), I have with increasing measure, received messages from strangers asking me to back their Kickstarter. Sometimes I do, but they often forget what I said above and don’t even bother to look at my account to see if I’m likely even interested in backing a new hedge trimmer, watch (I don’t wear ’em) or the latest speedo (I don’t invest in clothes on Kickstarter). Just as an employer can’t hire everyone and so often makes special criteria to cut the number of applicants down, I insist on a few things.

Invest in others!
I rarely back a project in which the Creator hasn’t already invested in someone else’s Kickstarter. And the more they are asking for, the more generous I expect them to be. Seeing how many and who they are backing is easy. It’s right there on their account what they’ve backed. I figure if they aren’t willing to help others out, why should I help them? Now I get it, some people are even poorer than I am, but you can sometimes tell a little about the person running the campaign by reading it. Being a Backer is just one of my special criteria (I really, really don’t have piles of money, but I do love helping others, especially those who seem like decent people and in which it looks like they did their homework and have a cool project in my interest area and back others, as I said). So, if you want my money, you need to both impress me and show that you also invest in others, not just yourself.

I’ve backed a wide variety of projects and would have backed many more, but some days I just can’t find anything that pops out at me. I tend to back roleplaying, board and card games (and settings) and fiction that appeals to me (If you don’t even mention editing in your fiction Kickstarter, I seriously doubt I’ll back you—it never ceases to amaze me how many self publishers think it’s okay to skip pro editing). I rarely back books and games that appear to need an editor badly, unless that’s part of what the funding was for. If they don’t talk about editing, I usually move along, assuming they don’t know what they are doing. If I see a horrible book cover, I almost always click out. If you aren’t an artist, don’t do your own book cover! I’m a pro commercial artist with over 30 years experience and I still hire artists when I need them, because I insist on uber high-quality, and when I can’t deliver, I find someone who can. Get a pro when you need one. Can’t afford it? Build it into your Kickstarter, take a part-time job, sell lemonaid, whatever. Just do what you need to do!

If I see a game with shoddy art, unless they have already invested in a picture or two that demonstrates what they are shooting for, and talk about art as part of the funding, I usually don’t back it. Yeah, art is that important to a game. I don’t want to see scribbles, I want you to give me the confidence to think you will provide a pro product.

There are so many mistakes I’m catching every time I go on Kickstarter. There are a lot of ways of doing a Kickstarter wrong, and not that many ways to do one right. If a Kickstarter has little funding after a few days, I take a look at it, but assume they screwed up somewhere. There’s just way too many Kickstarters done wrong for me to waste my time. If they can’t be bothered to do their homework, than I usually don’t back them. This kills me, because I might even like the idea, but sometimes it’s so obvious they weren’t even trying or didn’t know what they were doing.

Kickstarters are very hard work!
I’m in no hurry to run another. I will, but not soon if I can help it. They are exhausting, and can be expensive (yes they cost money – at least you ought to spend some money to do your campaign right and get the project as far along and as pro as you can BEFORE you ask for money). They are also time-consuming and are not always the best option. Sure, if you are a big name in your industry, it’s a lot easier, but it’s never easy. I’m not lazy by any stretch, but I want to be even more prepared before I run my next, and I’m working on building a bigger fan base first.

Nobody wants to pay for your “eternal gratefulness”!
Even though I’ve backed plenty of campaigns without asking for a reward, I do like getting rewards if I’m interested, but so many Kickstarters have horrible rewards or rewards that are great, but are priced wrong. You want to reward those who are backing you more than some joe off the street. Your Backer is doing so much more for you than some future, potential consumer. I’ve seen people charge $5-10 just to credit the Backer in their product as a contributor. That is absurd! They can’t think of something to give at a price point or are being arrogant and set up credit as its own reward. It’s insulting, and all too common. I made it free on my Kickstarter. Why? Because I was grateful to my backers. They DID contribute, so I DID credit them! You should too!

Kickstarter isn’t a charity. Give potential backers something they can sink their teeth into! Backers should feel appreciated, not “lucky to get in on the ground floor of my awesome product”. Rarely will a thank you note or the realization that you will be “forever grateful” ever make me want to give you a dime. I want to give money because I believe in what you are doing and think it’s cool, and maybe because I think I might like you and like what you’ll do the next time.

I’m a dreamer and love backing dreams—not just any dreams, but dreams that were followed up with a battleplan, lots of thought and elbow grease. I want to give money because you’ve shown me that you are not only passionate about what you are doing, but you know what you’re doing, can do it, do it well and impressed me.

Just as people shouldn’t rush into launching a campaign, people shouldn’t rush into backing a project. I’m seeing people invest money in Kickstarters that don’t deserve it, and I’m seeing some Kickstarters that deserve more than they are getting and are not properly supported. I know, we’re all busy. We’re all short on cash. Most of you probably didn’t even know I was running a Kickstarter back in 2014. I’ve missed more than a few I would have loved to back somehow, despite my frequent visits to Kickstarter to see what’s new.

It bums me out when I go to Kickstarter looking for a cool project to toss some money at and I can’t find a single one in my interest area that looks like they cared enough to do their homework. I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes on my Kickstarter. I’m still learning, but I worked my tail off, read piles of articles, studied for well over a year, I did my homework. I did make mistakes, but I did a lot right too. There have also been some projects in which they did so much right and I’d love to back them, but find red flags that turn me off, like some of those I’ve mentioned above.

Make actual friends and fans, not just followers!
Likes are cheap and thrown around. Followers come and go and may not even like you (they may have randomly followed you. Some of them are spammers, others followed you on a whim). Those of you who have cultivated numerous followers on Twitter and Facebook, please understand that the conversion rate of likes and followers is extremely bad. There’s a difference between a follower and a friend. Sometimes they are the same thing. More often than not, they are not the same. Anyone can hit like and do so casually, but most will not take the time to back you. Even relatives may not take the time to back you, will get confused how to back, will forget to back, and that includes real friends too. If you get 2 in 100 twitter followers to back you, that’s not half bad. I haven’t looked up the conversion rate lately, but it’s better to have a few true friends than a stadium full of strangers.

I had some generous friends and family as some of my Backers. But I also had both friends and family who completely forgot I was running a Kickstarter, despite talking about it frequently. People live busy lives, so you have to make your campaign rock and spread the word. Talk about your project often, but don’t spam people.

Get involved in what other people are doing. Invest in their lives—show that you care, don’t just try to hit them up for money. That gets annoying quick. Sometimes I can’t back someone because my money’s just too tight that week, but if I believe in what they are doing and it is in my interest area, I’m much more likely to spread the word on social media for them and am also more likely to squeeze some money out of my pocket even though I really can’t afford it. Some people forget about spreading the word and would if you let them know. Others don’t want to be bothered. Be a real friend and you might get some real friends back. Start now. Friendship takes time, but you won’t regret it!

This blog post wasn’t meant to be a rant, though I know at times it came off as one. It’s just that I want you to succeed and take this seriously. It was long, but far from exhaustive. Hopefully it will help someone avoid a bum campaign and another to run a better campaign. As always, I covet your comments. Cheers!

Posted in Art, author, crowdfunding, Encouragement, Fiction, games, Hope, Kickstarter, Life, publishing, Roleplaying, RPG, transparency, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Building a better RPG and/or Setting

Cosmoverse_tinyImagine a game designer spending years putting together a world or two or ten – a mini campaign of sorts (I say mini, because you’d need way more than that for a full blown campaign setting with space travel, unless you are keeping it tiny—all about the Sol system, which has already been done many times.

A game designer who is very creative and has been designing for quite awhile, but has never really broken into the industry in a big way might benefit from taking a different track. There are plenty of reasons why it isn’t always wise to try and tackle an rpg design or campaign setting design all by yourself. Most designers aren’t good at everything, and both settings and rpgs are vast, multi-faceted monsters. There are so many things you can do right or screw up. And of course there are blind spots and lots of needs, including contracting artists, finding financing, tackling social media appropriately, just to name a few. Doing yourself will result in a product you totally control, but one that might totally fall on its face. Why not improve your odds?

Most game designers focus on designing a single world, but some would like to put out settings that span many worlds, systems or even sections of galaxies. Now, maybe you’re thinking, “You mean you, Bob?” Anyone who knows me, knows I’ve been working on the Cosmoverse Campaign Setting for more than a few years, and am open to collaboration, but no, I’m not really talking me per se. By that, I mean that this post isn’t just about me or what I’m doing, but I’m trying to present options for others as well. There are too many designers working on their own, when it’s only hurting them, regardless of their talent.

I’ll do my whole Cosmoverse and Cosmothea rpg on my own if I have to (and then hire pro editors and pro artists to assist with wrapping it up). But it is my intention to do what I’ve done in the past, which is bring on board a team of designers and artists, because I firmly believe (and have experienced) that teams can do amazing things when they are committed to a project, when a team of creatives come together. I will open the doors to collaborating again before too long.

The reason I’m writing this blog post is for the purpose of providing options to designers for their own sake, in case they haven’t thought of the benefits of working on a team, or how to even form a team, rather than continuing on their own. I want designers with talent to find other designers with talent so together they can produce something beautiful, rather than just something pretty good individually. I’m not doing this to advertise, since I’m not quite ready to team up again (I’m in the middle of something else right now anyway). I’m writing this hoping it will help someone get their own dream off the ground.

Campaign settings, like roleplaying games, are a huge amount of work with loads of things to do (designing the way space travel works, drive systems, space hazards, creating numerous worlds, cultures and galactic kingdoms, if and how communication works across vast distances, etc.

Brace yourselves: Frankly, I think that way too many game designers are creating settings, and/or rpgs for publication (if it’s good therapy for you, or just fun, you probably shouldn’t be doing it for publication, but for yourself, like a hobby—I’m just talking about those who are trying to go pro). Many designers working on their own—no, most, will never make it. And there aren’t enough gamers to support all those products anyway. We need to approach game design smarter. When I started in the industry, there were only a few games on the market, now there are too many to count, between free, out of print and new ones coming out all the time. How does a single designer make it when so many others fail? Well, have a great product for one, but sadly, that’s not usually enough.

To create a truly great setting or rpg, and have any chance of it making it even a little successful, takes more heads than one. There’s just too many blind spots and too many areas another designer could step in and help make your amazing thing even better! The best designers in the world have made plenty of mistakes (D&D anyone?) and we all could use a hand—there’s no shame in that.

What tends to happen is you get hundreds, if not thousands of designers all independently doing some original work and tons of work that everyone else is also designing (talk about duplication—everyone needs a write up of space hazards, fuel, being stranded in space, asteroid mining, star ship creation, space combat, etc. So thousands of hours are lost, because frankly there aren’t enough gamers out there to play in all those settings. So, if you want to strike off on your own, that means you are up against a pretty big wall. With a limited gamer base for all those games and settings, that means that gamers are very particular and discerning, and you have stiff competition—and lots of it.

Once you finally finish your first setting book (or your only setting book because you had to keep it small enough to make it doable and don’t have tons of money to pay editors, artists, etc.—yet another area of mass duplication) you still have to try and get people to discover it, like it, want it. And since you’re only one person, that makes the job even harder. Instead of a team sharing among friends on social media, you’ve got one guy killing himself trying to do everything. See what I mean?

Sure, some designers have done it, but usually bringing on board a bunch of people near the end or finding their setting vanishing into the slush pile. And then there are big name designers who have done it (and had a team help polish later) and have been very successful, but people gobble up their stuff regardless of quality, thinking it must be great because the designer is well known. And maybe their design is great, but you aren’t them, and neither am I, so we need to hedge our bets. Many great designs will never get discovered without approaching them a certain way, using strategies for success and creating a team to do it right.

This ongoing problem is being reproduced by countless designers world-wide. When we finally get it all done, we try to get it published and try to get people to like it and buy it. It’s a much bigger job than most people realize—designers included. Corners are often cut, people get burned out, the product never gets finished or languishes because parts of it were not done right as the designer pushed themselves to do parts they weren’t good at, or they messed up something or did a part shoddy or just get ignored because not enough money was spent on a good editor, great art, etc. There are a host of potential problems that are common when trying to do a big project. But what if 2-5 designers who know how to leave their egos at the door joined forces?

We can accomplish so much more together than we ever could on our own!

When mature, reasonable designers team up, they can do amazing things together and greatly increase their odds of success. And they would be able to offer a host of worlds, rather than just one world or a handful that likely have some issues. Two or more heads are better than one. It’s very easy to overlook holes in your own work and to get yourself into a position where you have to design something you aren’t good at. Why? There’s no reason for it, unless you are incapable of a)getting along with others, or b) have such an obscure concept that you can’t find any other designers whose worlds would work in the same universe as yours. And if your concept is that obscure, you might be making it harder for your own work to get published.

There’s a fine line between creating something familiar v. familiar, and obscure v. too obscure. Both extremes are dangerous. It isn’t difficult to come up with an original creature, but just being original doesn’t make it better. Making a great campaign setting requires loads of different skills, just like making a great rpg does. Most designers don’t have what it takes to do all parts of it on their own. But even those that do will be duplicating the efforts of numerous others—not to mention that it will take a lot longer and you’ll have a smaller setting as a result. That’s fine if you’re going for small. But even then, your game would be better if you ran it past a team of designers and they helped make parts of it or at the very least, added a few more worlds to it and gave their two cents for making it rock even more!

For a big setting like the Cosmoverse, where you want to travel the galaxy and do a lot of cool stuff, not just on one world, but dozens, that gets a lot harder and you have to tackle more concepts.

Worlds are big places and universes are even bigger, so chances are, most designers could, in fact, if they are reasonable, work together. While you have total control working alone, the odds of your project hitting the big times is far less than if you worked with others of like mind and put out something that really rocks!

With a team, each of you tackling the areas you are best at, sharing the work load and dumping all that duplication that comes from everyone working alone—wow, you have a chance at putting out something that might get somewhere! Sure, there’s going to be some compromises along the way, but what would you rather have, a campaign setting you designed all by yourself that never really makes it, or one that has a much greater chance of making it, because it’s had several pairs of eyes on it, each with their own specialties and the whole thing would be more polished!

Likely, there are parts of an rpg design that you just aren’t nearly as good at as other parts. On a team, everyone could do a portion of what they consider to be the funnest part (World design perhaps, or even more narrow —faction design, culture or creature design) and there could be some overlap (since plenty of worlds are needed for any sort of sci-fi or sci-fi and fantasy rpg) and then the designers who are better at other parts can do those parts.

Instead of so many designers feeling like they have to design an entire setting or rpg all by themselves, why not team up? Now, if you have a big ego, think you’re designers are better than everyone else’s, then fine, ignore me at your own peril. Have piles of money to spend and more time than God? If you feel so strongly, you probably wouldn’t work well on a team, unless you allow yourself to step down, get your hands dirty and listen to other creative and talented people like yourself.

Remember, I didn’t say you couldn’t be the boss. Every product needs a single vision and a single boss (with extremely rare exception, if any). But that doesn’t mean that everything is your way or the highway, or that the other designers on the team shouldn’t get plenty of respect or creative wiggle room to design their hearts out. It doesn’t mean that most of the decisions can’t be a team vote. Find common ground, stand together and be productive!

A team can work, and has—countless times for numerous companies. I did just that for Cosmothea 4.0, my roleplaying game, and I even put a team together to work on my Cosmoverse Campaign Setting. Mine. Yes, I used that word, but I gave them a lot of room to create (these sorts of projects are big enough that multiple people can work on their own thing without stepping on each other’s toes if they know what they’re doing), and frankly, with a universe as big as the Cosmoverse, I even gave them plenty of room to design their own planets if they wanted to (and that’s all most designers ever really want to do). Sure, you want the final product to feel unified and there are various factors to consider (this blog post isn’t meant to be exhaustive).

Want to know more about how to make that actually work, rather than fall on your face? There is a lot to doing it right and more than a few things to avoid, if you want to have a shot of making something bigger than you alone could accomplish (at least during a reasonable time period). This would work especially well if each designer is primarily responsible for 1 or more worlds, but if you sit down with your team (virtually or in person), get to know each other better, establish a bit of trust and respect, sort out what you are all good at and like to do, then make a battle plan and a commitment, you can get everything done, and done better than any single member of the team could have done!

I could write a series of posts on how to do it right and what to avoid and am still learning, but I don’t have a big ego. I want a great setting and a great game. While I have many answers, I know I don’t have all of them, and I’m not even talking about myself. You may already know a designer who you think you could work well with. Communication is one of the keys.

Me, I love working with talented, creative people and it pains me to so many designers working on projects that I can tell won’t make it, because they had some blind spots, lacked the finances to do things right, etc. If you don’t have a huge ego, consider finding another designer and talk and see if your visions can line up. If not, find another! If you would like to discuss the concept further or have had experiences on a team, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Post a comment and let’s discuss or shoot me an email (bob @ qtgames.com). I’m happy to offer some advice from my own experiences and would love to connect and discuss. Cheers!

Posted in Campaign Setting, Game Design, games, Hope, publishing, Roleplaying, RPG, transparency | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blended-Genre. You gotta love it!

bacon-eggs

Blending-genres, like blending together certain foods, makes an entirely new dish—something special. You may not realize just how much you love #blended-genre because you haven’t really focused on it, just experienced it, like when watching Aliens, Avatar, Shaun of the Dead, Star Wars and so many other blended-genre (or multi-genre if you must) movies. We like to use the word, blend, as we prefer much of our stories to be not just overlapping genres, but genres that have moved in together and feel more natural, like magic used side by side with technology.

Sure, we all love single genre stuff—those sorts of things grab all the attention and most of the shelf space in book stores (they don’t even have blended or multi-genre sections, despite the huge popularity). I discuss this more in my book, Arcane Synthesis, along with presenting 8 blended-genre stories set within our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting.

Not everyone realizes just how many crazy cool things you can do in a blend of genres, rather than sticking with one, as if a pure genre is somehow superior to a blend, which simply isn’t the case. At QT Games we like a thick blend of genres and have devoted ourselves to publishing only blended-genre fiction and games.

Bacon by itself, like fantasy by itself, is great. Eggs? Yep, many enjoy eggs by themselves just as there are plenty of science fiction only fans, but there’s something really special about blending things together. It may not seem natural at first to blend science fiction and fantasy, but when done right, it’s a beautiful thing. You just need a good chef in the kitchen!

At QT Games, we specialize in writing #blended-genre fiction and games. So, it should come as no surprise that I adore blending genres together. As I posted this morning on Twitter:

The Cosmoverse is -genre adventure! Genres go together like bacon and eggs. Embrace the blend!

Recently, I started a fan club on Facebook called the Blended-Genre Collective!

Here’s the description:

The purpose of this group is to provide a friendly environment to discuss blended-genre fiction, movies, art and games—and our favorites!


Specifically, we will discuss topics in which two or more of the following genres are blended together: sci-fi, fantasy, superheroes, horror, mystery, crime, detective and westerns (and blended sub-genres from different parent genres). Because we also love post-apocalyptic and dystopians, they are welcome here too, even when they aren’t blended with other genres.
Genres? But I hate even the notion of genres!
No worries! We know the classifications are imperfect, but as long as you focus on the concepts, not the classification system, and maintain a healthy attitude, we’re pretty sure you’ll have fun here regardless!Blended-genre? But I prefer another term!
That’s okay too. We know there are other terms (multi-genre, genre-defying, hybrid genre, etc.) We have our reasons for calling it blended-genre, but this isn’t the forum for lengthy discussions on the topic. We don’t have to agree on everything, and that’s okay. Discussions about terminology are acceptable as long as they are kept brief.

Embrace the blend!

If the Blended-Genre Collective sounds like something you could sink your teeth into, ask to join our group on Facebook and we’ll slip you in! You can also participate in our blended-genre Play-by-Post game at the QT Games Forums, check out Arcane Synthesis (you can read an excerpt at our site), tell us what you think at our Facebook page—lots of ways to get involved! Thanks and have a great weekend, all!

Cheers,
Bob
Have a question or comment? I’d love to hear from you! Post below or email me at bob @ qtgames.com
Posted in anthology, Arcane Synthesis, author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, eBook, Fiction, free, games, novel, Play-by-Post, publishing, QT Games, Roleplaying, RPG, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

QT Games: Upcoming Books

Shadow_reaper_twitter

Hi all, for those of you not reading our QT Games Updates on Kickstarter, our forums or Facebook posts, we’ve been busy campers! As the logo above hints, I renamed my Shadow Hunter novella as there were way too many people who started using the name since I wrote the original story nearly two decades ago (or thereabouts).

At some point, I had renamed the creature and story The Shadow Reaper, and am now returning to that. Expect to see that novella on Amazon and Drivethrufiction.com before long! It’s waiting for the editor to free up some time so we can wrap that up. I spent a great deal of time writing many drafts and polishing it, so the editing cycle will be quicker and a better book will result. It’s an exciting blended-genre tale about a very unusual creature that lives in the shadows of its victims. Cool stuff. I’m pretty sure you’re going to get a kick out of that one!

Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology still isn’t on Amazon (long story, but you can read an excerpt and see some fun art here!) I’m hoping to get it on there sometime later this year as I find time. You can find it on Drivethrufiction, however. That one’s a lot of fun and has Cosmoverse-focused stories in it by Ed Greenwood, Darrin Drader, Steven Schend, Robert Duran, Allen Farr, Lee Hammock and two by yours truly!

I just finished the first draft of Dead By Dawn, a most unusual story in that I allowed my Kickstarter backers to write anywhere from a sentence to a paragraph and then I wrote a story around them, adding in a great deal of my own words and brainstormed how to make them all work in a story. The result is a fun, sometimes silly tale of an alien invasion on Earth. I have a few more drafts to go on it before it’s publishable, but I think you’ll find it a fun read. (I’ll make it available for free once the backers get their copies.)

Once those two projects are behind me (hopefully very soon indeed), I’ll move on to my last Kickstarter promise: Cosmoverse World Tour #0. I’m about halfway through my first draft of it (a few scenes have already gone through a few early drafts) and finished drawing some of the art and maps for it.

The art is nearly done for the entire book. Bottom line, I’ll have 3 books on the market (two in 2016) and a freebie story to boot. And we’re just getting warmed up! I have several irons in the fire, including another novel, a board game, a card game and some rpg material. I’ve been working ’round the clock on several creative projects.

If you would like to see more top-notch goodies heading your way, please spread the word on Arcane Synthesis, and our upcoming Shadow Reaper novella. Your support and spreading the word will go a long way toward getting more great Cosmoverse and QT Games goodness into your hands. Questions? Comments? I’m all ears. Thanks, all!

 

Posted in anthology, Arcane Synthesis, author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, eBook, Fiction, Game Design, games, Kickstarter, publishing, QT Games, Roleplaying, RPG, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Shadow Hunter (novella)

The-Shadow-Hunter

A starship is pulled through a dimensional rift and reappears in orbit around a ringworld. Soon after, crewmembers begin dying off one by one. Down on the ringworld’s surface, farmers and a nearby town are being terrorized by a dragon. Hunters show up, including a reluctant knight sworn to remove the threat, and a bounty hunter looking for another creature altogether—one who lives in the shadows of its victims.

Yep—another tale from my Cosmoverse Campaign Setting. I haven’t written an official book blurb yet for The Shadow Hunter, but at least now you have an idea of what I’ve been working on.

Back when I was running my Kickstarter for Arcane Synthesis: A Blended-Genre Anthology, I sweetened the deal mid-campaign by offering a free short story called The Shadow Hunter. It was based loosely on a creature I designed back in the 90’s that won first place in a TSR monster design contest.

The creature was to be published in Dragon Magazine, but the magazine’s owner, TSR, the original publishers of Dungeons & Dragons, changed course and decided all future issues of their magazine would focus on a new version of D&D they were just releasing (the contest was for the previous version). So, my winning entry fell through the cracks. I was glad to have won the prizes, but thought the creature was too cool to ignore. A year or two later—or thereabouts, I revamped the creature’s abilities and backstory some, changed its name and wrote a short story about it!

I only promised my backers that I’d edit the story again, since so many years had passed since I’d written it (I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer since that time!) Instead of merely giving it another edit, I decided to rewrite parts and also expand the story. This new and improved version is around three times longer than the original, goes into more depth with the characters and in keeping with our niche, blends the genres and includes a new story as well. So, two very different, but related tales instead of one! Once I get it into my backers’ hands, I’ll release the story (now a novella) to the rest of the world. Fun stuff ahead, as promised.

In hindsight, offering up that freebie that I’m now spending loads of hours rewriting and expanding, wasn’t needed. It didn’t really give my Kickstarter the shot in the arm that I needed to push even further ahead with funding. I think by that time I’d already gotten the majority of backers that I was going to get. I just didn’t know a lot of people and promotion isn’t my forte.

Looking back, I’m fairly confident my already generous lineup of rewards didn’t need another goody piled on top. I had promised more than I needed to and was now committing to rewriting the story. And now it’s a big story and thankfully, nearly done. I don’t regret rewriting or expanding it, and I like to give things away when I can, but it is slowing me down from finishing actual Kickstarter rewards and other books in the pipeline.

I have two more rewards to hand out, and one of them—Cosmoverse World Tour #0, is a project that I came to realize after the Kickstarter had all the potential of a very solid series of books and even a card game to boot, so that too has been greatly increased in size. As a result, some of my rewards are being delayed well beyond what I’d promised (and I lost over a month dealing with my father’s sickness and eventual death to boot during it all). Of course, instead of releasing only one cool book (itself bigger than originally promised), I’m now releasing three, so while I blew past my deadline, my rewards and gifts back to my amazing backers are also blowing past my promises and giving something even cooler!

Frankly, I think The Shadow Hunter is a much stronger story now, and the Cosmoverse World Tour now rocks and I’m hoping to release it in a few months as well. Anyway, I should be done with The Shadow Hunter early next week. I’ve written several drafts. Once I’m happy with it, I’ll get it edited by my amazing, pro editor wife and will then revise as needed, which shouldn’t take long at this point.

So far, I haven’t put anything up on Amazon, which is where the real money is. Arcane Synthesis is available at a few online stores, but when I get the Kickstarter behind me, I’ll put all three books up on Amazon too.

Now it seems that over years since writing the story, the title, Shadow Hunter, has been used for a TV series and more recently, for another, extremely different novel, so I’ll have to come up with another name to avoid confusion. I already had the title and logo for the book. But now I think I should either rename it or give it a subtitle to help distinguish it. Thoughts? Anyway, getting stuff done and have a pile of fiction and game projects lined up behind it. That’s all for this post.

Let me hear from you folks, and please share this blog link with any friends you have that might like blended-genre fiction. If I can get the fan base big enough, I’ll be able to put a lot more cool books (and games) into your hands. So many small time publishers are cutting corners, but I refuse to do that, so we’ll always do our best to ensure high production standards. That means we take longer to get to market, but I think you’ll find they’re worth the wait. I’d love a review—we need to get the word out. Thanks for stopping by and as always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Thanks!

 

Posted in Arcane Synthesis, author, blended-genre, Campaign Setting, Cosmoverse, Fiction, Kickstarter, novel, publishing, QT Games | Leave a comment