It has been quite awhile my friends. I did not intend for the gap to be this lengthy, but our successful Kickstarter has kept me quite busy. In my last post, I promised my next would once again delve into the Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game and Cosmoverse Campaign Setting, and this will, if only around the edges.
As some of you know, there’s a lot to putting out a product and even when it comes to roleplaying, there’s a lot more to do than develop mechanics and write about distant worlds, so I’m going to hop around a bit in the next several posts to cover various aspects. Some of my most popular posts seem to be about life; therefore I thought I would discuss both our product line and life. Sound good? I hope so! This will be a multi-post topic as I have much on my mind!
I’ll talk a little about what’s going on with Cosmothea (Like the new logos?) and the Cosmoverse (recently finished the massive, 24″x36″ map below!), and also spend a good amount of time discussing chasing dreams, teamwork and what it takes to succeed (and some of the pitfalls) — in broad strokes. While I can’t guarantee you’ll agree with everything I have to say, I’m fairly confident that you’ll walk away glad you read through till the end of this mini series, and as always, I desire to improve the blog and what we’re up to, so feedback is always appreciated!
Success means different things to different people, but I think all of the definitions have some merit, though not all are entirely helpful. And sometimes success is actually just a beginning and the real adventure — the real treasure comes after. I completed a successful Kickstarter in January, but to be frank, despite hundreds of hours of research, I still made a few mistakes, some very minor, and some bigger. (If you’ve never done a Kickstarter, doing them right is much, much harder than you think, and if you’ve done one or more, you know exactly what I’m talking about). I’m still very proud of it, but I’m not in a hurry to do another for awhile.
I can’t tell you how many Kickstarter campaigns (and other crowdfunding campaigns) I’ve seen that have made huge mistakes. Amazingly, some of them still funded, though they could have done far better if the Creator had done all their homework. The mistakes on several seem so obvious to me (and I’ve tried to lovingly help when I could and when it seemed appropriate to do so) and no doubt those mistakes were obvious to many others as well, but to the Creator making them… well, apparently not. We all have blind spots and I learned volumes through the whole process (and still have loads more to learn). I’ve also seen this issue when it comes to pursuing dreams. I’ll get into that in a bit…
Several years ago, I decided to create QT Games LLC to publish my dream: The Cosmothea Blended-Genre Roleplaying Game, the Cosmoverse Campaign Setting and accompanying novels, anthologies, game books and supplements, as well as some of my board and card game designs. Yep, that’s one ginormous dream (ginormous is actually a legit word now, go figure). I have designed numerous games and written even more stories, some novel-length, that take place in the Cosmoverse. But creating and publishing are different things.
I did my homework and I made a big decision: I was not going to attempt to publish on my own. I was not going to complete my dream on my own. I would build a team and work to accomplish my vision, taking the time to do it right. I built a team of 11 writers and artists. QT Games LLC is my first company and I’m learning as I move along, but I’m not so egotistical that I don’t listen to the advice of others. I refined the team over the period of about a year, did more research, brainstormed and developing solid business and personal relationships along the way. The team worked. We were making progress. Things were going well despite a limited budget… for about another 3 months, and then the American economy all but collapsed (it took with it most of my budget).
I’m not rich and my wife was laid off work. We couldn’t afford to take a chance on a dream that was far from complete and still needed a good amount of financing. I believed in what I was doing and my wife did as well, but the timing wasn’t right. So, I waited. I chose to temporarily disband the team, but not the vision. I’ve lived with my dream since 1979 and I’m not the divorcing type (I’ve been married over 22 years). I’ve been expanding the Cosmoverse for nearly 35 years and was in the middle of my 4th major incarnation of the roleplaying game when the economy bit the dust.
But like I said, I’m no quitter. I do my best to do what it takes to make things work. eventually I built another, much smaller team, but shortly thereafter, I too was laid off! After gaining so much momentum, everything seemed to be slipping away.
Lacking money, I realized the only way to move forward might be to write a novel. I’d already written a novel, and half of another and a ton of short stories, but I had an idea for a trilogy that would make a good launching tie-in for our roleplaying game and setting so I began writing that. After outlining all 3 books in detail and writing about 30,000 words or so, I started hearing more and more about something called Kickstarter and did some research and brainstorming to see if it was right for QT Games (Free money sounds like a good deal on the surface, but nothing’s really free and Kickstarter is no exception, neither is shipping, and that hurts a lot of Creators, myself included).
I realized we needed to reveal more about the Cosmoverse Campaign Setting so people would fall in love with it, and what better way to introduce it than through a series of anthologies to develop our fan base! I also created a small series of videos which we introduced with our Kickstarter. So, I set aside the trilogy and began doing heavy research into Kickstarter and how to develop and run a campaign for our first anthology (which takes less time than a novel and I could bring in other authors to share the Cosmoverse from multiple perspectives and “voices”!)
Some use Crowdfunding but don’t really need it. Me, I needed finances (and still do) or my dream will take the rest of my life and still won’t be fully realized (publishing costs money after all and without a team, things take a lot longer). Thanks to our wonderful Kickstarter backers, the first phase of the dream continues and we were able to successfully fund our first anthology in January of this year: Arcane Synthesis, which is rooted in my Cosmoverse Campaign Setting! I have many more books planned and in the works, but you have to start somewhere!
We have produced and shipped most of the rewards we’ve promised (the others are in the works and will be shipped later this year). So far, the stories are looking great and I’m very excited with the team I’ve assembled. Arcane Synthesis is a small, but important step forward. It will begin to reveal the creative concepts behind the dream. We’ll continue to reveal more in the days ahead as our fan base grows and our finances permit.
Dreams are a big time investment (and as you know, QT Games is a huge dream of mine), but I’m taking a step of faith, believing after much brainstorming and research that QT Games is going in the right direction, and we are not about to back down. I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating: We are just getting warmed up!
Arcane Synthesis is paid for, on its way toward completion and is slated for publication by the end of the year! We just don’t have much money for future products and need to develop our fan base. If after reading through our blog, visiting our site and forums, and/or after checking out our art and videos, you’ve liked what you’ve seen thus far, please spread the word! We’ll need to grow a larger fan base before we attempt another Kickstarter and get off the ground in a big way. I’m not worried though (I’d rather spend my time resolving this financial roadblock than pulling my hair out).
I’m still developing the latest incarnation of Cosmothea 5.0 (though Arcane Synthesis is my highest priority) and I can say with all honesty, that while it is under heavy construction and I’m working on it alone currently, it’s looking pretty hot! It’s still rough around the edges (things take time). I’ve been researching what gamers like and dislike in existing games, have been playtesting existing mechanics and tweaking them, have been expanding the setting and polishing everything, and have been continuing to do market research. The game is playable and fun and has more potential than ever! I’m very excited about it and am even more excited about our Cosmoverse Campaign Setting that Cosmothea was designed to support.
I will rebuild the Design Team for Cosmothea again one day, but we need to focus on the setting and anthologies for now. I have faith and I’m doing my part, so I remain hopeful that it’s just a matter of time.
This July, marks the 35th Anniversary of the Cosmoverse — 35 wonderful years of roleplaying adventures and stories about this amazing campaign setting! Cosmothea is only a little younger and with some more polish and expansion, it should entertain for many years to come, and is the perfect companion to those running adventures in the Cosmoverse.
I’m a very driven person. Perhaps you could say I’m stubborn, but that carries negative connotations that I don’t think applies here (at least not usually – hey, nobody’s perfect). I’m very passionate about several things (God and ministry, my family and friends, my writing, game design and art). But I am also keenly aware of my limitations and that passion is simply not enough. It really isn’t. I learned that a long time ago.
I once hoped passion would be enough, but chasing a dream doesn’t necessarily get you where you want to be. You can set your heart upon accomplishing a task dear to you, but unless you are willing to make crucial sacrifices (time, money, sleep… just to name a few), and have a concrete, well thought out battleplan (and a host of other factors in your favor), you may never achieve your dream.
That’s the sad reality, yet millions of people are running around in circles chasing after dreams and near as I can tell, a staggeringly large number of them will never achieve them (and some of them who do, will later realize they’ve been chasing after the wrong dream). I may not achieve my most precious dreams (time will tell), but I will keep my eyes wide open, do my homework, appreciate what I do have, and strive for excellence, come what may. No, passion is indeed not enough, and victory always comes at a high price.
Check back soon for Part 2 and I promise you will be encouraged and challenged — plus more on Cosmothea and our great, big Cosmoverse!