Back with another blog post asking the tough questions. If you haven’t read our first two parts, I encourage you to at least skim them as I think you’ll find them interesting and informative. I covered several questions last time and why I was asking them. It’s healthy to question what you are doing and why. Oh, and don’t forget to post in the comments (and tell your friends to post) so I can hand out some ebooks! Let’s see now . . .
What the heck’s taking me so long to get my game or setting on the market?
Money was an issue for many years (it’s actually a bigger issue now than it was back in 2008 when I began assembling a big team of game designers, authors and artists to work on the last version of Cosmothea (4.0). The US economy killed my budget and we all but shut our doors. Years went by and I finally discovered Kickstarter—rather late in the game, I’m afraid.
I’d never even heard of Kickstarter prior to around 2012 or 2013 (I was too busy with life and somehow it snuck up on me). Crowdfunding? It wasn’t in my vocabulary. And besides, Kickstarter is NOT A BANK, so I can’t just toss my games or setting material on there and expect to get funded. Loads of Kickstarter projects never make it. You hadn’t likely heard of me until recently. I’m an unknown despite the fact that I’ve been designing games and setting material longer than most people. (Star Wars was a new universe when I started designing).
Roleplaying games are huge products and I have very high standards, as you can see from my first book: Arcane Synthesis! They are not something you can just approach a game company and ask them to put it on the market. The market is a catch-22 anyway. In order to get an industry job or gain a big fan base, you need to already have an industry job or fan base, unless you get ridiculously lucky.
I won first place in a national monster design contest put on by the makers of D&D many years ago—that was encouraging, but it didn’t bring me a fan base. I’ve run several popular playbypost games featuring Cosmothea and the Cosmoverse that got a good amount of attention, and more than a few players for a few years, but I’m working on a whole new edition of the game now, so I can’t run full blown playtests yet, much less pursue a Kickstarter. It’ll happen if I get the fan base, but that’s not today.
Editing alone costs thousands. Artwork? I’ve spent several thousand on paintings to show off the Cosmoverse and creatures I’ve invented and after all I’ve spent, I’m still several thousand dollars away from being ready to publish. Yeah, rpgs and settings are big business! I have designed many games and written too much to pursue either Cosmothea or the Cosmoverse if I didn’t feel after doing market research, that they still had much potential. There’s still room on the market for solid, creative RPG material, but since I don’t have piles of money (feel free to donate!), I have to build up a fan base. That’s why for many years we just played Cosmothea—I wasn’t actively trying to pursue publication, though I kept producing new and better versions of the game, and kept expanding the setting.
Way too many game designers are putting out questionable games, some of which have deplorable graphics or at least shoddy editing. Others just don’t pack enough punch and are released before they were properly playtested, which takes a good amount of time. I refuse to fall into that slush pile.
Some great games are still being made, thankfully, and I will publish mine when the game’s ready. I have some setting material in the works, but am low on funds. Many game designers compromise and work on products for an existing game to get street credit. That’s fine, but life is short, and I need to stay the course and finish what I’m already doing. I’m not just trying to get an industry credit, but put out something you’ll love, so yeah, it takes time and money.
Am I a slow designer?
Not really, no. I have designed over two dozen games since I started (board and card games) and this is my 5th major overhaul to Cosmothea and that’s not even counting my rules lite versions). Well, I don’t have a lot to judge speed by, actually. For example, if I worked on game design full-time for one week, that might be the equivalent of a couple months or more (depending on how much is on my plate in other areas of life), so if I was designing full-time, I’d be lightyears ahead of where I am now. Some weeks I get a ton done, and others, not so much. I’m extremely focused and a bit of a workaholic when it comes to writing and game design, but I do have a family and need to live a balanced life. And good designing, writing and editing take a good amount of time.
The Cosmoverse is way bigger than most of the universes you’ll find in pen and paper rpgs. I’ve created numerous worlds and vast regions of space—and have stories and creatures and technologies based on many of them, so it takes longer. The good news is that because I’ve already done so much, it’s really just a matter of time before more and more good stuff swing your way. Well, you have a lot of say in that, as I’ll need to do preordering or Kickstarter or get rich to afford to put out some of my work. Such is life.
More recently, I’ve begun brainstorming ways to release the Cosmoverse in smaller chunks and am putting out fiction currently to begin building a fan base, because the Cosmoverse rocks. I don’t want to just tell people that, I want to share it with them and let them decide. I am with Arcane Synthesis—a sliver, at least, but it’s a start. But I’ve also had a lot of good feedback over the last 35+ years running adventures. Cosmothea is a much better game now because of it, and the Cosmoverse just keeps getting better and better. I want to take my time to get it right and to get a lot of paintings done for it, so that’s slowing me down, yes.
Arcane Synthesis is just the first book. I’m midway through another and have written a ton of stuff, designed a ton of stuff. I’ll start publishing more, but again, it will take a fan base (so please spread the word about my fiction, blog, forums, site, etc. Thanks!)
Because word of mouth is so important, part of my time has to be invested in social media—talking with people. That’s just the way it works. If you don’t hear about it, I can design a hundred games or a hundred editions of Cosmothea, but you won’t know about them. I spend some time every week polishing Cosmothea, but the bulk of my time is spent on my latest book: Cosmoverse World Tour #0 (Book 1 in a series). I have some regular setting books planned as well as some rpg material I plan to publish, but one thing at a time until I get the fan base and finances to build another QT Games Design Team.
That’s all for this week. See you in 7 days or thereabouts (I was a little late on this one, but not bad. I’m shooting for roughly one per week, but cut me a little slack as I’m writing my next book like mad and am trying to have at least some semblence of a life!) Don’t forget the chance to get an ebook! Considering 1 in 6 legit commenters will win, those are really good odds! Rules were posted in Part 1. Let me hear from you folks—thanks! Cheers!