What The Hell Am I Working On?

What The Hell Am I Working On?

It’s been two months since I became unemployed and started picking up a couple of freelance jobs to occupy the time and bring in some cash to keep things afloat. My original expectation was to have a couple of minor jobs here and there in between working on various Broken Ruler projects, including Duel and HPS Legends… but things have been much busier than expected. In a good way, don’t get me wrong.

So I thought I’d share the stuff I’m working on and what I’ve finished up recently to showcase some of the exciting stuff that will release in the coming months. Strap in, kids, ’cause this one’s gonna take a while.

Adventurer Conqueror King: The Heroic Fantasy Handbook and Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu

HFH-Cover_Jan2018_DriveThruIf you’ve ever done layout before and haven’t tackled an OSR game like ACKS, it is a major challenge. Not just because games like ACKS are a couple hundred pages each with hundreds of spells, monsters, etc., but because character styles are crucial in presenting the game to players and GMs. Each of these games presents spells in italics (or bold, as the case is with ACKS), for example, and there’s no room for error there. Starting mid-December, I started work on the Heroic Fantasy Handbook for the line and with the near-final copy in backers’ hands right now, this is a project I’m happy to list on my Everything I’ve Done page. This week, I started on the Barbarian Conquerors of Kanahu supplement and the tricks and tactics learned from the last book have already helped me pick up speed on the layout for this second book.

Third Eye Games

3EG_logo_2018_RGB_websiteIt dawns on me now that I didn’t make any kind of announcement here on the blog, so let’s make it official for those of you who haven’t heard yet. I’m now the Design Manger for Third Eye Games, which means I’m in charge of the graphics for everything produced by Eloy Lasanta’s company. New and updated logos, marketing, and more. We’ve already updated their main logo (as you can see on the right), created one of the Darklands supplement for the Mermaids Adventures line, started work on the H.P. Lovecraft Preparatory Academy RPG (launching on Kickstarter next week), and began designs on the Pip System Starter Box set. While this position is part-time (about 10-15 hours a month), there’s no shortage of work with 3EG, that’s for sure. You can check out my handiwork on the 3EG site as it’s released. 

Fragments: Duel and By The General’s Hand

DUEL_cover_preview1After some additional, last minute revisions and Vince’s editing touches, the layout on Duel is complete and this free mini-game should be ready to release in the next couple of weeks. You can learn more about this game on the BRG site. There have been some really sweet goodies added into this game with the help of Ryan Hennesy, including some divine influence from the gods who will either approve or disapprove of your duel. I’d like to spoil some more but you’ll just have to wait a couple more week to see for yourself.

This game’s the first in a line of free games called Fragments. They’re my shot at smaller games normally outside my wheelhouse, each one using a unique system that’s either been sitting in my brainpan for a while or simply came to mind at the drop of a hat. The next one is called By The General’s Hand, a letter-writing RPG where two players take on the role of generals presenting the results of an ongoing war. The unique feature is that each letter is actually written to a fictional loved one back home with the results of a player’s dice rolls encoded into the letter. I’m hoping Vince and I can start a playtest of General by next week and include our correspondence in the final version of the game.

Synthicide: Regenesis

4096c87c51d1bce326a101acad2b20c2_originalAfter responding to an open call for adventure writers last month, I had a great call with Dustin DePenning on a one-shot/convention game for his dark sci-fi RPG, Synthicide. It’s about a future where robots have more rights than humans and players take on the role of sharpers working on either side of the galaxy and the law. As much as I’d like to spoil the plot behind this adventure, that’s not gonna happen just yet. What I can say is that the PCs will have to confront a plot involving corporate espionage, cloning, and the very nature of humanity vs. synthetics as they are falsely accused of a crime they didn’t commit. My plan is to have this finished by the end of the month so Dustin can add in the mechanical goodies, artwork, layout, and more. I’ll keep everyone posted on how this project progresses.

High Plains Samurai

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018There’s only a little more than a month until the first official HPS book, Legends, launches as a free PDF (with the option to buy a full colour or B&W softcover copy). I’ve mentioned this a lot lately, so you can learn more about HPS Legends right here. Vince and I are working on proof copies with a goal to have physical copies available at Breakout, Indie Press Revolution, and maybe even a few local gaming stores.

But there’s more going on too. Remember the name Ryan Hennesy from above? Well, Ryan is working with me on designing a website for HPS. It will not only become the main website for the game but the home to the Atlas of the One Land, a special feature unlocked during the Kickstarter. The Atlas will provide additional locations, supporting characters, monsters, legends, and anything else we can think up from actual games played by anyone. Think of it as the expansion of the One Land. It’s a project I’m very excited about and having Ryan working on the web design will create something far sharper than I could design. For now. 😉

There’s also the looming deadline to finish the core rulebook and I’ll admit this particular one may bleed over into March. I’m working on the settings chapter on and off over the past couple of weeks before polishing off the players/GM advice chapter and wrapping it up with an unlocked chapter on playing villains in the One Land. That one’s gonna be fun. Add on all the marketing that will go into plugging Legends and this project is really starting to take on a life of its own. Kind of in a do-or-die moment right now, which makes me so happy to have a team on board to help cross the finish line.

Fraser Ronald’s Patreon

Broken-Tiger_cover_6x9_preview4I love me some sweat equity deals. So when Fraser was looking for some help with cover and logo designs for his Patreon games and I was looking for writers to add content to the Atlas of the One Land, a deal was struck that would shake the world! Or at least help both of us out in a pinch. Right now, I’m working on the cover design for Broken Tiger, a Korean action RPG based on Fraser’s Nefertiti Overdrive (you can check out the current low-res draft of the cover to the right).

The Unread Files

Finally, I’d like to share a pet project of mine on G+. If you’ve ever downloaded PDFs of games, odds are you have a collection of them that have maybe been opened but never read. Yeah, same here. So I started up a community called The Unread Files as an RPG book club for older RPGs that have never been read. For our first month, we’re discussing fantasy heartbreakers, including Old School Hack, OSRIC, Barbarians of Lemuria, and Circle of Hands. Check it out and join in on the discussion; we’re also going to set the theme for March in the next week or so.


Ok, wait… is that it? Not exactly. There are a couple of small design projects for freelance clients not worth mentioning here (because they’re not cool RPGs), but suffice it to say my list is rather extensive. It’s been nice to have a lot to work on and while this freelance thing may only be short term, living the dream for even a couple of months has been it’s own reward.

These things won’t finish themselves. Time to get back to work.

 

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OGP Episode #20: Heading In The Right Art Direction

OGP Episode #20: Heading In The Right Art Direction

OttawaGamePublishersPodcast_logo_July2016_340x340You know those moments when you smack yourself across the head for not thinking of something sooner? That’s what happened this morning when I start writing posts on G+, Facebook, and all that to plug the 20th episode of our podcast, the Ottawa Game Publishers. (I know, snazzy title, right?) Then it hit me… why not post it on the blog you never use and it will automatically populate the other feeds? Duh-doy!

So here it goes. Myself, Jason Pitre, Mark Richardson, and Joshua Kitz discuss the troubles of doing your own art direction and how it’s harder than expected. Plus the show notes include links to the art direction for Headspace, Simple Superheroes #0, and High Plains Samurai. Enjoy!

Freefallin’: Art Direction on HPS’ Cover

Freefallin’: Art Direction on HPS’ Cover

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018For the 20th episode of our OGP podcast (and if you have no clue what I’m talking about, click on the OGP page for this blog), we talked about art direction and mentioned how we’d provide links to some of our own examples in the show notes. With the show notes primed and ready to send out to Fraser so the show can go live… um, yeah, I totally forgot that I had some rather extensive WIP photos of the work Kieron and I did on the cover for both the High Plains Samurai core rulebook and for Legends (releasing next month). While most of the interior art pieces were hashed out in a couple of face-to-face meetings or phone calls with Kieron (and he certainly provided more than what I asked for in all those cases), the cover art was a different matter. I had something very specific and intentional in mind.

Cover art is about more than a great pic that grabs a potential buyer’s attention. It’s a preview of what you’re offering in the game, a glimpse into the kind of things possible and plausible in the game. Pretty covers without any context into the game’s purpose/function are fine, but they need to somehow reinforce the juicy text inside. For HPS, I needed the cover art to do the following.

  • Show a dangerous, action-packed moment in a possible story where it’s clear only one of the characters is going to make it out of there alive
  • Demonstrate qi powers in action
  • Showcase an extreme situation
  • Highlight the combination of guns and swords
  • Feature a man and a woman in equal balance at this particular moment in the scene where either one could be the villain or the hero

What I wanted was a pair of qi warriors fighting tooth and nail as they fell off a roof in the city of Yung Zhi. I was very specific about its composition, even down to the angle at which we saw them falling, and I’m happy to say Kieron delivered (as he always does). And because the first book in the HPS line is coming out, like, really damn soon, it seemed like a good time to wake up a little early on this chilly Tuesday morning and show you the step-by-step process Kieron and I went through to make this cover happen. And if you haven’t seen the cover for the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game core rulebook yet… then you’re in for a treat.

23555087_10154811340960899_106882387_o
Step 1: Kieron’s first rough sketch showing positioning of the characters. Here, the two warriors are quite far apart and highlight was placed on the woman to sell the action.
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Step 2: A second rough sketch with more emphasis on the background (tall buildings in the ragtag section of Yung Zhi known as the Shell). After this, we felt they needed to be closer together to show their physical struggle better.
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Step 3: Now we had a fight that showed them free falling hundreds of feet to the ground and a qi power in use (the bullet phasing through the woman).
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Step 4: From here until Step 6, Kieron and I played with the angle these character were falling at in relation to the cover, as well as positioning them on the page.
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Step 5: Another version where the characters were falling straight down.
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Step 6: To help Kieron with positioning, I send this a titled version of Step 5 with the HPS logo masked in behind them.
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Step 7: Now for some details. Here, you can see the gunslinger has a qi power too as the bullet is wrapped in flames.
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Step 8: The central characters are inked and locked into place.
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Step 9: Kieron starts adding on the background.
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Step 10: The backgrounds are inked as a separate layer so we can move things as desired.
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Step 11: The cover is fully inked and locked. The red checkmark is my 100% thumbs up.
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Step 12: Now in colour! But I felt the colours were too bright for HPS…
24956760_10154869860935899_220255239_o
Step 13: …and that’s when Kieron desaturated them and this sucker was done!

Now that the cover art was complete, I played around with some filters, motion blurs, and other effects to make it grittier, a little darker, slap on a logo or two… and voila!

HPS_CoreRulebook_Dec2017_preview4
The cover for the High Plains Samurai Roleplaying Game (as of late January 2018).

For High Plains Samurai: Legends, I simply masked out the qi warriors, stole a little of the Yung Zhi background, and placed them over top the map of the One Land created by Jeff Brown… and voila!

HPS_Legends_cover_web_850x1200_Jan2018
The cover for High Plains Samurai: Legends.

Two covers worth every penny.

Of course, you can learn more about HPS on the Broken Ruler Games website.

HPS Kickstarter Review I: Breaking Down The Numbers

HPS Kickstarter Review I: Breaking Down The Numbers

As I write this very first sentence, it has been nine days since the High Plains Samurai Kickstarter campaign ended and the rush of victory has faded to an overall sense of accomplishment to an awareness that it’s time to start putting a finished game together. It’s more than, “Oh, now I can finish what I started.” That was the original intention. During the course of the Kickstarter, I started thinking of ways to improve what’s already been done, flesh out areas that may not be as clear as originally written, and reset a few switches to ensure a better game. While a vast majority of the previous content in the KS will remain, I’m treating this final version of the game as a new project based on a previous one rather than a continuation.

But before any of that can begin, the first step is to break down the numbers and see what we’re working with. Unlike the early stages of this project, there is a set budget in various departments to consider and that includes writing. Paying an editor means I have to keep the additional words added into this book within a certain amount. Because one of the big promises I made to my backers was transparency and because I’m a big believer in indie publishers showing off their numbers – no matter how big or how small – making this public gives others an idea of what to expect under similar circumstances. Plus dissecting data via a blog post really helps me break it down into concise thoughts and bullet points as I move forward. This will be part of a small series on the Kickstarter itself and what that translates into dollar wise. As the months go on, I will continue to post more updates and detailed numbers on this project.

A Slow and Steady Climb

HPS-Kickstarter_goalschecklist
The final goals checklist from the Kickstarter. 

Let’s start off with the main numbers in any Kickstarter: the total money raised and the number of backers who made it happen. High Plains Samurai raised $6,411 CDN with 273 backers in 31 days. Our goal was $3,000 CDN (something like $2,225 USD) and we hit 213% of our goal.

When I set the goal for $3,000 (after great deliberation), my true hope was to not crawl over a finish line. I wanted to at least get halfway between stretch goals or fall right underneath. When you just make it past the main goal or a stretch goal, you’re still working with the bare minimum you’re willing to accept to get something done. Sure, we weren’t about to produce Black Scorpion’s Revenge just yet, but this is about as high as amount as I planned to make the four core products now possible through this KS. If we had just raised a little over $7,000 to make BSR, it would have meant a leaner version of the product. Still very plausible, but it’s always nice to make a little more than you need to feel good about your work. This is borderline greed and I’m sure Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman will walk into my unusually darkened home one night to investigate this deadly sin but it’s the truth about crowdfunding. Your goals are the baseline version of your ideas and raising a little more in between gives you a buffer to account for unexpected hiccups and add on a little more than you needed to pull off your idea.

Reaching those goals though… man, they can be a nut buster. Below is the progression chart of this Kickstarter. It’s not necessarily indicative of other campaigns, but there are some popular trends among your average ones that don’t blow the walls off the gaming world. Beneath that, I’ve provided a table detailing exactly how much was raised each day and the orange rows indicate when the primary goal and $5,000 stretch goals were hit.

HPS-KS-Progression Chart

Day

Date

Money Raised

% of Goal

New Pledges

Adjustments

Cancelled Pledges

1

2017-05-30

$2,028

68%

90

2

0

2

2017-05-31

$884

97%

37

0

0

3

2017-06-01

$488

113%

20

2

1

4

2017-06-02

$330

124%

12

0

0

5

2017-06-03

$110

128%

6

0

0

6

2017-06-04

$122

132%

6

2

1

7

2017-06-05

$105

136%

6

1

2

8

2017-06-06

$207

142%

6

3

0

9

2017-06-07

$124

147%

5

1

3

10

2017-06-08

$44

148%

3

1

0

11

2017-06-09

$88

151%

4

2

0

12

2017-06-10

$49

153%

3

0

0

13

2017-06-11

$0

153%

0

0

0

14

2017-06-12

$9

153%

1

1

0

15

2017-06-13

-$1

153%

3

1

0

16

2017-06-14

-$26

152%

2

1

1

17

2017-06-15

$2

152%

3

2

2

18

2017-06-16

$36

155%

3

0

0

19

2017-06-17

$12

156%

1

0

0

20

2017-06-18

$0

156%

1

0

1

21

2017-06-19

$19

158%

3

0

4

22

2017-06-20

$19

158%

2

0

0

23

2017-06-21

$58

160%

3

0

3

24

2017-06-22

$58

166%

5

1

1

25

2017-06-23

$42

164%

3

1

3

26

2017-06-24

$44

166%

3

1

2

27

2017-06-25

$67

168%

5

1

3

28

2017-06-26

$209

175%

9

2

1

29

2017-06-27

$326

186%

19

1

3

30

2017-06-28

$477

202%

25

1

2

31

2017-06-29

$365

214%

20

2

4

TOTAL

6411

 

311

29

37

See that 17-day flatline? Damn thing crawled so slow there was a trail of slime on my screen. Undoubtedly this was the most stressful part of the campaign as it crawled along. While there’s no question the midpoint crawl of every crowdfunding campaign applies, there’s also something to say for the crowd’s overall opinion on the next stretch goal. In this particular case, I started to wonder by Day 10 if backer were not as interested in unlock a short story involving an upcoming villain. When I posted an additional stretch goal, the Atlas of the One Land, to also unlock at $5k and the crawl continued, those fears were pushed aside.

Here’s the same table rearranged by order of most money raised.

Day

Date

Money Raised

New Pledges

Adjustments

Cancelled Pledges

1

2017-05-30

$2,028

90

2

0

2

2017-05-31

$884

37

0

0

3

2017-06-01

$488

20

2

1

30

2017-06-28

$477

25

1

2

31

2017-06-29

$365

20

2

4

4

2017-06-02

$330

12

0

0

29

2017-06-27

$326

19

1

3

28

2017-06-26

$209

9

2

1

8

2017-06-06

$207

6

3

0

9

2017-06-07

$124

5

1

3

6

2017-06-04

$122

6

2

1

5

2017-06-03

$110

6

0

0

7

2017-06-05

$105

6

1

2

11

2017-06-09

$88

4

2

0

27

2017-06-25

$67

5

1

3

24

2017-06-22

$58

5

1

1

23

2017-06-21

$58

3

0

3

12

2017-06-10

$49

3

0

0

26

2017-06-24

$44

3

1

2

10

2017-06-08

$44

3

1

0

25

2017-06-23

$42

3

1

3

18

2017-06-16

$36

3

0

0

22

2017-06-20

$19

2

0

0

21

2017-06-19

$19

3

0

4

19

2017-06-17

$12

1

0

0

14

2017-06-12

$9

1

1

0

17

2017-06-15

$2

3

2

2

20

2017-06-18

$0

1

0

1

13

2017-06-11

$0

0

0

0

15

2017-06-13

-$1

3

1

0

16

2017-06-14

-$26

2

1

1

The first thing to point out is that the five busiest days are at the beginning and end of the campaign. Days 1-3 brought in the most money, followed by Days 30-31. The reverse side of that coin shows the least amount (and in some cases negative amounts) were brought in during the middle phase of the campaign. This is not new information to anyone who has run a Kickstarter before, but what was a discovery for me was watching the total drop during the middle phase of the campaign. Day 16 saw the bar drop by $26.

If the middle is so damaging, it’s made me wonder why run a 30+ day campaign to begin with? If crowdfunding’s reputation is to slow down to a dead crawl in the middle… take out the middle! This is something I’ll be playing with during my next KS. Try out a 20 day campaign, maybe even 15 days. There are a couple others who have done so, especially when they’re dealing with smaller amounts or niche products in a larger market (such as Goodman Games’ scratch-a-box character sheets).

What Did Everyone Buy?

Below is a table containing the various backer levels for HPS as well as my initial prediction on possible backers per level. When I say “stacked” on the Rewards column, it means the rewards for lower levels include those listed on the rows above too (in most cases).

Backer Level Rewards (stacked)

Projected Backers

Actual Backers

Money Raised per Level

After Backer Reward Costs

Raw Apprentice ($1) Access to the current draft (PDF)

20

8

$8.00

$8.00

Rogue Scholar ($7) Legend of the High Plains Samurai (PDF)

40

11

$77.00

$77.00

Noble Warrior ($12) High Plains Samurai core rulebook (PDF)

60

125

$1,500.00

$1,500.00

True Believer ($25) High Plains Samurai core rulebook (softcover)

50

74

$1,850.00

$1,480.00

Hardened Outsider ($50) High Plains Samurai core rulebook (hardcover)

30

47

$2,350.00

$1,645.00

Rogue Scholar ($100) 24” by 36” map of the One Land, signed book

20

6

$600.00

$360.00

No Rewards

0

2

$21.00

$21.00

Based on these initial numbers, after Kickstarter takes its cut of roughly 8%-9% for commission and credit card processing fees, and assuming ~2% of them won’t process due to overdue balances or whatnot, this means I can expect to have approximately ~$5,300 available to arrive in my account. Ah, but it gets a bit more complicated than that and I’ll get into that in the next installment of this mini-series.

When you offer both print and PDF backer levels, the general rule of thumb is to expect half of your backers to take PDF. HPS saw 46% of its backers go for PDFs only. 44% of backers went for a physical copy. This was the part that really boosted my confidence in this project. To me, buying a physical book means you not only like the concept, you want to have the opportunity to play it some day. Physical books, in this industry, are still a good indicator of actual play rather than purchasing a game for casual reading. It’s not indicative of actual sales once the final product is out in the world, more of a measure of positive interest in the game and it’s potential (pardon the pun) to reach a few tables.

PDF backers mean you basically get to “keep” 100% of their pledge. Creating a PDF is part of the production process and you skip the part where it goes to paper. Physical copies require a printer, shipper, and a few extra hands along the way. That dips into those pledges and that causes the overall funds applicable towards paying for editing, artwork, and more gets a little smaller. That’s where pre-campaign estimates really pay off. Because I have a few quotes on all the possible options available to me, I can expect roughly $1,500 will go towards backer rewards. This leaves me with $3,500 to finish the game. (All this remains guesswork. The next post will involve the actual numbers at hand once the money makes it into my account and I’ve received updated quotes from printers.)

That’s right. Of the $6,411 raised, I can expect only 54.5% of it to go towards making the game. And when you’ve already calculated that percentage long before you press the start button, you can set your pledge levels accordingly and still walk away with what you need to get the job done.

Below is a chart I’ve been plugging away on for months. It contains all the possible outcomes for this KS with the amounts expected for the actual money raised in red.

Funded Estimated Dropped Backers Assorted Fees (averaged to 14% of total funding, including BackerKit) Profit Estimated Development Costs (editing, artwork, layout) Remaining Funding After Development Costs Estimated Production Costs for Backer Rewards Remaining Funding After Backer Rewards
$3,000 $0.00 $420.00 $2,580.00 $1,250.00 $1,330.00 $500.00 $830.00
$4,000 $0.00 $560.00 $3,440.00 $1,250.00 $2,190.00 $1,000.00 $1,190.00
$5,000 $1,000.00 $700.00 $4,300.00 $2,250.00 $2,050.00 $1,250.00 $800.00
$6,000 $0.00 $840.00 $5,160.00 $2,900.00 $2,260.00 $1,500.00 $760.00
$6,411 $130.00 $900.00 $5,381.00 $3,500.00 $1,881.00 $1,500.00 $381.00
$7,000 $0.00 $980.00 $6,020.00 $3,500.00 $2,520.00 $1,750.00 $770.00
$8,000 $0.00 $1,120.00 $6,880.00 $4,000.00 $2,880.00 $2,000.00 $880.00
$9,000 $0.00 $1,260.00 $7,740.00 $4,500.00 $3,240.00 $2,250.00 $990.00
$10,000 $0.00 $1,400.00 $8,600.00 $5,000.00 $3,600.00 $2,500.00 $1,100.00
$11,000 $0.00 $1,540.00 $9,460.00 $5,000.00 $4,460.00 $2,750.00 $1,710.00
$12,500 $0.00 $1,750.00 $10,750.00 $7,500.00 $3,250.00 $3,000.00 $250.00
$13,000 $0.00 $1,820.00 $11,180.00 $7,500.00 $3,680.00 $3,250.00 $430.00
$14,000 $0.00 $1,960.00 $12,040.00 $7,500.00 $4,540.00 $3,500.00 $1,040.00
$15,000 $0.00 $2,100.00 $12,900.00 $7,500.00 $5,400.00 $3,750.00 $1,650.00
$16,000 $0.00 $2,240.00 $13,760.00 $7,500.00 $6,260.00 $4,000.00 $2,260.00
$17,000 $0.00 $2,380.00 $14,620.00 $7,500.00 $7,120.00 $4,250.00 $2,870.00
$18,000 $0.00 $2,520.00 $15,480.00 $10,000.00 $5,480.00 $4,500.00 $980.00

As you can see, I was prepared for this thing to go nuts! In hindsight, it was presumptuous to assume this thing would hit $18k, but not preparing for it and suddenly finding yourself in that predicament was not a situation I wanted to be in.

That last column is my safety net. It’s a bit smaller than I would have preferred but I do have the benefit of not worrying about shipping costs. That will be covered when I use BackerKit to collect the data and shipping fees from all backers early next year.

The Lost 37 Backers

Over the course of the KS, 37 backers changed their mind and cancelled their pledges. That’s 12% of the total backers ended up pulling their plugs. In a couple cases, within the same day they backed HPS. Now, a few here and there is manageable and doesn’t play with your ego too much. After a dozen, you start to wonder if there’s a trend here. After two dozen, you start to worry if this is more of a epidemic. Once you climb above that (and have days where there are more cancellations than backings), you really start to panic.

There are numerous reasons to account for this, the most common one being the simple fact they changed their mind on backing HPS and found another KS instead or they simply realized funds are too tight right now. Not a problem. There is also the fact that a free preview was made available to all backers and a portion of these 37 did not like what they read. So let’s assume that. Let’s say 20 of them read through the rules and hit the big red cancel button as a result of the game itself. That puts us at roughly 6% of readers not liking the rules that much. But we’re really dealing in paranoid abstraction at this point, so I’m going to run off a very simple concept that 10% of people who check out HPS will not like it based on these numbers. And by not like it, I mean they’d give it a 1-star rating on DriveThru in a heartbeat.

See? This is what losing backers does to the creator. It inserts doubt into their work and it’s a very large mental hurdle you have to overcome. There are two days where I lost more money than I raised and a couple more where we started off with a few new backers only to watch them drop back down as the day progressed. It fucks with your head and while dealing with the slow crawl of any KS’ midpoint is tough to emotionally manage, losing backers is far worse.

Because here’s where it really adds in: the money lost from those lost backers. For this, I’m only including those who cancelled outright and not those whose adjustments caused their pledges to go down. $835 was “lost” during this KS, which means I theoretically could have passed our $7,000 stretch goal and ended up with a total of $7,246. This is exactly what was going through my mind during these cancellations and it’s an extra reason why they hit so hard. The majority of them were for print copies, a neck-in-neck tie between softcover and hardcover backers.

Yet when it comes down to it, there are 273 qi warriors who I’m honoured to see as proud backers of this game and their enthusiasm quickly trumps any paranoia. And 273 is a far bigger number than 37. That means my job is two-fold: make those 273 backers proud and make the other 37 regret backing out on this project. Nyah!

Next: From Projections To Dollars

As I wrap up this post and get ready to dive into the next phase (which I gotta admit gave me great pleasure typing “Version 2.1”), the money has just arrived in my account. It’s time to start working with real money, real problems. Budgets, breakdowns, putting it all into something real and staying ready for unexpected. That’s what I’ll get into next time. Whenever that happens. Soon. Promise.


You can still see what’s on the HPS Kickstarter page here.
Learn more about High Plains Samurai from the Broken Ruler Games website.

This Week In Kickstarter Prep (Part 2: It Pays To Start Early)

This Week In Kickstarter Prep (Part 2: It Pays To Start Early)

You know those times when you’re frantically running around to try and finish something upcoming and it feels like you’re not even close to meeting your deadline. Then something happens and you have to come to a dead stop, only to realize you’re actually right on pace or ahead of schedule. Yeah, that happened this past week and that’s a damn good thing because the thing that made me stop to learn this was having my Mac suffer a significant technical issue. Since I was working on updating the text and layout for the Kickstarter draft of HPS, a short burst of panic soon became a long, slow breath of fresh air.

If there’s a theme to this update, it’s progress against adversity. Failing forward, if I can use a gaming term. Not everything can work out, especially when it comes to prepping a marketing campaign for anything. Your time is always restricted by the deadline and sometimes, just like in game design, you have to kill your darlings in order to hit that deadline. It doesn’t make it less of a campaign, just one that won’t having synchronized mermaids in an underwater musical number. Sigh.

For this second update on the Kickstarter prep for High Plains Samurai, it’s all about the layout, video editing, and a little Ballad in the works. There’s been some work on the KS page itself but I’ll get into that once there’s something locked and ready to preview.

HPS: The Kickstarter: The Video

Being a film school dropout and needing to put together a crowdfunding video can only spell trouble. Any chance a film school dropout has to pick up the camera and start shooting something – ANYTHING! – they’re going to try and rewrite history. And for a short while, that looked like it was going to happen and I totally blame (and thank) Kieron O’Gorman for almost making it happen.

When you’re promoting an action game, you need to provide a sense of action. And when you have a lot of martial arts/wire-fu combat in your game, you need to show that too. And an eclectic cast of character? Duh, ya gotta have that too. To help pull this off, there was a group of local cosplayers who were more than happy to step in and appear as extras. We had a location, I had a crew of volunteers, I had an idea. Unfortunately, due to a combination of late planning and Ottawa Comic Con (meaning there is no such thing as a cosplayer not standing on that convention floor that weekend), it was not to be. Not to say it will never happen, just not in time to meet the deadline for launching this Kickstarter.

What I’ve started on now is something that will really play up on the marketing campaign as well as tease things about the game. That’s all I’m going to say for the moment. The rest would spoil the fun.

Updating the Kickstarter Draft

I read my games to my son at bedtime. Yes, including Killshot. I read High Plains Samurai to him and made some notes for the exclusive backers only copy available to everyone when they back the project. It went into layout so everyone could see what the game will look like when it’s ready. That layout is 96% done. And yeah, computer issues. A PDF is only a few minor alterations and an export away from completion but the has now been moved to the final weekend before launch date. The video (and the page itself) need to be submitted by Thursday, May 28th. The PDF can wait.

There are some differences and additions between this draft and the Rehearsal Edition (which has now come to a close). The biggest one involves motivations, now divided into three types to help players establish some baseline connections between characters as well as the story. Plus some little tweaks here and there. While this version does not indicate the entire game (the whole version of the Kickstarter is to determine exactly how in-depth this game will get), it will provide everyone with a clear vision for what High Plains Samurai will be all about.

Ballad of a High Plains Samurai

Last week, my good friend and fellow game designer, Fraser Ronald, announced he had written four chapters of an origin story for one of the One Land’s central villains, Black Scorpion. This story will be posted during the course of the Kickstarter to help showcase this complex and vital character as being more than just a cold-blooded killer. It’s also a teaser for the first stretch goal, because Fraser will finish her story if I can raise at least $5k. Everything accounting for her time with the monks of Heaven’s Peak, how she learned to control her qi power, fall in love, and settle into a peaceful life before the warlords and their combined military might brought back the Black Scorpion.

Fraser’s submitted these first four chapters and my editor, Vincent Harper, is doing his thang. I’ll be releasing one chapter every Thursday during the Kickstarter on the BRG site.

Keep On Keepin’ On…

Right, time to get back to it. Tonight, I’m being interviewed by Jason Cordova from The Gauntlet podcast and after that I’m taking a breather from some prep work as it’s Cangames weekend. Seeing as I’m on the committee and there’s always a buttload of work to do for any con during the final days, that mistress definitely requires some time. If you’re an Ottawantonian, hope to see you there. Otherwise, until next time…

This Week In Kickstarter Prep (Part 1)

This Week In Kickstarter Prep (Part 1)

The countdown is on! On my fridge, there’s a little reminder every morning and right now it’s telling me there’s only 25 days exist before this sucker goes live and High Plains Samurai‘s Kickstarter is in full swing. There’s still a fair amount to get ready and seeing as this is getting my marketing engine all fired up (it is one half of what I do for a living, after all), I thought it appropriate (nay, required!) to post weekly updates on how the KS prep is going and what you can expect when the project launches.

To bullet point what I’ll cover this week…

  • There’s the Kickstarter page itself
  • Revising and updating what was the Rehearsal Edition into the Kickstarter Draft of the game
  • Making HPS feel more inclusive and open
  • Changes to the KS video

The Kickstarter Page

Truthfully, I started working on the KS page over a month ago and now it’s about locking down the information and presenting it the best way possible to sell the game. Feel free to have a look and comment, if you like. Thanks to a couple members of the IGDN (of which I’m a proud member), the text is tighter and better organized than before (information that will be copied over to the BRG website when finalized). Plus I’ve been playing around with some of the banner designs and this page is really starting to pop.

The Kickstarter Draft

Everyone who backs the KS will receive access to High Plains Samurai‘s Kickstarter Draft. Very much like the Rehearsal Edition but with some revisions made over the course of playtesting these past few months (and some others mentioned below). There will also be an open preview (you don’t have to back the KS to download it) available for anyone curious about the game to get a look at the first chapter, discover more of what it’s all about, and get an idea of how it will look when done. After making some text revisions and a few minor corrections, I’ll be working on the layout this weekend.

Making HPS Inclusive

Two factors into why this is coming up. One, I had a very interesting and enlightening discussion with Kate Bullock recently in my quest to understand others and the issues they face in the RPG community. The second is that going on Misdirected Mark has truly made me realize just how many people have a chance to discover HPS now.

What I mean by this is that HPS, as it reads now, is very dude heavy. While there’s nothing in the mechanics that favours any one gender, the setting itself is very dude heavy and it’s something Fraser Ronald, who is authoring a short story on the origins of Black Scorpion, mentioned this week. He added more female characters to his story because the setting material felt a bit sparse on gender diversity. And he’s right. So I wanted to demonstrate a shift in that part of the game because I want this to be a game for anyone who loves action films, not just people like me. That’s why Black Scorpion is now a woman. And when the time comes and her qi power is revealed, this change will make the character deeper and more profound, not just “a guy who can really kick ass.” Editorially speaking, this is a minor change in text but I feel a significant shift in how the game looks its characters (particularly the major supporting characters who will help highlight the various KS updates planned throughout June).

The Kickstarter Video

Due to scheduling issues and a sudden realization that filming the KS video as originally planned could actually push back the launch date to May 31st (or later), we’ve had to scrap our original video and I’m now working on something else. Anyone who knows me and has watched the previous KS videos for Killshot and Killshot: Reloaded will know that I’m not one for simply sitting at my desk and talking to the camera directly. No way. The original video was going to involve a cast of Ottawa-area cosplayers dressed as assorted characters who could easily be from the One Land but May is a busy month for everyone. With the Ottawa Comic Con next weekend and Cangames the next (and I’m on the committee, so that weekend is definitely claimed on my calendar), May 27th was the earliest date we could shoot. When I noticed the button on the top right of the KS setup page said projects were approved in 3 business days, a hard decision had to be made.

Not to say this particular video will never come to be. Just not for the Kickstarter. So stay tuned.

My Door Is Always Slightly Ajar…

That’s this week’s update. If you have any questions, comments, or observations about any of this stuff, comment below. You can imagine I’m running full steam ahead on this project and I’m psyched for everyone to finally have a chance to show their support and get the ball rolling on something that’s been four years in the making. It’s gonna be sweet and I can’t wait to experience this process with everyone.

Nathan: A 200 Word RPG Submission

Nathan: A 200 Word RPG Submission

The 2017 finalists for the #200WordRPG contest were announced today and out of the 700+ entries submitted this year… mine was not one of them. Considering it was my first attempt at a 200 word RPG (and how tricky it’s always been to keep high school essays at the word count limit), I’m quite proud and pleased to have crossed this one off my list. Plus, I’m quite happy with what this game could become that I’m considering a “full version” of it in the near future. Whenever that can happen.

For now, I’d like to share it with you. Have a read, maybe even try it out one dark and stormy night. The game is called “Nathan” and involves a group of friends arriving at a cabin in the woods only to find a note on the door with only the name “Nathan” on it. Oh, and the note is stuck to the door with a hunting knife. It’s a survival horror/slasher style game that uses a 3-minute sandglass/hourglass/egg timer to determine turn duration. Enjoy!


“NATHAN”

Four friends arrive at a cabin. A hunting knife hangs from the door with a note and a name written in blood.

“Nathan.”

Someone plays Nathan; all others are friends.

Each friend offers a theory for the note. Write each theory on an index card; one card has already been marked “TRUE” on the back. All Nathan’s friends will know the truth.

Turn over a 3-minute hourglass. Everyone will describe their character as the killer picks them off one-by-one. Before the sand runs out, a player must reveal a scary moment and choose a playing card.

Black = false alarm

Red = danger!

When a friend receives their third red card, they die. Dead friends can now play the killer and place red cards on characters.

Start the next player’s turn by flipping the hourglass as is.

When only Nathan remains, every black card becomes a wound to the killer. When the killer receives 3 black cards, the killer is dead. Nathan dies when he receives his fifth red card.

If any player fails to complete their description before the hourglass runs out, their character is instantly killed and the hourglass restarts at full.