*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
October 20, 2014, 03:24:31 AM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 29 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: 1 [2] 3
Print
Author Topic: Point/Success of Publishing Without Community?  (Read 10950 times)
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2293

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2009, 11:44:28 PM »

As mentioned, I really don't want to discuss ORX. It is not the only game in this situation, and talking about it alone does not solve the wider (what I see as a) problem; "Conspiracy of Shadows" or "Fastlane" or something else (to my knowledge) equally overlooked and relatively ignored, which hasn't managed to build itself a community for various reasons, and would have been equally as good to talk about. However, you do make some good points above, though probably not in the way you meant.

I asked originally: if one couldn't make that community happen, then is there a point? And that IS exactly what happened with ORX. To explain briefly: under-utilization of my resources wasn't the problem, it was having nothing to utilize. AP reports are great to stir up interest if you have AP. And I'm not sure what else I could have done in other venues to greater effect.

The longer explanation is: Ron (or etc) has a diverse group of folks who game regularly with him, or the ability to find them, whereas I've only in the last year found a local group I can play RPGs with, after spending a decade looking (I live in shit-ass nowhere. Until relatively recently, I didn't even have local friends, as I'm not into bar-hopping or shootin' things with gunz). For around something like three of the last four years my gaming was sporadic and limited at best; before that, while regular (once weekly for a couple hours) I was only able to game on-line and my play group only expressed interest in D&D. So getting folks to play ORX such that I could write those APs, especially play over the long-term, wasn't happening, and couldn't happen locally. I'm lucky to have gotten the game playtested as much as I was able to (all online) before I put out the print edition.

I suppose I could have just made up sessions in my head and posted them as though they were AP. Set up a couple of sock-puppet accounts for people who don't exist to create the appearance of buzz. But I suspect that even had I done that (which I wouldn't), it would not have been enough.

I say that because I had to push for reviews (and finally got a few); I was at one point putting a lot of energy into trying to get some air-time on indie-popular podcasts (but never did); I was on other forums promoting the game, mentioning the game when relevant, extending invitations to interested parties to play (and report back), etc. Nada.

I've found three reports I've written here. Two of them were specifically about problems I encountered in play, because one was a playtesting session and the other was an online session. The last AP I wrote, about the Forge Midwest game, was positive and enthused, and yet received the fewest responses (ie: none at all). There are two glowing reviews of the game out there, and two mediocre, all of them linked to on a website full of positive happy shit-faced smile about the game.

(The last I mention because somewhere you saw me going "my game is kinda OK -- wah wah", and that's trumping all the above for you? Well, OK. Dunno. Right now I'm pretty burned out on it and don't care if it is showing, but that wasn't the case for the product's actual lifetime, at least from my perspective. I was pretty passionate about how good and fun it was, to the point I was blinded to or dismissive at the time of some of the flaws that needed fixing.)

So there was a whole bunch of time and energy investment sunk into stirring up interest to no effect. Hence the above wondering and questions. Do I really want to go through all that again, including all the writing and slaving over a hot keyboard and playtesting and begging and crap, if I can't get a community up-and-running in order to drive sales? If the same thing happens with eXpendable (or whatever)--if building a community/getting people to actually play the game is going to be like trying to piss upstream into a firehose--is there a point? (Though maybe here we can refine such to say: "building a community via online interaction".)

My experience thus far is: short of taking a croquet bat to people's genitals, I have no clue how to get them to post about their play experiences or even go forth on their own to attempt to have a play experience. If there is some kind of magic formula that doesn't require a year plus of pointlessly beating one's head against the wall, someone please feel free to share.

I know one way to handle this issue would be to avoid doing anything until you have the interest. But that's...difficult to do. Especially for an unknown. Stolze does this with his Ransom Model products, and Baur does it with Open Design -- but both of them are known quantities to their fans: if they say, "Hey, I'm going to do this thing and it'll be cool. If you want to see it, pay me to do it." And people WILL pay them because they expect it WILL be cool.

This is why I was wondering about convention play originally: if you don't have a community expecting that from you, it seems the best way to generate "this will be cool" buzz is to show people at conventions utilizing brief demos or short playtest sessions, etc. And if it doesn't garner any interest and talk then and there, you are forewarned. I'm not sure how to do that just running around the internet posting about it (which didn't/hasn't worked for ORX). I've noted in a post above that successful posting about other topics, as a thing you become known for, produces a community that you can then use to generate "expected to be cool" buzz about other things you're doing.

There is, of course, on-line play (as mentioned): which one can do if one can't find folks locally...though, to be fair, on-line play is weird.

I'm a ten(?)-year veteran of it, and the thing is, it isn't at all like tabletop play. It's different, it has some of its own issues (keeping a group together is even more difficult than in tabletop play, people often disappear for long stretches DURING the game but you never really know when they have/will/are, something like three hours of online play is equivalent to one hour of offline play, no tactile sense of togetherness or of table objects, no one else treats it like a real activity either--such as family members since you're "just" sitting at your computer, and etc etc), so for a number of years I've been personally rather turned off to the whole thing as (overall) an exercise in frustration with occasional bits of fun and exceptional result.

This doesn't mean I won't, but these days the thought of it ranks right up there with the thrill of putting hungry electric eels in my pants.

Tangentially: catering to the same crowd/demands? I disagree. Elfs is meant to be funny in-your-face D&D-snerk slapstick along mostly traditional play lines. ORX is dirty, black humor about how much life sucks and you can't win for winning (ironic, that), structured along very different play lines. Also, Elfs follows on the success of Sorcerer, it has a pre-established community (the author's) willing to give it a look and a shot. In comparison, I'm a bum with a sign on the side of the road. I suspect if Elfs had come first, it would have much less than whatever amount of success it has had, and Ron would be in much the same boat with it as many indies are with their games.

But that's neither here nor there. I really don't know if "you didn't post enough AP!" is a valid criticism, at least in the manner you meant it, though it is valid for what it is. Because, no, I didn't--but how could I have? And given that, should I have bothered? Should I bother again? Etc. Etc. Knowing the history better now, does that make sense?

If so, I think we can go to: in what manner was what I was able to do lacking (if it was)? How could THAT have been improved, or what different methods could have been utilized to better effect (and within reason for hobby publishing rather than as a full-time business)?

-----

PS: I apologize if this discussion feels a bit all-over-the-place. I'm using this to think-out-loud and bounce ideas, and so I really appreciate the feedback, and some stuff seems to be cohering. I know some folks are probably trying to see where I'm coming from -- if I'm coming from anywhere, I'll know it when I get to where I'm going. Hopefully this OK with the mods and kosher with site rules, with this not being taken as navel-gazing or anything of the sort.

PPS: I wanted to mention something else tangential. The print edition of ORX was honestly a mistake because the text really wasn't ready; it went to print because I'd spent years on it at that point and wanted all that time to have gone somewhere, plus it all the cool kids were doing it (nor did I see the prospects for getting more feedback improving anytime soon, which I was correct regarding).
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Christoph Boeckle
Member

Posts: 545

Yverdon, Switzerland


WWW
« Reply #16 on: November 06, 2009, 02:07:57 AM »

Hello Raven

I'm an ass, I forgot to say how much I appreciate you talking about this in the first place and how you give detailed replies. This is a lot of food for thought for me, and I want to make sure that it's clear that I admire your honest and open discussion about a dissatisfying result (which I count as just as useful as accounts of very successful publishing.) I'm sorry I didn't say that upfront.

Let me state that I stand corrected where I had to be corrected. Nevertheless the distinction between Elfs and Orx wasn't that clear to me (and I might argue that from what I read in your AP reports, there was a good deal of slapstick humour, but hey, as you said, it's not the point)

What you say about online play is pretty much how I feel about the thing as well, so probably reports about online play are not as appealing as those about table top play. I understand that your situation was difficult, but alas, I think it has a major impact on everything, one that can't be ignored. I'm glad to hear you've found a more stable group and I hope you'll be able to do more for eXpendable. In my opinion, that's the first condition that has to be met to even start designing a game.
Or put it another way, as far as I know, all the very successful (I know, it's a vague notion) indie titles have been played a damn lot by their authors before going on sale. Their authors also play other stuff a good deal.

It's true that what I say does not even start to describe why Conspiracy of Shadows and Fastlane have had a hard time, but then again, I don't know their numbers and design history, whereas for Orx you have been quite detailed. As far as I know, Conspiracy of Shadows is going on to a third edition, so is it really that bad?


Logged

Regards,
Christoph
Seth M. Drebitko
Member

Posts: 318


WWW
« Reply #17 on: November 06, 2009, 09:11:00 AM »

If you are trying to generate AP giving free stuff away always helps. I believe the guys who did Diaspora did this with some funky fudge dice. Maybe every month you could pick a random AP and give them a free set of dice?

The other thing I can think of is keep the people who have bought the game interested in it with say a newsletter encouraging play and questions, as well as articles from other fans.
Logged

MicroLite20 at www.KoboldEnterprise.com
The adventure's just begun!
Dan Maruschak
Member

Posts: 128


WWW
« Reply #18 on: November 06, 2009, 12:55:15 PM »

AP reports are great to stir up interest if you have AP. And I'm not sure what else I could have done in other venues to greater effect.

The longer explanation is: Ron (or etc) has a diverse group of folks who game regularly with him, or the ability to find them, whereas I've only in the last year found a local group I can play RPGs with, after spending a decade looking (I live in shit-ass nowhere. Until relatively recently, I didn't even have local friends, as I'm not into bar-hopping or shootin' things with gunz). For around something like three of the last four years my gaming was sporadic and limited at best; before that, while regular (once weekly for a couple hours) I was only able to game on-line and my play group only expressed interest in D&D. So getting folks to play ORX such that I could write those APs, especially play over the long-term, wasn't happening, and couldn't happen locally. I'm lucky to have gotten the game playtested as much as I was able to (all online) before I put out the print edition.

...

There is, of course, on-line play (as mentioned): which one can do if one can't find folks locally...though, to be fair, on-line play is weird.

I'm a ten(?)-year veteran of it, and the thing is, it isn't at all like tabletop play. It's different, it has some of its own issues (keeping a group together is even more difficult than in tabletop play, people often disappear for long stretches DURING the game but you never really know when they have/will/are, something like three hours of online play is equivalent to one hour of offline play, no tactile sense of togetherness or of table objects, no one else treats it like a real activity either--such as family members since you're "just" sitting at your computer, and etc etc), so for a number of years I've been personally rather turned off to the whole thing as (overall) an exercise in frustration with occasional bits of fun and exceptional result.

Your description of the shortcomings of online play sound like they refer to text-chat-based play. Have you tried playing over Skype? I don't have any good in-face tabletop experiences to compare to, but I've had several enjoyable Skype based games.

The "you can't get there from here" problem of needing AP to generate interest to generate AP is similar to the problem I am having with finding playtesters for the game I'm designing. I don't have a local RPG group, and I haven't yet been able to convince my Skype RPG groups to playtest it with me. I think it's kind of disappointing that the only designs that ever have a shot of working out are the ones designed by people who are also well-connected enough to get the help they need to kick things to the next level. A potential solution would be forming AP or playtest groups with other designers for mutual benefit, but that requires finding other designers who are interested and a good match, which is probably even harder than finding players.
Logged

my blog | my podcast | My game Final Hour of a Storied Age needs playtesters!
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2293

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #19 on: November 12, 2009, 03:08:43 AM »

Hey all. I apologize for the lack of response, so I just wanted to pop in and say I really appreciate all your input, I am thinking about it all, and I will get back to this thread ASAP. I've had booku computer problems the last week (ie: I had to reinstall my entire OS...twice), as well as continuing connection problems with the Forge. I'll try to get to it this weekend.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
MatrixGamer
Member

Posts: 601


WWW
« Reply #20 on: November 12, 2009, 10:56:24 AM »

I think the issue comes down to burnout.

You've worked hard. You've written a game. You're living out in BFE. There are no gamers around or those that are are only playing D+D and on line your work is not getting recognized.

I think that sums it up.

I've hit that burn out wall in gaming three or four times in the last twenty years. Others have had significantly more success than I've had and I feel envy. It sucks and I've taken whole years off of writing due to it. Sometimes that's what you've got to do. Working hard banging you head against the wall will not make a door.

All that said, everytime I've burned out I come back. It is possible to create a small group to talk games with and the energy from that group can help project me into outreach efforts to the wider world. I don't control the outcomes but I can try different approaches when I hit the wall. Each failure can lead to growth. When I die I will not look on this effort as wasted because it was better than drinking and shooting (I'm with you on that!)

For now you need to get more of your social needs met. If game making helps that then cool. If it doesn't - well hose it for a while.

When you come back work on projects that jazz you, they are the only ones worth bleeding for. That is the only reason I keep on working on Matrix Games. I insanely believe in them. Success is slow and if it ever really happens will be fifteen years after my ego wanted and expected it. So it's not about ego - it's about discipline and lifestyle.

Vent your spleen and accept my sympathy the life of most game makers is not easy. There is no magic reciepe for success.

Chris Engle
Logged

Chris Engle
Hamster Press = Engle Matrix Games
http://HamsterPress.net
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2293

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #21 on: November 28, 2009, 02:19:09 PM »

I'm an ass, I forgot to say how much I appreciate you talking about this in the first place and how you give detailed replies. This is a lot of food for thought for me, and I want to make sure that it's clear that I admire your honest and open discussion about a dissatisfying result (which I count as just as useful as accounts of very successful publishing.) I'm sorry I didn't say that upfront.

There is no need to apologize at all, Chris, nor consider yourself an ass, and I apologize if it seemed in any way that I was snapping at you. And thanks for the kind words, I'm very glad this is proving helpful to someone else as well, rather than it being just me waxing long and whiny.

Quote
Let me state that I stand corrected where I had to be corrected. Nevertheless the distinction between Elfs and Orx wasn't that clear to me (and I might argue that from what I read in your AP reports, there was a good deal of slapstick humour, but hey, as you said, it's not the point)

Yet something I've been thinking about now, so thank you for bringing it up!

Quote
It's true that what I say does not even start to describe why Conspiracy of Shadows and Fastlane have had a hard time, but then again, I don't know their numbers and design history, whereas for Orx you have been quite detailed. As far as I know, Conspiracy of Shadows is going on to a third edition, so is it really that bad?

Have to ask Keith, but from things he has said and the scarcity of AP reports, I had assumed the first two editions were not well received nor sold well. I may well be wrong about this.

Your description of the shortcomings of online play sound like they refer to text-chat-based play. Have you tried playing over Skype? I don't have any good in-face tabletop experiences to compare to, but I've had several enjoyable Skype based games.

I have not tried playing over Skype. That was just starting to come into vogue when I was leaving the on-line play scene. I may have to try it out at some point; do you know of any good places where folks arrange those sorts of on-line games?

Quote
I think it's kind of disappointing that the only designs that ever have a shot of working out are the ones designed by people who are also well-connected enough to get the help they need to kick things to the next level. A potential solution would be forming AP or playtest groups with other designers for mutual benefit, but that requires finding other designers who are interested and a good match, which is probably even harder than finding players.

That has been one of my main frustrations as a designer as well, something I've mentioned a couple times over the years as a definite hurdle for the would-be designer. And from what I've seen, and there have been a few such attempts at creating just such a thing, it does indeed appear to be more difficult.

Vent your spleen and accept my sympathy the life of most game makers is not easy. There is no magic reciepe for success.

Always good points to make. I don't think I'm looking for a magic recipe, as I'm well-aware there isn't one, I am trying to see if there are activities that actually do boost the chances in the crap-shoot of attaining success (I'm also well-aware there are plenty of illusory boosters that "everyone knows" which on examination turn out to be so much wishful thinking or false pattern-finding). While I recognize success is a matter of dodging bullets on the battlefield until you reach the other side, and that you can make it right off or thirty years down the line because gun-fu is a fantasy, I'm interested now in seeing if there are any ways to speed up that process or affect the actual odds.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Dan Maruschak
Member

Posts: 128


WWW
« Reply #22 on: November 28, 2009, 02:46:06 PM »

Your description of the shortcomings of online play sound like they refer to text-chat-based play. Have you tried playing over Skype? I don't have any good in-face tabletop experiences to compare to, but I've had several enjoyable Skype based games.

I have not tried playing over Skype. That was just starting to come into vogue when I was leaving the on-line play scene. I may have to try it out at some point; do you know of any good places where folks arrange those sorts of on-line games?

I don't know if there are any good places. Both of the groups I'm a part of came from contacts made on the discussion forums for The Gutter Skypes, an Actual Play podcast based on Skype gaming. I see posts in the RPG.net Gaming Gathering forums about setting up Skype groups, and that may work, too.
Logged

my blog | my podcast | My game Final Hour of a Storied Age needs playtesters!
greyorm
Member

Posts: 2293

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #23 on: November 28, 2009, 05:17:11 PM »

I don't know if there are any good places. Both of the groups I'm a part of came from contacts made on the discussion forums for The Gutter Skypes, an Actual Play podcast based on Skype gaming. I see posts in the RPG.net Gaming Gathering forums about setting up Skype groups, and that may work, too.

Thanks for the pointers, Dan. I'll look into those.
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #24 on: December 14, 2009, 02:01:46 PM »

Hi guys,

I just posted this comment in another thread, and I realise it would be more useful if it were answered here.

Once I've got a game, assuming I can't take on the US conventions (nod to Eero), what should I do now?


That's the question.  Here's the backup:

Quote from: Luke Crane
I announce on my forums and others that we have a new book coming out. I encourage folks to speculate on what it is.

I announce the nature of the produce 30-45 days later. I put it on the front page of my website. I announce it on other forums.

15-30 days later, I put the product up for presale. Depending on the product, preorders get a PDF when they order and then wait 30-45 days for the actual book. I never put up a preorder until the book is at the printer.

I also make sure I do this around the same time every year, once a year. I release one product a year and my fans know it. They can rely on it.

I attend conventions, demonstrate the product and personally sell it to interested folks. At conventions, if there's a busy dealer's room, I get a table and hang banners and sell from there...Last year I went to Dreamation, Origins, Dexcon, Connecticon, Gen Con, PAX and Draconis. It was a light year for me. At the height of my effort, I was doing just under one a month.

Assuming I'm at the delivery point of my first game, and I'm happy to get it out to the printers, where should I start promoting the product?  Luke mentions that he'd use his own forum, but I don't have enough fans for that.  In fact, I don't have any fans yet, except for the people I have played with face to face.  Which leads me on to the next question.  If I were living in a remote, green little island off the coast of Europe, where every convention offers the same faces, how should I expand my audience? In other words, I'm from Ireland and I can get to every con here, but there won't be any new imaginations to capture unless I head to Europe (a costly and scary business).

What would you suggest?  Is there a way to bring my game to a U.S. convention without actually flying around the world?  Or should I just move to the States and cash in on the indie RPG gold rush (read irony)? Everyone advises that the best way to create an audience is to go out there and play your game at the conventions (except the people in this thread), but what if the doing of that is prohibitively expensive?
Logged

Luke
Member

Posts: 1360


WWW
« Reply #25 on: December 14, 2009, 09:51:31 PM »

Sebastien,

Have you done the con circuit in Ireland? Have you made yourself a fixture and feature of those cons? Do the organizers know you and welcome you? Do fans attend specifically for your games?

You can get a lot of momentum in your own backyard. I didn't travel too far for my first run at the conventions. Hell, I started demoing in a game shop right here in town.

-L
Logged

greyorm
Member

Posts: 2293

My name is Raven.


WWW
« Reply #26 on: December 14, 2009, 11:50:29 PM »

That's a great place for this question, Sebastian. Sadly, Northern Minnesota is basically a lot of trees and hills and a couple itty-bitty conventions a year hours away from fuck all anything (ie: "Dude, I'm having a convention! Like, ten people showed up! Whoo! Success!" or "Dude, I'm having a con...oh, snowed out. Nevermind.").

Now, you've said you hit the local circuit, so can you build a decent home audience? Get that audience out there helping you push the game on-line (being vocal/active/participating fans)? Maybe find/gain a member of that audience overseas, someone who already runs the con circuit in some area of the US, who is willing to run your game at conventions?
Logged

Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
northerain
Member

Posts: 94


WWW
« Reply #27 on: December 15, 2009, 04:31:48 AM »

I'm in the same boat as Sebastian, though my game is a bit off from being done. I live in Sweden and while I plan to hit the local cons when the time comes, I'd love to have a larger con presence. Unfortunately, it looks like the only solution is to hit up UK and US cons, with UK being cheaper and closer to me.
Logged

Sebastian K. Hickey
Member

Posts: 176


WWW
« Reply #28 on: December 15, 2009, 07:49:57 AM »

Actually, I've not done the Con circuit, yet. Not as a developer.  I've started plugging at the games societies in the universities, and I've got a playtest scheduled with the con directors of one of the conventions in January, but it's just the start of the process.  From what I can tell, you guys think that is enough to get started with, so I'll go at it and tell you how I get on.

I'm also meeting with some designers in London (fingers crossed) in January, to maybe run a game of HfL.  I know that some of them are "loud" fans, as in they're likely to contribute an online voice if they see something they like, which makes me extra excited and extra nervous. I'll follow up if I learn anything useful (failure or success).

Quote
Maybe find/gain a member of that audience overseas, someone who already runs the con circuit in some area of the US, who is willing to run your game at conventions?
That'd be a dream come true. E.g., I've no idea how to get that kind of gig, except by pure fluke.
Logged

Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 2775


WWW
« Reply #29 on: December 15, 2009, 04:14:04 PM »

I'm in the same boat as Sebastian, though my game is a bit off from being done. I live in Sweden and while I plan to hit the local cons when the time comes, I'd love to have a larger con presence. Unfortunately, it looks like the only solution is to hit up UK and US cons, with UK being cheaper and closer to me.

Come now, why not hit conventions in Denmark and Finland? There are quite fine conventions in both. Come to Ropecon next year and see for yourself.
Logged

Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Pages: 1 [2] 3
Print
Jump to:  

Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.16 | SMF © 2011, Simple Machines
Oxygen design by Bloc
Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!