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Author Topic: Answers and Information For Those That Have Been Asking About My Game.  (Read 1662 times)
Stregheria
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« on: August 11, 2010, 04:19:52 AM »

Sregoneria is a game that's been created to fulfill two criteria: one is to be the game that i would most like to play and two, to hopefully provide me eventually with enough of an income to make a living from it. The first part of that is fairly easy, the second part is the challenge.

The game is inspired by the myths and folklore of our own world but is set in a land of my own devising. It is a land in which three conquering nations are constantly warring for supremacy.

The game uses a mechanic I've created myself which is based around 8 and 4 sided dice.

As any of you will know that has written their own games, they go through many changes from the time they spend in the 'womb' of the creator's mind during their conceptual phase to their eventual completion: they can be name changes, rule changes, layout changes, illustration changes and a whole host of other changes.

My game doesn't set out to re-invent the wheel but hopefuly it has enough original touches to make it interesting.

It uses a classless system for character creation and is skill based. It takes a leaf out of Rolemaster's book here in that anybody can learn any skill but depending on what area you choose to specialise in, certain skills will be more time consuming and costly for you to develop.

All the monsters are taken from western mythology, both celtic and west European. Magic is also inspired by occult history but a few tweaks have had to be made to make the game more playable.

As far as my business plans for the game, well, it's as simple as writing what i can, when i can and hope people like (and buy) what i do.

I'll post a sample of actal play when the game's in print but I can't really do it now because the rules are going through some last minute changes as is the design of the book. I don't want to post anything that turns out to be contradictory to what is in the final version of the rules.

As far as the printing of it goes, an initial print run of fifty is what I'll be having done from a POD company. Colour is not that much more expensive than black and white, about 15% in my case. What really bumps up the price is whether the game has a hardcover or not and the size of the book. Hardcovers seem to almost double printing costs and A5 is the cheapest size because the printer can cut their large blank sheets into exactly four pieces. I've therefore gone for A5, softcover.

Hope that satisfies people's curiosity and maybe helps others out as well that don't know about the printing side of things for now and I'll update when I can.
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Stregoneria RPG
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #1 on: August 12, 2010, 11:42:22 PM »

Thanks for starting this thread, Stregheria. I'll cut your initial post into pieces to pick apart some questions that interest me. Hopefully you'll have the time to answer these:

Sregoneria is a game that's been created to fulfill two criteria: one is to be the game that i would most like to play and two, to hopefully provide me eventually with enough of an income to make a living from it. The first part of that is fairly easy, the second part is the challenge.

That second part is quite a challenge, in that you're correct. I'm happy to see that your business plan seems essentially sound, however, so you're well on your way to taking a shot at it - who knows, success is such a crap-shoot that nobody can say who's going to make it in the end. Just don't quit your day job.

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My game doesn't set out to re-invent the wheel but hopefuly it has enough original touches to make it interesting.

This might prove problematic for your market strategy in that the rpg scene tends to be constantly over-saturated by game offerings, which means that individual games have a lot of difficulty in being seen. One of your key weapons in this publicity fight is a clear pitch, substantially unique offerings and an understanding of where your game fits in the market - who is its target audience. If your sales argument is that the game is "pretty good for what it does, even if not particularly innovative", then that's not going to exactly set hearts afire. More detail and a greater awareness of what makes your game unique and excellent is needed.

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It uses a classless system for character creation and is skill based. It takes a leaf out of Rolemaster's book here in that anybody can learn any skill but depending on what area you choose to specialise in, certain skills will be more time consuming and costly for you to develop.

Your mention of Rolemaster piques my curiousity: what sort of gaming background do you have? I don't want to imply that Rolemaster is not a fine pedigree (quite the opposite!), but it's also true that one of the best things a designer can have is a thorough understanding of the entire scene and the different games that are out there. What have you played and read before you set out to make your own game, and which games and designers would you consider your primary influences?

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All the monsters are taken from western mythology, both celtic and west European. Magic is also inspired by occult history but a few tweaks have had to be made to make the game more playable.

What do you do in the game, exactly? I get this impression that you're working off an unitary understanding of rpgs where all games by definition are about one thing in different variations, and that's why you don't need to tell us about the core prosesses of your game - you think that these are the same in all games, anyway. Am I imagining this, what do you think?

The truth is that there are so many different games out there with different structures that I can't even start to guess what the above sentence means, for example. If I had to take a guess, I'd say that your game is about a bunch of colorful individual adventurers who get together to have adventures - go to dangerous places on the promise of rewards, for example. Then we play through the exciting adventure that ensues as the characters face dangers of various sorts. Is that roughly what your game is about?

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I'll post a sample of actal play when the game's in print but I can't really do it now because the rules are going through some last minute changes as is the design of the book. I don't want to post anything that turns out to be contradictory to what is in the final version of the rules.

Oh, I wouldn't expect that to be an issue - it's not like anybody's going to try to understand the rules of the game from an actual play description. It's not even the specific dice mechanics or such that we're interested in, but rather the general topic and thrust of play and the way the players handle the fiction. Is there a GM? Does everybody speak for their own character? Can players invent new details in the fictional situation, or does the GM decide everything? Do you first describe what your character does and then roll dice to find out if he succeeded? Are the players focused on gaining success for their characters as they struggle against antagonism directed by the GM? That sort of thing.

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As far as the printing of it goes, an initial print run of fifty is what I'll be having done from a POD company. Colour is not that much more expensive than black and white, about 15% in my case. What really bumps up the price is whether the game has a hardcover or not and the size of the book. Hardcovers seem to almost double printing costs and A5 is the cheapest size because the printer can cut their large blank sheets into exactly four pieces. I've therefore gone for A5, softcover.

This seems eminently sensible. My own thinking about new games and new designers is that just about the best thing you can do is to make your game and print fifty copies of it and see what people think. The very, very worst thing that can happen is that nobody likes the game, and even then you're not out a fortune and stuck with a bunch of useless paper, but rather have learned a lot and know what to do differently for your next edition (or next game, depending on how good your first try was).

In fact, with the publishing plan in order you've already dodged something like 85% of all the problems I usually want to harp about in new publisher plans. As far as I'm concerned you're good to go, more or less - experience is the mother of learning, you'll no doubt find out a lot about your game and its market by spreading those books about a bit and seeing what people think. Perhaps give some to experienced designers or critics and ask for opinions to find out how your game matches up against other similar products. This is essentially the ashcan strategy, no matter whether the publisher realizes it at the time; can't lose with that.

Another thing you could do is to tell us more about your game - perhaps write up a playtest report on the Playtest subforum, for example. That's useful for gauging interest among the audience, and it acts as marketing for your game insofar as it seems like something readers would be interested to check out. My experience is that roleplaying is much better marketed by talking about the playing instead of the sort of image marketing you're doing on your website and in your video preview - images and fluff text are all very good, but telling about your game's processes and substance is what's going to sell people on it.
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Stregheria
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« Reply #2 on: August 13, 2010, 09:12:33 AM »

Wow, your post made my brain hurt but i've read through it and i'll try and address some of your points. ;)

At the moment I'm testing out different approaches, strategies, advertising and marketing angles and some are failing spectacularly ;D while others are proving to be a real asset. Based on the video previews of my game I now have a small team of freelancers working for me on profit share for supplements and one on a combination of profit share and an advance. One is a professional freelancer who liked what they saw of my game's contents so much, that they asked to work with me; that was a real confidence boost, let me tell you. They've worked on Eve online, White Wolf with supplementary material for Vampire: The Masquerade, Green Ronin and catalyst Games' Shadowrun as well as a whole list of other stuff.

I've owned and read probably at least 100 rpgs over the years and maybe played 20. Everything from all the versions of D&D to Call of Cthulhu and a heck of a lot in between. I read rpgs just for fun and have an enormous data bank of different rules and systems burned into my brain. Drawing on such a vast wealth of knowledge, I've tried to address every single problem that has ever cropped up in any campaign I've ever played in or run and tried to make sure that my game handles these situations efficiently.

Yes i like rolemaster, i'm playing it in combination with another system a the moment but it's by no means a system without its flaws. Lots of flaws in fact but I tweak the rules to make them work.

My game uses many standard gaming concepts that other games use, its unavoidable unless you want to try and be original for original's sake or you really do have a great new idea (One that works that is! ;D). My game has skills, characters have an equivalent of hit points, they earn an equivalent of experience etc. I haven't tried to change an established gaming approach if it works. I've only tweaked things to suit or added something completely original if my rules dictated to me that it needed to be there. If it wasn't broken, i didn't fix it. For the record, there are a lot of tweaks and new ideas in my book but the game as a whole isn't a radical departure from convention.

So many games that I've read that try and be different, sadly, just don't work so well; not all of course but I'd say the majority.

I've got no shame or reservations about telling people that my game isn't a radical new concept in gaming, in fact, if somebody were to ask me i'd be glad to tell them which games inspired which bits of my rules; I don't care. Games that claim to be completely original almost never are, we've all been influenced by something else but some people feel the need to deny it rather than embrace it. I embrace it.

I hope I've addressed all of your major points there. :)

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Stregoneria RPG
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2010, 05:58:22 AM »

Hi there,

I think the distinction between original vs. not-original is kind of a red herring, and if I'm not mistaken, that's what Eero was saying as well. If we were to put that aside, what can you tell us about Stregonia as an experience in play? Or perhaps, if we were sitting down to play, what's the first thing you would tell us, or expect us to want to know? I've often found that whatever that is, is the best advertising pitch - and that strangely, it's not what many publishers choose as their advertising pitch, focusing instead on something else far less relevant.

If I'm not mistaken, this thread is best understood as a discussion of marketing strategy. Your printing model is very reasonable, and clearly you've brought the game to the point where you are comfortable publishing it. So now it's a matter of turning a website (which anyone can have) into a center of attention for an attractive product (much harder). Let me know if I'm on the right track, because if I'm not, and you don't want discussion or advice on that topic, then my posting about it will be counter-productive.

I'd also like to echo Eero's point that Actual Play posting does not have to explain or showcase rules mechanics if you don't want it to. You can use it to highlight anything interesting about role-playing or about the game, such as the setting or some interesting aspect of characters, or whatever.

Best, Ron
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Stregheria
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« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2010, 04:31:24 PM »

At the moment my priority is to get the game released on time. This is preventing me from really marketing the game effectively because I just don't have the time. I also don't want to push it too hard in case I miss the release date or the game turns out to need tweaking. If it hasn't gained much attention then it should be able to be be altered and a new print run commissioned without destroying too much of its potential customer base. It's also going through some final intensive playtesting and if that turns out to be a success then I'll be more confident about pushing the game harder before its launch.

As far as what Stregoneria is like to play. it has been designed as a game that will flow. My preference for rpgs is not endless charts and tables but an imaginative GM using a concise set of rules that encourages them to use their wits and a bit of common sense. I like good storylines and good character role-playing over number crunching and bookkeeping.

I've attempted to maintain a sense of realism by not enabling characters to take endless amounts of damage and keeping magic subtle. I will be releasing a supplement called 'Blood on the Battlefield' at the end of October which will detail critical hits in combat but even then, my aim is for it to be able to be used seamlessly during play and not to bog the players down with obsessive detail.

My game is designed to be played with minimum reference to the rulebook once the system is learned. As I've just recently commented, I've designed the game that I would most like to play and the game i would most like to play is one that gives the players just the right amount of rules and material to have a structured and consistent game without forcing them to refer to the rulebooks and scratch their heads every few minutes.
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Stregoneria RPG
Eero Tuovinen
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« Reply #5 on: August 17, 2010, 02:08:23 AM »

The disjunction between marketing and game design is certainly a reality; few people are adept at both or interested in both, which leaves many indie games underpresented on the market. Heck, I could and probably should do more myself to market my games instead of just working on new design. As Ron says an interesting website with a memorable and distinctive message can go a long way in this regard; strong presence in various web communities can also help as a non-paid method of publicizing your project. I say "project" instead of "game" because as an indie designer you're often publicizing your game project and yourself as a sort of on-going narrative that hooks people not only with the end-product, but also with its ongoing development.

The more I hear about your game the more it seems to me that your marketing needs to have some basis on actual play experiences and the details of the game's system; this is not high concept design, you'll be finding your audience from among the people who like the small details in what you do because they think about fantasy gaming the same way. So perhaps you should think of your website and other marketing efforts from that viewpoint, trying to find the details that will speak to others who are dissatisfied with their current fantasy adventure games and looking for something fresh.
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Gregor Hutton
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« Reply #6 on: August 17, 2010, 02:26:16 AM »

Oh, why the rush to publish by a deadline? I mean, it doesn't sound like you have a massive marketing launch planned. So, you can bring it our whenever you like, right?

I think doing a run of 50 is a smart thing to do and if it doesn't fly (or sells only slowly) then you won't have lost anything except the time invested in it.

My latest game "Remember Tomorrow" had a first print run of 25 from LULU, I then printed another small batch with LULU and a larger run of 150 from Fidlar Doubleday. I've been careful to not get ahead of myself, which I think is good advice. Easier to print more than get the money back on books that won't sell.
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Stregheria
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« Reply #7 on: August 17, 2010, 08:07:01 AM »

There's no big boss breathing down my neck admittedly but I've advertised the game as coming out in September and I've told all those who are going to be writing expansions for it that I'll provide them with the finished .pdf of my rules by then also so they can start work.

It won't be the end of the world if my rpg comes out a few weeks later than planned but I may lose some of the freelancers that I've worked hard to get, which I don't want to do.
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