[TCW] Revised. Paused. Thinking.

edited December 2008 in Story Games
I now have a complete re-draft of The Cog Wars, in PDF. I was right on the verge of uploading it and linking it freely in all directions, when I stopped for a moment.

I will be plain. Looking at the redraft, this is a game that I think is worth money. And I have put money into the getting of it, and others have put time and heavy creative work into it.

The core mechanics are dead solid; they're mechanics that we've used for entirely different campaigns. This specific implementation will likely show bugs in play, and deserves more work. The rewriting of a couple of chapters wasn't as clean as I would like; it could use some work too. It is a decent piece of work right now, and will only improve.

And this makes me pause, and wince.

The selling of my games for money is not something I have shown great expertise in.

I am considering putting this draft up on Lulu as a PDF, charging a minor amount for it (like $5), and give the people that buy the draft (and respond to an automail) any revised versions that came along from there, free - but with no promisethat there would neccessarily ever be revised versions. You would be buying that PDF. You would get any updates free. There might not be any.

I haven't done this, yet.

Because, as I have said, the selling of my games for money? Is not something I have shown great expertise in. I don't have any idea if this is a good idea.

So I turn to all of you. Talk to me. I'm listening.

Comments

  • All this hand-wringing is over-thinking it a little. If you feel your game is something people should pay for, charge what you feel is appropriate and see what happens. If you think it needs an ashcan-style deal to encourage additional playtesting, do that. If you just want to throw it out there, throw it out there. It is your baby, and nobody but you has the right answer. Just be honest about your intentions and do what you want to do. Personally, I am inclined not to wait until it is perfect, which it will never be anyway.

    From a marketing point of view, maybe give it to some people you know and respect and somehow get them to play it and talk about it. Incorporate their feedback and then offer the final product for sale if that's what you want. It sounds like that's what you want.
  • Jason is partially right; the decision isn't THAT complicated. But once you start charging for something, though, things change in some basic ways. Unless you want to just consider all your gaming business stuff to be under the table (which I expect more than a few indie designers do), you have to start filing taxes as a sole proprietorship (or something even more complicated), which means keeping track of all your expenses and income. If you decide to start charging for your game, definitely think about getting a separate business bank account with an attached credit/debit card (most banks will do this for little or no money). Run all your business related dealings through that account, to keep everything separate. If you're up for all that, go to town. You probably won't have to pay any taxes off your income, because you're not making all that much, but it adds a lot more paperwork nonetheless.

    Also, remember that just because something might be worth money doesn't mean that you should necessarily charge for it. I can make great, restaurant-quality waffles that people would pay for. But I don't charge people for them. Likewise, I already have a job and don't particularly want a second one, so I've decoupled myself from commercial game publishing and just produce free things. However, if I was less happy with my job or needed additional income, things might be different. All in all, this kind of thing is a personal decision.
  • The only reason I charge money for The Rustbelt is that I think it would be an insult to the game to do otherwise.
  • Mercy yes, there are complications and perils with charging cash money. But there is also money. So, you know, everybody has to do their own math and we can't do it for them, which is the point we're both making. Levi, JWalt's just getting all het up because he wants you to join his socialist free things utopia.
  • Better red than dead. Now that Obama's elected, we'll be Sweden before you know it. Morningstar will be the first against the wall when the Indie Press Revolution rolls through Durham.
  • edited December 2008
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarLevi, JWalt's just getting all het up because he wants you to join his socialist free things utopia.
    I already have four free games out there, a huge pile of other stuff.

    Just... Not this:

    image

    This? Won't be a freebie.
  • Is that the cover? That's pretty wicked.
  • Posted By: Marshall BurnsIs that the cover? That's pretty wicked.
    Yeh.

    Jason is likely right, though: I'm hand-wringing.
  • Dude, if you already know what you're going to do, then I'm not sure what you're asking. What are you asking?
  • Posted By: Jonathan WaltonDude, if you already know what you're going to do, then I'm not sure what you're asking. What are you asking?
    At the time I posted?

    I was trying to figure out exactly how to put it out there. Promised revision? No such thing? Call it an ashcan? Do some complicated thing with updating-mailing-lists?

    Over the last few hours, though, I've chewed it through. Being told "just put up or shut up" by Jason, here, and Rob D, over on my journal, was pretty much what I needed.

    Do some cleaning. PDF in two weeks. Five bucks. Nothing fancy.
  • Post an advert on your homepage and set up a Paypal button. Easiest thing in the world. I've set up Paypal accounts and buttons for all kinds of clients for all kinds of things (nonprofits, jewelry, books, ebay stuff) -- can't imagine it's any different for a PDF.

    No idea how Paypal's cut compares to RPGNow or IPR or any of the other online shops. I assume it's less, but marketing it is entirely on you. Does anyone have an objective measure of how much additional exposure you get by being in someone's catalogue?

    p.
  • Levi, when you say you've used the core mechanics for entirely different campaigns, how do you mean? What's the "specific interpretation" you refer to?

    Graham
  • Posted By: GrahamLevi, when you say you've used the core mechanics for entirely different campaigns, how do you mean? What's the "specific interpretation" you refer to?
    Basically, it goes like this: These rules are part of a set with-interchangeable-bits that I have used to run all sorts of stuff. I've run games with content that came from the core material as this world (spinoff ideas and proto-versions, in a way) using the same core mechanics, and have used all the specific changes included in other play. They're a re-formalised version of what came out of a thing called "The Exchange". They aren't especially clever or fancy or intricate; they are simple stuff.

    Each of the alterations I wrote to fit them to the current world is about as terrifying, to me, as writing in "You can change an Aspect after three compels!" would be to an FATE hackster. I'd like them to be torture-tested in all ways, sure, but I am dead tired of seeing downloads on a project break into three digits with one person giving feedback, and with waiting for a word from a well-meaning, awesome person, who has simply forgotten to look.

    I am about to break into a rant. I'll stop.
  • edited December 2008
    All right. I am a bit confused. It is sounding slightly as though the mechanics haven't really been playtested, in their current form, in running Cog Wars. Have I got that wrong?

    Graham
  • edited December 2008
    Posted By: GrahamAll right. I am a bit confused. It is sounding slightly as though the mechanics haven't really been playtested, in their current form, in running Cog Wars. Have I got that wrong?
    Here's a nice, clean statement, so I don't feel like I'm evading: This text, the one sitting in front of me right now, has not been run through the playtest mill as written.

    Thing is, that nice clean statement strikes me as implying things that are wildly misleading. The game in front of me now is at the middle of a giant cloud of successful play that used variations of these rules and this world. It is no more foreign to me than a new campaign (The kinds of bugs that new campaigns have? Those are the kind I expect).

    I was tempted to call it "An ashcan", but I know that term is loaded with other connotations, too.
  • edited December 2008
    All right. I do think you should flag that up, clearly, if you sell it.

    Here's another point of view. If heavy creative work has gone into it; and if you do think it's worth money; why let that go for a $5 unfinished PDF? (Bear in mind that, once you've released it as a $5 PDF, you may find it hard to ever release it as more than that.)

    If it's as good as you say, and as solid as you say, why not playtest it and release a finished game? If it's worth money, isn't it worth finishing? (If you're having trouble getting playtesters, that's a different question, and something we could talk about).

    I don't know, Levi. If you ask people "Shall I release this thing for $5", especially on a community that encourages creator-owned publishing, everyone's going to say yes. But I'd encourage you to think twice.

    Graham
  • Posted By: GrahamAll right. I do think you should flag that up, clearly, if you sell it.
    I agree. I'm just not sure how to do so.
    Posted By: GrahamIf it's as good as you say, and as solid as you say, why not playtest it and release a finished game? If it'sworthmoney, isn't it worth finishing? (If you're having trouble getting playtesters, that's a different question, and something we could talk about).
    Because I feel that if I don't finally get off my ass and get it out there, it might never go anywhere. Again. The earliest versions of the world were done in 2004. The setting pieces that were written by TonyLB, Stephen Lea Sheppard, and a few others, are almost two years old (and were good from the get-go).

    Hence the two-week deadline I'm giving myself. Two weeks to scrub it, release bits and pieces as gimme-feedback-teasers, run a full-day house test or two.

    If you still think I might be pushing too fast... Well, we can find out! Those gimme-feedback-teasers will have chunks of the book strapped right in - things like PDF forms for "build a mission" with the mission chapter attached. If you happen to look through one, and it screams "good lord, this needs more work" to you, say so.
  • Posted By: Levi KornelsenBecause I feel that if I don't finally get off my ass and get it out there, it might never go anywhere. Again. The earliest versions of the world were done in 2004. The setting pieces that were written by TonyLB, Stephen Lea Sheppard, and a few others, are almost two years old (and were good from the get-go).
    Good lord, has it really been that long?!?!
  • Posted By: komradebobGood lord, has it really been that long?!?!
    Yep.
Sign In or Register to comment.