Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas, Everybody!

I bet you were wondering if I would bring myself to post this Thursday, or if I would wait until the holiday was over. As it turns out, I've got just enough time while the rice pudding is in the oven to get this posted.

My playtesters have already received their Christmas present. The latest playtest kit is headed their way as we speak. Now to gift the loyal readers of my blog with a new Oz art preview.

This is the Tin Woodman as done by Brad McDevitt. This is copyright Brad and used with permission.

For those not in the know, L. Frank Baum wrote his own version of the legend of Santa Claus, called "The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus". It is, interestingly enough, the only hardcopy Baum book that I own. Both Jared Davis and VoVat have extensive blogs on this tale, so I won't bore you by rehashing what they've already said. I will say that it's my least favorite of Baum's works. Not that it's badly written (Baum's worst book is still more readable than some author's best book), but the simple fact is that Santa does little throughout the book but make toys and deliver them. All of the conflicts and challenges that Santa faces are instead overcome by his fairy friends.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I'm on Youtube!

Just put together a quick little promo video for Adventures in Oz. Check it out! No clever little soundtrack for this one, but maybe next video I'll come up with something.

Also, I've got the Winkie Country preview uploaded to the site, featuring Bear Center and Oogaboo. Playtesters should be getting the rest of Winkie Country in about a week or two, as well as some changes to the game's rules. Some of it is closing holes that have been revealed by playtesting and some of it is stuff that I've been meaning to put in for a while but haven't gotten around to.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Onward to Adventure!

It may be that my worry 0ver supplements last week was overwrought. I was thinking that I would have to produce another setting supplement, with all the research, writing, and interpretation that would require. However, a thought occurred to me: Why not make an adventure supplement?

The first big reason is demographic. At least two major portions of my game's intended market are Oz fans (who may not have gamed before and might appreciate help coming up with adventures) and parents introducing their kids to gaming (who have many other things to do besides creating adventures for their group). A supplement containing ready-made scenarios would be a good thing on both counts.

The second reason comes from a rather different quarter. In many quarters of the RPG community, there are those who say that adventures generally don't sell well, except for D&D. Ken Hite (whom I have had the honor of meeting) goes a step further by pointing out that Call of Cthulhu has a rather successful adventure line. He even goes the step farther to explain why.

Because both games are designed with an eye to creating a specific kind of story, their customers are more likely to buy adventures that support that kind of story: "dungeon crawls" for D&D and occult mysteries for Call of Cthulhu. Oz stories also have a rather similar structure that could be fun and easy to emulate.

A few more bits of news:

Although one of my early goals was to have the game finished and ready by DunDraCon, that has become pretty much impossible. Although the game may not be for sale there, it will still be played. I have managed to get "The Magic Belt of Oz" on the schedule for the convention. I will be running the game as part of their kids program.

If all goes well, I should have the Winkie preview posted to the site by next week.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time vs. Money, Fluff vs. Crunch

A wise man once told me that time and money are rather interchangeable. If you don't want to spend money on something, spend the time to make it yourself. If you don't have the time, spend the money for someone else to do it for you. Art is a good example. It would be impractical for me to spend the time to produce satisfactory art for the game (my stick figures suck), so spending money is the most efficient route to cover that.

For a good portion of this project, I've had plenty of time. When I started blogging, I was unemployed, and I was not gaming. Then I got a job. Then I got a gaming group. Now I'm working overtime. Time is rapidly becoming a precious commodity. I'm wondering if I should hire writers to work on the rest of the material. Especially with the beast that is Quadling Country staring me down.

On top of that, some "conventional wisdom" in the gaming industry says that your first supplement should follow very soon after (within 3-6 months) so that your fans know your are serious about the project. Some publishers have even mentioned avoiding publishing their game for a time, in order to give the supplement time to be completed.

The trick is, in the highly competitive RPG industry, there's no assurance of success. If the main book turns out to be a loser, why should I invest on a supplement that will just lose money?

On the other hand, marketing is important. My opinion is that the reason so many games fail is due to marketing. This extends to the prepublishing process of market research, as well as the actual promotion of the product. And part of that promotion is creating the impression that your company is not a fly-by-night operation and that the product will be supported. It's one of the reasons I started blogging back in April.

Which brings up the next part of this week's subject: Fluff vs. crunch. For those not in know, these are terms that RPG fans use to delineate rules and mechanics (crunch) from setting information and Narrator advice (fluff). Books that offer solely "fluff" generally do not do well commercially, but that's largely the kind of book that it's going to be. Of course, depending on the material that gets covered, there may be room for more character templates, some spells and magic items, and maybe enough "crunch" to make it worthwhile.

Thoughts, guys?
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