Thursday, 13 June 2019

So you want to be a designer?

You want to write games? Gaming stuff? Scenarios? Army lists?

Cool. You can.
You can literally sit down right now and do it.

It's like anything else in life: Maybe you'll have a knack for it and it just comes naturally. Maybe it turns out you don't quite have the mindset and you gotta work harder.
Ultimately, it's usually a question of hours put in. Work more at it, the results will improve.
Try to do new things. Challenge yourself. Do things you're told are impossible.

Here's the thing though:

Along the way, you may find all manner of short-cuts to success (here defined as "making some sales).
They're appealing exactly because they're easy.

You can hitch yourself to a marketing fad.
"Old school dungeon crawling fantasy RPG" will earn you 50 sales even if you have literally nothing new to say on the topic.
Solo miniatures gaming seems to be blowing up right now and there's room for plenty more there.
Just make sure you're on the train when it's going up hill, not when it's coming back down.

You can tie yourself to a brand or product identity.
Plenty of companies have options out there to make stuff with their name on it.
If what you burn for is [system X] then that's an easy path.
They'll ultimately control your fate of course. What's the thing Darth Vader said about deals changing?

You can cash in on internet culture wars.
Find something that you know will make someone somewhere mad. Write that.
Wait for someone to write a blog post saying your game is garbage.
Rally the people who dislike that person and you can roll in protest-purchases.
"Pay me 9.99 to fight SJW's" is a deal you can easily make a car payment or two on.

* * * * *

Ultimately though there's another solution:

Write stuff you actually care about and feel strongly about.

I strongly believe that good design and passion will always be recognizable.
More importantly, it'll give you an identity as a creator that people can connect to.

More importantly while you may get a few less sales, you'll be getting sales from people who are interested in what you have to say.

And that's why you're here right?
Because you have something to say about gaming?

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Why do you charge for beta versions?

Over the years, I've tried more or less everything I can think of.
Sometimes it's just to see how something works, sometimes it's to satisfy my own curiosity.

We've done Pay What You Want products, given things away, charged up front, a few crowd-funds etc.

A potentially controversial stance is that I've increasingly opted to charge for beta versions of games: From a dollar or two to 5 bucks or so.

"What is this outrage? Why should I pay to test your broken-ass game?" I hear you say.

Sure. I hear you back.

I have mostly settled on this for a couple of reasons:

First, to me a beta version is something substantial enough that it could be a game.
If it's a full game with the sort of content you'd get from the competition but lacking testing, I don't feel bad charging a couple of bucks for it.

You know what you are getting (it says beta right there!) and you can decide based on previous products if it's worth the risk.

If the draft is so rough I am not sure it's even functional, it never sees the light of day outside my personal circle of critical eyes.

Second, I find that the level and quality of feedback is simply better if I charge.
Pay what you want or freebies are great but it seems people also don't feel invested in it.
If people had to put in their paypal account, there's more of a sense of investment (even if its just the price of a cup of coffee).

When I've charged more than "coffee money" for an early version, I try to do a discount code or something later on, so you can view the early version as a buy-in to the full one.
That also has the advantage that if something falls through, you still have the initial version.


I'm sure we'll continue different options and ideas in the future, but ultimately that's why I prefer charging for the beta version of a game.