Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Big Game Hunting - Game design roundup

So, the last five articles I’ve provided talked about how to design a game, everything from setting and backstory to design. The final part of this is distributing it.

And I’m a bit of an expert when it comes to distribution it has to be said. In my ‘real world’ job, I’m a copywriter, editor and PR specialist as well as crazy author type lady. And to be honest, it’s the bit I like the best.

The best bit about producing a game that works is sharing it with others – I know many people that take part in homebrew projects and then keep them to themselves – which is a waste in some ways. If you’re having fun and after some really robust tests (hint, I usually find wine and a group of friends that are up for a laugh really helps after final design) and it still works – I’d say release it.

But the question would then become ‘how’?

With digital printing and print on demand, it’s not as difficult as it used to be – but, no matter what anyone tells you, it’s going to cost you something. If you’re not a professional writer, you’re going to need an editor (though, your friends might help with that) and an artist (again, friends might help). At that point, you could just distribute it as a PDF – there are some great sites that let you do so (including Drivethru RPG).

And if you want to involve a local element – print some business cards with a download code and give them to your local store. They sell one, he hands out the card – some software lets you generate one-time access codes – others will rely on the honesty of people buying from the local store to not give out the URL.

And if that makes money – consider investing in a real live print run. The gaming industry is pretty well set up for that – one of the groups in my home town, Contested Grounds Studios put out a|state when I was still back home, over six years ago and it was a roaring success. Gregor Hutton, who is an amazing game designer (and a good friend), puts out his games quite a lot and appears at gaming events. He’s the reason I design my own stuff – after chasing me to take part in a 24 hour RPG contest. The only thing that really limits you is the time you’ve got to invest – because that’s often a bigger ‘expense’ than printing, especially if you go PDF first, then offer a print run.

A final thing to remember – where I can, I buy the extra PDFs that go with our games because I like them on my iPad – and with the Kindle Fire coming soon, it might be that GMs find their favourite tool isn’t their dice roller, it’s their e-reader. In which case, the investment for indies is going to be tiny.

This week, Kai is still editing. The less said about it, the better, but on the bright side, the book is out on the 12th February!

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