May 6th, 2014 § § permalink
I’ve been buried under a log jam of production work for the past several months, and my lumberjack class skill of +4 (+2 when I wear that sweet lumberjacky shirt) has finally worked parts of the jam loose!
First off is The Devotees, a new adventure for Eclipse Phase. It’s available in both print and PDF.
We also just reprinted Gatecrashing, the Eclipse Phase core rulebook is at the printers for a fourth(!) printing, and our first card game, Shinobi Clans, is also at the printers. Our next release, Zone Stalkers, is imminent.
Outside of Posthuman Studios is the Atomic Robo Roleplaying Game, from Evil Hat Productions. It’s an action-science romp, powered by the Fate rules. I worked with an awesome team including Mike Olson and Jeremy Keller for this title, and it’s a great game and a gorgeous book. Pre-ordering the print book gets you the PDF copy immediately.
Beyond Atomic Robo, I’m working on the Designers & Dragons book series for Evil Hat. An extensive preview of the Designers & Dragons: The â€™70s has been released, going over TSR’s history in detail.
And I’ve been diving into Accursed by Melior Via, as I have a one-sheet adventure to write for them!
As this logjam continues to get unjammed, please stay clear of rolling and falling logs. And by logs, I mean games!
May 10th, 2013 § § permalink
I’ve been remiss in not posting here about the Transhuman Kickstarter, which is currently running!
Unlike other Kickstarters I’ve talked about here, this one is being run by my company, Posthuman Studios. We quickly funded at the level we needed to print the book ($14,000), and we’ve been working our way through additional stretch goals since then. We’ve added some new projects to our schedule as a result of the campaign, and we’re also paying our Transhuman freelancers a 15% bonus as a result of the Kickstarter’s success!
We have some more sweet things to come that we’ll be announcing early next week, so please check it out! The support so far has been amazing and humbling.
July 28th, 2012 § § permalink
Voting for the 2012 ENnies Awards ends soon. One of the titles that I helped create, Panopticon, is up for an ENnie Award for Best Writing. Voting is open to the public, but it ends tomorrow. I (and the other Panopticon creators) would appreciate your support!
Posthuman Studios is also nominated in the Best Publisher category.
February 16th, 2011 § § permalink
We at Posthuman Studios have published our Year End Review 2010. It’s lengthy, contains sales figures for Eclipse Phase, discusses our successes and failures in 2010, and speculates on 2011 a little bit. Enjoy!
January 3rd, 2011 § § permalink
A disclaimer: I wrote most of this post before Adamant Entertainment announced they were re-pricing all of their PDFs at $1, or what Gareth dubbed the “app-pricing” model. I think the approach is interesting, but this post is not a “response” to his decision … although I am incredibly curious as to how it turns out, of course!
If you are publishing a niche RPG—material not compatible with Dungeons & Dragons or Pathfinder—you should maximize your profits by not underpricing your exclusive electronic releases. An “exclusive electronic release” is material not available in print (not including true Print on Demand, but including short run printing) or that don’t have costs subsidized in a substantial way.
So, by way of example:
A PDF or other electronic title sold on OneBookShelf (DriveThruRPG/RPGNow) gives the publisher 70% of sale price (65% if the publisher is not an exclusive vendor). This means a five dollar title leaves the publisher with $3.50; a two dollar title $1.40.
I think that Eclipse Phase has proved that low price points on electronic core rulebooks can lead to a raise in the number of sales—enough to make up for the difference in per-unit profit. Customers are interested in saving 10 bucks (typical RPG electronic core rulebooks are 20-25 or even more, while Eclipse Phase is 15) and much more willing to try a new game if it’s inexpensive—but supplements are most often sold to existing customers, people who already like your game. They already perceive themselves as invested* (time, money, emotion) in your game, and so a difference of a few dollars is less likely to make a negative impact in your sales. However, it can make a big difference in how much money you have to invest in the projects … And the amount of profit you end up making.
An Eclipse Phase PDF project like Continuity has a total budget of $800. It breaks down like this:
Writing: 200 (5000 words at four cents a word)
Editing: 200 (this covers a copy-edit and dev-edit pass from Rob Boyle. He deserves a raise on this.)
Layout: 100 (I do all the layout and maps in-house.)
Art: 300 (2 to 3 pieces, playing the same as we pay for artwork destined for print.)
There is no budget for “other stuff” yet … so for example, in Continuity, the audio files we included came out of the art budget.
This means that we need to sell 229 copies of a $5 exclusive electronic release to break even. Priced at $2, we would have to sell 572 copies just to break even. What if we sold 572 copies at 5 bucks? Profit of $2002—enough to fund two and a half more releases. Now, our exclusive electronic releases aren’t making huge profits yet, but we are breaking even relatively quickly—and we have a formula for, at the least, supplying the fanbase with a steady flow of material!
* I try not to use the words “invest” or “invested” when talking about my hobbies. I feel that it’s too loaded. But that’s a personal thing.
December 3rd, 2010 § § permalink
PlainText is a great little tool for the iPad; a simple text editor that syncs everything to a Dropbox folder. I’ve been using it to scribble notes and start blog posts while away from the computer lately, and very much enjoying the experience. The iOS 4.2 update has really cranked up the iPad in my eyes, making it more of a tool and less of a gadget. I’ve stopped using my Sony Reader entirely; iBooks and the iPad is more convenient.
Our next hardcover book, Gatecrashing, is at the printers now. The introductory fiction from it, An Infinite Horizon, by Steve Mohan, is available for sale in two different ways: PDF/ePub/Mobi bundle from DriveThruRPG and directly from the Amazon Kindle store. It should be $0.99 no matter where you buy it, but the Kindle store jacks up prices if you’re outside of the USA, so I suggest overseas customers get the PDF/ePub/Mobi version.
More Gatecrashing previews will hit the Eclipse Phase site soon.
We also released Continuity, a funky adventure where … oh, no, I’m not going to spoil it for you. Here’s the tagline:
The characters, researchers on a remote outpost, check in for a backup—and awaken in new bodies to discover two weeks of their lives are missing. They have limited time to find out what happened to their previous selves—and deal with a looming threat.
It’s a $5 PDF, in both landscape and portrait formats, with original artwork (Including a great piece from new-to-EP artist Anna Christenson, maps, and audio snippets by J.C. Hutchins (read what he has to say about it.) and Mur Lafferty.
October 11th, 2010 § § permalink
On an industry mailing list I subscribe to, a few days ago, someone pointed out a site that contained pirated PDFs of thousands of gaming books. I sent off a flip comment:
Damnit. Eclipse Phase stuff, which can be legally shared, isn’t there. I wonder if I can just upload it… ;-)
Someone sent me an off-list message questioning whether EP could be legally shared. I said yes, absolutely, and they asked:
[Are you] shooting [yourselves] in the proverbial foot by basically giving away their materials. If it’s free and legal to do so why would anybody buy the materials?
Here’s my replies to that email, edited only slightly to combine a couple emails into one to tie together some subject a bit better:
Well, we sure haven’t shot ourselves in the foot so far. First print run sold out in only a few months, second print run is roughly about half gone (haven’t seen September numbers yet), and our first two print supplements were both 1/4 sold on pre-orders alone.
Our PDF sales have also been exceptionally strong; partially due to the low price point (1500+ sales of the core PDF at $15 — exact numbers impossible to know due to our divorce from Catalyst) and partially because of the Creative Commons licensing. People can check out the game, whether that be from our free Quick-Start Rules, downloading from a torrent (we seeded it ourselves to some bittorrent trackers), or by being given it from a friend. If they know they like it, $15 a low price for a full PDF RPG, and while RPG print prices have crept up to where $50 is a very normal price for a 400-page full-color book, nobody needs to buy it “sight unseen” now.
Our ad-hoc research shows that almost every EP gaming group has multiple copies of the print rulebook and multiple copies of the PDF at the table.
People are good. They want to support the things they like and they want to be treated as individuals and be respected. Creative Commons licensing allows us to do that; we’re giving them gaming material and allowing them to use in the way that gamers naturally want to use it. It allows fans to support us without worries of legal hassles, and it’s given us alternate revenue streams — like the Hack Packs, where we charge a few bucks extra for access to high-res artwork and InDesign files of our material.
Another great factor for Creative Commons and Eclipse Phase is the themes of EP and the spirit of CC collide rather nicely. Hackers and info-junkies and copyleftists also tend to be interested in sci-fi and transhumanism!
And, of course, no publishing company can successfully fight piracy. The RIAA hasn’t, the MPAA hasn’t. Piracy is going to happen unless we say “nope, you can’t pirate our stuff, cuz we’ll just let you give it out!” — and that makes the file-sharers like us and buy from us. I don’t think pirates are evil and immoral people. I know many people who pirate many things and these people also buy many things. They just tend to buy only things they already like. So, of course, giving away your material will only work if your material is good quality!
I’d much rather have someone read our game for free and not like it than buy our game and not like it. In the first case, they’re only out their time. In the second case, they’re out time and money and are more likely to resent us and/or not buy any other games we may release.
Furthermore, Creative Commons isn’t just about “downloading for free;” it’s about giving fans permission to hack our content and distribute those hacks. Permission to do the things that gamers naturally do, without fear of lawsuits or complex legalese or requiring our approval. Our fans have built and distributed complex character generation spreadsheets, customized GM Screens, converted our books into ePub/mobi format, and all sorts of neat things. When they do things like this, that gives us guidance as to what we should be doing: because fans aren’t just saying they want something, they’re putting their time where their mouth is … a strong indication that they and other fans would be willing to pay for those things if we produced them.
And in the end, if licensing our material Creative Commons is not financially successful: it’s the right thing to do, socially. We have to build the future we want to live in. Giant corporations locking up intellectual property is dangerous to society and culture.
Our next RPG will be Creative Commons-licensed as well.
September 18th, 2010 § § permalink
I want someone to start an Eclipse Phase fanzine. Over the last few years, posts on weblogs and message boards have largely replaced the fan or semipro ‘zine, and as someone who really got into gaming fandom by running a Shadowrun fanzine, I think that running a fanzine is really fun and can provide you with useful experience for future work in publishing.
By a fanzine, I mean: a publication that comes out somewhat regularly and contains a variety of articles and content (adventures, alternate rules, fiction, setting material, etc.) from different authors/artists, with an editor or team of editors that work to make the material consistent in technical quality (editing and presentation, in other words.) I prefer ‘zines that come in a single file— a PDF or maybe, now, an ePub or some other format. But there’s no reason why it couldn’t be purely web-based, which offers advantages and disadvantages that anyone somewhat knowledgable already knows.
(Edit: Blogs are fine—but I tend to think that blogs are more “fragile” than a more tangible/”single-file” publication. Problems with a web host, blogging software, or other technical hiccups can destroy the entire history of a blog. PDFs will stick around forever on people’s hard drives. In 1998 they would have stuck around on mirror sites—now they will stick around on torrents.
However, one important factor in something being a “‘zine”, in my eyes, is multiple contributors (a relatively open submission process), with an editor to tie things together.)
Why Making a Fanzine is Rewarding:
- You get to build an audience, community, and friendships.
- You gain experience as an editor/developer/probably jack of all trades.
- You get to see cool stuff that other people have made, and help them make it better.
Why Making an Eclipse Phase Fanzine is even better:
- Eclipse Phase is Creative Commons licensed. It’s easy to not step on Posthuman Studio’s toes, legally. Heck, you can even use and expand on our material, using our text and art to supplement yours!
- The Eclipse Phase universe is wide open. There’s tons of room to build fan material that is easily usable in many people’s campaigns.
- Doing cool fan stuff is, in hobby gaming, one of the best ways to get noticed as an up-and-coming creator.
Fame, fortune, exposure, hard work—what more could you want?
August 9th, 2010 § § permalink
Gen Con started badly for me. I flew out from DC on Wednesday morning; my girlfriend Kristen on a direct flight and me with a connection through Chicago. Some bad weather meant my flight from DC left late, and my flight—and the flight before it—to Indianapolis were cancelled. There was no chance of going standby on a later flight, so after I figured out that my bags would continue to Indianapolis without me, my cries to the twitterverse were answered and my rock-star designer friend Tiara zoomed by the airport to pick me up on her way to the convention. This turned out to be a fun little car trip, although I was sad that I missed spending a half-day in Indianapolis with Kristen.
Gobsmacked. In a year where Paizo’s stack of ENnies needed a hand-cart to take them back to the booth, winning the Silver ENnie for Best Product may as well been Gold for us. A gold for Best Writing and a silver for Best Cover Art rounded out Eclipse Phase ENnies. In the Best Production category, Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition caught Silver. I can’t deny that I voted for Eclipse Phase in that category, but I joined Randall from Catalyst onstage and, since he was already wearing the ENnie’s medal, I yoinked the certificate. I had no idea I was going to be up there until I had started walking. Shadowrun 20th Anniversary is an awesome book and I am proud as all hell of it.
Sunward was released, the GM Screen was available, and we had ample stock of them and the core book to satisfy our fans. We also had some miniposters, t-shirts, and some plush monsters from OhNo!Doom, a Chicago art collective, to round out our swag. Our booth was busy, sales were good, and our games were very well attended. Our gamemasters kicked ass in accommodating tons of players per game. We gave all the players feedback forms, and from the sampling I’ve read so far our GMs are very well loved!
This Just In … From Gen Con 2010
I appeared on This Just In .. From Gen Con on Saturday at 5PM. Fifteen minutes earlier, I was walking to our hotel room with Kristen saying “I’m feeling the need for some introvert time. Are you cool with just hanging out by yourself for awhile?” Of course, she was … and she got to. I didn’t, because I remembered at the last minute that I needed to be podcasting—not an introverted activity—in another hotel. So I dashed over, and thankfully I was paired with the awesome E Foley of Geek’s Dream Girl, who carried the show. I mostly talked about the ENnies, Creative Commons-licensing stuff, and how twitter functions as the “water cooler” for those of us that work from home but need feedback/stimulation from colleagues.
I hugged my friends extra tightly this year.
Magic: the Gathering and other Acquisitions
I didn’t manage to play any MTG at the show, but with my trusty iPad and some good timing, I was able to score a copy of the From the Vault: Relics set. Beyond picking up my comp copies of Sunward and the GM Screen, Sixth World Almanac, and the Dresden Files, I didn’t buy anything at the show. I bought a lot of games over the last year that haven’t been played much, so I didn’t want to add to the unread/unplayed piles.
We pitched game concepts and playtested things that will become Posthuman Studios’ next games. We have some cool stuff brewing! Refinement starts … tomorrow.
July 16th, 2010 § § permalink
Voting for the 2010 ENnie Awards is now open.
I can’t deny that this year’s ENNie Award nominations aren’t a little bittersweet after the events of earlier this year. Projects that I worked on are well-represented, and the great number of worthy entrants in every categories indicate something that has been true for a long time: gamers are spoiled for choice!
Shadowrun: Seattle 2072 received an honorable mention nod in the Best Setting category. Steve Kenson did a bang-up job with this title, melding Shadowrun’s past to the present and setting groundwork for the future.
Eclipse Phase in the following categories:
- Best Cover Art: Stephan Martiniere’s gorgeous cover art will launch thousands of campaigns.
- Best Writing: Developer Rob Boyle has had his hand in many great gaming books, and for Eclipse Phase he may have assembled the best writing staff he’s had to date: Lars Blumenstein, Brian Cross, Jack Graham, John Snead; with additional writing from Bruce Baugh, Randall N. Bills, Davidson Cole, Tobias Wolter, with Jason Hardy and Michelle Lyons on editing.
- Best Production: This is the best-looking book I have ever made, with cool visuals that don’t overwhelm the art, and a huge thrust towards making the 400-pages very navigable, most notably the two-page spreads that open each chapter and point you to important information.
- Product of the Year: With nominations in three of the “pillar” categories, plus the intangibles of Creative Commons-licensing, our trend-setting low price point for the electronic version, and of course a great game to play in a setting that has unlimited potential … I think a nomination in this category is well-earned.
Shadowrun 20th Anniversary Edition got nods in these categories:
- Best Interior Art: Art Director Mike Vaillancourt and myself butted heads a lot on this project, but in the end, the artwork in this project is really strong and takes Shadowrun in a new direction.
- Best Production Values: Apparently I build good-looking well-organized books consistently! The giant index that covers not only itself but all the other SR4 rulebooks is so freaking cool.
- Best Game: Personally, I’d love to see “Best Game” and “Best New Edition” categories. But games don’t get produced for 20 years if they don’t see actual play, and Shadowrun has always erred on the side of being a game that should be played, not just read.
- Product of the Year: A punched-up and improved version of one of the most successful RPGs ever certainly qualifies.
In every category we are up against other amazing titles: Paizo’s Pathfinder juggernaut, Green Ronin’s Dragon Age Boxed Set, FFG’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay Boxed Set (which looks gorgeous … I have to make the time to read through my copy!), and others too numerous to mention.
To spread briefly about category’s I’m not in: Jess Hartley’s One Geek To Another deserves props in the blog category for doing something different by offering advice about gamer etiquette, something sorely needed. For Best Setting, you can’t accuse the guys at HERO of not taking a chance with something different in Lucha Libre Hero …
… and Best Publisher could just be Posthuman Studios.