That’s how I’m thinking about my progress toward self-publication. I’ve decided that I will be published by next year’s GenCon – either through the game proposal going through (I’m still waiting to hear about that) or by going with one of the projects I’ve been posting about here.
Right now, the front-runner seems to be the Horror! system. The first reason for this is that it is simple overall, but is a strong concept. The second reason is that a friend of mine seems interested in helping me with the process, so that tips things in its favor as well. Its a lot easier to work on something with someone else.
So, in light of these decisions, and assuming that the game proposal does not go through (I give myself a 20% chance I’d say), I want to have an idea of what is ahead of me and how I need to proceed.
General Production Tasks
(these are in rough chronological order)
1. Finish writing a full playtest draft of the game. This will be a rough copy that includes all of the major rules that I’ll hopefully be able to playtest myself and also farm out to any other interested groups.
2. Recruit people. This includes people in the categories of art, web design, graphic design, and editing. Ideally, these will be people who are in the project for the fun or are friends who will help me out for free, but I’m also willing to pay if necessary to get quality help.
3. Playtest. And then do it again. And again. As I do this, and as I get reviews (if I’m lucky) from other groups running the game, I’ll continuously modify the playtest draft and then send it back out for more testing.
4. Research technical details of self-publication. Formatting. Costs. Setting up a system to sell the book online (I’m looking at pdf/print-on-demand with online sales to start). Getting a POS of some kind to run credit cards for when I go to Origins and GenCon with the game. Etc.
5. Complete a rough draft of the game. This will be post playtesting with rules I’m happy with and everything else I think the game needs. At this point, graphic design will have to be together and art will basically have to be together.
6. Get the rough draft copy-edited and content-edited. I can’t do these things myself for my own game. I’ll be blind to the problems, as will most who have worked on it with me. So I’ll need to find at least one copy-editor and at least one content editor who will almost certainly have to be people I don’t know personally.
7. Publish the final copy. This will also involve setting up all of the details of how I am going to sell it and deciding on a price (I’ll err on the side of cheap in the hope that it will get the game out there faster, but will still seem like it is significant. It’s hard to respect a $2 game.) Right now I’m looking at having two options – a cheaper pdf option for download with light art, maybe pared down in general, and then a somewhat more robust option for purchase on a print-on-demand basis.
8. Go to Origins and GenCon 2008 to pimp the thing.
Thankfully, I spent a lot of time at Origins this year at seminars in the area of game design and publishing, and I’ve done a bunch of research on both and will continue to do so. I’ve got a general idea of how all of these things will work, as well as some specifics, and some people I might be able to turn to for help in the future.
As always, any comments are welcome.