Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Ideal System

As with many design decisions, I’m struggling to determine the final form this game package will take. Here are my two extremes:

A single 16-page pdf that packs as much stuff as it can into 16 pages. I loved this for the original Resolute rules, and I’d like to keep it. The entire game system is here, but you’d only get hints about the setting, partial rosters of monsters, and just enough of an introductory adventure to get your feet wet.

A larger, 64-80 page booklet/pdf that is intended as either a print or pdf product. This one gives you the full game system, a relatively thorough look at the setting, a solid roster of monsters, and a meaty introductory adventure.

I think that I’m going with the 16-page pdf for a handful of reasons:

- My target audience is people who want a simple, fast game they can learn quickly, teach their friends, and play. I don’t want anyone to be put off by the idea that it’s too big, or there’s too much to learn.
- The pdf marketplace rewards regular publication of inexpensive products. As a business model, I have found much more success with a monthly 10-page product release schedule than with quarterly 40-page releases. Each contact point with customers creates opportunity for someone new to pick your game up.
- I want to make sure that each product I release has been polished- with my current life and schedule, generating more than 15 pages or so at a time and getting it all the way to publication is just a bit too time-consuming. I’m concerned I’ll get bogged down if I go for larger releases, but shorter works I know that, if I have a few days off in a row or can dedicate two weeks’ of evenings at a time, I can pump out with some regularity.
- Though conventional wisdom holds that print products far outsell pdf products, I have sold 10x (at least) as many pdfs of any product that I’ve also released in print.

Right now, a skeleton of the rules as I see them in my head:

1-page introduction, setting and system overview
1-page overview of the system and basic terms.
4-page listing of abilities
4-page overview of character building (includes races, archetypes, gear, advancement)
3-page overview of refereeing (includes rewards, treasure, magical treasure)
2-page bestiary
1-page introductory adventure