A Walk in the Dark A look in to the mind of an RPG designer


The Needs of the Many

Sometimes I think I make a really bad business owner.

I admit that I don't do all this adventure design for the money. Heck, I can't imagine anyone doing this sort of thing for the money. Unless you somehow manage to have a multi-million dollar Kickstarter campaign, it's a hard industry to make a profit in.

And sometimes that makes little sense to those outside the industry. Take my wife for instance... "why haven't you created a game and made millions yet?" It just doesn't work that way, dear. I can't just whip up a multi-million dollar game - especially a video game, which both my wife and son seem to think can be whipped up in a weekend by a 25-year programmer such as myself - and expect it to make me stinking rich.

But I think I realize the problem with this industry: we, us happy few that create,  enjoy it too much. We aren't motivated by financial gain or a windfall as our products sell millions. We are motivated by the simple fact of enjoying what we do, sharing our creations with the public. I've said this many a times before: I could spend months, maybe years (I spent two years on The Opera, so I've been there) creating something... If I manage to get *one* person to enjoy it, it's all been worthwhile in my mind. With that mentality, no wonder we can't retire as soon as we'd like.

Another problem is self worth, trying to put a price on something we create. Look at my DriveThruRPG page... Comparatively speaking, my stuff is dirt cheap. Why? Because I haven't a clue how much it would actually be worth. And I have a hard time upping the price because (1) it would deny the product from getting in the hands of people, and (2) it feels like I'm price gouging. Since I don't have an accountant breathing down my neck trying to figure out how to make the next payroll, I can accept selling stuff so cheap.

So here I am, staring at the products on my DriveThryRPG page, troubled but not decimated at the fact that I haven't sold one in a month, wondering what to do with them. I want everyone on the planet to see what I've done, but it makes zero business sense to just give it away, right? Some of this stuff might not sell ever again, only to have it disappear in to obscurity. That to me is more unsettling than anything else... I don't care if I don't make a profit, but it's personally important to me that people know who I am and what I do.

At the end of last year one of the most well known sites in the RPG industry, ENWorld, was hacked and pretty much decimated. It's taken a painstaking amount of effort for those to run the site to get it back to what it once was, and they have decided to turn to the wonder of Kickstarter to fund the re-establishing of the system and creation of new tech to empower the site.

So I figured... If my products serve no purpose sitting idle on DriveThruRPG, maybe they can help someone.

So I'm happy to announce that I am now a stretch goal for the ENWorld Kickstarter. If the listing manages to reach 11K in the next 25 days, everyone who contributed $25 or more will get every single product Darklight Interactive has published so far FOR FREE.

If anyone in the community needs help, it's these guys. They have an awesome site and provide an invaluable service to the community.

In the meantime, I'll keep doing what I do. It might not be a cash cow of a hobby, but I could live with that.


Through the Years

Starting off the new year on the right foot, this blog has been surprisingly selected as Stuffer Shack's "Favorite Site of the Month" for January! I'm not kidding about being surprised... I mean, as of late I've only been posting once or twice a month, and the posts that I have written aren't up for a Pulitzer (or whatever the RPG blog equvalent is... an ENnie, I guess?) any time soon.

But I was selected, so I thought it was time to post something.

This past year has been interesting to say the least. I didn't accomplish everything I intended to do, but it worked out overall. "The Heart of Fire" was released to what has become a dry market, so much so that I'm sure the six people that bought it really enjoy it. Other products went out here and there, but while D&D is in design limbo there has been somewhat of a market shift.

As a result, I'm looking at 2013 a little differently. Here's what's in store for you all:

  • "Revenge of the Kobolds" (D&D 4E) is being edited and reviewed by third parties. It will be released for free, without art (except for the map, anyway) on this site as soon as I feel comfortable. It might not be perfect, and it might not work very well mechanically, but it'll be released nonetheless. I predict that will be released by month's end, but don't hold me to that.
  • "A Night in Seyvoth Manor" (D&D 4E) is undergoing similar editing and review, and will probably be releadsed on or about the same time as RotK. Because of the nature of this adventure it's much easier to port to other game systems, so I'm looking to port it at least to Pathfinder and, if all goes well, other systems (AGE, 13th Age, Hackmaster, DCC, etc.). I may even use Kickstarter to fund the development for the other systems; don't know yet. The initial D&D 4th Edition version will be released for free asd well.
  • I'm imagining that my epic adventure "The Crystal Scion" will not have much public interest, so I have decided to convert what I have and finish development of it for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. It's a fairly high level adventure - I'm predicting between 12th and 15tyh level - so I'm somewht worried since I've never done anything like that before. It'll be an interesting experience to say the least. I don't know if there's a market or demand for such a thing, but I imagine the market to be better than what 4th Edition is now...
  • My mega-campsign "The Coming Dark" has been going through some serious rework in my head; looking back on what is my first creation for 4th Edition I see a lot of things I did terribly, terribly wrong. So I'm reworking 99% of it and intend to release this for D&D Next as soon as it is possible (assuming it is possible... Licensing for Next is unknown at this time).
  • I have a lot of other small projects in the works. Not sure what I'm going to do with them right now, but until D&D Next is released it might be a toss up between 4th Edition and Pathfinder.
  • I have a couple of programs in the works, such as character and monster builders for D&D Next I've started on We'll see if they ever get to see the light of day.

Beyond that, stay tuned everybody... Lot more to come from us!