It’s fulfillment week for two of my Kickstarters, whose physical product are coming due at roughly the same time. So: dual-wielding emails! (I picked up that proficiency/specialization over the last few months)

Other Books

If you are not in the USA and ordered Dungeon Grappling or Lost Hall of Tyr  as a physical copy from either the Hall of Judgment or Dragon Heresy Kickstarters, your books are now on the way. I placed the orders for six folks for Dungeon Grappling, and two more for Lost Hall (both of those from the Dragon Heresy KS). I have contacted the backers with a personal email with a copy of the info forwarded to me, as well as an order number.

Any issues, let me know. The UK product should show up within two weeks. Italy shortly thereafter. The Australia/New Zealand can take days or weeks, depending on when things fall together. But do contact me if things don’t move sprightly as things go forward.

Hall of Judgment

I’ve heard from Kixto in the UK, and they’re in the process of filling the HoJ orders for international folks, after which they’ll forward the rest of the orders to me via airmail. That still means that it’s not crazy-talk for me to see a pallet of books on my floor by the end of the week, or perhaps the weekend. This weekend is a holiday weekend in the US (Labor Day) and I’ll be at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival all three days doing Viking Martial Arts demonstrations . . . but as soon as it’s remotely possible, I’ll bundle your HoJ books and any other physical product that you’ve ordered into one shipping box and get them on the way by next week at the latest. So on schedule for Sept 15.

Dragon Heresy

The Dragon Heresy books are still going to be the last to leave. The books are done, and 50 books will head over to Dice Latte in Korea as soon as a few customs issues are sorted out and folks get back from vacation. Then the international copies for both DH and HoJ Kickstarters will go out. Sometime this week, I expect the books (nearly 1,500 of them) to move to staging at the shipyard, and then three weeks on the water to the USA. Then another week to get to Studio 2 in TN, and finally they’ll break the order into “keep ’em!” and “ship to Doug” and then I’ll do fulfillment from my house. So six to seven weeks until books are in-hand: first two weeks in October, I suspect.

Again, the US orders that have Dragon Heresy in them will be sent in one bunch. I will not hold Hall of Judgment waiting for a Dragon Heresy bundle, so if you ordered Dragon Heresy through the HoJ Kickstarter and you’re in the USA, expect two packages: one with HoJ and Dungeon Grappling and/or Lost Hall of Tyr (if you ordered those) and another with Dragon Heresy.

If you’re on the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get everything at once.

This will likely be the most eventful two weeks of Gaming Ballistic’s existence, as physical fulfillment begins on two core products.

Lots of things going on, all at once.

Dragon Heresy

Printing is complete. The final tally was 1,530 books printed, which is 2,219 kg of books. Two and a quarter metric tons.

Of that total, perhaps 250-300 are currently spoken for between the backers of either Dragon Heresy or Hall of Judgement, plus the comp copies for contributors.

To deal with that, I entered into an agreement with a distribution company to push the books into retail! This is exciting for me, and the terms are good. Soon, as Thanksgiving and Christmas approaches and the books are in hand, we might start seeing Dragon Heresy on store shelves.

Speaking of which I dropped by Mind’s Eye Comics here in Burnsville, and the new owner Chris and I hit it off pretty well. I suspect I’ll be a regular fixture there, as my daughter loves comic books, and enhancing the presence of gaming and comics in Burnsville, specifically the Burnsville Center Mall, seems like a win to me.

But . . . there will be one-week “get all the paperwork straight” hold, then the books will go three places. To my house (320 books), to Dice Latte in Korea for international shipments (50 books), and the balance into distribution. I will also begin the process to get things carried on Amazon.

Based on probable outcomes, I suspect everyone will have their books by mid-October. Not early, but not late. A Wizardly kind of pace, I suppose.

Hall of Judgment

As anticipated, today I got pinged by the printer in the UK about what to do about the books. I was ready, and closed the pre-orders for Hall of Judgment in Backerkit, delivered the list of “not-the-US” backers and my home address to Kixto (fulfillment company, also in the UK), and provided the required addresses and contact information to get 500 books from the UK to the UK, which really ought to be in the “not hard” category.

I will have a cost estimate by the middle of next week, and shipping should begin by the end of next week. The international books (107 books to 103 backers) will thus start their journey. Some may arrive the first week in September – there are 24 backers in the United Kingdom and there’s no real reason why Royal Mail should take that long to get things in place. Beyond that, it will be a bit of a random number generator, but most international folks should get their stuff in September.

For US backers, let’s assume it takes the better part of a week (first week of Sept) to airmail the stuff to me and then take delivery at my home; most of that is likely paperwork related, since actual travel time from fulfillment to airport to airport to my house is probably 12-24 hours. In any case, once they arrive, I’ll do the Backerkit postage thing (I’ve got my label printer all ready) and get those in the mail. From there, Media Mail is usually less than two weeks. So the US books should arrive in hand by mid-September as well.

Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr

There are perhaps 50 folks that ordered hardcopy of Dungeon Grappling and Lost Hall of Tyr along with the other two kickstarters. I will begin shipping all copies of these books to international backers this week. Those that ordered hardcover will get them fulfilled through DriveThruRPG premium, as that’s the best way to get it to you for not-ridiculous money.

The rest will ship out with HoJ or DH orders, packed together.

New Plans

The next move for Gaming Ballistic is to look into some new projects. I’ve already got at least four concepts being worked, and more news on that when I can say something.

Next I convert Hall of Judgment into Lost Hall of Tyr (Second Edition). This brings all of the work done on Hall of Judgment back into the Dragon Heresy fold. It converts backwards from the Dungeon Fantasy RPG and makes LHoT into a more sandboxy experience instead of the convention-style linear adventure. There are some things I have to work out – the LHoT original layout was 8.5×11, while HoJ was 8×10, for example – but once those decisions are made I should be able to convert HoJ to LHoT(2e) fairly quickly.

Anyone with a PDF of Lost Hall of Tyr (first edition) will get an upgrade for free. The new 2nd Edition upgrade will more directly support Dragon Heresy by tweaking the challenges of the adventures into the 1-5 range supported by the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set.

Not sure the timeline on this, but since books are probably arriving in October, well, that seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

So here we are. The last week before the interior files get submitted.

What did we do, and what does that mean?

Production Process

We’re really down to two basic tasks at this point: art insertion and proofing.

Proofing continues. It’s a big document and we keep finding things. Most are small. Some are annoying. Much like Pokemon, I’d like to catch ’em all.

I need to regenerate the spells index and the monsters index, which requires saving a new file and doing a “local” index, then copy/pasting that into the document. It’s no big deal, and right before the files get exported at full resolution for printing, I’ll regenerate both the Table of Contents and the Index one last time.

The art is the last thing. I’m down to the last few pieces and these are easily accomplished by a responsive team (see prior gushing update).

The COVER is the farthest along. I decided that dangit, I want round-back rather than square back (think ACKS or Symbaroum rather than Shadows of Esteren, GURPS books, or the DnD hardcovers), and I had to regenerate the cover to fit the new template. Then the spot-finish files. That didn’t take long, and the printing company is looking at them today and should tell me “yeah, these are good” tomorrow.

The hyperlinking is done. The active ToC is done.

I made a few usability changes to the style, so conditions are now bolded as terms of art. So (as an example), two creatures might have each other grappled, but one is restrained, while the other is only grabbed. Bold for game-mechanics, plain-text for plan-language use.

PDF Rewards Distribution

Net/Net: I plan on spooling out the PDF for final reward distribution this coming weekend. That means next week (June 18-22) your PDFs will be sent out, which if I can get that done on Monday, will mean PDF is 6 weeks ahead of schedule.

This also means I’ll do a brief clean-up on Lost Hall of Tyr and Dungeon Grappling PDFs for those that ordered them, and get all of the PDF rewards out next week. I might distribute these through DriveThruRPG – at-cost downloads for PDFs are really easy, and the updating and archiving of DriveThruRPG products is just easier and better than backerkit.

Printing Timeline

As noted before, it’s a 12-week process by design, plus another 2 weeks for in-the-USA shipping. So if the official “go time” for the printer is Monday June 18, we’re on track for all backers to have their book the last week in September (by Sept 24). We’ll see if we can hold to that schedule or beat it; there are 2-3 weeks of potential pull-in, and of course infinite possibilities for delays.

Still: I think you’ll get the books in September rather than October, so that meets my goals of “on or before the promised date.”

Hall of Judgment for Dungeon Fantasy RPG

If you like Lost Hall of Tyr and are also a fan of Steve Jackson Games’ Dungeon Fantasy RPG (Powered by GURPS), then you might also like to know that some time ago, I was granted a license to convert Lost Hall to the DFRPG system.

This is the first license of its kind for the DFRPG. I am pleased and humbled.

That being said, Lost Hall could use some improvement. It is a fairly linear convention scenario designed to show off the Dungeon Grappling system for 5e and OSR games. When played as a one-shot or at a convention, it works beautifully for that purpose.

However, putting it into a living campaign it suffers a bit. Too many constraints.

Well, Hall of Judgment will fix that.

First, I’m updating the interior look a bit to clearly differentiate it from Lost Hall.

Second, there will be a lot more “agency” in the game, with Isfjall (in DFRPG parlance, “Town”) getting a more detailed treatment modeled after the information presented in Sean Punch’s wonderful “Caverntown” mini-setting.

There will be a new map, courtesy of The Midderlands’ Glynn Seal, that will feature both GM and Player-centric views.

There will be no fewer than three new “mini-dungeons” to explore, to allow some things hinted at in the Lost Hall of Tyr version to bear full fruit in Hall of Judgment.

Monsters will be updated to DFRPG standard, with intent to not duplicate existing creatures. Pre-gen characters will also be provided, likely 6-8 choices.

The Kickstarter for this version of the product is set to launch June 19 (next week!), and once the upgrades are done, I will back-convert the new edition of the scenario to Dragon Heresy. If you got Lost Hall of Tyr as an add-on to the Dragon Heresy KS, you’ll get a free copy of the new updated Dragon Heresy PDF if you back the new Kickstarter, and and discounted copy of the Dragon Heresy PDF even if you don’t back it.

I’d appreciate it if you backed it, though.

Future Dragon Heresy Plans

I’m not even remotely done with Dragon Heresy.

I have no fewer than four concepts on the drawing board.

The mini-setting tentatively called The Citadel at Northwatch was given some visibility on the Roles to Astonish Twitch stream. It’s a solid adventure with several connecting parts, playable as a sandbox, that is designed for beginning adventurers. It will likely fall between 16-48 pages, ideally 24-32.

A much larger setting project called The Hunted Lands will cover many interacting things going on in this very dangerous area.

A To-Be-Named third-party scenario, again as a mini-setting, will look at an area closer to the coast.

Finally, a player character expansion with more backgrounds, classes, and races is on the docket to fill out level 1-5 of all thing things I wanted to put in the book but couldn’t fit.

That’s just what I’m working on right now. There’s lots more in me noodle.

Thanks for coming with me this far, and I look forward to giving you your PDF rewards next week!

I’ll send one of these out weekly on Monday. This will keep people informed but not become spam. So welcome to the first Monday Progress Update. Eventually this will include progress on other products as well.

Location Surveys for Shipping

We’ve got just shy of half the folks who have answered the location survey, which isn’t bad at all. The purpose of this three-question survey is to figure out the best way to get your books to you.

International shipping is a hot mess, and always has been. In all probability I’m going to be printing in the UK, Latvia, Korea, or China . . . all of which offer low/lower-cost shipping to “rest of world.”

My intent is to use the surveys to ask these vendors to hold back a box or two of books from the print run. Then either ship them themselves direct to you guys or to send them to a third party who will individually mail them out for me. That should save quite a bit of money on that.

So: please fill out the survey! There are only three questions; it should take you less than five minutes. Continue reading “Dragon Heresy: Monday Progress Update”

I was on a lot of podcasts this week. All different. Our discussion with Eric F on “martial arts in old-school games” was a different type of discussion than the “get deep into the mechanical weeds” with Chris S. Matt and David were both very interested in specifics on shields, while the second part of my discussion with Derek was about getting into, and staying into, the game design space.

A friend of mine told me that he was impressed I managed to cover substantially the same general territory with enough differences to make each podcast worth listening to without being repetitive.

Of course, that has a lot to do with my hosts . . .

Podcast Palooza

Each of these is pretty worth listening to, even if I say so myself.

First, I was on The Established Facts with Derek Knutsen-Frey, whom I’ve gotten to know through the IGDN. We had a long chat divided in two parts: a bunch on Dragon Heresy, and then 45 minutes on game publishing as a business.

The always-awesome James Introcaso hosted me for a while on Table Top Babble, and we mostly talked about Dragon Heresy

Chris Sniezak and I got deep into the depths of the game mechanics

Jason Hobbs had me and Eric Farmer on at the same time, and our take was more broad. Can you do “martial arts” in Old-School systems? What does that even mean?

Matt Finch and I had a great chat, and he was absolutely enthusiastic about the materials, construction, and use of period weaponry, and egged me on effectively.

Finally, I was on with Nerdarchy Dave for a live discussion and chat, and I had a great time talking with him and taking questions

Derek Knutsen-Frey and I chatted a lot about Dragon Heresy in a prior interview. It was a great chat. We also spent another hour (ish) talking about the business of game design. Even if I do say so myself, it’s a very good discussion.

EPISODE 171 – DOUGLAS COLE DRAGON HERESY PART 2

Other links:

RPG Development Costs

Economizing on RPG Development Costs

It’s taken a bit, mostly because I was working personally with two busy folks, but all Kickstarter rewards have now been delivered: the two character sheets with portraits were finalized and delivered for my Styðja-level backers last weekend.

It was a fun ride. As I noted before, I indulged in a bit of extravagance by splurging on a piece of art that took the project to date from break-even to a bit of a loss. However . . .

There’s more coming for Lost Hall of Tyr. I wish I could discuss it . . . but look for an announcement on my mailing list and blog in a week or two.

I’ve also been hard at work on the next voyage into Etera – a very important one. The core rulebook for the Dragon Heresy Introductory Set is in layout and final assembly. Sometime this coming weekend, I should have the chapters on Foes (80-125 pages and about 100 critters, depending on how it lays out) added to the 140-150 pages of core rules for level 1-5. That’s right down the pipe for what I wanted.

Here’s an image of a sample of interior layout:

And another WIP of the cover:

I expect you will see this in Kickstarter some time in April. Early April if things go well.

Thanks for joining me for Lost Hall of Tyr!

Douglas

Earlier I went through and took a stab at what it costs to develop an RPG book. One can consider these, in somewhat imprecise terms, economic costs, rather than an accounting or cash-flow cost, in that it’s not required to write checks for all of them. Further, the costs presented represent doing everything on a contracting basis, and everything bespoke, meaning created for your game from scratch.

This is not remotely the only way to do it. It’s probably not even necessarily the best way to do it.

So I’m going to muse here on ways to reduce both the economic cost as well as the cash cost of RPG development. Continue reading “Economizing on RPG Development Costs”

I tend to be pretty transparent here at Gaming Ballistic, perhaps even too much so. Still, it came as a surprise to me – though it was, in a Rumsfeldian sense, a known unknown – just what it took to make a game. For example, I had always thought that print games were simply much more expensive to design and produce than PDF, and the casual derision occasionally flung at PDFs on some boards reinforced that.

Turns out that with modern publishing methods, at least for me, the only difference between “make it a PDF” and “make it print” is your InDesign output settings. Exaggeration? Perhaps, but not by much. The print costs are non-trivial, true. But they’re also not nearly the bulk of the cost.

There was a discussion of “Production Values” on the SJG Forums, where I offered to lay down what my estimates of costs were to make a game. It’s not universal – every company is different, I’m sure. There will be a lot of “from X to Y” in it, because sometimes you pay what you have to, and sometimes you pay what you want to. It’s also going to include some things that many small companies don’t “pay” for, because they do it out of sweat equity. I do this myself, and it’s probably not smart.

Linear and Non-Linear Costs

Many of the things here are what I’d call linear costs. They scale very directly on a per-word basis, or indirectly, in that you don’t technically pay by the word, but you might pay by the page, or have an average number of things you have to do based on layout, which will put a certain number of words on a page.

I’m going to use Lost Hall of Tyr as my primary example in most cases. Mostly because start to finish, it’s completely done, and I have a very good idea of what I spent on it, having maintained my spreadsheet and updated it as “projected cost” turned to “real cost.” If you really wanted to get good, first make your budgetary sheet, and then copy it and lock it, and make “actual expenses” a separate tracking item. Continue reading “RPG Development Costs”

Gaming Ballistic started as a blog in late 2012, and then became a company in its own right in October 2016, as the company formally launched its first product, Dungeon Grappling.

This year, 2017, marks the first full year of the company’s operation. It still has but one person doing all of the administrative work: me. And thus far, Gaming Ballistic exists as a vehicle to deliver Douglas’ game ideas, but with luck and planning, that will change.

Gaming Ballistic is a producer of games and entertainment.

2017: Executive Summary

The year started off with a frenzy of activity completing promised deliveries for Dungeon Grappling, the first product Kickstarted and delivered by Gaming Ballistic. All rewards were delivered ahead of schedule – physical product was 3 months early, PDFs were delivered a month early. Not bad for the first Kickstarter for GB.

The Gaming Ballistic website and blog site were completely revamped, and look and work very well. A lot of below-the-waterline work on several projects consumed most of the company’s time and money in 2017 to no real outcome in terms of “product that GB can sell.”

GB did hit GenCon as part of the Independent Game Designer’s Network booth, and I was also there as part of a reward package for backing the Dungeon Fantasy RPG by Steve Jackson Games. That was inspiring but expensive, with relatively little to show for it in terms of market presence or sales. I did, however, write and run a scenario whose purpose was to demonstrate Dungeon Grappling. Fifteen people from ages 10-50 played through that scenario to good success.

The combination of leveraging some of the Dragon Heresy background material and the existing write-ups allowed GB to write and launch its second Kickstarter, for a linear demonstration adventure eventually called “Lost Hall of Tyr.” That Kickstarter also successfully funded, and primary rewards were again delivered three months ahead of schedule.

Expanding into physical stuff a bit, GB also researched and constructed mostly-authentic Viking-style shields to match the Dragon Heresy theme. A single shield was sold at the end of the year, which capped off a lot of building and trial-and-error to get the process down. Larger plans for such crafting have been scoped out.

The year ended with the return of certain parts of the Dragon Heresy manuscript to my primary control, and new plans being laid for that product that will hopefully bear fruit in 2018.

Continue reading “Ballistic’s Report for 2017”