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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 86 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: Of the history of Crimson... err Cursed Empire!  (Read 9784 times)
leonidas300
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2006, 11:08:38 PM »

Post 10: CE 2nd Ed printing

As I said earlier, I planned to launch CE in the US and Canada at Origins 2004. The launch to the general public was to coincide with making the range available to distributors. This implied in particular 2 main things: production quality and volume.

Production Quality:

The game had to be strong enough to get a space of store shelves next to well known games. CE is currently sold in just over 120 stores in the US and Canada although there is still more to be done. I went to town with art, with a stack of pieces of art from 4 artists and 9 short stories to set the scene.

Volume: the volume had to be high enough to get the unit print/production cost down. The basic rule of cost x 7 should give you the MSRP. This allows for the average 60% margin a publisher needs to pass on to Distributors through the two tier system. For retailers to stock your book and risk having your game in their store for some time, many distributors will offer them up to 40% margin.

I went for a hardback book of 500 pages. The book itself is huge. I chose spot UV printing on the cover to give the book a nice feel: matt laminated + shiny spot UV looks really nice. I chose red colour-matched interior book end pages. These cost me almost 20% on top of the print cost but I thought that these were worth it. The interior is all on greyscale backgrounds giving the book a dark and gloomy feel in line with the setting. The binding stitching is black and red to match the black and red CE style which is now very recognisable.

I printed 2,000 copies with a Canadian printer. It was essential that I had the bulk of my stock in Canada or the US to make the whole shipping affair viable. This print run cost me a lot of money for an independent but I had to bite the bullet to make distribution possible and get the unit cost down.

Just over 1,400 copies have been sold to date.

Issues: Some resolution errors crept in with some of the art (dpi) - the proof came in late and I only got my books delivered 1/2 hour before Origins opened its doors to the public. Believe me when I say that I have been through it. When you self finance, travel from the UK with 6 team members, have a stand booked and all the costs associated with this venture, this is one hell of an adventure and pretty stressful when the books haven't turned up!!! Whatsmore when they did, the covers were missing the spot UV printing I was horrified. But those who know me well will know that I never give up. Upon seeing that the 200 copies that I had been sent did not have spot UV on them, I called the printer, got a discount of course, rushed to Staples and got a rubber stamp made up: I made the 1st 200 copies the Origins Launch Limited Edition Matt Finish Print Run. They were all hand numbered and signed with a great rubber stamp. Whatsmore, what was initially a printing error then became an homage to 1st Ed as they all have matt laminated covers!

The paper quality was once again the best I could get from the printer.

The book has to be pretty impressive at 50 USD, but as distributors have pointed out that price is good value for money for 500 pages hardback all in one GM, Player, Monster books and 2 scenarios.

On to post 11...

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Author and Creator of Cursed Empire FRPG
Ayrk
Guest
« Reply #16 on: December 14, 2006, 06:08:38 AM »

Chris,

I'm not sure if you remember, but we bumped into you on the Tuesday before Origins 2004 and we all went out to eat that night.

After seeing the quality of the book, booth, and size of your crew, my partner and I thought you had some huge backing to come running out of the gate like that. You gave the unspoken impression that you were something large in the UK and were now coming to America.

Reading everything now I find it interesting that you were operating pretty much just like us only with cooler accents. :-)

Great job.
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leonidas300
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #17 on: December 14, 2006, 06:22:57 AM »

Chris,

I'm not sure if you remember, but we bumped into you on the Tuesday before Origins 2004 and we all went out to eat that night.

After seeing the quality of the book, booth, and size of your crew, my partner and I thought you had some huge backing to come running out of the gate like that. You gave the unspoken impression that you were something large in the UK and were now coming to America.

Reading everything now I find it interesting that you were operating pretty much just like us only with cooler accents. :-)

Great job.

Good day! Yeah I remember you dudes, you had the cool DVD-cased space battle game, which we have played and enjoyed here in the UK, and we went out for a huge rack of ribs that only you guys in the US can do. Thanks for the compliment, we try to impress and yeah we are a very small indie team ourselves. PM me with your news.

Best

Chris
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Author and Creator of Cursed Empire FRPG
leonidas300
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #18 on: December 14, 2006, 06:42:19 AM »

Post 11: CE 2nd Ed Art

Here was the challenge to take players to the setting of the game and really define the style of the whole range. I spent up to 100% more on the artists I had do the book in comparison with quality line art. I was keen to have pencil drawn gritty and grainy pictures. Rik Martin is a champion of this and I have always admired his work. Rob Larson was chosen to do all the covers within the range as I wanted "in you face" strong themed covers that really stand out.

Cover art really does sell and has to be invested in. I also recommend large enough page counts so as to warrant a perfect binding not saddle stitch. Perfect binding means that even when your book is no long the latest release, it will still be seen in a book case. The more spines you get to line up in your range, the more product facing you get for your game. Saddle-stitched titles have no visibility once they are shelved. Don't get me wrong they can bolster the range overnight with more frequent lower cost titles, but if you are looking at store sales this is important.

I will always go for what I consider to be the best art I can for the game, that way players get to know you and respect/expect quality. It is also critical for consistency. Attention to detail is a must. Here is my favourite example:

My Atlas has a city map of the Imperial Border Keep of Vokdar drawn by Amandine Labarre, this identical piece was then used by Manoel Magalhaes in the colour graphic novel in a war council piece of art where officers are discussing city defences, then the imperial crest of the keep from the map appears on the helm of the knight on the front cover of the Knight Classbook drawn by Rob Larson.

Another one: the 2d Celestia city map drawn by Amandine Labarre, was then converted to 3d by Andrew dobell. The emblem from the map of the Black Falcon Knights was reused by Rob Larson in the Knight Book. The main keep from the map and the 3d cityscape was then converted to CGI by Paul Bourne with emblems from Amandine incorporated.

Gamers love attention to detail and consistency.

on to post 12...
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Author and Creator of Cursed Empire FRPG
leonidas300
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2007, 11:04:28 PM »

Post 12: editing and proofreading

This is an important area that I originally had underestimated. It is important to get this one right and I have endeavoured to improve this throughout the range. Nevertheless, you will get your shiny new book delivered hot off the press and as you flick through it you will think "how the hell this that slip through QC?!". It is a frustrating fact that some errors will occur but the aim is to try to reduce this as much as possible.

It is important to try to find some good editors and proofreaders as their help with refine the finish of your books/games.

on to post 13...
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Author and Creator of Cursed Empire FRPG
leonidas300
Member

Posts: 39


« Reply #20 on: March 09, 2008, 11:38:07 AM »

Post 13: Launch and Promotion (sorry this has taken a long to come around)

This was both the most nerve racking experience and the most rewarding. I regularly stand up and present to large conferences through my day job, but standing on a trade stand launching your game is another kettle of fish altogether:

How is the game going to be received?

What are people going to think?

What criticism is going to be levelled at my labour of love?

And the list just goes on.

As I said in a previous post, the launch stock for Origins only arrived just in time before the masses came crashing through the doors. Then there is that scary moment as gamers rush past your stand to get their free mega plastic collectable monster thingy, and you just hope that some of them are going to trip up and crash into your stand or maybe even pause for a second to take in what your are promoting. This is pretty nerve racking stuff, especially the first few times. Then you just get used to it and it still remains just as nerve racking Smiley

This is an amazing experience and is truly the best place to learn how to get your game out into the hobby industry. Cursed Empire has been demoed at over 28 coventions over the last 5 years in France, UK, Germany and the US. You simply can't beat getting your creations in front of players and taking the time to stop and discuss your system and setting. Demos, if well balanced, get your game into gamers hands (see next post).

With only a limited budget for marketing and promotion, advertising in the press is in my opinion a big gamble. I have done this nevertheless when I felt that an opportunity was there and in fact in smaller press publications exposure can be good enough to recoup the cost of the ad and more. Sometimes a 200 USD back page in B&W for a magazine that only goes out to 3,000 gamers can be a better bet than some of the big boys going out to 60,000 gamers with ads at 1500 USD.

I found that part financing GM's cost is often a much more direct way of getting returns. You just need the right people out there to help in the promotion. An over enthusiastic fan who is more interested in showing newbies how much they know about the game is going to do a lot of damage and cannot compare with someone who has a passion to share something and open a game up to fellow gamers.

The Launch itself:

Timing the launch is everything. Choosing the moment to maximise exposure as well as ensure that the game will be ready is a crticla decision. Too many times (I'm sure there are many others of you out there) it is a last minute panic to get things finished, proofed, typeset and printed (oh yeah and delivered Smiley ). 

I found that by having a realistic but tough deadline is a good way to work. Well at least is seems to for me. In any case, once you have a good little following, then gamers will turn up to see what the next new thing is that you have. If they come to conventions and systematically see that you have nothing new, they will soon move on as there are many other shiny and great things out there to entice them.

I find that the key is reaching a critical mass of gamers who repeat buy. When you have this, you can pretty much budget and plan releases. This is tricky at the best of times. But in our experience, is the way to go.

Of course another place to help with a launch is the net. But this is the subject of another post as it is a totally new area with its own pitfalls etc.

On to post 14...
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