Murdering & Acquiring #13: Publish Prep
While my game is in playtest, I’ve taken a break from working on rules (well, mostly), but I haven’t stopped working on the game.
Looking into Publishing
I decided to take some time recently to start thinking about the end-game. For Murders & Acquisitions, the end-game is publishing. I expect to crowd fund production of the game sometime down the road. While I’ve given that some thought in the past, I really delved into it in depth lately.
What will the final product look like? I’m expecting it to be a softcover book. Why a softcover? Simply put, the game isn’t big enough to warrant a hardcover, in my opinion. I’m guessing the final rule book will come in a fair bit under 100 pages. If I did a hardcover, half the thickness of the book would be the covers. And that’s just silly.
Color or black and white? I’m leaning strongly toward black and white. There are multiple reasons for this. First, it’s a small-scale game. If I do it in color, it’d drive the price up quite a bit. I doubt that it would be worth it to fill the book with color illustrations. Sure, color is great, but the cost-to-content ratio for color would make it a bit pricey for the overall size of the game. Second, the game book is intended to look like a cross between a game book and a corporate employee manual. I feel that black and white will serve that purpose just fine.
With this in mind, I mocked up a cover, just to get an idea of what a black and white cover for M&A might look like. Here it is.
This is just my initial pass at a cover idea. Ideally, I’ll have the cover done professionally by a graphic designer. But I think this cover gets the point across. And, if I ultimately don’t get the funds to do a professional cover, I have something I can work from for the final cover.
If things go well with crowd funding, I also hope to have a professional graphic designer do the layout of the book. Like the cover, this is a big “if.” So I decided to take a pass at laying out a few pages with proper formatting. I developed a Word template set up with two columns, page numbers, left and right page formatting, and proper margins, including a “gutter margin” for the “binding edge” of the book.
Here’s my pass at formatting a couple pages.
This mock-up includes a couple of graphics. The “Copy Paste Kill” image is courtesy of Dave. I created the bar graph.
Speaking of graphics, I’ve begun thinking about illustrations and other graphics. Graphics serve a number of purposes in game books.
Illustrations help describe the game, reflect the tone of the game and intended play style, and provide inspiration for players and GMs. I expect that illustrations will be the one thing that I absolutely have to spend money on. I can’t draw for crap. I’m not sure how many illustrations there will be, but I expect I’ll need, at the very least, a half-page illustration every ten pages or so. A quarter-page illustration every five pages or so would also be acceptable.
Given the nature of the game, the balance of the graphics will be bar graphs, pie charts, tables, and the like. Not only are these appropriate for a game book that looks like an employee manual, they are relatively easy to create. They’re something I can do. Plus, I can enlist friends to help out with these. These smaller graphics would be sprinkled in every other page or so to help break up the text blocks, provide info about the game, and inject a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor, an important part of Murders & Acquisitions.
Here are a few other graphics I’ve created for the final product.
I particularly enjoy the day planner page. It needs a little tweaking, but I feel it sums up a day in the life of a Murders & Acquisitions character nicely.
As time goes by, I’ll continue to bandy graphic ideas around and generate some more. They won’t all necessarily get used in the final product, of course. I’ll only use the best of the best.
Professional editing is also a luxury I hope to be able to afford with crowd funding. While I’m pretty confident of my ability to write and organize a clear game book, I know that having a second set of (professional) eyes go through the content will serve me well.
The cover, illustrations, graphics, layout, and editing are all on the wish list for the final product. But it’ll be a matter of what I can afford with crowd funding and maybe a little of my own money. We’ll see how it plays out.
There are many other things to look at regarding publishing. Pricing for illustrations and graphics. The cost of editing and layout. Finding people to do these other things. How I’ll get it printed How I’ll ship the game product. And a plethora of other bits and pieces. However, those are going to have to wait. I’m not prepared to delve into that stuff right now. I’ll need to dedicate significant time to that end of things and don’t want to start learning that until I have to. If I start too early, I’ll just end up learning and then forgetting things in the time between now and then.
When I sent out playtest materials several months ago, one of the comments I got from multiple game industry friends concerned me having “put the cart in front of the horse.” I sent out the base game info, plus a bunch of magic and monster stuff, along with an adventure including all of these things. Feedback told me I need to focus more on the core rule system before I start laying out the modular add-ons I hope to include for the game. After giving that some though, I determined that was the best way to go. This round of playtesting is built entirely around the base game.
But that’s not to say I’ve abandoned the idea of modular rule add-ons that GMs and players can use to craft and play a Murders & Acquisitions game which contains other elements.
Right now, I’m developing ideas and outlining for the following potential modular rule add-ons.
- Near-Future Technology
- Horror Elements
I’m just outlining now. I won’t delve into the design of these elements until I am satisfied the core game system is in good shape. When will that happen? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful that I’ll jump into this stuff more deeply by mid-spring of 2015.
So for now, it’s back to outlining rule add-ons and generating graphics ideas. Hopefully I’ll have some playtest feedback to share next time.