Is the web trying to tell me something?

In one of my recent posts, I was talking about a Fudge RPG project I’ve been silently working on and said:

Some thoughts about it though have pushed me to consider releasing it as an indie or even free project.

I foresaw two major problems to producing a decent quality RPG:

  1. Lack of decent tool for layout (I don’t have thousands to spend on some Adobe product)
  2. Artwork

First I find Scribus; an open-source Desktop Publishing Tool. Quite complicated and a bit of learning curve, but free. Along with OpenOffice and the Gimp, all the software is there.

For the second, while I can draw, I can’t draw to a professional or high quality level. But then I came across a blog post on design and found numerous photo and illustration sites, where you can buy artwork for use in your projects: sotck.xchng, istockphoto and (and there is always flickr). Just a quick browse I found pieces I could use. They aren’t on point but would do. If I add my own skill I’m sure I could generate some pieces based on what I found.

So yea it’s actually doable, I mused. (There is actually another issue but I’ll talk about those at the end.)

Then I catch this post from Fred Hicks in my newsreader about actually not publishing and doing your RPG for free. Did Fred Hicks read my mind? Probably not I thought but his advice hit the point. I had considered putting aside a small budget for the project, just enough that I don’t care about making any back. I also read the posts/blogs he linked to in that post. Both were completely relevant to my train of thinking. For me, getting something published was more about a personal milestone or goal than gaining audience or making money (both would be nice but not crucial).

I’m still not convinced but it’s not that important. I still have to do the new version of LH first before I actually need to decide. The content comes first before all that fancy stuff.

I’m certainly not averse to doing it for free. Just take a look at TDOMF my plugin for WordPress. I’m making a small amount of money on it, not enough to write home about, but it’s a nice feedback. I get bug reports and feature requests every week and I try to respond to all. But that leads me to my last issue that turn me off giving an RPG away for free. With TDOMF, I’m releasing into an existing community who will use it. I have, therefore, an extended “play-testing” user-base that will tell me concisely what’s wrong with it how it works. They are also willing to download upgrades and keep up to date. Releasing a free RPG, there is no community there to release to. It’s a discussion that’s floated around the Irish gaming community for a while. Releasing into a vacuum is the same as copying a file to /dev/null. It goes nowhere and is pointless. Of course, maybe I’m just ignorant of a community out there that would be interested (please inform me!). I’m also acutely aware of the “pluggers”, people who register and logon to forums expecting people to be interested in your project but have no “credibility”. This is something I don’t want to do. I did it for the Irish Gaming Wiki and got slammed down many times. I don’t want to spend time promoting myself and playing the “status game” either. I mentioned in my previous post my “narrow creative bandwidth” and part of that would have to be spent on doing that and everything else would suffer. I’m also aware that the success of free media (RPG being a specific type of media) is dependant on luck and popularity.

Maybe I’ve gotta wait till the Internet starts shouting at me, before I really listen…

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