Where did November go?

Now that things have calmed down from the stress and excitement of the November release deadline, I realize that we are now into December. Where does all the time go? Nonetheless, it was an exciting time for the studios to finally release True Agenda, and now work begins anew with the expansions. The first expansion is not slated until a late summer release next year, but there will actually be something else coming out first. A resource pack is in the creation process right now that will add a few more rules, weapons, and other exciting options to the game. It will be a digital only offering, since after reviewing sales data from the last week, digital files are by far the best seller. It really is no surprise in the early 21st century that most players want their games in electronic format.

In addition to this new information, and the expansion schedule for True Agenda for the next two years, another tabletop game is currently under consideration. While this is still in the very early stages, we could be looking at another game to be released possibly in 2019. More information will be forthcoming once we get into 2018, but we plan on keeping a pretty aggressive release schedule for the next couple of years.

Release Date was a success!

It came down to the wire for the final approval of the print copies, but everything was launched on time! PDF and print copies are available on our products page and at Drive Thru RPG. The pre order sale on our page has been extended through the end of November, while over at Drive Thru, you can save money by buying a bundle that includes a PDF and print copy of the game. We will also be looking to bring some additional sales to everyone, including Black Friday, which is only a week away.

The new year will be exciting as well, as work will begin on the first expansion for True Agenda beginning in the Jan/Feb timeframe. With the first two expansions already planned, you can expect ongoing support for the game. The studios are also looking to hear from people who have purchased the game, to get their thoughts, ideas, and anything else they would like to share. We want to deliver the best possible games into everyone's hands, and we can do it by listening to our fans and customers. This is only the beginning!

Release Date is Drawing Near!

First off, I have to apologize to everyone. It has been over two months since I posted anything new on the news feed here. While the studios have been busy finalizing the release of our first tabletop game True Agenda, there has been some neglect on the rest of the operation. The final pages for the game were completed two weeks ago, and editing wrapped up a week ago. Since that time, I have been working with Drive Thru RPG, and their printer, to get the files converted and over for approval. Approval happened today and my proof copy will be shipped to me the first part of this coming week. Now that there is time for a collective sigh by those of us involved in the project, I am able to refocus on the rest of the business and get some information out to everyone on here and in social media.

So, what does life look like after the 17th of November? Well, aside from fulfilling any direct orders, I will begin work on a commission project that has been pushed for far too long. I hope to complete that by the end of the year. Beginning in February, the studios, alongside Lunar Cycle Games, will begin work on the first expansion for True Agenda: High Sea Encounters. Beyond that, there is a personal project I have wanted to complete since late August, but that may get pushed out further depending on if the studios picks up any more business. 2018 is already shaping up to be a busy year. It will certainly be exciting!

No News is Good News?

It has been quiet over here at the studios page mostly because of all the work getting accomplished. As the month wraps up for August, the studios has made a huge advancement in nearing completion of its first tabletop RPG game title. Elements are coming together nicely, and the first round of editing has begun on the sections that have been completed. While it is still too early to announce a release date, 2017 is back in the crosshairs of possibility. Again, however, it must be stressed that the game will not release until it is completely finished, and will not be rushed to make some arbitrary deadline. Too often anymore we see products that would have benefitted by one more pass or a tightening up of a section or two. While the studios is excited to get this product out to everyone, it must be something to be proud of releasing, or else it will not happen.

There is still plenty of other news and behind the scenes looks over at my Patreon page. While most of the news is for supporting patrons, there are a ton of goodies still to be had before and after the release of the game title. Even if you are not able to support my work, you can still follow me. There are occasionally updates that are shared with everyone, patrons and followers, regardless of any pledge. 

Affiliates and Collaborations

DriveThruRPG.com

As the year marches on and the studios slowly gets closer to releasing its first official game title, looking at marketing and distribution is a critical component to the release of our product. To that end, we have created an affiliate status with DriveThruRPG.com and plan on having them become the sole digital distributor of our product (physical copies will be distributed directly by the studios or through select retail outlets). Clicking on the image to the right will take you to their site for those interested in checking out everything they offer.

Additionally, we will be collaborating with a model for some of our artwork that will be appearing in featured studio projects. We are very excited about this venture, and while it is not exclusive, will still provide us with some quality images for our use! Check out even more information, and a sneak peak of the first finalized image in coming weeks, at my Patreon site here.

This week will also see the ad campaign for the studios kick off on Facebook. Advertising for the game release will happen closer to that time (around the end of this year) but the more traditional business advertising will be ongoing throughout the summer that will include local, national, and international efforts.

Summer Advertising Blitz

Streaming Circles

Work at the studios has been moving along nicely. The majority of the work is focused on the upcoming game release, along with maintaining the various social media sites, Patreon, the Zazzle store site, and others. Advertising is a key element to the success of any business, and overall the studios have had a relatively small advertisement footprint. Part of this is by design, and part of it is by circumstance.

The "by design" part is because a large effort in advertising is going to erupt once the first game design is ready for launch. This is expected to build up hype beyond what information is already out there and really focus on bringing in interested people to take a look at the game system and make the decision to buy or not. The "by circumstance" element is simply because of all of the different methods of getting the name out to the public, and the myriad of forms that advertising can take often leads, as in this case, to trying out one or two options and see where that gets us. For instance, the Zazzle storefront has picked up a trickling of orders all on its own based on the variety of products for sale and people stumbling upon things that interest them. Page hits on Deviant Art are letting people know about the digital art aspect of the business. Facebook keeps those who are following the business there in the loop, even if they do not regularly come to the main website here. Each of these efforts are paying off, even in small quantities, and have cost next to nothing but the time invested in getting the campaigns off the ground. This works only in so far as keeping operating costs low.

Launching an advertisement campaign is both exciting and nerve wracking. The first major effort will be targeting local businesses to know about the design and branding elements that the studio offers. The first mass mailing will look like the image posted above. Additionally, this type of advertising can go into other areas to gain more attention outside of the surrounding area where the studios exists physically. Measuring success is important when committing financial resources to advertise. Getting a good return on investment (ROI) means that a campaign was successful and may prove beneficial to do again in the future. 

Getting Extras

As we move into the second half of the year and progress continues towards getting the studios' first game release... well, released, there was talk about whether or not anything was needed to make the game a reality. The end answer is no, there is ample funding to see the game through its development stages and into production. Having satisfied that question, another thought emerged. Would anyone want more? I know from past experience I have enjoyed getting the opportunity to pick up exclusive content, or promotional items, from a game or genre that really interested me. Having said that, I considered some options on how something like this could occur. The result was Patreon.

Patreon is a way for artists, designers, and others to put out things they love while obtaining financial backing to put out those things. While the studios does not need financial help to release the game, anything extra is not in the budget, even if sales were to come from additional items. However, without knowing what demand, if any, there is for the variety of promotional and bonus offerings that could come from this endeavor, it makes little business sense to have a bunch of products made and have them sit on a shelf. Patreon allows me to determine what interest there is for these sorts of extra goodies, or swag as some refer to it, and allow it to fund itself. This way, for friends or fans, who would like extras from the game they can support it to the level they choose rather than becoming locked into a purchase price for something that is too costly and delivers none of what they want.

Check out the Patreon site here to see all of the extras that are planned along with the launch of the game.

New Banner... sorry Bruce (heh)

The main banner to the website and a number of social media platforms has always been something that was under constant review and critique. While the concept was spot on with the message, the delivery was off. The result is a new banner that conveys the same ideas behind the streaming of consciousness, but delivered in another artistic manner. Will this be the final redesign? Doubtful. The original banner still exists as well, for it would be inappropriate to forget one's history. Nonetheless, it was time for the upgrade, and continual refinement will likely always be a constant companion in regard to the studio's image and branding. Hopefully everyone is pleased with the new look, but if not, feel free to comment. These artistic designs are as much to please the viewers as to the creator, and sometimes is it difficult to be one's own worst critic.

Streaming consciousness indeed...

Streaming consciousness indeed...

Continually learning

The studios are gearing up for their first major advertising campaign this summer. During this time, deciding on the best way to showcase what we do is a critical decision that can mean the difference between attracting more clients and simply having the effort flop. So, in an effort to capture the best ideas and display them, pursuing newer methods of expression does, and ultimately must, happen..

My experience with art has been over a long stretch of time, but hardly without interruption. Art classes, drafting, creative writing, and yearbook layout during high school. Some design and communication courses in college. Endeavors in magazine writing and editing. Working with a variety of digital and design software. This long list of accolades certainly looks impressive, but the key thing is that I am still learning. That happens regularly as the studios continue working on a variety of efforts, both with photo editing as well as creative designs from scratch. It is an enjoyable exercise, even if frustration settles in and a piece is scrapped. Learning what cannot be done is as valuable as learning what is accomplishable.

Life is a journey.. make the most of it.

Take a break, join a professional organization!

I have found that taking a break, even from the joys of creating digital artwork, is invaluable. I still have yet to wrangle enough time out of every day to spend what I truly want to on designing and the various projects the studio has at the moment. However, stepping back to catch your breath is healthy and brings other rewards as well. Looking at a work in progress after a bit of a hiatus sometimes results in real benefits and allows for a more honest critiquing of the design (see the previous post entitled "2nd Time's a Charm... at least for now" for another story about this topic). The trick is to not be away for too long though, so that any rhythm in the design work is not lost. So how does one spend all the extra time gained from this venture? By joining a professional organization, of course!

After following some advice from a few classes I have taken recently, I looked into the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) and obtained a membership. You can see my profile here. The biggest benefit is the potential contacts within the industry, including from a nearby, albeit a bit of a drive, local chapter. The perks do not stop there, and what I have read so far convinced me that becoming an official part of the graphic art community was worth the investment. Now, while joining a professional organization is not likely to occur every time a break away from designing is warranted, it worked out rather well this time.