Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Idea of Open Design - A Question to My Readers

So, as I announced in the last post, I'm working on a new project called Worlds Apart. I woke up early this morning with an idea floating around that wouldn't let me go back to sleep (happens quite a bit, actually) and I ended up thinking about the uses of social media and tabletop game development. I'm a rather closed person when it comes to my business - I tend to play my cards close to my chest. I'm wondering if that tendency is a negative in a new (to me, at least) social media world where creatives share their organic development processes?

The main reason why I'm so "game-developmentally" closed is that I'm actually making a living doing this writing thing. I don't know how many others using social media can say that. It's not a wealthy living by any means, but by God, it's the best way of living that I could ever hope for. This makes me wary of the type of openness and transparency that I see around me online. I worry that my efforts will become less profitable if I share them more completely - especially before they are "ready to see the light of day."

So I'm asking your opinions. Would you be interested in seeing behind the screen as I work on the development of Worlds Apart or are you the type that prefers to wait for a finished product before investing any interest in a new rpg?

To provide a bit more context, I'll post the little introduction I've worked up for the game. It sets the greater theme of the game and provides the framework upon which the rules rest.
Long ago, the god of the soil and the goddess of the sea became lovers. Their union created the Ur-world composed of numberless islands in an endless sea. Upon these islands other creatures were born from the labors of other gods. These creatures grew and learned and prospered for countless generations, sailing upon the welcoming seas. After eons, after the rise and fall of hundreds of empires and kingdoms, Soil and Sea argued and rent the Ur-world asunder. The once-welcoming seas now stranded any that dared travel beyond the sight of land in a gigantic never-ending ocean upon which they died from privation. The once-interconnected islands were stranded alone, only able to communicate with other nearby islands, for a ship needed to keep some type of shore in sight to avoid the terrible fate of those stranded in the Forever Sea. Each island or group of islands became independent worlds set apart from their brothers. This new and terrible isolation lasted as along as the era before it, and many new creatures, new gods, and new peoples were born during the long separation.

This age of isolation ended when an unidentified goddess, allegedly a daughter of Soil and Sea, taught the peoples the secret of taming elementals to create ships that could navigate through the Forever Ocean. She believed that a return to the first age would rekindle the affections that Soil and Sea once had for each other. Unfortunately, the discovery of her gift of knowledge was met by anger and rage by all of the gods, both new and old, and she was imprisoned in the sky, transformed into a cloud cursed to move forever against the wind. But the wondrous gift of Obstinate Cloud (as she is named by those who tell her story) could not be undone, and the peoples of the islands began to explore a newly boundless world in their strange voyager ships.


Tim Shorts said...

I always enjoy the behind the scene look, but what ever you feel comfortable with. I share mine because I like to do it, but I am also very much a hobbyist and not going to make living from it. So I understand if you want to keep it under wraps.

Joseph Browning said...

It's one of those things that I think I may just have to jump into and see how it goes. I suspect that "social media openess" can actually increase sales and profitability of a product, but it's one of those things I have no personal experience with. Thanks for the response, Tim - I'm pretty much all ears right now.

Martin R. Thomas said...

To be honest, I do advertising/marketing as a living (I own my own agency) and the concept of social media still eludes me a bit. I understand it from a business perspective, and I get that tons of people do use it, so it's important. What I don't get is why they use it. I think it's mostly about bragging - checking-in, telling people where you ate dinner, what movie you just saw, seeing how many re-tweet your tweets, etc. It's all a form of mild bragging or even a bit or narcissism.

That said, I think it is an important tool for businesses, and could be very beneficial for you to drum up interest and excitement before you publish your work. The key is to figure out how much to share without "giving away the store for free", or worse yet, having somebody steal your idea and somehow distribute it before you finish your project. It's a fine line.

I guess you could take a page from the Jim Raggi book of promotion. He seems to have figured out a good way of enticing people throughout his process while at the same time keeping enough back so that people want to buy the finished product. Say what you want his products (that's kind of irrelevant to this discussion), but the guy knows how to use social media, particularly his blog, to promote himself, his company, and his products.

Joseph Browning said...

Thanks for the comment Martin. It's always nice to hear from someone with experience in the subject.

I think I'm in a situation where I don't have to worry about someone stealing the idea, and I think I should be able to make a good balance so the store's not given away for free. But that just makes me think about the rule sets that are, in fact, given away for free in one version (often without art) and then sold in a different version.

I'm attracted to that idea. I'm running this as a business, but I know that bargain options are always important to keeping the hobby going and I like to support that as much as possible. I guess I need to find a good meeting point between group responsibility (the hobby we all love) and personal responsibility (the business that puts food on the table).

I think you may be right with using Raggi is a pretty good example. I think he's had some success with his endeavors and I should probably take a much closer look at his blogging patterns for about a year - making notes on subject and depth covered to find any parallels.

Thanks again for the comment and visiting the blog. This post and thread is very business-oriented and not that much hobby oriented so I appreciate the feedback that much more.

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