Last week, I ran a poll asking people which of the projects I’ve been working on they’d be interested in, because I’m basically just waiting on the manufacturer to move forward with No Honor Among Thieves right now and figured I could put a little time into something else. I put five of my project ideas into the poll, and a box where people could enter their own ideas and comments. I was expecting thirty responses or so, which would give me a good idea of what I should focus on for what I try to publish next.
At the time of this writing, I have 223 responses to the survey, which is providing me with some really good data. I asked people to rate each option from 0 to 5, where 0 is not interested at all and 5 is very interested, so looking at the graph for each project can give us a good idea of how much people are interested in it.
The first option was an expansion for No Honor Among Thieves. As the graph shows, there’s a lot of interest in this. However, a not-insignificant number of respondents used the comments form to tell me that they wouldn’t know how interested they’d be in an expansion until they’d played the original game, which is a fair point. Despite the amount of interest, an expansion likely won’t be my most immediate next project, since people do deserve a chance to play the base game first. That said, I’m definitely going to put making one on the schedule somewhere in the next few years.
The next option I put into the survey was a tabletop roleplaying sourcebook that I’ve been writing for running games in the sort of criminal low-fantasy genre that No Honor Among Thieves is set in. This wouldn’t be a full roleplaying game system for the genre–that already exists, in the form of Blades in the Dark and Dusk City Outlaws–but it will contain a lot of random tables, tools and mechanics that can be slotted into any system, and some general advice for playing the genre, as well as some Open Game License content for D&D 5e and Pathfinder. I’ve got 68 pages written thus far, in the two months I’ve been working on it.
As you can see from the graph, interest is split pretty evenly on this one. I assume the people on the left are the people who don’t play tabletop RPGs, and the people on the right are the ones who do. There are significantly less people interested in this than are interested in an expansion, or in the project I posted next (see the entry on Station Nine below). However, the budget for this project is also about ten times less than either the NoHAT expansion or S9. From the quotes I’ve gotten and the calculations I’ve made, I could publish this book with a budget of $2000. If I charge $10 for a PDF copy, and everyone who set this at 3 or above in the poll backs it at that minimum level to get the book, then that’s 48.5% funded from an audience that consists only of the 223 people who responded to the poll. For reference, similar calculations for the expansion and S9 put the expansion at 34.2% and S9 at 20%. Which are both great numbers, and mean that the projects are very likely to succeed if I go to publish them; it’s just that the sourcebook is most likely to succeed.
I think this could be a great interstitial book to publish in between larger board game projects, and I’m definitely going to move forward with it. It’s not taking up too many resources and I’ve been really enjoying the process of writing it, so why not? I’ve been using it as an excuse for some interesting research and watching Leverage, which is always a good time.
This was the next option in the poll. “Station Nine” is the working title for a game I’ve been developing since just before launching the Kickstarter for No Honor Among Thieves, and which has come together very quickly when compared to my previous game. It’s about fiddling with the life support systems on a space station to favor your alien species over the ones represented by the other players. Essentially, it’s passive-aggressive thermostat changing on a much larger scale. I posted up a few cards that I did the graphic design on (which someone used the comments form to tell me looked “like a chemistry text book”), and people seemed to really respond well to the scientific art-deco design and the brief description I included. Interest in this project isn’t as fervent as interest in the expansion one, obviously, but it’s definitely there. With this level of interest, Station Nine will probably be my next big board game publication.
When I was reading the manufacturing quote for NoHAT, I misread the section on the metal coins, and it looks like they’re going to cost me a lot more than expected. So I’m not going to be able to afford to produce many extra packs of them for sale at retail after the Kickstarter, which was something I promised during the campaign that I’d have available. This poll option was to see how interested people would be in a campaign to fund the manufacture of more of those metal coins. As you can see, the response was kind of mediocre. The result of this poll means that I’m going to at the very least put other projects ahead of this one, and possibly delay it indefinitely if no one expresses more interest in it later on.
For our final poll option, we get to see that not many people give a damn about merchandise. Which is about what I expected, really. I’ll still probably put together some shirts or something at some point (someone used the comments section to request patches as well, which is a cool idea), but I’m not exactly going to prioritize it, and I’m going to look into using a print-on-demand company instead of stocking inventory.
Trends in the Comments Section
There were a couple of noteworthy trends in the comments box on the poll that I found interesting.
First was the one that I mentioned earlier, the people telling me that they didn’t know yet if they were interested in an expansion or not. Honestly, I feel like this is something that I should have figured out before anyone told me. It’s a very good point.
Second were people not quite understanding what the Gutterpunk Fantasy option was. Some people asked for clarification, while others seemed to be assuming it was a full game system. I edited the poll option halfway through to be more clear, but just in case anyone is still confused, this is meant to be a book of tools and advice that can be used with any game system, not a system in itself. It’s a sourcebook, not a core book. I am working on a tabletop roleplaying system, but it’s something I’ve been touching on and off for two years and will likely continue working on for the next five, and this isn’t it.
Third were the commentators that I found the most interesting. A lot of people (as in, multiple people telling me almost the exact same thing) gave me suggestions for a game about different underworld factions competing over control of a city that sounded to me an awful lot like an idea I’d already been toying with. I have a collection of game concepts that I want to make at some point, ideas that only have a few pieces of theme or mechanics attached to them and which I want to flesh out at some point–for example, a noir mystery game where one player is the detective and one of the other players has secretly committed the crime, but everyone else playing also has unrelated secrets they’re trying to hide from being discovered, and it’s all The Resistance and Werewolf and whatnot. One of the ideas in that collection is a fantasy city intrigue game based on a well-received forum game I ran back in 2012 on the GiantITP forums. I honestly wasn’t sure what game idea I was going to pull out of that collection of half-formed concepts to work on after I finish with the projects I’ve currently got running, but since there seems to be interest in that one…
I also had one or two requests for a smaller-scale more swashbuckling kind of game, which I quite like the idea of. I’ll see what I can do with that.
Thanks to everyone who submitted a response to the survey. Collecting this data has been very helpful to me in analyzing what I want to do next.