When I launched my Kickstarter campaign for No Honor Among Thieves, I promised a delivery date of May. At the time I though that was being overly pessimistic, and that I would probably deliver one or two months before that, and everyone would be all impressed. Guess what? It’s almost July now, and the game isn’t out yet. I’m getting a pre-production copy in two weeks, so I can’t even say that pre-production is done.
Over the course of this process, I’ve come up with a list of things that I need to do better next time to make sure that whatever the next project is, it’s delivered when I say it will be. I’m just going to throw them up here in bullet points, so that I remember them later. Maybe they’ll help someone else too, who knows.
- Get time quotes as well as price quotes from the artists. I lost a lot of time during illustration because I didn’t realize how long it would take the artists I was working with to complete the illustrations I’d commissioned from them. Eventually I ended up hiring on more artists to try and speed things up a bit.
- Ask the manufacturer for templates instead of trying to build my own templates based on the requirements in their design guidebook. Alternatively, I could have hired a professional graphic designer instead of doing it all myself, but I wanted to save money, so here we are. I’ll probably do all the component files myself again in the future, too, because I know what I’m doing now.
- On a related note, now I know all of the color settings that card files need to have in order to be usable by the manufacturer, so for my next project I can start working with those from the get-go instead of having to convert everything later.
- Get templates for any components that I’ve got freelance layout or graphic designers working on, instead of just sending them a link to the manufacturer’s design guidebook. Also, immediately put those people in direct contact with the manufacturer’s pre-press team if there are any issues. A large portion of the past couple months has been spent going back and forth between the layout designer and the pre-press guy making small changes to the rulebook for the game, and I really need to have some procedure in place to speed things up if that happens in the future.
- Get final versions of components to show to backers as soon as you can. I got some really great feedback from showing people the box and the rulebook PDF that I think improved the final product significantly. This bullet point doesn’t necessarily save you time, but it’s still a good thing to do.
- Budget an extra three months on top of however much you think you need. I don’t think I’m ever going to promise to deliver a game in less than a year again, unless I already have the art completely done and files checked over by the manufacturer when I go to Kickstarter.
The way things are going, it might be September before people get their copies of the game. At least we’re still on track to complete the project–people will be getting their games. And once they do, I’ll have the hard choice of deciding what project I want to publish next–I’ve got another card game moving into blind playtesting, and 61k words of a tabletop RPG sourcebook that I’m just starting to edit, either one of which could conceivably be ready for a crowdfunding campaign by the time NoHAT actually delivers. Hopefully I’ll be able to apply these lessons to whichever project I decide to go forward with.