Friday, 5 July 2019

Best Practices Part 1: Follow your Bliss

Christopher Tang works here at OneBookShelf in publisher services. His responsibilities
include helping every new publisher for RPGs that registers with our site. Every day he gets
questions from new publishers about how best to get started or to grow as an RPG creator.
With the Best Practices series he will try to answer some frequently asked questions about
how best to grow and develop both on and off DriveThruRPG.

Getting into RPGs can be overwhelming. So often I talk to people who are brimming with
their own ideas and ambitions as they’ve finally taken the plunge to put their creative work
into the world. Sometimes the problem is not so much “what should I do” so much as
“what should I do first?” In this article I’d like to answer a few of the questions I hear as the
creative wheels start turning.

What sells best on DriveThru?
The short answer that is not actually helpful is that Fantasy is the genre that sells best and
D&D 5E is the rules category that sells best.

What people are usually actually asking “what should I create if I want to make money?”
That’s a harder question to answer.

You can make money doing Fantasy 5E products and several people on our site do.
However, it is a crowded field, and if you’re going to jump in to that field you’ll want to make
sure that your work stands out by offering something unique

What is more important is to think about what you are truly passionate about. Do you read
detective novels all the time? Play every relationship simulator that you can get your hands
on? Do you put together ships in a bottle for fun? If you follow your passion then that
passion will translate into your work and will sell better than if you try to chase trends.

What should my first product be?
When you’re getting started the best thing to do is to start with something short. This could
be a one page game or adventure or something just a few pages long. So often I see people
getting started who have grand ambitions of a magnum opus that is hundreds of pages long
but who then get stalled out. Start with something small and finish it. After that move on to
something bigger and finish that. As you create, you’ll learn more about how to create. As
with anything new, you’ll make some mistakes, and it’s less painful to make those learning
mistakes on smaller works.

Small products also become easy access points for new fans. Someone who likes your work
in an adventure is more inclined to check out your big rules book. Even as you grow these
small products are an important part of succeeding and getting your work out in the world. 

What kind of games are out there? Is there a game like mine?
Sometimes I know this off the top of my head (I play a lot of games) but the more important
lesson here is do your DriveThru research. We are the largest role-playing download store
in the world and so looking through our website can give you a look into what the state of
role-playing is in the world without having to buy everything. Try searching for key terms
that you think your game would be associated with. No one is saying you can’t make your
game, but it is important to know what is out there and similar to your game so you can
differentiate yourself in a positive way. What’s a positive difference? Well one example
could be a game that is more rules lite or rules heavy. One could be a game that focuses
on a different group than the standard set of protagonists. One excellent example of this
is the game Masks: A New Generation. There were already dozens of superhero RPGs
and even one Apocalypse Engine Superhero RPG, but by focusing on teenagers and
the sub-genre of teen heroes, Masks sets itself apart from what came before.

That’s it for now. Hopefully this advice can get you started on your adventures making
role-playing games. See you next month for more Best Practices.

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