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|The following is a list of Jeremy.Smith's blog entries, in reverse order
|Monday, August 27, 2012 (01:26:49) - On Retail Prices|
|Some folks might find this interesting or enlightening. Given the timing of the hardcover project, I figured it was a good time to go over it.|
Have you ever wondered how books get their prices? And why things seem like they're expensive.
Let's look into the process.
If a book is going to go into retail distribution, that means that the retail store has to get it at a discounted rate that makes it worth carrying (i.e. profit). They usually only pay half cover price.
For a retailer to get a book, a distributor has to ship it to them, and that distributor needs to get paid to do that.
And for the distributor to have it, someone has to ship it to them.
All of that eats away at the money the publisher gets for each book shipped.
So for a real example:
Psionics Unleashed is priced at $24.99. Distributors get a 57% discount (yes, really). Meaning they pay our wholesaler $10.75 each.
Our wholesaler takes a cut to cover warehouse, shipping, and billing costs.
So out of $24.99, we end up getting a little over $7 per book. That $7 has to cover print costs and the cost to ship to our wholesaler.
The reason we take such a small profit on retail is because we make up for it in volume. If we're shipping hundreds of copies and all we have to do is ship it off and not worry about order fulfillment, it's worth taking such a big cut.
You can help increase the profit by printing in volume, but that's not always feasible.
So that's where retail prices come from - it basically has to be done to make the lowest-margin avenue profitable.
|Saturday, May 21, 2011 (17:00:04) - On Class Design|
|As progress continues on Psionics Expanded, I further realize just how much time a new base class truly requires. Compared to any other aspect of the game, base classes are mountains of work, and not just because you have twenty levels to consider.|
Things to consider when developing a base class:
Does this class fill a needed role in the party? This is perhaps the most critical question when designing a class, because if the answer is no, then you should probably stop and reevaluate your class.
Does another class fill the same role as this class? This answer is more likely to be yes than no, but it's still a good question to ask so you can examine the other existing base classes for comparison.
If another class fills the same role, does this class do something unique or do its job in a different way? The fighter and the soulknife are both front-line fighters, but they do their job in vastly different ways.
Is this class balanced at every level? When you look at a class, you need to look at its balance at EVERY level, because you don't want a class that is lackluster early on and then gets good at higher levels. You want a class that is fun to play from start to finish, but without allowing its power level to creep up too high or drop too low. It's a fine line and this is where most time is spent working on new classes.
Is the class fun? This is actually an important question. This doesn't need to mean fancy or elaborate mechanics. The fighter is pretty simple in design, but he can be fun to play. The game is all about fun. If your class is strong, but boring, then you've missed the mark.
Do the class's abilities make sense when looked at together? It might be balanced and fun to throw trapfinding, rage, spells, flying, and shapeshifting all together - but what you have is a bit of a mess of a class that doesn't seem to have a solid theme. A class should have an underlying theme that ties everything together.
And many more...
These are just some of the questions that need to be answered when designing new base classes and why they take so long to do - and especially to do well.
|Friday, March 25, 2011 (16:58:27) - Who I Am|
|Something my wife brought to my attention is that we don't really have anything on our site about just who we, the owners and authors of Dreamscarred Press, are outside of these mysterious writers, publishers, and developers.|
While I work on a better solution than a blog post, I figure this is a good place to start!
I'm Jeremy Smith and I've been playing RPGs in some form or fashion for over 20 years, starting back in the mid-80s with computer RPGs such as Phantasie III : The Wrath of Nikademus. 20 years later and I still remember that game. I played other computer RPGs such as the Ultima series (primarily Ultima IV) then later into games such as Pool of Radiance. I got into tabletop roleplaying games later, around the mid-90s, and into Psionics with the Psionicist Handbook for AD&D 2nd Edition.
I was born and raised in upstate New York, although I now reside in Texas with my wife of 5 years who is a gamer like me and shares my enjoyment of computer and tabletop roleplaying games. I'm a computer programmer by day and a RPG developer in my spare time.
I've been developing content for psionics for about 7 years now, starting with material posted on the Wizards of the Coast forums back during the 3.0 and 3.5 days. It was truly the release of Complete Psionic that prompted me to get the ball rolling on what I considered to be a "better" book, taking some of the best fan-created content and adding a whole bunch more and publishing Untapped Potential: New Horizons in Psionics, working with other great developers like Brian Dupuis, Greg Jacob, and Michel Fiallo-Perez.
That project taught me just how little I truly knew about publishing for anything, let alone for role-playing games. Over the course of the next five years, I would lead Dreamscarred Press, and we as a company have published over 50 PDFs of varying lengths covering a variety of concepts.
Psionics Unleashed has caught me a bit by surprise in how successful it continues to be. I have no doubt as to the quality of the material, but the reception has been more than I could even have hoped for. The success of the book has opened up a wide variety of doors for Dreamscarred Press as well as me personally. We have begun working with other publishers in a significantly greater capacity than previously, doing some consulting work on other publishers' products, granting permission to show compatibility with our books, and taking on a variety of freelancers to produce books we had only dreamed of doing just a few years ago.
Although I would love someday to have Dreamscarred Press be my primary source of income, today it helps primarily to fund itself and gives some extra money to afford some extra luxuries. But, I consider that to be pretty successful for something Andreas and I both do in our spare time.
|Thursday, March 17, 2011 (16:27:16) - On Doing Freelance Work|
|As we've been getting back into the full swing of things here at Dreamscarred Press - hiring out freelancers for more than just book illustrations - some things have occurred to me that others, especially those looking to get into the RPG industry as a freelancer, might be interested in.|
One of my pet peeves is when someone has accepted a project and then doesn't deliver and doesn't communicate with me about it. That and is crucial. As someone who does not earn his living doing RPGs, but instead does it for the fun and extra spending money, I fully understand how things can come up that delay projects - Psionics Unleashed was pushed back almost 6 months from when we wanted it complete before it was finally released.
But the critical thing is communication. Unless there's some must-meet deadline, most of the time, folks are pretty flexible as long as you communicate where things stand, when you expect to have things done, and if you can still meet the commitment. And then give the person who hired you the option of if you should still do the work if you are unsure of being able to meet the commitment. After all, you agreed to the work!
I try to practice what I preach, although some of the folks I've worked with over the years can attest that sometimes I take a few days longer to respond than I should... but I try to make sure I always respond, and give explanations and details when I do. And if I don't respond, a not-so-subtle reminder that I haven't responded isn't a bad thing. Believe me, I don't get offended and usually feel bad that it's taken so long to respond!
I try to take the same approach when I'm trying to reach someone who I haven't heard from on a project that they accepted - if I don't hear back from the first query, I send a second - and I usually give a few days, if not a week between that first and second message. But if I have to send a third, then something is wrong and I've likely started to examine other options.
Communication is extremely important if you're looking to do freelance work or hire freelancers. Keep in mind that usually, it's not just your part of a project that is being worked on - there's content development, graphic development, timeline coordination, and likely other related projects that might require the work you're doing to move forward. The only thing worse than not being able to meet a deadline is not informing the project manager. Extra time is usually just a request away - don't burn a bridge because you couldn't be bothered to send a status update.
|Friday, February 18, 2011 (20:26:11) - On Contest Judging|
|When Andreas proposed the idea for a Bestiary contest, I thought it sounded like a really good idea. Other publishers have done similar things in a very successful fashion, such as the very prominent Paizo RPG Superstar contest. And since Andreas and I have already bit off a fair bit of design work with Psionics Expanded and the update of the Third Dawn Campaign Setting, it seemed like a great way to find some new talent to create new psionic monsters, something that we as a publisher have not done much.|
Boy, I had no idea how much work it was actually going to be! While I'm not going to get into specific numbers, the number of entries we got was higher than I had expected. And to make sure the judging was fair, I did a comprehensive review of every monster submitted.
Now, to be fair, every monster submitted had some form of feedback / constructive criticism about it. Outside of fairly generic monsters, I don't think it's possible to create a monster otherwise - once you start adding in special abilities, descriptions, background, and combat tactics, there's enough material that there's going to be disagreements or insights that a single pair of eyes might not see.
But, I was impressed at just how many cool concepts, cool mechanics, or both we received. Taking the time to really read every single monster, the creativity in both concepts and abilities was astounding. From off the wall monster ideas, to innovative mechanics, I have to admit, I've never had so much fun reading monster stat blocks.
The hours of reviewing those monsters really didn't feel so much like work. I can definitely see doing this contest again. Even with as much time as it takes to get through, it's fun, it offers unpublished writers the chance to get published, and it gives us an opportunity to give out prizes. We do like to give out prizes - and we have plans for some additional ways to do that not related to monsters.
And for any of our contestants who would like feedback on your entries, send me a private message or email and I'll be happy to send back my thoughts on your monster (or monsters).