By my estimation, I was a success last year. I designed two games, saw one published, and am working on getting the second one wrapped up. At the same time, I can look back on what I’ve done and I see so much room for improvement. This is especially true when I compare what I’ve done to what Evil Hat just did with their Fate Core Kickstarter.
That’s 60 days of ambition, planning, execution, community-building, fan service, good business, and just sheer unadulterated awesome. Fred and the Evil Hat team simply knocked it out of the park. It would be almost impossible to look at what Evil Hat did and not say “I want that for my work.” I do want that. I want that kind of following. I want the ability to execute multiple projects (or multiple parts of the same project) at such a high level. I want the success that comes with such execution.
The thing is this: that kind of success doesn’t come overnight. I’m sure that there were people in the game community who thought “wow, where did these Evil Hat guys come from.” The fact of the patter is that they’ve been around for a while, now. A decade or so, in fact. What started out as a hack of Fudge run at conventions has become something amazing. But make sure you note that timeframe: a decade. 10 years of busting their humps to make sure that they were doing things right. 10 years of solid decisons to see them ready for what just happened for them.
And it’s that kind of dedication that is needed to get what they’ve gotten. Same’s true for other big projects like Monte Cook’s Numenera. Monte’s been in the industry a long time, and he’s proven his design worth over and over again. That takes time. In Evil Hat’s case, it also takes a great attention to detail, and the ability to easily engage with your fans and community. Fred is rabid about transparency, and that’s no small thing.
The Point of the Point
Here’s the thing: if you want what they’ve got (like I do), you need to work for it. You need to put in the time, effort, and energy. You can’t just make something slipshod and toss it out there. You have to proceed with a clear vision and a clear goal whenever you approach your products. And, above all, remember this: without the people who support you (in whatever way they support you), you’ve got nothing but a game that no one is playing.
I started Sand & Steam as a company a year ago. I’ve had signs of success. I need to get better at what I do. School Daze and One Shot are good, and I’m happy I made them. I did not think about future support for them, though. I don’t know where else to take them, or how to promote them now that I can see the flaws in them as clearly as I do.
This year is, in some ways, going to be about starting over for me. Starting with a clearer vision of what I want and clearer goals when it comes to both my products and engaging the people who buy them.
There’s one great thing about seeing the success of a company like Evil Hat: they’ve shown me exactly how to do the same thing.