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Looking Back on 2014

Encoded Designs is just shy of its one year anniversary, but with it being the end of the year I thought it would be nice to look back at how we did in our first year. Wearing my project manager hat, I will write this update in the spirt of a Lessons Learned. So just what did we learn in 2014?

What Went Well

These are the things that we want to keep doing in 2015.

We published stuff!

For a company just getting up on it’s feet we were able to get three pieces out the door and fully published: Dangerous Space Jail, Part-Time Gods: Return of Dragons, and Momentum Dice (Fate Codex vol.1 issue 4). Granted none of these were full-sized books, but for a newly formed group, running on a shoe-string budget, I think we did just fine.

Our team rocks!

When the Encoded Team came together, I was not sure how our work styles would mesh. I made the decision to publish Dangerous Space Jail as a test of how we worked together. The results has been fantastic. We have complementing skill sets, and over the last 11 or so months have developed a great working rhythm that has allowed us to collaborate in a cool, hive-mind way when we take on projects.

Part-Time Gods of Fate

When Eloy Lasanta from Third Eye Games teased about a possible Fate version of Part-Time Gods as part of his Kickstarter, I knew I wanted to be part of that project. That stretch goal was never met, but I was still committed to the idea. So I met up with Eloy at GenCon and after some discussion was able to come to an agreement allowing Encoded to do the Fate conversion. The Alpha rules are done, and we will be working on bringing that book to publication through the first half of the year.

A strategic plan for 2015

In the Fall, the team had a chance to come together and plan out what we wanted to work on for 2015. We laid out a timeline of when projects would start and when we wanted to have them completed. Our plan has given us focus for 2015, and allows us to assess new opportunities, since we have a good idea when we will have resources free.

What Could Have Been Better

These are the things we want to improve upon or stop doing in 2015

Dangerous Space Jail Sales

Dangerous Space Jail did not sell as well as I hoped. I was overly optimistic on how fast products sell. My past experiences with Engine Publishing skewed my idea of what sales look like, with each of their publications being runaway hits. DSJ has been selling a bit at a time and the December sale that we have run has done well.

Here is a breakdown of the sales per month on DriveThruRPG:

DJS Sales 2014

I am not sure if the more structured approach of DSJ did not appeal to Dungeon World fans, or if adventures are slow sellers, etc. We are still proud of it, and I still run it at conventions, where people enjoy playing it.

In-House Artist

Encoded Designs at its core is about people pooling their talent to help each other. We have a nice skill set for design, writing, and editing. Chris has some layout skills, and I have some Illustrator skills, but neither are of a professional level. We would love to have a graphic artist who is interested in the Encoded co-op style (see below) and wants to join the team.

What Surprised Us

These are the things we did not account for in our planning, that we should start considering as we go forward.

Encoded Designs Became a Co-Op

When I started Encoded, I had planned to use it to market the Elhal IP to other companies. Along the way, as Chris, Bob, and Shawn took an interest in helping me, I realized that if they were willing to help my dream, that I could do the same for them, and that we could all help each other. Thus, Encoded became a co-op with the plan of helping each of us to publish the things about which we were most passionate.

Elhal for 2016

As I said before, I created Encoded for publishing Elhal. What I did not realize was that I was not quite ready to start designing Elhal in the way I envisioned it in my mind. We needed to grow as a company, and I needed to grow as a designer. So rather than just jumping into publishing Elhal, we started a more methodical plan.

First, we got a few publications under our belt, so that we learned how to work together. Part of that was the Fate Core article, highlighting a mechanic that will be in Elhal, showing the Fate community some of our designs. Then, we started the conversion of Part-Time Gods, so that we had experience in creating a full-length Fate game, but doing it from an existing game.

During this year, I ran two Elhal campaigns, one in Fate and the other in Savage Worlds, to help flesh out the world and to find what part of the timeline would be most interesting as a setting. Chris and I also ran Elhal games at GenCon and several other conventions, to share the world with others. This fall, I started the Tyriv’s Teachings series of articles as a way to build interest in Elahl, as well as giving me a way to develop material for the world on a weekly basis.

All of this will put us in a position to start working on the Fate of Elhal in 2016.

2015, Here We Come

2015 should be an exciting year for Encoded Designs. We will celebrate our first full year as a company. We will be publishing the Part-Time Gods of Fate, in conjunction with Third Eye Games. We have a number of other exciting projects lined up based on our strategic plan.

I am excited to see what 2015 holds, and more excited about working with the Encoded team, as well as having the Encoded team work with great publishers, to create awesome games.

Happy New Year!

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Phil Vecchione

Game Designer, Project Manager, Writer, Podcaster, and Blogger — As a man of many hats, Phil has been working in the roleplaying game industry since 2009 working with Engine Publishing, Evil Beagle Games, Third Eye Games, and Pelgrane Games. His work has won or been nominated for a number of awards, including the ENnie, Golden Geek, and Origins Award. Phil is also a trained Project Manager and applies his mad Gantt Charting skills to all of Encoded’s work.

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