Q1 2016 Update
Hello and happy Spring to you all, or for those on the East Coast, second winter. Despite the cold, snow, and overcast skies, there is much to be happy about here at the Encoded offices. We had our second anniversary in February. This quarter was a busy one for us, with some unplanned work coming up that we will talk about below. That unplanned work knocked some of our Q1 and Q2 plans aside, and we are working to move a few things around.
Let’s break down what we have been working on this past quarter, and then we can look ahead.
The Character Cache continues, but we have had a decline in patrons, and we lost some of the gains we had made in 2015. We looked at the way the Patreon campaign was set up and determined that we may get and keep more patrons by having a fixed set of stat blocks each month, rather than putting them up to a vote. So we have re-structured the Character Cache so that each month we are producing stat blocks for Fate Core, Savage Worlds, and 5e.
We hope that by doing this we will attract more followers from each community and as a result be able to unlock some of our milestones, which include painted artwork, additional stat blocks, and alternative character sketches.
You can find out more about the Character Cache by clicking here.
The Five Temples of the Earthmother Part 1: Life and Moon
Q1 2016 marked the opening of the Dungeon Masters Guild, and Encoded decided to seize the opportunity to put something in the marketplace when the site opened. This was the unplanned project. The team made the decision that we would like to be there opening day, and we put the entire Encoded team to work. The end result was a 12 hours of playtime, 21-page adventure that we were able to put together in 72 hours. It was a wild ride, but it was amazing watching the entire Encoded team working together. In the end, Life and Moon was available when the site opened, became a Silver Metal Best Seller, and has received a number of nice reviews.
You can find out more about Life and Moon here.
Fated Minions of the Source
Q1 was also when we finished the Fate Minions of the Source manuscript and sent it off to Third Eye Games for layout and publication. With the release of Minions, we fulfilled the stretch goals of the Part-Time Gods of Fate Kickstarter, and Fate players can now use all the goodies in both sourcebooks for their games. We really enjoyed working with Eloy, and we are hoping to do some more of that in the future.
You can find Minions of the Source here.
Dangerous Space Jail
Dangerous Space Jail continues to sell a few copies each month on DriveThru, but in Q1 we sold the most copies of DSJ ever, when it was included in a Dungeon World Bundle of Holding in January. That bundle did amazingly well, and our DSJ sales numbers are forever skewed.
You can find Dangerous Space Jail here.
After crashing our schedule with Life and Moon, some of our projects are running behind our original schedule. We are adapting our schedule and goals to account for the disruption.
Codename: Project Reuben (named after the sandwich) is a GMing advice book about how to GM in an improv style. This book goes beyond just providing the typical improv advice, delving into a technique that can be employed to learn and run games in this style. Chris and Phil are writing the book, and we are targeting the release to be ready for Gen Con, but that release date is less certain than it was earlier in the year.
The book has turned out to be tricky to write, and we want this to be as good as it can be. As a result, we have rewritten large parts of the book and are much happier with it now. This book is our major focus right now, and we are putting the majority of our time to getting the rough draft written.
Chris has done a considerable amount of work on the manuscript for the Airy Peaks, and Phil has begun the first development pass. That work got put on hold to get Project Reuben underway, and so we have not moved forward on this manuscript but plan to return to it in early summer.
We have been working on finishing the dice game Relic Hunters so that we can prepare to shop it to other publishers. We are fairly close, with just a few things to tweak. In order to accomplish this, the team is planning a weekend design blitz in the next few months, where we will lock ourselves away with the game and finish it in one weekend.
Once complete we will be looking for more Beta testers to take the game out for a spin. We hope to be doing that in Q3.
Hydro Hacker Operatives
In the last few months we have begun developing a new game, Hydro Hacker Operatives (or H2O for short). This is a dystopian cyberpunk setting, where water is more important than data. This game is being developed in Fate and is using the Cybertek toolkit we created in 2015. This game moves beyond that, using unique rules for how to hack water and how to grow and keep a neighborhood alive.
The game is in development but not ready for any kind of public release. We can tell you that two games of this will be run at Gen Con, and Phil will likely run a few off-the-books sessions as well. After that, it will be run at future conventions.
We do not have a due date for this game at this time. Development and getting things right is most important, so we are taking our time working on it.
We have been working on setting up an apparel shop in conjunction with Phoenix Stores. This store will be offering T-shirts (men’s and women’s) as well as sweatshirts, polos, and hats. We have stocked the store with a number of designs and will be adding to it after launch. The store will be launched in the next few days, and we are hoping that fans of Encoded Designs and our Podcasts will come and get some apparel.
You can find the link to our shop on the menu on our front page.
We have a few other projects that are a bit farther out on the horizon that we are not actively working on, but will be coming up soon.
Our agreement with the Paranoia creators is in place, and we have Garrett Crowe working on some changes to the manuscript. In the months to come we will move forward on editing and laying out the manuscript and getting it ready for a PDF publication. We would like to time our release to coincide with the release of the new version of Paranoia.
Our work in D&D is far from over. We have more adventures to release in the Five Temples of the Earthmother series, Before we move on to the second adventure, however, Shawn and Chris are working on a Moonshae Isles Player’s Guide to give some character options to players who are going to be following the series.
Shawn and Chris have a few other plans, but they are a bit further out and not anything we are ready to discuss in this update, but perhaps by the next one.
The Misdirected Mark network continues to thrive. This past quarter had two major milestones. First, the Misdirected Mark show celebrated its 200th episode – four years of podcasting. Second, we launched a new show: Talking Games with Senda and Phil. Senda is one of the co-hosts of She’s a Super Geek, and she and Phil talk about various gaming topics from the perspective of one-shots vs. campaigns. One cannot talk about two of the biggest shows without mentioning the third, the excellent Down With D&D, where Chris and Shawn cover what is going on in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
Overall the Misdirected Mark network continues to grow, and our download numbers are strong. All three shows are showing strong numbers, and the feedback we receive on social media is letting us know that we are going in the right direction. We are also working on a Patreon campaign for the network, so that we can afford new equipment, hosting, etc.
We started 2016 with a high-level plan of how we wanted the year to go, but as with all things in business, unplanned opportunities make themselves available – and we took action. I am glad we did, as we learned two important things from publishing Life and Moon. One, we are an agile group. We were able to spring into action, with everyone doing their part, to get the publication done as fast as possible and still put out a quality piece. Two, it helped me realize that we are at our best when we are all working together on a project.
Late last year, we had made the decision to divide our efforts over a large number of projects to try to diversify, and we did, but it cost us speed. Projects are not moving as fast as they did when we were working together on Part-Time Gods of Fate. So now I think I want to reduce the number of things we are working on and tighten that focus. I don’t think we need to work on one thing at a time, but I do think we need to focus on about three things at a time. That is something we are going to talk more about in our upcoming quarterly retreat.
That is about it for updates. I will be back in early July to report our progress. Until then…
Game well…Game often.