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In which Richard shares his madness

March 10, 2009

Over the next few weeks, I plan to do something slightly mad – post the current version of Ninja for the world to play.

But first, some background, so that everyone is up to speed and on the same page.

Last year, we posted information on an upcoming title known as the 12° Cookbook. Said title was going to be an experiment, two full games for the price one. One of the games was going to be a new edition of James’ Fourth Millennium, while the other was going to be a new design from me known as Ninja.

The idea behind the 12° Cookbook was a simple one – cool games, without the added weight of anything but what is needed to run them. We went to work, and even had a cover designed.

Then something happened.

The long and short of it we took some hits, business-wise at the end of last year, and that was due to Key20, and our leaving it. I do not want to go into details, but the relationship with Key20 turned bad the middle of last year. Sales started to drop off, communication went spotty, and then checks stopped coming on time. Added to this, sales into distribution on the third Colonial Gothic release strangely dropped like a rock. We decided to terminate the agreement with Key20, and signed on with Studio 2 Publishing. Due to the terms of the contract with Key20, we had to give 90-day notice, thus, from October 1 to December 31, 2008; we saw all sales of our products into distribution dry up. If it was not for our sales channel with Indie Press Revolution, I do not know what we would have done. The last quarter, besides the Key20 issues (and there are a few more, but I really do not want to air the other stuff publicly) and the economic environment, we’ve been forced to refocus a little.

The 12° Cookbook is something we want to do, but we are unsure how a product like this will go over. Both games are different in tone and scope, and both games are designed to be one book games. So we have put it on hold. We hate doing this, but we did not solicit the book yet, and only have the cover to show for it. However, we did mention the product a lot, and what the plans were for it.

So why did we do this? Funds are tight, and we’ve decided to focus on the projects that we had more faith in: Thousand Suns, Colonial Gothic Revised, and Shadow, Sword & Spell. We believe in the Cookbook (And before I go farther, I will answer the always asked question. If we believe in the Cookbook why not release it. We are a small company, and we cannot afford to take a large risk. We would rather support the games we have now.) and the two games, but the concept is too risky right now. Hell add in the current state of the economy, and it is insane. In the end, James and I just want to be careful, and the 12° Cookbook was starting to look like something that was too risky given the current situation.

Now with that out of the way, the question remains:

What do I do with Ninja?

What I do plan to do, is post Ninja in its’ current form all rules and all warts. I am going to do this so people can play the game now. The game is done, save for setting and a good editing, and I want people’s reactions. Hell, I want people to see what I’ve done, and play with it. The 12° Cookbook will be released eventually, and when it is, Ninja will appear as will 4M. When the final version of Ninja appears, it will be a better game. Why? Because I’ve opened it up for people to play now.

Games are supposed to be played, and there is no reason to hold back Ninja. Also, I am stuck with a few areas, namely, the setting. If I post the rules, I open up the design process, which I like. I want comments, opinions, and the like. Good or bad. Designing in a vacuum is not a good thing, and I figure, why not? Why not, post it as is, and let people see how the sausage is being made, so to speak.

That is the state of things.

So when does Ninja get posted? I am shooting for month’s end. I need to tweak a few things first, and build a few things first, but I am shooting for the end of the month.

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