Tuesday, 3 January 2012

State of the Duck - 2011 Review

The State of the Duck (2011 - Year in Review)
It’s the 4th of January 2012 and I thought I would take a moment to discuss how the last year has gone for Purple Duck Games. I’ve never ever written a “year-in-review” before and I don’t believe Stefen has either so please bear with me as I struggle through this post.

Who the Duck is in charge?
Purple Duck Games is the creative partnership of Stefen Styrsky and Mark Gedak. Mark was hosting a PBEM campaign Stefen joined. The campaign was a miserable failure as were all of Mark’s future attempts to run PBEM games, but Stefen and Mark continued to communicate and work together. Mark Gedak was the owner of the Grand OGL Wiki and Stefen became a contributor to an experiment on that site known as the DM Sketchpad. Their collaboration on the Grand OGL Wiki led them to work write Forgotten Foes with Bret Boyd (Tricky Owlbear Publishing) and Axel K. Carlsson (Headless Hydra Games).  Mark had the bright idea to continue their collaboration on a more formal basis, and Purple Duck Games was born.  Since the company’s formation in August of 2010, Purple Duck Games has released 25 roleplaying game supplements compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game system and a number of stock art pieces.

What did Purple Duck Games produce last year?
Over the last twelve months Purple Duck Games has released 20 products for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. When Stefen and I first started the company we didn’t have a business plan or product schedule. Instead we looked at the things that interested us and wrote what we as gamers would like to see produced.  For Stefen this meant the launch of his Legendary Races line that expanded the playable character races to include cyclops, medusa and rakshasa. For myself, this meant the launch of the Otyughnomicon, Purple Mountain and the creation of Rook core class (which was penned by Thomas Baumbach).

What challenged you most this year?
The great thing about coming into this business with no publishing background of our own meant that there were many mistakes to make and learn from. There are so many it is difficult to know where to begin.

1) When I started Purple Duck Games, I signed on exclusively with Rpgnow/DTRPG. Now this isn’t really a bad thing, we were treated really well at Rpgnow and had a sizable customer base. The problem was we didn’t have access to the hardcore Pathfinder customer base. Several times, we heard from customers that they only bought material from Paizo, so they wouldn’t be buying our material. Once we fulfilled our 1 year exclusive with Rpgnow/DTRPG we branched off to Paizo as well.

2) Common Look and Feel. It has taken me a long to time to develop the look of Purple Duck Games products. I think this is because I lack any kind of artistic talent whatsoever. Now, I will never say that my layout is excellent but for at least the last half of the year it has been consistent in its look. Does that mean I’m done fiddling with it, probably not but I now have a minimum base line to build from.

3) Getting the Word Out. I am an introvert by nature, like my father. I am absolutely terrible at promoting myself and Purple Duck Games. I know, I should be communicating with my fans more, I know I should be engaging in discussion forums more, I know I should be figuring out promotions, contests and advertising opportunities more. I find all of those things exhausting. So this is something I’m going to need proactive about in 2012.

What regrets do you have?
I regret that I haven’t been able to work with Stefen on more products in 2011. In 2010, most of our work was collaborative and in 2011 we worked in solitude. Sometimes this was because Stefen was busy when I needed a hand, sometimes it was because I was busy when Stefen needed a hand, and sometimes we just had our own vision of a particular product but I’d like to do more collaboration with Stefen in 2012.

What were your stand-out products this year?
This is sort of like picking a favourite child. According to the reviews we have received I would have to say Random Encounters Remastered, Purple Mountain I, Otyughnomicon (both), Monstrous Races: Second Horde, Monsters Unleashed V.1 & 2, Legendary IV: Legendary Shields and V: Eastern and Exotic Weapons, Legendary Races: Rakshasa and Medusa, Forgotten Encounters line and Encounter Pages. All have an average 4-star rating or above.

Personally my top five picks of things not written by me are in no particular order: Legendary IV: Legendary Shields, Monstrous Races: Second Horde, Forgotten Encounters: Urban, Random Encounters Remastered and Legendary Classes: The Rook.

What didn’t hit the mark like you’d hoped?
From a sales point of view I’m disappointed with the Encounter Pages and Forgotten Encounters line.  I think the Forgotten Encounters are an overlooked deal. They are not just a bunch of one-shot encounters, but also include new feats, items, monsters, spells, and archetypes.

Where is Purple Duck Games headed in 2012?
We plan to hire more freelance writers and issue some of our products as print or print-on-demand.

What new releases are in the works, what’s on the drawing board, and what’s an inkling of an idea?

Currently in development we have the third volume of the Otyughnomicon, volumes 4 through 6 of Monsters Unleashed, Legendary VI: Legendary Armor, a few more levels of Purple Mountain, our megadungeon, and Mythos Archetypes, a supplement containing PC archetypes and rules for playing Pathfinder with a Call of Cthulhu feel.

In development we have Legendary Races: Harpy, a Runecaster Pathfinder base class, a supplement dealing exclusively with trapped chests, and GM version of Mythos Archetypes.

We’ve also started writing 4Saken using the free 4Color RPG system. It’s a game based on the horror movies of the 1980s (dating Mark and Stefen). We’re talking Nightmare on Elm Street, Hellraiser, Prince of Darkness and C.H.U.D. The rules allow for fast-paced narrative and can be played as a straight-up horror game or with a more tongue-in-cheek tone.

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