Soo, is it really going to be December 15th this time? I have to say that this is reminding me a lot of the RPG release of A Game of Thrones and I was underwhelmed. I still want the items I pre-ordered, but I feel let down by the fact that the pre-order was announced what, back in September, and it still is not done. Why do that if the item is not complete and nearly ready?
Sorry. I would rather it be done right, but then again, I would also rather not be strung along too, so I am venting a little bit.
Again, totally fair, and the best quick answer I can provide is that we're sure December 15 is doable. Yes, we were sure before, or at least mostly sure, and yes, things can always happen to derail plans. You've already seen it three times here. The very best I can do is explain where we are and how we got here, and ask you to put December 15 on your calendar so we can prove it to you. Because really, talk is cheap. The best we can do is get the book to market, and December 15's the day for that.
Now, why did we take pre-orders so far out? Allow me to explain a bit about our industry, and why our decision to shift entirely to a "edits complete" stage before we announce dates from now on is so momentous for a gaming company. Hopefully it will explain all the hows and whys in one fell swoop.
In the hobby gaming industry, your garden variety company needs no less than four months to go from "we have a date" to "books are on shelves." That's just for taking and delivering orders, not receiving income from that project. For that you're waiting at least a couple months and more often 4-6 months depending on your distribution set-up. Our set-up has one more step than most (fulfillment), which adds upwards of a month to the process, and store revenue also gets piped in through the same channel. As a result, if we were to go all the way to done with a book before we announced a date, we'd be looking at having work finished for anywhere from 9 months to a year before we saw a dime in revenue. Nine months to a year.
Imagine if you worked a day job that paid that way. I do, and we have to pay freelancers and printing and everything ages before me, so... yeah...
Next up is our process, which tends to produce more polished work than a lot of other companies, but is also extraordinarily back-heavy. What does that mean? It means that a lot of development work happens during edits - long after other companies have signed off on the material and are only interested in getting it copy-checked and dropped into layout. We don't let go of it that easily, and to date everything has gone through both Alex and I, with each of us looking for and addressing different things. Like I said, it produces that signature style people have come to love in our books, but it's not simple, or quick.
In this case we thought we had a strong idea of what the final book looked like before Gen Con, so we went ahead with pre-orders. That was still only mid-way through the editorial process however - the one that often explodes into much more work than expected - and that's exactly what happened here. The core rules roughly doubled in size, and though that only really amounted to maybe an extra 10-15% in complexity, it represented significant amounts of new text (mostly in the form of new examples, guidance, and other supporting work we feel really takes this book to the next level).
Simultaneously, we were having issues with the narrative world tour portion of the book - in that it was looking less and less like a true companion for the game we actually had
, rather than the one that was originally conceived - and there were also the layout issues presented by ePub and .mobi, both of which we were led to believe would be much simpler with the tools and templates in front of us than they actually were.
We dealt with issues as we reached them, and at every stage you saw us falling back as the challenges in front of us made each date impossible to hit.
Why did we announce when we weren't positive, especially that close to release? Well, that's a matter related to the broader brand. We desperately wanted to hit close to Alloy of Law - because the further we get from that date, the more money we lose. (It's a simple truth, and one we can't ignore in any practical sense.) So we made some optimistic choices and ran for the finish line. Normally you guys would never see this kind of action - because it would all happen behind the curtain before we announced a date, but the very peculiar convergence of events with this project made it all very public, and here we are.
So... Long story short, in the future we won't be announcing dates until our editorial process is complete, no matter what the game or brand. This may mean we'll have to let go of certain opportunities and so be it. This experience has taught us that it's never worth the potential grief. You'll see blog posts from us about "principle writing" being done, or "this section being fully edited" or whatever - because we like to stay in contact and let you know where we are - but we want you to believe us when we say "this will hit on this day" and the only way we can do that is to be done with the variable
parts of the process first (layout and illustration aren't generally variable, so they can probably happen alongside solicitation, for certain projects at least, and we'll still be fine).
This will have a lot of odd ramifications. From your perspective it means you'll probably hear about projects a ways out from actually being able to buy them. (Fortunately, most of our fans are accustomed to this, and we hope it will simply require a bit of realignment for the rest.) It'll also mean we collect far later than any company should ever have to wait - and longer than many can
wait - and hopefully we can make that work, because what neither Alex nor I are willing to do is compromise quality. We've never let it happen before and we're not going to start now.
If you've read all that, you're probably asking about those three challenges we were facing with the Mistborn Adventure Game and here's where we stand with them right this moment...
- The Narrative World Guide: It's now called "A House of Ashes" and it's no longer an issue because it's no longer part of the book. You'll be able to download it for free tomorrow (though only for a week - after that it comes back down for contractual reasons). It will forever be (a separate) part of the Mistborn Adventure Game digital edition, however, so it will always be available if you purchase the full game.
- ePub abd .mobi: This is a work in progress. You'll see an ePub version of A House of Ashes tomorrow as well, and we'll be asking for comments on it - because those will help us fine-tune the full game's digital release. If anything slips past December 15, it'll be these versions of the files.
- Editing: We're past all the stuff that added so explosively to the product. There's still some polish happening, as there always is, but it's nothing that will upset the date again.
That should about cover it, and hopefully it answers your question.
Now I'm gonna go back to getting stuff done for a bit. G'night!