Should we make crappy games?
Yes! And I say yes because we really don’t have much of a choice. What??? You may ask. Well, I’m going to be blunt with you guys because A) sugar coating won’t do you any good, and B) I care about you enough to tell the truth: Your first game is gonna be crappy. More than likely, your second and third game will be too.
Your first try won’t turn out like you had hoped. Trust me. I learned this from painful, PAINFUL experience. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. Looking back on my first foray into game publishing, I realize how much I learned. It was awesome. We got to talk face to face with the product developer of a huge corporation (well, huge in the gaming industry anyway), we got to learn how to use PageMaker, we built a website, we had our own GenCon booth, we dealt with over-stock, distributors, and all kinds of wacky stuff.
None of the original members who worked on Ember Twilight are happy with it now. And we sunk a ton of money on it. But now that I’m working on Cutthroat, Hierarchy, and Standoff, I realize just how much those experiences meant to me and how much they will help me get these games out the door. So why am I telling you this? Because I want to encourage you and warn you at the same time.
Encouragement: Don’t wait for your game to be “perfect.” It won’t be. Get it complete, play test it, then publish it. There is no need to obsess for years over your design. Hit it hard, get it finished, and then get it out there. See what happens, and learn from your experience. There really isn’t any better way to learn how to write and publish an RPG than to do it. You’ll get your nose bloody for sure, but that’s okay. It will make you tougher the next time. Don't lose out on an opportunity to get this experience because you don't think your game is"worthy" to be published. 'Cause it is.
Warning: Don’t sink a ton of money in your first design. Let it grow at its own pace. Selling your game through online companies like RPGNow, Drivethru RPG, or Lulu is a great way to start. Thinking you’re going to succeed with a “multi-tiered marketing and distribution strategy…” is the road to heartache. Start small and let the games you design grow at their own pace.
Go back and notice that I said “games” with an “s” at the end. Once your first design is done, start your second. You’ll be surprised how much easier the process is and how you’ll see where you have already learned and improved.
So let us see your crap! Publish your game with no fear. Then design another.