Tuesday, March 6, 2012

S&S: Why did it take so long? Part 1

Quite a number of years ago, I was working at a newspaper in the upper Rio Grande valley as a layout artist, typesetter and editor (yup, it was a small newspaper and we all did a variety of things). When I wasn't working on the next issue, the shop also took in additional print jobs to fill the time between our weekly editions. One of these projects was a book for a local author.

As part of the design, he asked for separate left/right page footers so the page number would always be on the outside. This was time consuming and ate up more time than was budget for. When he asked us why we were behind schedule, we told him of this reason and he said, "I don't want to hear excuses." I replied that this wasn't an excuse, but a reason." "There's no difference," he said. "You're wrong," I said. "Very wrong. An excuse is trying to explain why something happened or didn't happen and shift the blame around. But a reason is just a statement of fact. If you asked me why I couldn't make it to a meeting 150 miles away on time, an excuse would be that I didn't leave in time or that I had a flat tire. A reason would be that, you only told me about the meeting one hour ago and my Ford Pinto does not drive 150 miles an hour."

He conceded that there was, in fact, a difference between an excuse and a reason.

What you're about to read here is a combination of excuses and reasons. Some are just saying why we didn't do things when we should have, but I'm also going to state a few solid reasons why it took us so danged long to finish the Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure Writing Contest.

It all seemed like a good idea at the time
For those of you who have met us at conventions or visited the Hawgleg Forums on a regular basis, it won't come as news to you that we've been planning to release a Gutshot Campaign Guide. There were several ideas that we were fleshing out at the time when we published the Gutshot Core Rule Book and, because they weren't finished, we didn't include them. In short, the Campaign Guide in the core book is about one-third of the material we would have liked to include. But, some of it was only half baked at the time and if we had delayed publication in order to work on it, I doubt Gutshot would have seen print until 2007.

So, Gutshot comes out in 2005 and wins the Origins Award for Historical Miniatures Game of the Year in 2006. We suddenly had a lot of interest in our game and, consequently, we had a lot of people visiting our Website looking for game ideas. We needed some additional content to help generate interest in our game and to support the people who had already bought it. We talked about it and decided that we should post some free adventures online for people to download and print as PDFs.

Fortunately, we had a lot of great ideas and they were posted on the site as game reports. I started working on some to put on the site and then it hit me... this was the content for the Campaign Guide. Simply put, the adventures by the Midnight Riders and the Red Leg Gang (which were based actual campaigns) perfectly illustrated the concepts we wanted to include in the campaign guide. So that meant we couldn't use these for that purpose.

So... If we couldn't use the material we already had, then where would we get new material? We decided to have a contest and ask our readers to create some ideas for us. And so, the idea of a contest was born.

We get by with a LOT of help from our friends
What's a contest without prizes? Nothing, that's what. So we asked some of our friends in the gaming community and got a LOT of enthusiastic help from the following fine folks, who promptly offered to donate some very cool stuff to our cause. In all, they ponied up about $400 in prize donations!

Contest sponsors:
Arnica, Montana Real Estate
Scale Creep Miniatures
Whitewash City / Hotz Game Mats
Click on the sponsor's logo to visit their Website.

By the way, when we started the contest, Arnica was a separate company. We bought the company while the contest was ongoing, and that was a factor in why it took so long to finish. In addition to Arnica, we also appeared at conventions and started work on two other project in the interim: the Draw! RPG and Gutshot: Night of the Living Deadwood.

It seems my dad was right all those years ago... you should focus on doing one thing at a time and try to do it to the best of your ability. Excuse #1: We didn't do that. We jumped into new products and projects and didn't always account for the amount of time they would take, nor fully appreciate the impact they would have on our overall progress.

And yet, through all these changes, we just kept plugging along, knowing we'd get it together and have something really great when we finished. And we'll get into that more on Thursday.

Continued this Thursday when we show the entire S&S timeline.
Join us next Thursday for a change of pace with an example of combat movement rates.

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