Thursday, March 8, 2012

S&S: Why did it take so long, part 2

I think we really started off well. I had the idea for the Showdowns & Shootouts contest in December 2006 and when I ran it by Murphy and Paul, they loved the idea. I then set about getting the prize support for it and together we worked up the rules and came up with the general guidelines of what we were looking for: Class adventure ideas that would be easy to play with 1-4 teams and didn't require strange miniatures or terrain. We also weren't looking for someone to write high-quality prose that fit our house style; we wanted basic ideas, character names and game set-up (maps, objectives, and other cool stuff). We wrote this up on our Website and opened it up to both the Gutshot community and the general public.

Our goal was always to collect at least 12 high-quality adventures and put them online where they would always be available as a free download as a PDF. The idea was twofold:

  1. It's a reward for the people who have already shelled out their cash to buy our book.
  2. Potential customers might read these adventures and think they were cool enough to invest in buying a copy of Gutshot. (Yes, we're nice guys, but we ain't averse to capitalism!)
When we started, we had no idea what kind of reception we would get. We needed at least 12 good adventures to complete the contest... and in the end, we hand danged near 50 submissions, and there wasn't a stinker among them! Every single person who submitted an idea took our guidelines to heart and wrote something that -- with some level of editing -- could be published as a quality game that would be fun to play. To put it mildly, the only hard part for us was agreeing on which adventure to print next.

The S&S Timeline
The contest opened on Jan. 31, 2007. Our goal was to have all of the adventures published by the end of that year and then wrap the contest up by the first quarter of 2008. As you can see, that did not happen. Here's a breakdown of the timeline, as culled from the Hawgleg Website's news archives:

  • Showdows & Shootouts writing contest offers more than $500 in prizes , Jan. 31, 2007
  • First Showdowns & Shootouts adventure ready for download, April 26, 2007
  • Bullets for Breakfast -- New Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure Online, May 25, 2007
  • Sawbones release Mitchell from Hospital, June 26, 2007
  • 1,000 Horses for Helen -- New 'Showdowns & Shootouts' adventure now online!, July 20, 2007
  • Fourth Showdowns & Shootouts adventure released, Aug. 15, 2007
  • Holed Up: New S&S adventure ready for download!, Oct. 4, 2007
  • 6th S&S Adventure: Stand-off at Muckhole!, Oct. 14, 2007
  • 7th Showdowns & Shootouts adventure ready for download, Jan. 8, 2008
  • New S&S Adventure Released, Feb. 25, 2008
  • Hawgleg Publishing acquires Arnica Montana Real Estate, April 28, 2008
  • Klaus needs a Holiday New Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure online!, June 8, 2008
  • Ike Strike -- Hawgleg suspends operations due to hurricane, Sept. 22, 2008
  • Hawgleg reopens after Hurricane Ike, Oct. 22, 2008
  • I Hit a Vein 10th Showdowns & Shootouts adventure released, Nov. 12, 2008
  • Hawgleg announces Draw! RPG, Feb. 5, 2009
  • 11th Showddowns & Shootouts Adventure ready for download, May 4, 2009
  • Arnica Pre-Release Bonanza Sale!, Aug. 12, 2009
  • Pre-Release Sale Closes, Sept. 12, 2009
  • Final Showdowns & Shootouts Adventure published!, July 13, 2010
  • Showdowns & Shootouts winner announced, June 19, 2011
  • Vote now in the Showdowns & Shootouts Contest, March 1, 2012
I've highlighted the 12 adventures' release dates in red.

As you can see, we did really well up until the sixth adventure, and even the seventh & eighth weren't too far off schedule, especially when you consider I spent about a week in the hospital in early 2007 and had a few subsequent relapses of a health issue that kept me bed ridden during that year. No, in spite of that, we were doing okay.

And then we bought Arnica Montana from Mike McGraw. Honest to gosh, we had no idea how much of our time and resources that would take up. This was new territory for us and we don't regret it at all, but it was something new and the learning curve was tougher than we expected. Being honest again, I don't think we're masters of this technology or business model even to this day. But that's another story.

By the Ninth Adventure -- Klaus Needs a Holiday! -- we were almost back on track, and then Hurricane Ike hit. My home was severely damaged and we were without power for 16 days. We left town for part of it (my folks up in the hill country had power and my brother was getting married, so what the heck, we rode out part of the aftermath with my kinfolk). And there was some serious aftermath. 

Hurricane Ike Damage

Yes, that is a tree on the side of our house. If you look closely, you can see the other tree that smashed the corner of our garage... tapping our cars inside (fortunately, our other cars were at my wife's folks' house, so we got a ride over there and were able to drive around the devastated city while Houston limped back to life.

Ike took a lot of wind out of sails and scuttled us for months (hmmm, maybe I should stick to Western lingo and say, this really put us off our feed). There was so much to deal with in the aftermath that we didn't even think about the contest for a while. Hawgleg actually closed for an entire month, and we didn't get our next adventure out until a month after that.

I wrap it all up next Tuesday in Part 3

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