The Paths to Publish, The Woes Therein

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a card game! It is called Project ALPACA and I am very proud of it. I have been working on it in some form another for the past three years and now it finally exists as a box with pieces and cards and everything. There is still work to be done, but it exists. Great!

I am a “pencil sharpener.” This is the phrase that my wife and I use to describe not starting or working on a project until “all your pencils are sharpened.” Basically, this equates to not starting or doing something until the ideal, perfect conditions, which is realistically impossible. Doing things will never be ideal if you’re doing them in the real world. More on that at a later date. Fantastic.

These two things intersected when I decided I was going to print and publish Project ALPACA. I did mounds of research, listened to podcasts, learned about copyright law, and did a lot of stuff that looking back, was probably unnecessary, but hey! Now I know some things I didn’t before (and I’m STILL doing research on this). From what I gathered, the general consensus from small game companies, designers, and producers is the two paths to publish: find someone to publish you or publish it yourself. The formula for deciding boils down to how you (the designer) want to proceed down your game hobby. By finding a publisher you can focus on only designing games. However, this means that your theme could be changed or your art scrapped; the game could ultimately be unrecognizable from it’s original form. But at least you get to keep designing games and not worry about all the other minutia. By self-publishing, you have to handle all the other minutia. Every aspect of the game is under your purview from design, to testing, to art, to manufacturing, to fulfillment, customer service, and I’m sure I’m missing several other facets. However, this also means that you are in complete control of the production process. What you say goes, for better or worse. Several people smarter and more experienced than I have said that if you like to make games, find a publisher. If you want to run a small business, self-publish.

I am a big picture person. I get ideas started and then flounder with the details. I like to setup systems and watch them run. This is not the first time I have entertained the idea of running a business. I’ve wanted to run a tavern, a board game shop, a bakery, a coffee shop, you name it. I think my particular skill set is best suited to running something, so self-publishing sounds like a fantastic idea for me.

HOWEVER, all these things put together are making me doubtful. I am trying to think about the future and what comes next, because frankly, I want to start looking towards the next game. And I have no idea whether that is influenced by how this first one is going to turn out. I’m stuck at a crossroads trying to figure out what my hobby really is. Do I enjoy making games or making games happen? Would I enjoy running a small operation more than making game ideas? It’s a mystery. I think the only way to really find out is to try something and see if I like it or not.

Which wouldn’t be so hard if I wasn’t constantly wracked over the indecision of making the best choice.

OH WELL. Might as well give it a stab and find out.

” “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take” – Wayne Gretzky” – Michael Scott


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