We are 4 months into 2017, so we thought we'd share where we're at with all of our projects and what has come up to try to derail us.
Siege of Tyler County
(Status: Died and then Alive Again)
The Siege of Tyler County died a terrible death in playtest, and we shelved it for a month or so. It was soul-crushing (as any game idea dying probably should be at some point.) Then, we started talking about the ButtonShy Games, and got inspired. while we are not entering into one of their great contests right now, we have revived the game as an 18-card, 18-token game, and playtesting has begun... again. thankfully, it is way more fun, now. We'll see if we can cut things down even more, but this one is back on track.
ConEx RPG Books
So, we released the ConEx RPG core book. Now that we are writing the other books for it, we want to re-configure the core book. We are looking at arranging all ConEx books with a format we call "Play First, Then More". It is not revolutionary, by any means, but it takes care of a problem we see. We want people to jump in and get to playing the game. That's the whole point of the game, after all: to be played. So, we're going to put a quick intro, an adventure, 4 PCs and the basic rules at the beginning of the book so folks can just get to playing. Then, the rest of the book has the robust setting, the full rules, character creation rules, story creation rules, and more. If we can do it, then all of the ConEx books we make will be able to serve as a full game and a jumping-on point. The bad news is, though, we're going to have to rewrite the adventures to be more 1st-time GM friendly. This is a good change, and we're glad we're doing it now, than when we get a game about Angels out that we really want to do.
Details and Dots Rules Compendium
(Status: Delayed, with a good rough draft)
Part of the ConEx RPG rewrite has also included us refining the text of many parts of the Details and Dots Rules compendium. If you are wondering what that is, it is, essentially a large core book of lots of modules for you to make your own RPG. Not just your own stories, but your own actual RPG game. Anyhow, we have a good rough draft of all the modules, but we've had to pause a bit for an unexpected pleasure (see below.) we should still be able to get this game out in 2018, but late 2017 is slipping a bit.
D&D 5th Edition Adventures
(Status: In Draft and Playtest)
So, Aaron volunteered to run some D&D 5th edition games for a board gaming club at the day job. As part of that, we've made an intor adventure and a longer adventure for the group. As the group plays them, they are playtesting the adventure, and we will be publishing both of them on DMsGuild. Sadly, this writing takes time to do, and is the cause of some of our other RPG-related delays. It has been an unexpected pleasure to write and play, and we've learned a lot for our own games in the process.
For now, that's all the updates we have.... but we have some other things we're working on. We're looking forward to sharing more and doing more as we progress along.
Each year, AnSR Games takes a look at what we want to accomplish before November of the next year. After some good deliberation and taking stock of what worked (and didn't in 2016), here are the goals we have for 2017.
Hello, Aaron from AnSR here. I just wanted to tell you about some changes we have going on here at A'n'SR -entertainments. Mainly this: we are now publishing games under the name AnSR Games. It is a simple change, but an important one. Let me explain.
Each year, A'n'SR -entertainments looks back at the goals we set and grades how we did. So... how was 2016? Let's see.
You are a dangerous, super-powered criminal. You have been put behind bars for your crimes. You are being given a chance for a better prison life if you do special missions for the prison Warden... and survive. Welcome to the Controlled Experiment, convict.
ConEx: Controlled Experiments is the latest roleplaying game from A'n'SR -entertainments. In the game, you take the role of super-powered bad guys doing good things against your will. Always watching you is the Warden of the prison. Always gnawing at you is a plan to escape the situation.
ConEx uses the new Details and Dots Modular Game System to power all the action in the game. It is a fast, rules-light RPG with narrative consequences for failure. All the rules for the game, as well as the setting, is in this core rule book. So, grab a twenty-sided die, a pencil, some note cards, some friends, and unleash your inner bad guy.
Aaron from A'n'SR here. I've been frustrated. I've been playing lots of RPG systems. I've been trying to find the perfect game system for the stories we like to tell. I've been subjecting my wife to multiple versions of her character as we figure out how each one works. We've had these great moments of "this is it; this one really works". Then, we figured out where it broke down or didn't work for what we were doing, and went looking for the next thing.
It's been frustrating... and good.
There are few things more frustrating than a puzzle you have a problem solving. Imagine a world without the interwebs and your really analytical friend to tell you how to solve the Rubik's Cube. You would pick it up, fiddle with it, think that you got somewhere, get confused, put it down, do another thing, pick it back up again, peel off a sticker or two, put it down, look for help, pick it up... and maybe quit.
That is kind of how the quest for making a new RPG has been going for us of late. We try something, don't like something about it, try another, try a pre-published game, come back to our design, go to something else, try again... you get the idea.
What We've Been Trying
For example, we tried a game system, but it ended up being a little too odd. Then, we tried Fate Core again. Then we remembered why it wouldn't work the game type we wanted to play, tried to modify it, still had the same problems and gave up on it. Then, we looked at more RPGs. And more RPGs. And even more RPGs.
Next, we brought out GURPS 4th edition. GURPS has a great system where you can do anything you want. We played a whole Angels in the Old West campaign with it. However, I don't know that I like the "roll under an attribute" mechanic since we are playing with terribly powerful beings in a very cinematic world. Plus, I feel like I'm cheating the system out of its genius by stripping out so many of the rules it has.
We went through another iteration of our own pre-made game... but things just fell flat in the execution. It is a frustrating little puzzle, to be honest.
So What Now?
Cortex Plus. We got a copy of the Cortex Plus Hacker's Guide, a few other books, and have started a campaign with it. The things we like about it are:
We are 3 adventures into it, and we are really finding the sweet spots with the game and using lots of sticky notes. Don't be surprised if a book comes out of all of our fiddling around with the rules. It has tons of potential.
There's more to come, but this is the journey in our year of experimentation. We'll have more as the summer flits on. In fact, we are way overdue in telling folks about the amazing Geekway to the West convention experience we had.
Each year, A'n'SR -entertainments makes some goals that we want to accomplish. We've had our meeting, talked about options, and have decided what we want to do.
Work on a New RPG Twist
We really want to make a co-operative story game something like a Choose-your-own-adventure book. We are in the process of drafting the first story up and figuring out how the mechanics work. Honestly, this is an experiment. It may get to playtest and die on the vine, but there is something there we want to explore and experiment with.
Get our Games on More Sites
The bulk of our games are cards or PDF books. We want to get them on a few more websites to try and spread the word. To that end, we are going to look at expanding our line into new areas and see what works.
Try a Bit of Marketing
Honestly, we are not a huge fan of social media. In fact, we're pretty poor at checking personal accounts. We want to find a way to get the word out about our game without relying on the big, social media sites. We have some ideas (tournaments, demos at conventions, freebies, sales, etc.,) that we are looking at trying. At worst, we will come up with a comprehensive plan of attack for our games in 2017.
Redo DiColumns (Optional)
We really want to make DiColumns over again. Really. It is a fun, 1 to 2 player game. It deserves a little make-over. Maybe this will be the year we do it.
At its core concept, 2016 is the year we plan to experiment with things. We are going to experiment with a new game types, places to sell them, and some new ideas in general.
Every year in October/November, A'n'SR -entertainments tries to come up with our overall plans and goals for the next year. Since our fiscal year is ending, it is time to see how we did on this year's goals. In short, we did pretty well, though some things moved around a bit.
Goal 1: Release 4 Angels – Michael's War expansions by the end of the year.
Result: Successful. We launched all of the expansions we had in the 2014 KickStarter live on TheGameCrafter, and even got Angels - Michael's War on DriveThruCards. We're not as impressed with the sales on DriveThruCards yet, but then again, we have not added all the expansions.
Goal 2: Complete work on the Angels Dice game, and possibly (optional) release it.
Result: Meh. This game has been worked on, worked over, and re-worked a lot. There are some confusing bits and some parts, but the game is not gelling like we want. We are hoping to get it back on track sooner than later, but RPGs have taken over our brains again.
Goal 3: Complete work on a solo-play Angels game.
Result: Mixed. Did I mention our brains switched to RPGs again this year? The bad news is, the solo Angels game did not get worked on. The good news is, we are retooling it for a new game line we are alpha-testing that mixes cards, dice, and RPG-elements together. So, this may see the light of day after all.
Goal 4: Get our full line of Angels card games and expansions on DriveThruCards.com.
Result: Not Successful. We had a lot of technical issues getting the base game on the site, to be quite honest. I believe the base game still shows a $30 price tag for the Print'n'Play version. As such, we are trying to get our personal process down before doing any more. We did, however, get Pyramids of Mars on the site. More on that later.
Goal 5: Get our full line of RPGs on TheGameCrafter.com.
Result: Not Successful. In the middle of the year, we began working on a 2nd edition of -U- the Game of Stories. We reasoned that if we did a 2nd edition, then the first edition would be depreciated or compete with the new one. So, we paused on this. Now, though, there is no -U- 2nd edition. There is roll5s RPG, which does not compete as much. We will put it back on for 2016, since there is not a conflict anymore.
Goal 6: Work on at least 1 new RPG game or supplement.
Result: Very Successful. This is were we spent our time and treasure this year. See, there was a contest at TheGameCrafter.com, and we wanted to enter it. What started as a refresh of -U- 2nd edition became roll5s RPG. And what started as a contest entry became a finalist in the contest. We really like roll5s RPG, and have some fun plans for it.
Goal 7: (Optional) Get all our RPG games in Print On Demand at various sites.
Result: Not Successful. Again, we really paused any RPG plans we had made in order to get an RPG ready for the contest at TheGameCrafter.com. This will likely be picked up next year.
(Optional) Make a new/deluxe version of DiColumns
Result: Not Successful (again). At some point this really will get done. It is a fun, light single-player game that non-gamers like playing. Who knows maybe a card version will sprout up. Either way, this is an optional goal this year and, because it has become a tradition, it will likely be an optional goal next year.
Other than the things we had set out to do, we also made some other achievements we had not planned.
Pyramids of Mars Re-released
The one that took the most time was re-doing our game Pyramids of Mars. It is a bluffing, betting, die-rolling game about Ancient Martians building pyramids in the capitol city. The main reason for the re-release (and reworking of the rules) was DriveThruCards. As we were working on putting Angels – Michael's War on DriveThruCards.com, we decided to try another game as a test. We picked Pyramids of Mars for that test. Problem was, it was not friendly to card-only play. It required blocks and dice. So, we reworked it to not need the cubes, and re-released it. It is a much better game, and now has the chance to be expanded. An unexpected win. Who knows, maybe Emperor of the World will get the same treatment.
RPG Designer Diary
While working on the new RPG, we decided to do an RPG Designer Diary o the website. So far it is 11 parts in and includes things like cover designs, what dice to use and random thoughts. We will continue the diary to explain some of the fun bits of roll5s RPG which was the final result of all the work done. This more-or-less-monthly endeavor has been fun.
Overall Score: C
The things left undone this year really hurt our score. Some of the end results were great (new RPG, a re-working of a game, a Designer Diary, etc.,) but they were off-script. As a side note, because we got derailed on things, sales were down a bit from last year. As we go into our planning for 2016, we will take all of this and the lessons learned to heart and work on a tighter plan for the future.
We are making a new role-playing game. At first we thought it was going to be a new version of -U- the Game of Stories. But now, it is something new altogether. So, what made us change it? Read on.
What Happened to -U- 2nd Edition?
We were in love with it. We were going to make a more complex version of our role-playing game -U- the Game of Stories. It was playing really well. Then... we had a chat. We wanted to make a game that anyone could pick up and play. Not just people familiar with RPGs or people with creative urges. But people who want to have a different kind of experience with friends. It actually dovetailed into our conversation about classes and races in RPGs. Why did other RPGs have this? How could we make this game easier to "get into" for non-gamers and non-creatives?
So,we changed it all. It was rash, and fast, and a complete honing down of what we were doing. And it worked. So... what were the changes? Let's compare.
The End Result
These were major changes, honestly. it was like a whole new game. And it really worked for us. It was fun coming up with the lists of things a character could be and what Strengths they would get from them. It was great being able to write an adventure idea down and all the encounters in less than an hour. Most of all, though, it felt so smooth when a player said, "I use my Miraculous Healing to help calm down the old shopkeeper", rolled some dice, and the story continued on without as much as a hiccup in the story narrative. All-in-all, the game did exactly what we wanted to do and did it faster than we were doing it. So... this is the new game: roll5s RPG.
The first roll5s RPG book is a finalist in a contest right now. Once we hear some of the great judge feedback on it, we will tweak it a little, release the official game on RPGNow.com, DriveThruRPG.com, and TheGameCrafter.com for sale. Until then, we'll start sharing our thoughts about the mechanics and decisions in our upcoming Designer Diaries.