Not much progress again this week :-( I was babysitting for a friend on Tuesday and used the evening to finish the graphic design (and add some further improvements) of the next version of Zombology, but then was too busy for the rest of the week to either print them out or playtest them.
I was hoping to get the printing done on Friday night while The Wife was at the cinema, but after a bad night's sleep The Wife cancelled, and my cousin popped in on a visit from Bath while showing her son local universities he's considering attending. I was also hoping to make it to Newcastle Gamers for the first time in months on Saturday, but instead we went on an impromptu camping trip to the wilds of the North Pennines (which were lovely!).
I missed the last Newcastle Playtest too due to a work trip, and I'm going to have to miss the next one for the same reason - I'm travelling a bit more for work now. Newcastle Playtest is only monthly, so I'm going to go three months without attending one, which is pretty pants for a supposed co-organiser.
All this has got me thinking. Am I really set up for another self-publishing company? I did pretty well last time around, but I had no kids at that point and The Wife was really busy with work so I had plenty of time in the evenings for making games and marketing. A weekend away at a convention was an easy sell at home because The Wife was busy and often worked some or all of the weekend anyway. Now I'm travelling more with work and have a family, do I really want to be going away from them on the weekends that I'm not away for work to demo and sell games at conventions?
Last time round I sold a good chunk of games at conventions. I went to The Cast Are Dice, Beer and Pretzels, The UK Games Expo and a few smaller ones. It was a good opportunity to promote my games because when you're running a small company with no marketing budget the vast majority of your intended audience have not heard of you, your company or your products. When I'm going on regular trips away for work, some of which eat up a weekend it's much harder to justify giving up another weekend away from The Wife and The Daughter for selling games. The Daughter's growing up so quickly at the moment that every missed moment counts. The work trips are also getting in the way of playtesting, my Games Nights and attending Newcastle Gamers. In addition to time for developing, manufacturing and selling the games, I also need time to test them, and at the moment it feels like I haven't got that time available.
I've got 13 pre-orders already, which is good, but that's less than 10% of the print run I'm planning. Can I sell the other 90-odd percent through free web marketing and the odd convention attendance? I don't know.
Anyway, I'm going to take a couple of weeks before I commit any money to the effort to check whether I'm sure I'll have the time to commit to making this successful, or whether I think I can make this successful with the time available to me. I'll also consider other paths to publishing one final time: print on demand, or selling to another publisher.
While I think about it, I'll get this next prototype printed out and tested, so at least I'm making some progress...